Friday, July 31, 2009

I confess, I'm a slacker

This week has been a tough one. I've been busy but I have no idea with what. I have nothing to report. Last night I met Jenn Taylor out for a few drinks. It was so fantastic to catch up with her, I wish we did that more often, she's so great.

This weekend we have big plans. One of our ideas was to slightly renovate our master bathroom. Which really means scrape the popcorn off the ceiling, remove the wallpaper, replace the vanity, lighting and mirror and paint. So we have been looking at vanities, calling contractors and suddenly we found a guy we like and whose price is right. We're thinking of even adding on a few other minor projects to this as well! So he's ready when we are. So this weekend we are going to order the vanity, mirror and vanity top, find some lights and paint and towel bars. Our bathroom is currently wicker stuff that has mold and soap scum in it. We are going with something a little more boring, but hopefully will look clean for a long time. We are not replacing our goldenrod shower. it is incredibly easy to clean and while the color is very early-80s, with a nice shower curtain, we can hopefully hide most of it.


We also have tickets to a Rock Cats game and I have dinner plans with my high school best friend who I haven't talked to in about 7 years. Facebook brought us together. It will be interesting to see how she's been, as it has to check in with others on facebook. Who's married? who has kids? who gained weight? who is married to someone else I know? It's neat to see. I've been so out of touch with the town I grew up in (parents moved from it a year after I moved from it) it's neat to find out where everyone is.


So wish me luck for Saturday. There is probably a trip to Home Depot and/or Lowes... hopefully we don't get into a fight. Trips to big box hardware stores tend to do that.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

This week did not disappoint

This week did not disappoint. The eating was great. But oh boy I ate too much of it. Yesterday I was angry with myself and had to force down my Margarita Shrimp Tacos. They were delicious but I was stuffed from a week of yumminess.

Thursday, for our monthaversary, we went to a Greek restaurant called Cavos located at 2414 Berlin Turnpike in Newington. I won't do a full review of it today but maybe some other time. It recently got written up in the Hartford Courant which they said has brought in a lot of new clients. Good for them. The food was fair. My dish (the Gyro platter) was absolutely delicious actually. It came with steaming hot (i'm not kidding, I burned my mouth on it) rice, Tzatiki sauce, pita triangles and the gyro meat. It was really great. Dave ordered a shrimp, feta, dill and tomato plate over pasta. It was ok. For the first time in a long time, my dish was better than his. YAY ME! We also ordered, to appetize, the Skordalia dish. it was potato and garlic. I was surprised this was served chilled but the garlic flavor was just a bit too strong to really enjoy the dip. Next time we'll order the baked feta dip. I would give this place 2 stars. it wasn't bad. The rice, once it cooled down was good and the gyro meat was spectacular. But overall, the atmosphere was stale and the food was ok.

This weekend includes, hopefully a beach visit, babysitting, breakfast with Jenn and a little shopping. Sounds like a good weekend. let's hope it gets warm enough to actually GO to the beach.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feast Week

Oh My Gosh, I have to say this has been one of my favorite weeks of eating in a long time (sorry sweetie, maybe I should say this has been my favorite week of eating MY cooking in a long time)! Not only are we harvesting our vegetable garden (last night we had a salad with two kinds of lettuce, sugar snap peas and broccoli all from our garden) but everything else has been really yummy too, including my LUNCH! Let me explain…

It is my week to cook. For those who don’t know how we do things in our household, we alternate weeks of cooking dinner and grocery shopping. So this week is my week. I mapped out the week factoring in plans, working late, etc and try to arrange our cooking to best work with our week. So this week we are both home all week long. Oh boy. AND it’s my week to cook- that can make for a tough week. But we are trying to empty out our freezer (not sure why, it’s not THAT full) so on Sunday I cooked some marinated beef shoulders. We bought them at BJs (new members) on a whim. The pack included two shoulders so I used a second for leftovers on Monday. Sunday I cooked the beef on the grill (along with the chicken for me soon-to-be-praised lunch). I served the beef with a Parmesan risotto and grilled zucchini. Then on Monday I took that second beef shoulder, cut it into bite-sized pieces, placed it on soft Portuguese rolls and covered with provolone cheese and broiled them just until the cheese melted. They were delicious. Served with our harvested salad and strawberries (from the store) it made for a really yummy meal.

Tonight I have chicken pesto Panini planned (with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes). Tomorrow I have margarita marinated shrimp tacos with a black bean, tomato avocado and corn salad –from the pork tacos recipe in our cookbook, in case you were wondering(and enough for left overs). Then I also have Summer Burgers planned for the final days. Thursday is our month-aversary so we might go out on Thursday or we might instead go out Saturday. Ok ok, so back to my AMAZING lunch. This tastes like one of those creamy pasta side dishes that comes in a package, just add milk and butter. You know those probably aren’t very good for you but the taste so unbelievable you eat them anyway. This is a solution to that. Let me just start by saying the recipe below is SO easy. The store bought pesto makes this so delicious and there is MINIMAL chopping here. Heck you can probably leave out the garlic if you really didn’t want to chop. But I wouldn’t omit the tomatoes. They add a nice sweetness to the dish. ENJOY!


Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle
Cooking Light

This dish comes together quickly if one person grills chicken while another cooks the pasta and sauce. Garnish with basil sprigs, if desired. If you serve wine, a chardonnay complements the creamy sauce. Yield 10 servings (serving size: 2 cups pasta and about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese)


Ingredients
1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
20 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (3.5-ounce) jar commercial pesto (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups halved grape tomatoes (about 2 pints)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


Preparation
1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until done, turning after 6 minutes. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces; keep warm.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Place pasta in large bowl.
4. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in pesto. Gradually add remaining 1 cup milk and half-and-half, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 8 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 cup cheese; stir until cheese melts.
5. Add chicken and sauce to pasta, tossing well to coat. Add tomatoes and basil; toss gently. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Serve immediately.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Defriended

I just de-friended a few people on facebook... and instead of feeling guilty, I feel liberated. I'm not sure why I 'friended' many of these people to begin with...I wasn't friends with them in high school. And sure don't care much what they are up to now.


Lazy Sunny Weekend

Apart from the violent storms that seem to attack us every night, it has been a lazy sunny weekend. I've done not a whole lot. I feel like this turtle:


He looks happy, right? Nice and chill, just hanging out with his buds. Very nice. Not much planned for next week too. Just work and home. Looking forward to August though! A few trips planned which will be nice, but for now I am enjoying the down time and soaking in these wonderful days.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Restaurant Review- Humphrey's Bar and Grille in Wethersfield

Found in the location of many other dead-before-they-opened restaurants Humphrey's Bar and Grille located at 1151 Silas Deane Hwy in Wethersfield might just be the restaurant that actually survives the tough location. Humphrey's is located near Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath and Beyond and a few blocks from the Wood n Tap. After about a year of renovations I was surprised this place actually opened. And I'm so happy it did.

Humphrey's is one of four locations in a small local restaurant group. While I loathe chain restaurants, in my qualifications for loathing, under 30 is a 'chain' and therefore it is loathed. So I was thrilled when a non-chain was moving in, but worried about it's survival rate. We stopped in a few weeks ago when we had no power and were starving. I was surprised at the renovations. This place is awesome. Before you walk in you are immediately greeted by a rough wood-floor entryway. Upon entry, you can either go left to a quieter dining area or go right toward the bar. We elected to go right. The bar is centered in the room and with stools and tables surrounding the bar. And the bar is beautiful. The taps just looked amazing, the amount of liquor is exciting, this place just has a great vibe. We elected to sit outside on the patio, but we could have sat inside and enjoyed the fresh air because on nice days the open the WALL of windows to have the whole place be open air. The outside seating was great.

The menu is large. And the food portions are HUGE, but I'll get to that in a second. So the menu has all the typical bar food you would expect- wings, burgers, sandwiches, stuff from the grill. But it also has seafood and steak. I had a hard time deciding what to order. The waitress came by with a little dish of homemade potato chips for us to munch on after taking our drink orders. They were good. Not fantastic, but nice to enjoy a little snack before our meal. I opted for a chicken quesadilla and Dave ordered a spicy chicken sandwich (and elected the steak fries rather than homemade potato chips). The waitress was prompt, polite and we never felt forgotten in our outdoor, around the corner, in the shade table.

Our food arrived quickly and it was HUGE. Generally with a quesadilla you get one tortilla, filling tossed on one side and folded over. This was double that. I'm not kidding, TWO quesadillas. What was really special about this was you could taste the charring on the chicken in the quesadilla. It tasted smokey and moist. It is rare to bite into a quesadilla and say 'wow, this is really good'. But I did. Then forced Dave to try it. He also was surprised at the flavor of the chicken. Oh and Dave wasn't going hungry with his dish either. The bun this sandwich came on was enormous and it was covered with chicken. No, this wasn't a mostly-bun sandwich, this was a big giant balanced spicy chicken sandwich. And the pile of steak fries was about the height of the sandwich. The food was great.

I am rarely wowed by a new pub. Lord knows we've had plenty of them in and out of our little town. But if there is one new pub that can make it, it's Humphrey's. Seriously, not only will the place wow you with the hardwood floors and fantastic bar, the service and variety of food was impressive. I look forward to the next time we can go. But I'll plan on having my leftovers for lunch and/or dinner the next night. I give this place 3.5 stars

Friday, July 10, 2009

I've been blocked!

How dare they!? They blocked my blog? Do they really think that it is a violation of corporate policy to blog at work? Well, ok they might be right. However, what a stinker it is to go log onto my blog and can’t access it! Oh so sad. So I guess I’m restricted to doing actual work and blindly searching the Internet when I’m at work… or I can actually WRITE the blog while I’m at work but post it at night… hmmm… that’s an idea. WAAAHHHH… I want to blog!


So what’s funny about this situation is, I’m about to email this ‘blog’ from my work email to my personal email inbox. I can access my personal email from work. And similar to when I call home to leave a message for myself, I will be surprised when this arrives in my email inbox. I’ll get a little notification alerting me I have received a new email. I’ll get excited and mentally giggle and clap my hands together. Then I’ll to go my inbox and see it’s only from me. Funny how my mind still plays that trick on me.

It’s even funnier when I call home. The message often goes something like this: “hello colleen, this is colleen. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Please remember to –fill in the blank- when you get home. Thank you! I hope you are having a splendid day!’

And yes, when I get home I’ll see we have a message and I’ll think- hmm, who called us? I wonder what they’ll say? Then I’ll play it and hear my own cheery voice and giggle about the message. BUT at least I will do what the message reminded me of. And I’ll have a little giggle with myself. Ah, yes, the simple pleasures.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Anniversary Trip- Baltimore

We have often talked about how much fun it would be to take a trip somewhere to see the Sox play. It is unbelievably difficult to find reasonably priced Red Sox tickets at Fenway, so rather than spending a boatload for crappy seats, why not go somewhere like Toronto or Baltimore to see the Sox play and have a mini vacation and get better than nosebleed seats.

When we were choosing our wedding date, we really hoped it could be the date of our first/blind date (we met on Match.com), June 23rd. When choosing our venue we really fell in love with the Old State House in Hartford, we spent our 4th date there, at a brewfest- not touring the historic and beautiful old building, don't be silly. But June 23rd was not available so we opted for June 30th with the decision that we would consider the week between June 23rd and June 30th our annual vacation week.

Last year we spent our vacation week in Hawaii, courtesy of my friend, Liz, who got married in San Francisco on June 20th(?). This year, we went to Baltimore. Yes, a vacation in Baltimore. No, we don't have family there. Yes, it does count as a vacation. It was awesome! The city is so well layed out for able bodied people. We stayed in the Inner Harbor and took a self-guided walking tour to Fell's Point and then back through the Inner Harbor to Cross Street Market. Monday night we went to the game, Lester pitched. We had club level seats which made us feel like rock stars with air conditioned bathrooms! Tuesday, our anniversary, we planned a tour of Camden Yards but unfortunately they were sold out for all the stadium tours. So instead we went to the Sports Legends museum and then to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for lunch. Since my friend Rocky (Obama) recommends the place, I wanted to try it. It was really good. Then went home, cleaned up and met up with Laura and Steve, former Nutmeggers who returned to Phili about 2 years ago and are expecting twins in late August. Then went out for steamed Crab...

I envisioned my steamed crab meal for years- ever since Demi Moore and Tom Cruise went to a steamed crab place in A Few Good Men. I wanted a mallet, a beer and crabs. When we talked about where we could go for our anniversary, I didn't want fancy schmancy, I wanted good-old-fashioned steamed crab. So we went to the place all the locals suggested- Obryckis. This place was tucked in a neighborhood you'd expect to see on The Wire. Projects and boarded up buildings ran along both sides of the building. I'm glad we listened to the lady at the Visitors Center who advised against walking there. So we ordered steamed crabs and got our mallets and knives and beers. We waited for the crabs and they arrived with an odor. And I have to admit, but the end of our 12 crabs, I was skeeved out by them. Growing up in a lobster-household (Grandfather was lobsterman) we had lobster a fair amount- probably more than the average CT family. I can find all the delicious morsels of lobster meat real quick and am pretty handy with those lobster crackers. But crab... I could not. The flavor of the meat was good, but with the lobsters, you just leave the body alone. No need to fish around in the body encountering any innards, the lovely meat is in the limbs. Not so with the crabs, so you're fishing around in the body of the crab, encountering innards. yuck. But I'm glad we had our steamed crab meal and that I got no shell stuck in my throat.
The next day we head to Camden Yards again for the Sox/Os day game. This was the day after the 'biggest O's comeback in history' or something like that. The night before, in the 5th inning, game is 9/1-Sox, there is an hour rain delay. After the delay the Os come back and beat the sox 11/10. It was sad to see how it went down. Just hoping Beckett would pitch a good game at the day game, but he did not. The bullpen however did and the Sox came back in extra innings of our incredibly hot day game to win it. What a nice anniversary vacation!

Here we are, sweaty and gross. Wow, it was a scorcher at the day game.