Tag Archives: hummus

It’s OK…To Act Like A Healthy Living Blogger!

Awhile back I wrote a post about healthy living blogger stereotypes “It’s OK!” to break. You guys gave me tons of great feedback – in fact, my girl Kelly even wrote her own take on it today! But there’s also lots of healthy living blogger stereotypes that I will be the first to admit I help perpetuate. After all, stereotypes exist because there are enough people out there to bring them about in the first place! So here are the ones I’m partially “responsible” for keeping alive…

I’m obsessed with brussels sprouts. You knew baby cabbages would get the first mention, right? Lay ‘em on me. I could sit down with a bowl of roasted brussels and just eat them all day. My digestive system would hate me but my taste buds would looooove me.

Raw to roasted!

Continue reading

Tuesday Tidbits

How are you all doing?! Thank you for the compliments on yesterday’s Blo West Hartford review! I wish I could tell you my hair looked like that every day, but alas, right now it is in a messy bun. And here’s some proof for you:

Blend run-in!

I am blogging from Daybreak right now because due to Sandy, my workplace has no power (thankfully I do have power at home and we only ended up losing it for an hour last night). As I was settling in here, someone approached me and introduced herself…the lovely lady pictured above, Rachel of Healthy ChicksI met her dad (a local) here awhile ago, and we got to talking and somehow my blog came up. He told me he had a daughter who blogged and lived in Boston, and put me in contact with her via Twitter. She came to stay with him during Sandy and recognized me blogging away – she was even expecting to possibly see me here since, as regular readers know, I am ALWAYS at Daybreak! I loved chatting with her and still can’t get over the coincidence. Never thought when I left this morning that I’d be meeting a blend today!

Tuesday Tidbits

Alliteration, come at me! I have a few pieces of cool information that I want to share with you all today:

The beautiful blogger (and fellow Vol, yes I consider myself one even though I didn’t go to UT) Sloane of Strength in Freedom is starting a campaign that is going to be an amazing support system for many girls – I just know it. The campaign is called Freedom From Perfection and is all about being able to share (anonymously if you wish) the thoughts you may have that put pressure on you to be perfect. Whether you suffer from disordered eating or are just sick of those occasional “should” statements that pop up in your mind, you can participate. Sloane is providing an outlet to be honest about those thoughts, get them out in the open, and push them away! She launched the campaign today, so make sure you check out her vlog that explains the campaigns message – and how to participate!

Next, I wanted to spread the word about something CT locals may be interested in. Yummy Hummy, a New London-based hummus, pesto, and salsa maker, has been mentioned on my blog a few times. I adore their products – so many unique flavors like Carrot & Dandelion Green Pesto, Curry Hummus, and Strawberry Salsa (all of which I’ve tried and love). This November and December, Yummy Hummy is offering a convenient way for local people to regularly receive tubs of their local products – a winter share with pickup at the Wethersfield Winter Farmers’ Market. For just $32, you can get access to four pickups (two in November, two in December). At each pickup, you will receive two containers of your choice. That’s a savings of $1 per container, and pickups are 11/1, 11/15, 12/6, and 12/20. So hurry and sign up! To do so, email Lexy at Lexy@yummyhummydips.com or call her at 860-334-2045.

Finally, I received a FB message from a high school friend letting me know about a product with a mission that I may be interested in. She was right about that, and I want to share it with you guys too. Her friends Alex and Mark previously worked for MANA Nutrition, a non-profit that (along with Unicef) provides ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF) to children around the world with severe acute malnutrition. It’s basically a powerful dose of nutrients that these little bodies so desperately need to get them back to a level at which complete development can occur. Now Alex and Mark are starting “the TOMS for peanut butter” – Good Spread. They’ve developed a natural peanut butter (just peanuts, organic honey, organic sea salt) and will be donating to MANA funds for one RUTF packet for every one packet of Good Spread PB sold. In order to fund an initial production run that will result in enough PB to last six months, Alex and Mark need to raise $65,000 to fund ingredients, mixing, packaging, design, shipping, and stocking. That’s where WE come in! There are 7 days left in their Good Spread Fixed Funding Campaign. Even if you are only able to give a little, every donation counts, so click on that link if you are interested in reading more about and/or supporting the cause!

And that’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Or not “all”, because that was a lot! I hope that those affected by Sandy are safe and if you are without power, I hope it is not for long. I’m off to do some homework…maybe.

Have you ever run into a blend somewhere unexpectedly?

How are you faring after Sandy? Were you affected in any way?

Have you ever signed up for a local food share of any kind?

What do you think about Sloane’s campaign and/or Good Spread?

Tuesday Treasures: Foodie Edition

I’m so happy that you all enjoyed my recap of the CT NOW Love Your Body 5K! Not only am I proud to have run it in less than 30 minutes, but I am still feeling inspired by the message behind the event. Being surrounded by so many others who share my passion for self love is pretty powerful.

I went to visit Heather a couple of weeks ago (you can read about some of our shenanigans on her blog) and came home with some amazing new memories created with her, her boyfriend Matty, and her best friend Raquel. But I also came home with far less money (lose) and a crapload of foodie treasures (win). Obviously I decided to share said treasures with you today just so I could use alliteration in this post title.

Of course whenever visiting Heather, we make it a point to visit Wildflour, a vegan bakery, cafe, and juice bar, while blogging in bliss. The vegan eats at this place are incredible and if you are ever in the Providence, RI area, I highly recommend passing on any of the restaurants by the mall and making the short drive to Pawtucket, RI to visit Wildflour (and the vegan restaurant next door, Garden Grille). Whenever I go there I leave with $30-$50 worth of goodies to take home and devour (as slowly as I can because I want it to last). This trip was no different. Here’s my haul:

  • a slice of whole wheat cheese-less butternut squash & broccoli flatbread
  • pineapple coconut jerky (YES)
  • raw garlic tomato kale chips (so far I’ve tried this flavor, garlic, and pizza…must try salt & vinegar and nacho still)
  • soba noodles with slaw (bottom left)
  • tofu tuna-style salad topped with carrots, served over greens (bottom right)

I threw MANY of these goodies into my lunch salad beasts and am in fact still working through the soba noodles (my first time having them and they are very interesting but it’s taking me awhile to use them since I’m not a huge noodle person). Pictured above is the entire container of the tofu “tuna” salad, thrown into a bowl and amped up with more greens and veggies. It was incredible!

I dreamed of dipping the pineapple coconut jerky into plain Chobani from the moment I purchased it, and that’s just what I did for a nighttime snack. However I was foolish to think the four pieces of jerky above would be enough with all that Chobani. I ended up polishing off the whole bag on that fine evening :-)

The flatbread was a great carby option for me this past Saturday when my stomach wasn’t feeling well, and I enjoyed half the kale chips on the way home from Heather’s (great road trip snack) and half at work one day while at my desk typing away.

I’ve tried the Dino Smoothie (almond butter, banana, almond milk, spinach, kale, blueberry) at Wildflour before and though I ADORE it, I wanted to go for something new and had a mean green craving! So this time while blogging there I snacked on the Sillyantro (spinach, kale, parsley, cucumber, OJ, ginger). The ginger was just what my sensitive stomach  needed and the OJ was the perfect hint of fruit to balance out those greens. I wish a juice bar like this existed near me!

I always get a large black slow-pour coffee and vegan scone to keep me company as I blog with Heather, but they didn’t have my usual (spinach and mushroom) that day. No worries, another savory beauty awaited me…the above broccoli cheddar (vegan of course) scone. Holy moly! I always dip my scone in that heavenly coffee and was happy to try a new flavor.

Wildflour was also bustin’ out the free samples that day. I’m not a huge raspberry fan but the above gluten-free razberry cheesecake brownie sample rocked my world. The real star though was a sample of this beauty…

That seems like a steep price but I’d say it’s worth every penny. The above pumpkin cheesecake is made with tofu and Heather promised it’d make me swoon. My BB never breaks a promise!

The two of us also made a fun little trip to Whole Foods, where I happened upon a gem I’ve been anxiously awaiting to try since I first heard about it a month ago…the limited edition Cedar’s PUMPKIN SPICE HUMMUS! I also purchased two squeeze packs of Justin’s Honey and Vanilla Almond Butters – perfect for sampling these new-to-me flavors. Heather also gifted me with a jar of garlic-stuffed olives she had at her house, because she knows olive garlic (haaaaa).

I have been dipping many-a-vegetable into the hummus. So incredible. I love dipping savory food into a slightly-sweet dip. Last night I was even dipping chicken into it.

I was pretty proud of the below epic snack combo that I came up with at work one day last week. I peeled the banana, put vanilla almond butter on each bite, and topped it off a pretzel stick. Legendary! I just finished the vanilla yesterday and next up will be the honey AB.

Finally, Heather, Matty, and I ventured to Trader Joe’s right before I went home so that she could do some grocery shopping and I could shop for things I didn’t need.

  • BBQ Popped Potato Chips – SO MANY CHIPS IN A SERVING #win
  • Nacho Kale Chips – Only $4…the Wildflour bag I got was about $8. Just to give you an idea of how crazy this deal is.
  • Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers – These kinda remind me of rice crackers. We’ll see how they are!
  • Balela Middle Eastern Salad - All things Caitlin. Chickpeas, cilantro, tomatoes, black beans, and fabulous flavor. This stuff has made it into all my salads and I’ll be sad when it goes bye-bye.
  • Olive Tapenade - WOW I love olives and this has been great in my salads, on bread, on meat, you name it. Another sad face when this guy goes.
  • Hot & Sweet Mustard – I’ve heard so much about this gem from many favorite bloggers like Katie! I am a mustard fiend and am gonna bust this open when I finish my current jar.

And okay, I was in Massachusetts in the company of TJ’s wine. So much CHEAP wine. In CT, our grocery stores can’t sell wine (we only just got Sunday sales, talk about behind on the times). So I picked up the above three bottles of Charles Shaw (Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz) for $2.99 each and the Blue Fin 2011 Pinot Noir for $3.99. You may recall that I sampled the Cab recently and was super impressed. Can’t wait to give the Merlot and Shiraz a spin. Also had the Pinot Noir and wow, I sure can see why it was a whole dollar more expensive :-P GREAT stuff and I don’t even usually like Pinot Noir (too light).

Mother-daughter wine glass sizes :)

FINALLY my last Tuesday treasure in foodie land is the below gem from my town’s farmers’ market. I spontaneously stopped by on Saturday after the 5K (notice my Team #AmazingMe tee!) since it’s right by my usual weekend study spot, Daybreak Coffee Roasters. Can you believe this guy was just $3?! He was in a bucket with a bunch of other smaller butternut squash that were the same price. NO brainer, I picked out the biggest squash in the pile! Just to make my girl Lisa proud of me. And apparently it was the last day of the market so good thing I stopped by! Hello fate.

Oh how I love a vegetable that’s bigger than my head.

My mom is away for the week but once she returns, we have big plans for this big squash. I hear that the skin tastes tres gross so does anyone have any tips on easy squash peeling-and-roasting? Who has some recipes I can try? I already know I want to do quesadillas but need more ideas because this is one big squash!

Which of my Wildflour goodies would you like to munch (or sip) on most?

What was your last gem of a find from Whole Foods and/or TJ’s?

Tell me about your most recent farmers’ market purchase!

Weekend With My BB – Part Two

I’d like to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and all those affected by 9/11. I cannot believe it’s been 11 years since that day in 7th grade when I came home from school to see the TV in my house displaying the day’s horrifying images. May we never forget!

Note: If you missed part one of my weekend with Heather visiting, you can check it out here!

I just love taking people places that are special to me. There’s nothing better. I’ve been wanting to bring Heather to Rooftop 120 for awhile now. It’s an all-seasons rooftop bar in my town (the all-seasons part is made possible by sliding glass doors that turn the rooftop from an outdoor bar to indoor in moments). They serve up unique food and drinks in a classy atmosphere. When I’m there, I don’t feel like I’m in Connecticut. I feel as if I’m in NYC or Vegas! I also have a favorite bartender there, Andres, who always treats me, any friends I bring in, and also my parents when they visit the bar (whether I’m there or not) SO well. I could go on forever – and hope to do a Rooftop 120 post one day that shares ALL the food and drink I’ve tried there. I did a post previously, but there’s so much MORE I’ve experienced since then that needs to be seen! For now I’ll just have to stick with sharing my night there with Heather. We had an incredible time!

Before we left.

My outfit was not very classy rooftop bar, but I was also super comfortable and it felt gross outside (humid, rain, etc). So I rocked the hippie shorts/tee, messy boho braid, and Birkenstocks on the rooftop. #sorrynotsorry

After being attacked with bobby pins by Heather :P

I was thrilled to see Andres and we parked ourselves in seats at his side of the bar! I asked him if he had any interesting hard liquor to throw my way and boy did he ever.

Stoli Hot – ole!

I was a bit wary at first of the above Stoli Hot Jalapeno Vodka, especially since I am still getting accustomed to spicy food. Heather couldn’t even believe that I’d try it. But Andres fixed me a nice sample in a shot glass lined with sugar! The beverage itself had the vodka mixed with lime and white cran. I actually enjoyed it, and ordered up a full size – but asked for less white cran, more vodka, and extra salt!

Fill ‘er up!

And Andres already has dreamed up another concoction for me to try next time…jalapeno vodka mixed with CUCUMBER vodka, with an extra salty rim, and some other stuff I unfortunately can’t remember right now. Whatever, it’ll happen.

Heather ordered up her fave, Pinot Grigio, which was served in Rooftop’s standard wine glass size – As Big As Your Head.

You can see another example of this here.

One drink each is all it takes for these girls. We sipped and savored slowly. By the end of the evening, lots of giggles were coming from our general area.

And lots of mooooaaaans over our amazing food! I wouldn’t have brought Heather to a restaurant that had no vegan options, and we feasted on roasted Brussels sprouts prepared with miso olive oil (instead of butter – Rooftop was very accommodating)  as well as a veggie platter with hummus and baba ganoush. 

Being the seafood lover that I am, I had to also order some tilapia ceviche. Complete with extra plantain chips on the side for us to share!

Incredible!

Our plan to get a good photo by Rooftop 120′s gorgeous multi-colored glass bottle wall didn’t quite pan out, but the effects were still pretty cool!

We headed home to do the obvious – watch more of “The Hills!” Then we both hit the hay at our nice bedtimes of 11PM-ish.

Love you!

I awoke on Sunday itching for a cardio and weight lifting lovefest! Heather was doing good to her bod pod (her trademark saying) and completed some stretching while I went to the gym and knocked out 35 minutes of spin and 25 minutes of abs and ARM DAY. I love lifting arms!

Wearing a matchy-matchy Reebok outfit. Obviously.

I got cleaned up after my sweaty workout and Heather and I went to – where else? – Daybreak to blog and try out more French pressed coffee flavors!

Mocha Butter Crunch for her.

Toasted Butternut for me!

Once we were caffeinated, blogged out, and fed our lunches, it was time to hit the road for the destination we experienced together on one of her last visits…the Coventry Farmers’ Market! I was ready to judge their Farm to Shaker Cocktail Competition after the market’s closing, but we were sure to get there before that so that we could spend lots of money. DUH.

Just a scarecrow in shades and a pumpkin bumpkin. That bushel of apples has a KNEE in it!

Heather and I made a beeline for one of our favorite CT vendors, Yummy Hummy! These folks were kind enough to not only set aside our desired unique hummus flavors for us to ensure that we would be able to purchase them before they sold out, but they also were offering $1 off Heather’s choice, Curry hummus, for their Facebook fans. It was our lucky day too since my frequency card with them filled up, so we got one hummus free!

LOVE the label :D

I opted for Pretty Beet and Honey Garlic hummus varieties. I can’t wait to sample them! I also decided to get a tub of Peach Basil Salsa, made with all CT ingredients. At $7 for the tub it was pretty pricey, but I’ve purchased other fruit salsas from Yummy Hummy before (strawberry and blueberry) and have NEVER been disappointed. Pleased to report that the case still holds! I had some of this with my dinner last night and it rocked my world!

After hearing Heather hadn’t tried their plain Pico de Gallo yet, she was gifted with a free sample to bring home. So very kind of Lexy and Ian, Yummy Hummy’s founders, to take good care of their return customers!

And I even started a new frequency card when I bought my salsa, so obviously I’ll be back soon.

Thank you Yummy Hummy!

We also visited Shayna B’s and The Pickle, a local bakery of wheat/gluten-free vegan goodies! Last time Heather and I were both overwhelmed by the owner’s kindness when we met her at her booth. Heather was missing just a bit of cash to pay for a container of delectable Wendy Bites, and she was allowed to purchase them for what money she had on her!

Well, Shayna B’s astounded us again. First, they sold Heather the above coconut apple tart. The ingredient list was incredible, and just check out her reaction upon first bite.

Tartgasm.

That’s genuine, folks.

Just too good…

After seeing us admire the two pear ginger scones remaining, the staff of Shayna B’s offered to let us take them home for FREE! I just know it was because they could feel our enthusiasm and appreciation for the simple, pure baked goods they put out every single day. It’s great to share a passion with someone you’ve only just met, and know that they clearly acknowledge and are grateful for it! Can’t wait to tell you all how the scone is. I’m saving it for a special evening snack…or maybe two evening snacks to make it last longer. I have a feeling plain Chobani may be involved.

Dammit goat, stop eating.

And what’s a Coventry Farmers’ Market visit without photos of me being awkward with animals…and children?!

Thumbs up, it’s a goat!

Staring down this child. Back off my goat.

I also purchased three jarred items from Christine’s Country Kitchen, another favorite local vendor of mine, as they were finishing packing up. HUGE thanks to them for putting up with my annoying lateness and still selling me some full sour pickles, jalapeno mustard, and sugar-free (sweetened with STEVIA!) beets! Unfortunately half of the beets and their jar did not survive the car ride home, and I drove to work yesterday morning sniffing beet smell the whole time, but that’s the life of a local foodie!

The day was FAR from over, but my judging of the Farm to Shaker cocktail competition deserves a post all its own, and that’s what it’ll get. So I’ll leave you guys in suspense for now.

Do you have a special local restaurant where you are known and treated well by the staff as a “regular”?

What are your favorite items to pick up at the farmers’ market?

What’s the coolest hummus flavor you’ve ever encountered?

Active Rest Day: How I Did

Amanda of  Run Principessa took my #AmazingMe list one step further and did a VLOG of hers! Check it out and make your own list if you haven’t already – I want to eventually do a post that links up all of them! Make sure to email or tweet me with the link!

Drawing on the chalk tables at ION with Heather. Thanks for the pic, Jenny!

You may remember on Friday that I asked for your support and thoughts as I headed into a weekend of personal challenges. I’m not going to lie and say everything went swimmingly. On Friday night I met up with Jenny and Heather at It’s Only Natural (ION) in Middletown for what should have been an absolute blast of a vegan meal, but I just wasn’t all there. I felt stressed and dragged down by my negative thoughts. I’d had a longer day at work than I’d expected when I woke up that morning and was running late to meet the girls at the restaurant – a ton of little things just combined to create a perfect storm and I had a hard time being present. The food was AMAZING as per usual. The sweet potato fries made my heart sing. My friends were being wonderful and understanding, but I felt guilty as I drove him for not being able to sit back and enjoy. Guilt guilt guilt!

My meal – the blackened tempeh special with the sweet potato fries and a small side of their cold mashed potatoes. I also had a beet salad to start.

The next morning brought part of the challenges I’d discussed on Friday – Om Street Yoga from West Hartford Yoga. Jenny, Heather, and I met in West Hartford center and took ourselves and our mats over to LaSalle Ave, which had been closed down for the second year of this free outdoor 75 minute yoga class.

Call me stereotypical, but yes I wore my Birkenstocks from the Fitness Meet & Tweet to a yoga event.

There was a great turnout! Mic problems only came up a couple of times during the practice, and a live percussion group was present playing relaxing music, complete with a gong.

The class actually ended up being more intense than I’d expected, which I enjoyed! My heart rate got up there during a ridiculously fast dancing warrior series, and my legs were on fire from all the chair poses we did. As I sunk into the last one, I literally whispered to Jenny, “Are you serious?!” I’d thought they were over!

Texting and folding ;) it’s safe!

Child’s pose may or may not be one of my favorites #sorrynotsorry

My favorite moment came as the entire class was in a goddess pose, doing a series of powerful arm movements. We pushed our arms up to the sky, to the side, in front of us, and downward, each time shouting out “HUH!” Sounds cheesy but it felt great, like a release, and right as we completed the series the sun broke through the clouds. Our instructor declared we’d “brought out the sun” and the crowd broke into applause. In that moment, I felt united with every single person on LaSalle Ave!

During the class I was continuously impressed with Jenny’s yoga skills. She is actually a yoga teacher and considers the practice to have saved her life. Her movements were so very fluid and I am envious of her flexibility! I’d love to get my om on with her again soon :)

Jenny’s yoga pants are amazing.

A part of my personal journey over the last couple of years has been working on being more mindful. Each time I do yoga, I have to admit that I am not living in the present. In fact, I rarely find that I am being present in any aspect of my life. This is something I’m trying to change and I was making an effort to be hyper-aware of mindfulness during the final portion of Om Street Yoga, savasana. My mind continued to wander forward to my plans with Heather and Jenny following yoga, forward to my tasting event later that evening, even back to the chair poses during the class and whether or not they were enough of a leg workout. I’d like to say that it was a zen, peaceful savasana, but instead I felt a bit panicked that it was SO damn hard for me to live in the moment. Why couldn’t I just enjoy?! Still, I followed the teacher’s instructions at the end to wish myself happiness, healthiness, and ease; it gave me some peace.

I suggested Hartford Baking Company nearby for our post-yoga coffee fix. I’d had their food before but had never had the chance to sample their pour-over coffee. My friend Matt was working and he recommended an Ethiopian blend from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Brooklyn; it tasted excellent, possibly also because he did a good job making it! I liked the glass pitcher it was served in – my kind of pitcher!

Heather and I sipped our pour-over coffee black, while Jenny went with a large regular coffee with her beloved soy creamer!

I had a great time chatting with these ladies, and our sunny cozy table made this coffee trip extra special. But I still know I wasn’t 100% there. Negative thoughts associated with stressing over situations to come, an active rest day, whether or not I was disappointing my friends, and more crowded my mind. When I dropped my friends off at Jenny’s and headed out, I was feeling really upset and frustrated with myself.

I was cheered up relatively soon, however, when I ran into my best friend Lidia at Daybreak Coffee Roasters (I stopped by to get iced coffee – decaf, because I’d had enough caff for one day). I felt like it was fate because it also happened to be her birthday! I sat outside with her, her mom, and a family friend of theirs. We just caught up and I was having such a good time that I really did lose myself in our conversation and not think about the fact that I wouldn’t be putting in a gym trip that day.

Losing yourself over coffee is easier when you love it so much :)

It got more challenging though when I got home and finished doing my “blog errands” (photo editing and uploading). I had a couple of hours of free time before my next activity, and didn’t know what to do with myself. Free time?! I felt like a slacker for not taking advantage of it and hitting the gym. I almost felt angry with myself for publicly declaring an active rest day to all of you guys. I thought to myself, well I could save this rest day for a day I’m literally too busy to work out. Why should I waste today, a day I have so much time for the gym?! A lot of the reason I didn’t go was because I didn’t want to disappoint those who had left me such supportive comments on my post, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

I consciously attempted to pull my mind to the positives of the situation, and also to the fact that I needed to do this challenge for ME. I had time to put away my laundry while listening to NPR, something I really enjoy doing. I finally got a chance to get iTunes set up on my laptop and attempted to load all my music onto my iPhone (something I gave up on halfway through, but oh well). I got to zen out on the back porch while doing my blog errands and eat baby carrots with Yummy Hummy curry and lemon cilantro hummuses (humm-i?)

In the end, I know that I did a workout on Saturday. I took a 75-minute yoga class that worked my body, stretched my tired muscles, and quieted my mind (even if only a bit). I had a chance to unwind in the middle of the afternoon before headed to my CT Bloggers event that evening, which probably ended up helping me handle that event well in the end (more on that later). And the next morning when I went to the gym for 45 minutes of spinning and an arm workout, I had a ton of energy and kicked some ass. So I did it. I took an active rest day and challenged myself. I’m not extremely happy with how I handled the entire situation, but I handled it and am a work in progress. I’ll get there. I know it!

How do you handle taking rest days?

Have you ever done outdoor yoga?

How do you keep yourself in the moment and present?

June Foodie Pen Pals

It’s very appropriate that today is the Foodie Pen Pals reveal day for June, since I arrived in MA last night to celebrate the 23rd birthday of my best blend and a fellow foodie (and Foodie Pen Pal participant), Heather! I have made so many wonderful connections through Foodie Pen Pals and blogging in general. Doing these reveal posts is always a reminder of how lucky I am to be part of this community!

And as usual, Lindsay deserves a huge thanks from all of us participants for managing the growing program every single month! Want to be a part of it? Click the image above to find out how to sign up!

The handwritten note is always fun!

This month I received a box from Lyndsay all the way from North Carolina (hello jealousy). I requested healthy eats with a bit of an indulgent spark, and that’s what I got! I have never had a bad Foodie Pen Pals experience…everyone seems to know exactly what I like :)

  • GoPicnic Ready-To-Eat Meals: Hummus & Crackers – Did somebody say HUMMUS?! I love mixed plates for dipping, especially when they come with a sweet ending in the form of a dark chocolate square. This will be perfect to pack for a beach day or summer road trip.
  • Tasty Bite Madras Lentils – I am often wary of heat-and-eat meals, but this looks unique and on the lighter side. I’m also an Indian food n00b, so what a perfect way to give it a shot in my own home! If I’m not a fan, I can just make something else. But I have a feeling I’ll enjoy this…I adore lentils.
  • Sensible Foods Apple Harvest Crunch Dried Fruit – I have to say I’m not really a fan of apples, but I’m excited to see if my sister wants to give these a try. She is always looking for on-the-go lighter snack options for her life at college.
  • Market Classics Spicy Tortilla Soup Mix – An original product from World Market, where Lyndsay purchased all my goodies! This soup sounds excellent and I love the way it’s packaged (see photo below) in the clear bag so that all the REAL ingredients are visible.

  • Manner Original Neapolitan Wafers – These are a total classic that I haven’t had in too long! My first candy bar ever was a Kit Kat, and that was actually because my mom told me they were like these wafers (which I already liked as a kid) except covered in chocolate. I used to eat all the chocolate off the Kit Kat first, then eat the wafer underneath. Did anyone else do this? How do you eat a Kit Kat?
  • Jo’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Grahams – I’ve had graham crackers in milk chocolate. OK, that’s a s’more. Dark chocolate though, sounds excellent. Then I saw the addition of sea salt. Um, SOLD! Unfortunately my box arrived in a heat wave and so these grahams got a bit melty, but they will still be fabulous. Melting doesn’t mean no taste, folks.

A special thanks again to both Lindsays/Lyndsays who’s made this month’s Foodie Pen Pals enjoyable for me!

I’ll be announcing the winners of the Mohegan Sun giveaway on Monday!

Have you ever tried any of these products? Which would you enjoy most?

Not-So-Tea-Infused Veggie Burgers

Don’t forget to enter the Mohegan Sun giveaway for an autographed copy of Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice’s newest cookbook! If you live near the casino, you can even meet her to get your autograph. You have until tomorrow (Friday) night at 11:59PM EST.

I have a ridiculously packed, planned-in-advance calendar. I’ve actually been making a conscious effort to make LESS plans. But for now, the next couple months’ worth of weekends are chock-full of summer class, trips, and local events and outings that I’ve already scheduled, some as far back as February or March. This past Saturday evening’s girls night with Kim, for example, has been on my calendar for almost two months. Not a joke – that’s how long it took to find a Saturday night that worked for both of us! But we planned, we waited, and we (finally) cooked. It was time for another tea-infused cooking adventure with the Alice’s Tea Cup cookbook.

Oh…and vino.

This time, Kim and I decided to make the tea-infused Alice’s Veggie Burgers. The book has a recipe for both beef and veggie burgers, but the veggie variety sounded way more interesting! The tea to be used was supposed to be a variety called pu-erh, but we both had no idea what that was and Wikipedia didn’t offer any ideas for a comparative type, so we just used an earthy loose-leaf tea from Daybreak. Kim handled boiling the water in her cute tea pot and steeping the tea.

Kim probably has one of my favorite kitchens ever. I adore cooking there. And you guys know I don’t really cook.

Kitchen cuteness.

Kim finely diced some of the above garlic, along with five or six small mushrooms, and sauteed them in EVOO. I handled cracking two eggs to separate the whites (used in the burgers) from the yolks, microwaving and mashing the frozen cauliflower (awkwardly packaged in a bag that asked me to “massage” before heating and to not “penetrate” the bag in any way), and rinsing and draining the black eyed peas. I combined all of that in a bowl with sea salt and ground black pepper, instant oatmeal, the tea, and the sauteed mushrooms and garlic.

The recipe called for us to mix the above with our bare hands, but it seemed to us that this method would not produce a sticky-enough product. So, I took to the bowl’s contents with the “masher”. After a few minutes, I had a nice mushy combo that was ready for patty-forming.

Making the patties with our hands was way-fun, just like when we mixed our tea-infused berry scones with our hands!

We struggled at first to fit four patties onto the pan, but man we were getting hungry, so we managed to do it!

We had a bit of a fail when we realized the reason the patties weren’t searing on each side after six minutes, like the recipe said they would, was because we had the burner set on the lowest heat setting. We were finally cookin’ (ha) once we fixed that.

Each side got nice and crispy (burnt in some cases, but I dibsed those, I love carcinogens). We also melted some smoked cheddar on top, and Kim fixed some Alexia frozen sweet potato fries in the oven. I decided last-minute to chop up some veggies after spying some olive hummus in her fridge! I also threw arbitrary amounts of garlic powder and ground black pepper on the rest of the cauliflower so that I could mash it all together and add extra bulk to my burger.

When the burgers and fries were almost ready, we poured some Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon that Kim’s dad picked out for us. It was a really good Cab Sauv! I often don’t prefer them because they are sometimes too light for my tastes and are more similar to Pinot Noirs. But this Cab had a Chianti-like dryness to it. Plus, a lighter red like a Cab definitely was OK for a meal with no meat involved. As soon as the wine was poured, we had to take domestic housewife pictures.

Do housewives often cook in workout gear?

Finallyyyyy everything was ready. Kim and I were chomping at the bit (didn’t even let the cheese melt on the burgers) but somehow managed to be patient enough to take a “proud table display” photo before diving in.

After taking this, we decided it was awkward to sit across from each other, and she moved next to me.

So how’d the burgers turn out? I’m not going to bother telling you the sweet potato fries were awesome – well OK, I guess I just did. Love Alexia’s frozen fries, especially with both Grey Poupon and French’s yellow mustard! Our veggie burgers didn’t taste tea-infused at ALL. We may as well have just saved the tea for drinking. I feel like the Alice’s cookbook recipe creators just threw tea in there to say the burgers were tea-infused. I’m not sure why it was included because I’m sure they tasted the burgers before selecting them for the cookbook. Maybe if we’d used the actual Pu-erh tea?

Multiply this plate by two. And the wine by three. ;-)

However, the veggie burgers were amazing. They tasted so hearty and were extremely satisfying. This was my first time having black-eyed peas and I loved them! I’d definitely like to cook more with them in the future. The smoked cheddar was of a really high quality and was fun to pair with the wine (along with everything else).

Despite the presence of the aforementioned food and wine, the best part of the evening was hanging out with Kim. We shared the girliest of girl talk and watched “I Love the 90′s”. We learned new things about each other and deepened our friendship, cheesy (smoked cheddar cheesy) as it sounds. And it all happened over preparing and enjoying a meal together. It was truly an evening of enjoyment.

Have you ever cooked with black eyed peas? Any recipes to share?

What was the last girl’s night you had? Or boy’s night for my male readers ;-)

Have you ever heard of and/or had pu-erh tea?

CT Veg Fest 2012!

Can you believe Connecticut didn’t have a vegetarian and healthy living festival of some kind in the Hartford area until this year? Me neither! Although if you’d asked me a few years ago, I probably would have scoffed at the idea of attending such an event.

Luckily my eyes have been opened to the wonderful world of my adventurarian lifestyle ;-) and even though I am not vegetarian or vegan, I still enjoy reading about other eating “lifestyles” and trying vegetarian and vegan foods. They are just as delicious as the rest! No bias here. After all, that’s what being adventurarian is all about. And that’s why I was beyond excited to attend the 1st Annual CT Vegetarian and Healthy Living Festival this past Sunday!

Registration and donation area.

Entry was free, but monetary or non-perishable food donations were encouraged, and it looked like a great turnout for both. I think that ideas for healthy living should be accessible for all, so Veg Fest organizers hit the nail on the head by making the donations optional. I donated money because I am able to do so, but those who cannot should still be able to attend something like this and learn about the options they have!

Erika, Bethany, and I.

I started out the event solo, but ended up meeting up with my blend Bethany and her sweet cousin Erica after they got out of the sessions they were attending when I arrived. Erica was awesome and even knows Jenn of She’s a Fit Chick, who was one of the first bloggers I ever discovered and is also an original founder of FitFluential! Small world.

I knew I was in the right place (the CT Convention Center in Hartford, to be precise) when I walked in, looked to my right, and saw this guy grinding out fresh wheatgrass shots!

I didn’t even know CT grew chickpeas!

I am not a huge beauty product hoarder (lucky for me, though I do hoard plenty of magazines about them) so I didn’t spend too many time at the all-natural beauty product booths, but there were plenty of them.

Soaps from CT Natural Soapworks.

Tower of yummy Fanciful Fox soap flavors.

The mother and daughter duo working this booth were handing out free soap “scraps”, so I got a piece of the green bar above, called Wise Guy.

Soap doubling as a centerpiece?! Gorgeous!

Loofahpalooza!

Just one variety of product offered by Hartford-based company Soul Purpose.

The small part of me that doesn’t have to be practical ALL the time paid $1 for one of the blue crystals below. The girl at the booth had so much faith in their ability to absorb only positive energy – I guess this specific kind is often used to clear negative energy from other crystals, that’s how many “good vibes” it carries. So I figured, why the heck not?! I tucked it into a pocket in my purse and have been carrying it with me since.

Erica, Bethany, and I also got to enjoy a free yoga class – they were running every hour on the hour! I had gone to Step that morning and my quads were sore from doing leg-heavy workouts the couple days before that, so the yoga felt good, and it was another great way to give free access to an activity that many may have been unfamiliar with, averse to trying, or doubtful of. Yay yoga!

Lots of speakers and cooking demos going on too, including a Smoothie Workshop for kiddos!

Whole Foods kids smoothie demo.

Now, let’s get to the products! I love that this event gave so many passionate vendors the chance to get the word out about the foods they have worked so hard to create. All that many of them want is shelf space at a grocery store – it seems like little to ask for, but shelf space is actually VERY scarce with all the big corporations out there (and their big wallets) – getting even a little bit of shelf space is a BIG deal. If you ever attend one of these kinds of events and try a product you love, suggest to your grocery store that they start carrying it – it often takes the voice of the people to convince a store that they should stock a product, because of course they exist to make money, and want to be positive it will sell.

I don’t use dressings on my salads at home (I find that I really don’t need it at all, since my beasts include about 10-15 ingredients on average, many liquid-based, and “marinate” in my fridge overnight) but if I did, I’d be all about purchasing one of the above bottles of Wholesome Creations salad dressings. The green tea and ginger dressing on a cup of greens blew me away.

Mama Micki’s was sold out of all three varieties of their vegan cookies by noon – a good sign for this all-natural bakery that is trying to get into stores! I sampled all three varieties – molasses, chocolate orange walnut, and oatmeal raisin sunflower seed (pictured above). I’m a sucker for a good molasses cookie, but have to declare the chocolate orange walnut the winner for its unique, complex flavor.

Soya Foods of MA had a generous amount of flavors of their Creative Chef Tofettis for patrons to sample – all of these are made with non-GMO soybeans!

I tried BBQ, Brazilian, Hot & Spicy, Lemon Garlic, Jamaican Jerk, Teriyaki, and a faux “chicken nugget” as well (not pictured).

Seitan is a meat substitute I’d never had and I loved how it perfectly mimicked the texture and taste of ground beef. Upton’s Naturals of Chicago offered traditional, chorizo, and Italian varieties. I tried all three and especially loved the chorizo – it would go great in tacos or atop a big pile of nachos.

Bethany and I totally adored these Kathy’s Kitchen SuperSeedz. Kathy and her partner had plenty of flavors of these pumpkin seeds on hand, as you can see from the sign above!

I sampled Original Curry, Coco Joe, and Cinnamon & Sugar. The Original Curry flavored seeds were awesome and the chocolate-y coffee flavor of the Coco Joe was perfectly balanced. The Cinnamon & Sugar were good (can’t go wrong with that combo) but not nearly as remarkable as the first two flavors.

Local chip-makers Pan de Oro of Hartford (I sent a bag to Diana for foodie pen pals this month) partnered up with Good Neighbors of NH (love that) and provided a carb-tastic vehicle for sampling of salsas, salads, and hummus.

I’ve bought Good Neighbors black bean spread before at Whole Foods and it was awesome. I didn’t know they sold falafel too – or as they call them, veggie burgers? Check out the cute snack pack offerings as well!

Love me some tabouli! I may be one of the few bloggers who can take or leave quinoa but it was still tasty. And LOTS of salsa choices, hand it over!

Oh geez, where do I begin?! I wish I hadn’t downed my hummus samples so quickly because I honestly didn’t taste a  huge difference between the flavors I tried (cilantro jalapeno, spicy chipotle, a couple others I can’t recall). However, the flavor I tasted was certainly delightful.

CT Veg Fest = free lunch!

One of MANY courses.

Check out this nifty magnet Bethany snagged for me from a booth! I notice the Splenda I use at home isn’t on there, oops, haha…

One of my favorite products of the day came from The Olive Oil Factory of Waterbury. Gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegar seem to be “all the rage” now, and I’m certainly glad because that means more and more unique varieties are coming out.

I opted to receive my samples on vegan brown rice bread in the spirit of Veg Fest, but a non-vegan bread was also available. I started with the below chocolate balsamic – it blew me away! Holy crap. I just wanted to drizzle it (or pour it…) over a mound of fresh strawberries.

I also tried blueberry, lime, and peach balsamic. All were so, so fantastic. The blueberry balsamic drizzled on a scone or muffin would seriously be the perfect weekend breakfast.

Another favorite of the day? Boston-based Biena Snacks Roasted Chickpeas! These have plain-Greek-yogurt-mix-in written ALL over them.

The Sea Salt flavor was good but compared to the other two, Lime & Chili and Cinnamon Maple, it was just blah. That’s because the other two flavors were so amazing! I’ve always wanted to try roasted chickpeas and am glad I finally was able to.

Pan de Oro had their own booth of course, but by the time I got there they had run out of all their new varieties of chips (I missed out on the GARLIC!!!). I still wasted no time in sampling the original flavor. Erica had stopped by earlier than me and purchased two bags of the garlic chips!

They were kind enough to sell their chips at a discounted price at the event (many vendors were doing this).

The Simply Bar is probably the most impressive bar I’ve ever seen, from a nutritional stats standpoint. I tried the Cocoa Coffee, which contains real caffeine, and enjoyed its taste as well! These bars are VERY low in sugar and saturated fat, unlike most bars I’ve seen, which remind me of candy bars.

Being a long-time blog reader, I’ve seen Sun Warrior and Vega proteins all over the place. I’ve never been that interested in protein powder though, so have never bought any. Perfect opportunity to sample some – expertly prepared by VeganProteins.com!

I liked the vanilla Sun Warrior protein shake! The desire to drink any more than a few sips, though, was not there.

And I had no desire to drink another sip again of the chocolate Vega protein shake. Sorry – not for me! However, I know that protein powders are something that is enjoyed by many a blogger and blog reader, and it’s great that there are so many vegan options. My twin Heather is a huge Vega fan and uses their powder to make protein pudding oats almost every day!

The Taza chocolate above had an amazing flavor different from any chocolate I’ve ever tried, because it is made from stone-ground cacao nibs. Due to the manufacturing process, the cacao nibs are not completely ground up, which leaves a lot of the cacao flavor in the bars. It’s very complex and hearty.

And check out all the benefits of Chocholistic chocolate! Its creator is Kenzie Harrick, a Certified Health Counselor with a sweet tooth and a passion for healthy eats. Those two things drove her to create “the only chocolate that you can eat every day that will improve your health while you eat it”. Like the Taza, the complex, rich flavor left me feeling very satisfied. I’d take this stuff over a regular candy bar any day (even a Twix!)

Cedar’s is the hummus brand of choice in my house and they passed out a ton of these nifty snack packs! Can’t wait to munch on mine.

Coconut butter is another product that’s been very popular in the blog world, but I hadn’t been able to try it until now. Nature’s Approved had the great idea of serving it up with a dallop of chocolate atop a graham cracker – just as good as any s’more! Well OK, maybe not, because there’s nothing like a charred-to-a-crisp marshmallow. But this was darn close.

Of course Vitamix was there, because it’s not a food event without Vitamix!!

I sampled a handful of freeze-dried corn from Raw Foods Central. It was really good – nice and sweet. I wonder how the peas would taste!

Litchfield based Boxed Goodes Pantry served their herb dips with fresh-cut bread. Not only did they taste delicious, but the packaging was so gorgeous and colorful. A set of jars in a kitchen filled with these herbs would really brighten up the place.

What a FUN event! Bethany and I are heading to Wesleyan University this weekend to attend 2012 Foodstock next. Loving all these FOODIE conferences!

Clearly we were prepared to get our yoga on!

Have you ever been to a vegetarian and/or healthy living festival?

Have you ever tried any of the products I sampled?

Orlando – (Leap) Day Four

Another day of vacation (Wednesday), another trip to the hotel gym. The treadmills were full, and I was not a fan of those ellipticals (I prefer the Precor brand), so I got my cardio on with a series of dynamic lunges, squats, and ab moves in which I used a 10-lb dumbbell a lot like I would use a kettlebell. I was even called out by a nice fellow gym-goer as a “kettlebeller” – that made me feel good! We had a good conversation about workouts, running in Vibrams, and YouTube fitness gurus. I could have those kinds of conversations forever!

Puke-inducing pink ensemble #sorrynotsorry

I was feeling well enough to go for it at Starbucks and get my usual grande nonfat iced coffee with cinnamon powder. Mmm, not much different than the decaf Americano, but definitely an improvement.

Morning workouts are the best on vacation, because then I can proceed to move as little as possible alllllll day ;-)

Unfortunately Grannan and George headed back home that afternoon, but that also meant a more unique dinner destination, and one the Greek-food-lover in me was SO excited for – Taverna Opa!

What a lively place! The Greeks know how to party, and I think it’s great. Belly dancers rotate throughout the restaurant, patrons dance on tables, and slips of white paper (traditionally, they would be dollar bills, but Taverna Opa can’t go giving away money!) fall from the ceiling.

I made sure to select a Greek wine. Our waiter assured me that any red I chose from that part of the menu would be very dry and full-bodied, so I chose the Agros Merlot, even though it was specificed as medium-bodied.

I wish I’d listened to the menu – the wine was a bit too light for me. It was pretty good, but not what I was hoping for. I was also disappointed when it came served in a regular glass – maybe this is how wine is served in Greece? If so, I respect the authenticity of the restaurant, but I really prefer to drink wine out of a wine glass, even if that seems like something silly.

My mom ordered half a carafe of a different red, and the carafes were certainly unique-looking too!

We received the freshest hummus I’ve ever tasted, ground right at our table, and freshly baked pita. Even my dad, who NEVER eats hummus, loved it!

My go-to order at any Greek restaurant, because I hate making decisions regarding all the amazing choices I’m always faced with, is an appetizer sampler platter (or two). I stuck to one that evening, the Cold Pikilia platter of tzatziki (yogurt dill dip), tarama (caviar dip), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and olives.

I was so proud of my dad – I convinced him to try a stuffed grape leaf, and after a hesitant first bite, he immediately gobbled up the rest. Finally, my parents were seeing the reason why I’m in love with Greek food!

In an effort to get some veg into my day, I also ordered a side of tomato and cucumber slices for dipping. Perfect!

The padre continued trying different foods and ordered the Moussaka (I corrected his pronunciation before he ordered :D) and loved it! He called it the “Greek Shepherd’s Pie”. I had a bite and man, oh man, it was tasty. And HUGE! It’s impossible for me to leave a Greek place not-stuffed, and my parents experienced that same phenomenon. Half of the moussaka became his breakfast the next morning.

Another satisfactory meal in Orlando! This time I was definitely too full for dessert, so I went home and essentially passed out immediately. Wild and crazy 9:30PM vacation bed time for the win!

Have you ever tried an ethnic cuisine that you were nervous to sample? How did it turn out?

Boston: New Eats, New Drinks, and Both Old and New Friends

Happy post-Super Bowl Monday! I definitely have a lost of Super Bowl party photos to share, but don’t want to get too ahead of myself because I’ve got great stuff that happened earlier in the weekend to share too. Good problems to have, yes?

But I just want to say quickly, I am already getting a bit sick of hearing people beat themselves up for indulging last night. I was doing some of that and still kinda am, but it’s the last thing I want to see and hear all over the place this morning. So let’s together try to make this a #mirrorlessmonday and just reflect on the good times. I’m working on it, and I hope you can too!

Saturday was quite an excellent day that started with a trip to the gym for Group Step. I had attended the exact same class the night before (Friday night “happy hour”!), but since the current release is still quite new, I wasn’t bored with the choreography at all. Some of the songs are so awesome! I’m always talking about this exercise program (by Body Training Systems) but have never actually SHOWED you guys what it’s about. Here is a trailer that shows you exactly what moves I’ve been doing in class, and you can hear the music too! I got the video from the BTS website.

I headed home, took a refreshing shower, and hit the road for Boston. It was great sunny driving weather, and I enjoyed some music and, once I lost radio reception to my favorite stations, listened to “The Tiger’s Wife” on audio book. I had big plans for the day. So big in fact, that they warranted a ridiculously-long-titled post like this one! :) I first met up with Greg and Kramer, two good friends that I’ve known for awhile. Greg even spent Thanksgiving with my family (his parents are my godparents and vice versa). We walked to Newbury Street to have lunch at Stephanie’s on Newbury, a place that Kramer (a fellow restaurant fanatic) and I had been wanting to try for awhile. From the way my Twitter followers responded to my check-in there on Foursquare, I can see that many of my readers are already fans!

Each table at Stephanie’s was set with the cute little clipboard above that enables guests to customize their very own Stephanie’s Famous Bloody Mary for $11.50. The ingredients sounded really cool, but I have never been the biggest Bloody Mary fan (but more on that later…soon to be shown that this may have changed) and was going to be having some cocktails later, so we all just ordered food. Boston.com has called these bloody marys some of Boston’s best though, for those who are fans.

The cocktail menu was pretty darn impressive. It was hard for me to resist indulging in one of these! But really, I was hungry and food was at the top of my brain.

A girl at the table next to use ordered the Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Salad, and as soon as I saw the waiter set it down in front of her, all I could think was…I WANT. It wasn’t too hard for me to decide on that, though the menu did have plenty of appetizing options. Kramer and Greg had a way harder time choosing than I did.

Kramer ordered the Oversized Stephi Burger: ground sirloin, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, and french fries. It was definitely oversized! And also over-cheesed and over-fatted – Kramer commented that the cheese was way too much, and the sirloin itself was too fatty. There was definitely a sizable pool of grease that crowded and ruined the last few fries on his plate. He liked the burger, but said next time he’d go light on the cheese or nix it completely.

Greg’s choice was definitely more unique and delicious, though not enough food for him! He has been loving shepherd’s pie that Kramer cooks in their apartment, and ordered Stephanie’s version, which came inside an acorn squash and with a side of deliciously salty sauteed collard greens. Fortunately for Kramer and I, Greg didn’t want the greens. After I snapped this photo, Greg poured gravy over the whipped potatoes on top, and it looked even better. He said it was so delicious, but again, not enough food for him.

My salad was fantastic, with perfectly seared tuna and plenty of yummy ingredients like marinated green beans and olives, just the way I like it. The lemon caper dressing was the star – one of the best salad dressings I’ve ever tasted. I dipped my fork in it lightly before each tuna bite and the combo was out of this world.

After lunch, we walked around Newbury a bit and did some shopping. I finally got some Toms at Urban Outfitters thanks to Christmas gift cards, and also had some luck at Forever 21!

Next on my agenda was a meet-up with my pal Ken of Pete & Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs. Don’t forget, you can still access coupons for their eggs here, and FYI, their eggs are available to buy (and use the coupons on) at Northeast grocery store chains like Shaw’s, Stop and Shop, and Whole Foods!

This small sign was literally the only indication that we had arrived at Drink, Boston’s premier destination for specialty cocktails. The bartenders here are more like mixologists or artists. There is no drink menu - just tell them what you like or what you’re in the mood for, and a special, unique beverage will be made just for you. Each drink takes awhile to make but it’s well worth the wait.

The place runs like a well-oiled machine. That girl in the photo above was preparing citrus fruits for drinks the whole time we were there. Another girl was completely in charge of washing off any tools/shakers/cups used to make the beverages. That way, the mixologists could concentrate on what they did best. Each drink was quite a production! It looked like our bartender, Will, was performing an operation while he made our first beverage.

Luckily the booze was not only flowin’ at Drink, but water was too – served in shot glasses! Very cool, and despite how busy it got not long at all after the place opened at 4pm, the employees were very attentive about keeping the glasses full.

Our first drink was a Mai Tai, but not one you’ve ever seen before.

Yes, the drink is on FIRE! This was amazing. Ken and I informed Will that we wanted something with rum, citrus-y, more tart than sweet…and this is what he came up with. The thing on fire in the lime skin is a brandied cherry, and the cherries in this drink were actually the best I’ve ever tasted. The Mai Tai contained two rums: El Dorado 12 Year and one other that I cannot for the life of me find the name of – bad blogger. Other ingredients included house-made grenadine, freshly squeezed lime juice, orange curacao, and the obvious fresh fruit and crushed ice.

Drink may not have a drink menu, but the food menu was incredible. Ken chose a couple of bar bites for us – warm olives and candied bacon cashews. OH. MY. GOSH. The olives were good, don’t get me wrong. But those cashews? Fantastic, amazing, wonderful, not enough positive words exist to describe these cashews.

It was time for another drink, and Ken had brought along a very special ingredient – his Pete and Gerry’s eggs! Will gladly accepted them and offered to whip us up some cocktails. He and some other Drink employees were definitely admiring the brilliant yellow of those cage-free yolks as he worked.

Yes, that’s a light Will is working with. I’m telling you, each drink was like an operation! An operation that involves lots of heavy drink shaking.

Will made Ken and I two drinks to share, one with egg whites and one that used the egg yolk. First up, was a Good Humor, made with egg yolk, aperol cream, and topped with nutmeg.

Interesting story behind the Good Humor – it was invented by a couple who owned a farm and used to make drinks with egg whites. They had so many leftover yolks that they knew they had to come up with a drink to put those into, and that’s when experimenting was done and the Good Humor was invented.

The next drink, which was the favorite of both Ken and I because it tasted stronger, was the Pink Lady made with egg whites, apple brandy, gin, pomegranate, and lemon. YUM!

Ken and I toasting to Pete and Gerry's egg cocktails!

Ken and I had to cut ourselves off, because we had another destination to hit! Chef Jason Santos of Hell’s Kitchen’s seventh season is the executive chef at Blue Inc. and he has an affinity for Pete and Gerry’s eggs! He uses them in his kitchen and had nothing but good feedback for Ken. That’s right, I got to meet Chef Jason Santos!

The interior of Blue Inc. is gorgeous, with a really cool blue and orange color scheme and a very retro appearance. The restaurant was designed with help from Taniya Nayak, an interior designer and HGTV/Food Network personality!

Jason was kind enough to send out shooters of his celery root and Fuji apple soup. This was creamy and not too rich. The apple taste was extremely subtle – good for someone like me who doesn’t really like apples! What an amazing soup.

The unique foodie fare didn’t stop there. The bartenders were also very generous and gave Ken and I a sample of one of the crazy cocktails from Blue Inc’s Crazy Cocktails menu. Tricia LaCount, the Bar Manager and “Mad Scientist”, has done an amazing job coming up with some really unique concoctions, like a dirty martini made with black sea salt. Oh, and she’s also a sweetheart! The above shot glass is filled with a rum and Coke made with butter-popcorn-infused rum. Yes, that’s right, they literally take rum and let it soak in buttered popcorn! Not exactly my cup of tea (I don’t like soda…) but what an idea. I can always appreciate creativity like that. I had to try a couple sips!

For my next cocktail of the evening, I was daring and selected the Angry Tomato: gazpacho vodka, pickled green beans, and a double-secret bloody recipe.

The rim was garnished with some kind of red-pepper and the green beans were EXCELLENT dunked in the drink. This was a daring choice for me because like I said before, I’m not really a Bloody Mary fan. I could actually only finish about half of this. However it was the best one I’ve ever tried and I’m glad I stepped out of my box!

Not pictured are the Spicy Red Curry Mussels (with Thai crab cakes, scallion salad, and fresh coconut) and Pretzel Rolls that Ken and I shared as well. The broth of the mussels was FANTASTIC when soaked up with the pretzel roll. Mmmm. Unfortunately at this point, it was time to part ways with Ken. I had another meet-up on my agenda, a very special one indeed.

Yes, that’s Heather from For the Love of Kale! She already blogged about our meet-up and had so many nice things to say, and I’m happy to say the feeling is mutual. I feel like I’ve known her for forever and she’s one of my twinnies! We had a great time in the city and I loved meeting her friends too.

We were going to hit up The Other Side Cafe, and I was so psyched for a unique meal, but they were at capacity and showing no signs of emptying out anytime soon. Bummer! A lot of the restaurants in the area were also “full-up” for those with no reservations, so by process of elimination we ended up at Mass Ave Tavern.

Good thing I wasn’t even really hungry at all after all the munching and imbibing I’d been doing the last several hours, but the Bee Keeper cocktail sounded simple and delicious, so I did order one of those. When in Rome?

The drink was definitely excellent, and the four of us shared a Hummus Plate. It was yummy and the perfect light snack for my hunger level, but Heather the hummus-expert confirmed for us that this hummus was not homemade, but Tribe. Still good, but something easily recreated at home!

Our waitress also had an attitude and there weren’t many options at all for a vegan like Heather (what do you expect from a Tavern we ended up at because we didn’t have many other choices…), but we went with the flow and had a blast with each other anyway, of course! How could we not?

It was such an amazing Saturday. I headed home after dinner and was in bed and passed out by 11:15PM. Not too shabby! Still was able to get up the next morning and have a super productive Sunday.

Have you ever met someone you met through blogging in “real life”?

Which of the cocktails I sampled would you most want to try?