Tag Archives: salsa

Five Foodie Finds Friday

Before I get into today’s post, I’d like to announce the winner of my Redpack Tomatoes prize pack giveaway! The randomly generated winning entry number is entry #12, from Lisa! Congrats, lady – I’ll be reaching out to you about claiming your prize!


Hello hello, it’s time for Five Things Friday. I am taking a half day at work today so that I can beat traffic when driving home to Connecticut. I can’t wait for an evening of friends, family, and my good friend the J. Gilbert’s barrel-aged Manhattan. He’s just so dependable. Anyway, this Five Things post ended up unintentionally becoming a post about foodie products and dishes that I’ve enjoyed as of late. So I figured I’d theme it around just that! Let’s get down to it.

Link up with Clare if you’re sharing five things today too!

1. It’s been a week of recipe wins! First that fantastic chickpea salad, and then Running with Spoons pumpkin chili Mexican scramble. This tasted great freshly made as well as leftover last night.

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WIAW: Agave Grill Girl’s Night

I don’t usually do a day-in-the-life WIAW. What I eat on weekdays doesn’t tend to change. So today’s What I Ate Wednesday post is about What I Ate at Agave Grill in Hartford, CT. As I mentioned on Monday, Kelly was in CT this past weekend so she and I planned a Saturday dinner date literally MONTHS ago. That girl knows how my schedule tends to go.

Be sure to join Jenn’s link-up!

And I know how Agave’s tends to go: the space is quite small, and they don’t even take call-ahead seating on weekends (something my mom and I found out during my first visit a couple of years ago). Thankfully I connected with Hartford Restaurant Group‘s Jonathan (fun fact: they also operate TD Homer’s in Southington and Wood-N-Tap in EVERYWHERE) awhile back through this blog, and he was kind enough to score Kelly and I a rare Saturday night reservation for two. Thanks Jon!

FYI, Agave does do call-ahead seating Sunday through Thursday! Source

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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 😛

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!


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 😀

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.


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?

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!


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?

Foodie Pen Pals: November!

Do you ever have a workout that is just beyond awesome: one that is fun, challenging, and leaves you feeling great after? That’s what I had yesterday. I managed to leave work in time to attend my favorite Step class, and despite the fact that the routine was completely new, I was hitting almost every move and keeping up very well. At the same time, my heart was pumping thanks to the drills the instructor dispersed throughout the combos she taught us.

I was so hungry all day yesterday, and had to buy a Kashi bar from the gym vending machine (the cheapo in me hates doing that) to fuel up before the class began, but I know that I owe my great experience to the fact that I had a balanced snack beforehand. I’ve struggled through too many group fitness classes because I didn’t eat enough beforehand, and it felt great to know that thanks to my smart choice to snack beforehand, I had one of the best workouts I’ve had in awhile. Have you ever had a great workout that you attribute to proper fueling beforehand?

The main purpose of today’s post is to talk about Foodie Pen Pals! Lindsay and Allie have done a great job starting this program and organizing it each month. Here’s some more details, courtesy of a email I recently received from Lindsay:

  • “On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. *US Residents only please at this time- hopefully we can expand soon!*

If you’re interested in participating for December, please send an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your email address
  • Your blog name/address
  • Your twitter handle (if applicable)

[She] will need to hear from you by December 4th as pairings will be emailed on December 5th!”

I received a November Foodie Pen Pal package from the fantastic Tara of A Daily Dose of Fit. She’s a certified personal trainer and in my eyes, a certified fine-taste foodie as well, based on the contents of the cute package she sent me!

Tara took the time to write me a sweet card, in my favorite color of pen, explaining each item she sent me.

As I pulled item after item out of the box, I could hardly believe my luck. Tara sent me so much great stuff!

  • Garden of Eatin’ (LOVE the name) Sesame Blues All-Natural Tortilla Chips
  • Sweet Fire Salsa (made with PICKLES!)
  • PB&Co Smooth Operator travel packs
  • Raw instant breakfast cereal travel packs
  • Buckwheat
  • Nature’s Path Organic Bar (Mmmaple Pecan flavor)
  • Dark chocolate covered mix of almonds, milk balls, peanuts, and espresso beans

Thank you so very much Tara for the wonderful food! I am love anything interesting made with pickles, and blue tortilla chips are the best! The bar is going to come in handy for a pre-workout snack sometime soon, and the PB will travel well when I head to Florida this Christmas for the week! The most exciting part of the package for me is the buckwheat, because I plan to incorporate it into the recipe I’m using for the Great Blogger Cookie Swap!

I encourage anyone who is interested to participate in the Foodie Pen Pals program! I’m going to be skipping out in December because of my commitment to the Cookie Swap (my wallet can only handle so many shipping charges!) but I will be back and ready to go in January!

Have you ever had any kind of pen pal? In 2nd grade our class had pen pals in Alaska, and my pen pal’s name was Caitlin too. Pretty sure that’s why they paired us together! We bonded over our love of the Spice Girls.