Posts tagged ‘vacation’
When we arrived in Antigua, we were immediately greeted at our hotel with the hot, island air and a nice, strong Antiguan rum punch. We knew immediately that we were in paradise. After a week of rum punches and island sun, we decided that Caribbean rum and a homemade version of our new favorite drink would be the best souvenir to commemorate our honeymoon! The recipe below replicates our island favorite almost exactly! Today, we celebrate my husband’s admission to medical school and signing the lease to our first apartment! Hope you enjoy.
Question: What do you have to celebrate today?
Antiguan Rum Punch
makes 1 pitcher (serves 4-6)
1/2 cup lime juice (best when fresh squeezed)
1 cup simple syrup (simply boil 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar together until sugar is fully dissolved)
1 1/2 cups Cavalier Antiguan gold rum (or a similar light rum)
2 cups water
2-4 cups ice
Angostura bitters, key lime halves, and nutmeg (fresh grated if possible) for garnish
Prepare the simple syrup and allow to cool. Mix together lime juice, simple syrup, rum, and water. Pour over ice into a large pitcher. Add 2-3 ice cubes to an old fashioned glass with a key lime half. Fill with rum punch, then sprinkle with bitters and top with nutmeg. Swirl slightly before enjoying! (To make a single rum punch, mix 1 part (1/2 shot) lime juice, 2 parts (1 shot) simple syrup, 3 parts (1.5 shots) rum, and 4 parts (2 shots) water.)
Nothing screams springtime like fresh ingredients and brightly colored veggies. As soon as the first warm day hits, I am craving salads, slaws, and anything on a grill. These fish tacos fit the bill perfectly! My boyfriend and I recently returned from an amazing Florida vacation, where we visited my grandparents and extended family, explored Ybor City in Tampa, and replenished our Vitamin D levels on the beach.
All of the sun kicked my veggie cravings into overdrive, and so I jumped at the opportunity to make a fun lunch for my grandparents!
Fish tacos seem to have become rather trendy these days, and come in several varieties. My requirements for a good fish taco are as follows: good grilled fish, not the fried stuff. Traditional corn tortillas, not flour. Avocado, in some form. Lots of cilantro. And a good, tangy, fresh cole slaw. Hold the mayo.
Simple, right? Still, many places don’t hold a candle to this homemade version. This recipe was inspired from bits and pieces of many that I have read, taking my favorite parts from all. Feel free to do the same with mine, or try out my version to let me know what you think!
16 corn tortillas
1 lb white fish fillets (use what is local to your region – I have used Cod in NE and tilapia in FL both with great results)
spices: paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper
1 small head purple cabbage, finely sliced (you can also use green, but the color makes these fun)
1 bunch scallion, whites discarded
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lime juice (I used from a bottle, but fresh is always fun!)
3 tbsp cilantro, finely minced
1 jalapeno, finely minced (use 2 if you like more heat)
for avocado cream:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp minced cilantro
Assemble slaw first. Slice cabbage and scallions finely, then mince garlic and jalapenos. Combine with lime juice and minced cilantro. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Combine and refrigerate while preparing other components to allow flavors to combine.
Next, combine avocado, greek yogurt, and remaining cilantro in a food processor. Combine until very smooth. Cover in a small bowl and refrigerate.
Wrap corn tortillas in foil and place in oven to warm while cooking fish. Alternatively, place tortillas individually on a warm griddle after cooking fish for a crispier taco.
To prepare fish, begin by washing filets and patting dry. Season both sides with aforementioned spices according to taste. (More cayenne for the spice lovers, more paprika and chili powder for a deeper and sweeter flavor.) Salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add fish filets but do not crowd the pan. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until fish is flaky and cooked through.
To assemble tacos, take warmed corn tortilla and spoon avocado cream across the bottom. Top with slaw and a small piece of fish. Fold in half and enjoy immediately!
There is nothing better for the body, mind and soul than spending a week relaxing on the beach. I have visited my family, who transplanted an hour south of Tampa about 8 years ago, several times and feel a comforting sense of familiarity when I return. There are always new places to explore and memories to make, but my goal was not sight-seeing this time. Instead, my days were structured around beach reading, studying, and hanging out with my grandparents! The best part about the beaches in the Sarasota area is that they all have their own character. You can pick the feel of your beach depending on your mood that day, all without ever having to go to far!
Lucky for us, the #1 rated beach in the US is located less than a half hour’s drive from where my family lives. Siesta Key is known for its white sand and crystalline blue water. The quartz sand is powder soft and never gets hot, which makes for great beach strolls. The beach front is also huge, so the crowds that the recent publicity has drawn can be handled quite well. The downside of Siesta Key is the parking. The lot fills up before noon, leaving cars circling for emptying spots like hawks. My grandparents have learned, and so now we always head to this beach early. We arrived by 9am, with newspaper and book in hand, and enjoyed the less crowded views of the Gulf, the warm morning sun, and the soft stretches of sand.
While Siesta Key may get the fame, the local beaches are an equally good option. The beach along the Venice fishing pier is the best local beach for swimming. The sand shelf drops off quickly, but the Gulf waters are warm and usually calm, which makes swimming pleasant. The beach grass and fishing pier also add some nice scenery, and there is great bird watching as the pelicans flock to see what share they can catch.
If you like nature and solitude, Caspersen’s is the place to find it. Along the side of the peninsula, the beach is narrow and the water edge is lined with huge rocks. Only one or two rows of chairs and towels can fit, which keeps the private beach feeling. The rocks also make excellent nets for shark tooth hunting, which is this beach’s claim to fame.
After a hot day at the beach, nothing beats a soft serve ice cream cone. My favorite Florida treat is the orange soft serve ice cream at Nokomis Groves. They also have flavors like lime, pineapple, vanilla, and chocolate, but the orange is the biggest draw. While my favorite combination is orange and vanilla, I branched out to try the pineapple swirl. While it was tasty, I didn’t like that the pineapple overpowered the orange. I will stick to my favorite on my next visit! There is always a line, but it moves quickly and is worth the wait. You can also get fresh Florida citrus, citrus-inspired foodie treats, and fresh squeezed juices in the attached market.
The best part of visiting Southwestern Florida is getting to see the sunset over the ocean. As an East Coast girl, this is something that I always love, seeing the flaming sun plunge into the cool ocean. The Venice Beach is an excellent spot to watch the sunset, but the Nokomis Inlet is another great option if you don’t want to sit in the sand.
Writing this post and looking through my vacation pictures makes me long to be at the beach instead of facing a long week of school and studying! Good thing the weather has been unseasonably warm, or I might face true sunshine withdrawal!
Hello from sunny Florida! Even though this winter has been mild, there is still never a need to rationalize a week spent in the Florida sunshine. Add in a visit with your amazing grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousin, and then there is even more reason to escape to the sun! I have spent my mornings squeezing in some studying, afternoons soaking up some sun at the beach, and evenings running as my Grandma makes amazing dinners. I could get used to this! Here are some pictures from my Tuesday, and look forward to a travel post on Southwest Florida when I get home!
Grandma is an oatmeal fan as well, so I have still been able to enjoy my favorite breakfast! It is strawberry season in Plant City, FL, so the berries are abundant and cheap in the grocery store. I love them mixed in with some banana and cinnamon into plain oats!
We headed out early for the number 1 beach in the US: Siesta Key! If you don’t get there early, you are unlikely to get a parking spot, so we spent the morning reading and watching the beach slowly fill up. Nothing like a morning in the sun and a swim in the Gulf to work up an appetite! I enjoyed a great wrap: basil hummus, sunflower seeds, sun dred tomatoes, tomatoes, and baby spinach. We have been adding spinach or field greens to all of our sandwiches or wraps, and always include a toss salad with dinner to make sure we get in our greens! Lunch was rounded out with a handful or two of potato chips (I am on vacation!) an apple, and lots of water, of course!
After we got our fill of sun and sand, we headed to Nokomis Groves for their famous orange soft serve ice cream! This is one of my favorite parts of my visits to Florida. The orange-vanilla swirl cone is like a creamsicle, but better since it is made with fresh, Florida oranges. I was adventurous this time and got pineapple as the other swirled half and loved it! There is nothing better than a cone of soft serve ice cream on a hot afternoon.
My grandparents are well-traveled and love good food, so they like to be adventurous in trying restaurants. One of their favorite finds is the Curry Creek Cafe in Nokomis, FL. It is easy to pass by on the outside, but this place should not be missed. The cuisine is a fusion of classic Indonesian and Florida seafood, and the service is incredible.
We all started with a house salad, bread and olive tapenade. The salad is incredibly fresh and tasty, and the bread comes warmed from the oven.
For dinner, I enjoyed the Spicy Eggplant with Grouper cheeks, covered in an amazing spicy, tomato based sauce. Yes, that is from the fish’s head! My grandparents said that the grouper cheek is incredibly tender and well cooked at this restaurant, and so I had to be somewhat adventurous! This was incredibly spicy, but the rice and cool cucumber salad on the side tempered it. I could hardly put my fork down, this was so good! The chef himself came out to see how we liked our meal, and I tried to get the secret for the recipe I liked it so much!
We enjoyed watching the sunset over the inlet after dinner, a peaceful end to a day of beautiful weather and good eats! Hope that you are enjoying your week, whether it be routine or vacation!
Question: What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten?
Happy Wednesday everyone! I have had the best few days at home and have thoroughly taken advantage of my vacation from school. For anyone still facing 2 more days at work, keep that sweet holiday vacation in the forefront of your mind… Christmas will be here soon! My days have been filled with baking Christmas cookies, making awesome meals with my mom and sister, crafting, gift wrapping, and relaxing on the sofa. I could get used to being this spoiled with so much free time pretty quickly! Here is a peek into my day that isn’t spent hunched over textbooks for hours on end. Be sure to check out Peas and Crayons and the WIAW link party for other weekday meal ideas.
I enjoyed sleeping in and waking up to no alarm. I caught up on some blog reading from bed on my phone, snagged a handful of peanut butter pretzels, and then went out for a short run. I am finally over the worst of my head cold and was itching to get outside. I only made it a mile, but it felt good to just get out and get moving. After a short set of free weights and a shower, I made eggnog spiced oatmeal. I am not a huge fan of eggnog because it is too thick and sweet, but like the way this hints at the Christmas time classic. A little banana for natural sweetness, with vanilla and rum extracts, cinnamon and nutmeg for eggnog flavor. I loved it the way it was, but my sister added a bit of brown sugar to make it taste more like classic eggnog. A great and filling holiday breakfast either way!
My mom is much better stocked with salad veggies and fun condiments than I am, so I enjoyed making a killer salad for lunch. Red leaf and romaine salad, carrots, radishes, snap peas, roasted broccoli, goat cheese, and black bean and corn salsa – salad heaven! With a slice of bakery bread on the side, I could barely finish! My eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I had to sacrifice a few of the snap peas.
I spent the rest of the day at my friend’s house for a crafternoon. I am really excited about what I made, all out of recycled magazine pages! The top is a coaster, then a pair of earrings, and what will soon become a necklace. I was Pinspired again, and was happy to have a few hours to kill making a craft. It is much easier than it looks, so check out the tutorial and give it a try.
My mom and I love coming up with dinner creations based on what we have lying around the fridge and pantry, and tonight’s meal was a definite winner! We sauteed up about 1/3 head red cabbage, 1/2 head green cabbage, 1/4 of a large red onion, and 4 grated carrots in some sweet ginger sauce, and then made vegetarian dumplings out of them. A quick boil to cook the shell, and dinner was ready! Enjoyed with some shelled edamame and what was left of the dumpling filling for a delicious, vegetarian meal! (My dad has had
vegetarian vegan dinners 3 nights in a row now without too much complaining – now that’s a good dad!)
My sister and I made our last batch of Christmas cookies, so of course some taste testing had to happen! We like to create characters out of our Gingerbread men, so I chose to eat the “Running Man Gingy” since I love to run! These were our best ever Gingerbread men, and our best looking ones too! If you are looking for Christmas cookie recipes, check out my posts from earlier this week, and stop back tomorrow and Friday for the last two!
Question: Are you on vacation yet, or are you still counting down the days?
As you can tell by now, I am jumping around my trip’s timeline. Instead of progressing between places, I decided to share snapshots and stories of my favorite part of each place that I visited. Back to Italy, where I split my time between my friend’s house in Bologna and our adorable rented room in Vernazza, one of the five towns of Cinque Terre. My friend picked Vernazza because it is the only town with a harbor, which we figured would make for the best beach destination. As soon as we arrived, we changed into our bathing suits and headed to enjoy the waters of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. While we were swimming, we were surrounded by tiny fish, likely the small anchovy that the region is famous for, and the rocks were covered in tiny mussels. While soaking up some sun on the rocks, we were passed by a baby crab, and harassed by the biggest sea gulls I have seen in my entire life. It was so cool to be surrounded by such amazing wildlife!
After a day in the sun and heat, there is nothing better than a great dinner to end the night. We asked around for a recommendation of where to go for dinner, and the apartment owner’s husband recommended his favorite place for seafood. He obviously has great taste! This restaurant had some of the best food I have ever eaten. We started off with a sample of five small seafood dishes, the highlights of which were lemon anchovies and a warm octopus salad.
Anchovies, usually very salty and definitely not something I am prone to eat
often ever, are actually an amazing and delicate fish when not so heavily salted. They are so fresh in this region, most likely straight from the ocean to the table in the same day. That makes all of the difference! The sample contained the classic salted version, which were still quite tasty and so much less salty than what I expected. However, the unexpected highlight for me were fresh anchovies in a light lemon sauce with bits of fresh tomato. The lemon was so fresh and really let you appreciate how flavorful the anchovy itself is! What a great surprise.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the warm octopus salad, which honestly freaked me out when they first presented the plate. The tentacle still had the suction cups on it, and it was bright purple and looked like it was straight out of the ocean. But that was what made it so great! The octopus was really tender, which can only be accomplished if it is really fresh and cooked perfectly. It was served with potato wedges, olives and fresh herbs, giving it incredible fresh flavor. This alone made the whole appetizer worthwhile!
For dinner, I stuck with the seafood theme and ordered a pasta dish with mussels and tiny clams in a red sauce. Not always a fan of shellfish, I was a little nervous about if I would like my dinner or not. However, I had heard rave reviews about the region’s shellfish, and figured that they would be incredibly fresh since I had seen them coating the rocks earlier in the afternoon! All I have to say is best shellfish ever. The clams were tiny and really tender, and the mussels were perfect with a twirl of fresh pasta and a bit of red sauce. I was in food heaven. My plate was literally clean by the end of dinner, both because of how good the food was and because of our waiter’s insistence that we clear our plates. His games got us a free round of drinks by the end of dinner, so we weren’t complaining!
The food continued to be amazing in Cinque Terre. Other highlights of food that I enjoyed in my time there were a sandwich with prosciutto and fig, fresh foccacia, and a bowl of pasta with real pesto. Did you know: Pesto originated in the Liguria region and is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle (hence pesto!)? Fun fact! I brought home some trofie pasta, the regional specialty, and hope to make my own pesto to go with it sometime this week!
I have had a lot of French toast failures lately. When my sister came to Boston in May, I attempted a dairy-free French toast that flopped. It was too soggy; edible but not pretty. So I tried again on vacation, but we had no vanilla or cinnamon. Trying to be creative, I used cinnamon apple sauce, vanilla yogurt, and egg. Too bad the “wheat” bread couldn’t stand up to such a heavy mixture. The flavor was incredible, but it definitely needs a fair attempt with a sturdier bread (maybe challah?)
During my last week at home, I finally had my French toast day. I was inspired by a recipe over at Rufus’ Food Guide, and by a giant bowl of the prettiest nectarines I have ever seen on my mom’s kitchen island. We had a leftover whipped cream from the bridal shower and a small French baguette that was just begging to be used for breakfast, so it looked like things finally fell into place for perfect French toast! Not the healthiest of mornings, but my hour and a half bike ride later makes up for it, right? ;) My last week off means a lot of leisurely (read: not so healthy) breakfasts enjoyed with a lot of coffee and reading for fun!
Question: What is your favorite special breakfast? Pancakes, French toast, waffles, pastry, omelet?
Vanilla French Toast with Stone Fruit
For French toast:
small french baguette, in 8-9 pieces
1/4 cup vanilla soymilk
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp agave
For fruit topping:
2 very large nectarines (3 if they are normal sized fruit, or use peaches or plums)
1/4 – 1/2 cup of water (depending on size and juiciness of nectarines)
1 tbsp vanilla
Slice the nectarines in half to remove the pit, and then slice into thin strips. Cut the strips in half. Add to a small saucepan and cover with 1/4-1/2 cup water. Season with vanilla. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then allow to simmer over medium heat for at least 10-15 minutes while preparing the French toast.
Meanwhile, combine all of the wet ingredients in a small bowl. Slice the French loaf into 2 inch thick slices. Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture for at least a minute or two on each side. Once the bread has soaked up the liquid, cook on a griddle or a hot pan coated in cooking spray. Each side will take about 3 minutes to brown, and the crusts can be balanced to brown for about one more minute.
Serve two to three slices on a plate topped with a spoonful of the warm fruit. Use the liquid from the fruit as a syrup, or use pancake syrup. Serve with or without whipped cream, as desired.