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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Irish Whiskey Cake

I've always been a fan of boozy cakes.
Margarita cakes...FABULOUS. 
Irish car bomb cupcakes...YUM
Cosmopolitan cupcakes...on my to do list. 
Beer cupcakes...not my favorite....that is one boozy cake I would not recommend. 

This cake is unlike any boozy dessert you have tried.
It is literally toxic.
Usually when you make a boozy dessert, the alcohol cooks out when you bake it.
You still get the flavor without getting tipsy. 
Well, this cake is different.
You CAN get drunk off this cake. 
I used more than half of a Jameson bottle in this cake.
Needless to say, there is no way that amount of alcohol can cook out of it.

You should definitely keep this recipe for St. Patrick's Day..
or your boyfriend/husband's birthday
...or a Tuesday night.
Whatever floats your boat. I won't judge.

Recipe Source: Washington Post

Ingredients: 
Cake
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 2 small vanilla pudding mixes
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup Irish Whiskey
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
Glaze
  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter. 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 tbsp water
Recipe:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a springform pan.
  • Combine the cake and pudding mixes in a small bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the milk, oil and whiskey. 
  • Beat the wet ingredients together using a mixer.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat until smooth.
  • Add the beaten eggs to the mixture. Mix until well combined
  • Beat mixture for an addition 2 minutes until thickened.
  • Pour mixture into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes. Toward the end of baking, check the cake every few minutes to make sure it doesn't burn! You can test if its cooked by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, you're good to go. 
  • For the glaze, melt butter.
  • Add the sugar, whiskey and water to the butter.
  • Stir until sugar has dissolved.
  • Pour 1/2 of the glaze over hot cake in pan.
  • When cake is cool, remove the sides of the springform pan and pour over remaining glaze.
  • Note: you may want to eyeball how much glaze to put on the cake. I didn't use all of the glaze because the cake looked like it was getting too wet. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beach Essentials

Every summer I have a set of essentials that I bring/wear to the beach.
Since summer has finally arrived, I decided it would be a perfect time to share with you some of my beach favorites.
 I've tried to pick out some basic/neutral items that could be worn with any bathing suit or cover up.

While I don't like to wear all my jewelry to the beach, I do like to at least wear earrings. These Tory Burch earrings are simple enough to be worn to the beach, but will still make a statement.
I love the white and gold together.
Earrings

The gold earrings will match perfectly with this Tory Burch tote! How pretty is it?!
Right now its on sale too!

Tote

I already have these Jcrew flip flops and wear them almost every day.
I love how nautical they are! They are perfect for the beach.
Flip-Flops

I ALWAYS bring sunglasses and a hat to the beach to protect myself from the sun.
I picked out this vineyard vines hat in navy blue to match my sandals of course!
Hat

I'm currently saving up for these Rayban sunglasses.
These sunglasses are definitely number one on my wish list right now.
I just love the tortoise frame!
Sunglasses

How could you go wrong with a monogrammed drink cup? You can find this cup as well as other fabulous monogrammed items at Etsy.
Cup

A colorful beach towel is a no brainer!
Vera Bradley's patterns make beautiful beach towels.
Beach Towel

I usually don't wear much makeup to the beach...maybe just a little concealer and waterproof mascara.
I do LOVE sugar lip balm though.
It will keep your lips so smooth despite all the sand and salt that you are exposed to at the beach.
I love the sugar lip balm in rose because it also gives your lips a little color as well!
Just a side note, sugar lip balm melts VERY easily so if you are considering bringing it to the beach, I would keep it somewhere cool.
Lip balm

Finally, you have to have bright and colorful nails.
I'm obsessed with this color from Essie: In the Cab-Ana
And yes, sometimes I do pick out my nail polish just from the name.
Nail Polish

       

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wendy's Skinny Frosty

wendy's skinny frosty
Today is seriously hot as hell...and its going to be like this for the next three days.
Damn.
All I've managed to do today is sit around and melt. 
I'm too hot to do anything else
In order to stay cool, I know we all like to indulge in a frozen treat.
but there is only so much ice cream you can eat...
or is there? 

Irregardless, this is a refreshing (mainly healthy) frozen drink.
It's a great replacement if you're craving a Wendy's frosty. 
It is also dairy free for those who have a lactose intolerance!! Woot woot! 

See below for the recipe!

I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of my weekend. 
I'm just too hot to put together my thoughts right now haha

To make this shake, put the following ingredients in a blender:
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp hershey's chocolate syrup
  • about 18-20 ice cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 of a banana
      Blend until smooth!
              

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Citrus White Wine Sangria

Yes, I FINALLY have a recipe posted...and not just any recipe....a SANGRIA recipe.
 I can imagine smiles all around!
I realize that you have probably been bored to tears with my life these past few posts..so this is my apology.
 This is an AMAZING party recipe because its fast, easy, simple, and delicious!! 
I made it for my graduation party last Saturday and served it in these large drink dispensers.

You can check out the drink dispensers: here.
They are really awesome...probably my most favorite purchase ever. 
They are just so darn pretty and functional!
 
Along with the sangria, I served lemon water and margaritas.

You can find my margarita recipe here.

 
Even if you don't want to make a big batch of the sangria like I did, you can easily make a single serving! 
So it works either way!

To make this sangria you need...
1 (1.5 L) bottle of white wine (either pinot grigio or riesling is fine..I used pinot for my party and it was delicious)
3 cans of citrus fresca (regular fresca is fine too!)
 your favorite fruit: peaches, grapes, oranges, etc...
Mix all the above ingredients together and enjoy!!

For the 3 gallon dispenser, I ended up using 2.5 bottles of wine and 7 or 8 cans of fresca.

          

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taste of Shrewsbury Street 2013

taste of shrewsbury street 2013
Taste of Shrewsbury Street is an annual event held every summer in Worcester MA. Shrewsbury Street is known in Worcester for it's restaurants. While it was once known for it's Italian food, Shrewsbury Street is now fairly diverse in it's cuisine. For $25, you can purchase a button for the event which allows you to sample the food at each participating restaurant. All the restaurants are within walking distance.
taste of shrewsbury street 2013
Three years ago, I decided to go to Taste of Shrewsbury Street with one of my coworkers. It was the first time we made plans oustside of the office. We brought along our boyfriends and the four of us hit it off.  Since then, Sarah has become one of my best friends and I couldn't imagine these last three years without her. Hence, Taste of Shrewsbury Street is our friend anniversary which we happily celebrate annually. 
Or at least we try to...haha. 
We didn't make it last year so technically this is only our SECOND Taste of Shrewsbury Street, 
but who's counting?!
This year, there were over 30 restaurants participating in the event. As you can imagine, 30 plus samplings are A LOT of food haha. So we had to pick and choose our way down the street.  

Our first stop was at Coral Seafood (sorry I didn't get a picture!) They were serving clam chowder. It was yummy! The server was very nice. The decor in there is nice as well! All around, it is a decent place.

Next, we headed to Red Lantern where they were serving crab rangoons and fried chicken wings. The crab rangoons were delicious. I didn't try the chicken wings, but the group seemed to like those as well. Red Lantern seems to be your typically chinese restaurant. I would probably go back.
red lantern worcester
 Funky Murphy's pretty much had a full on buffet. I tried some type of creamy pasta dish, spinach and artichoke dip with fried pita bread, and tacos. 
The pasta was delish.
 The spinach and artichoke dip was good too! I wish they grilled their pita instead of frying them..it was too much.
The tacos were good, but were too greasy for me. 
They were also serving two types of chicken wings which I didn't try.
 Overall, the food was yummy. 
We sat down for a little and ordered a beer. Afterwards, we realized that we probably shouldn't have eaten so much so early on in our samplings.
 Its a good strategy on Funky Murphy's part....with the amount of food they were serving I'm sure they kept people away from other resturants!
funky murphy's worcester
At Funky Murphy's they were also giving out samples of The Tavern which I believe they said was a beer made by the Boston Beer Company. The ginger beer was AMAZING. I tried the strawberry one which was interesting too... 
Next on the list was Sweet. They were giving out rhubarb tartlets. I didn't try my sample just because I was still stuffed from Funky's. Sarah really like it. Dan wasn't impressed by it, though his opinion is a little biased. Dan thinks Sweet's is overpriced. I believe the last time we went there we spent $100 just on drinks and dessert... The owner has been featured on the Food Network several times so her menu can be a little pricey. (I still enjoy it though!!) 
We really had no welcome, interaction, help, or even EYE CONTACT from any of the workers...which I thought was a tad odd. 
Sweet Worcester Bakery & Bar
We then walked further up the street to Corapi Lounge. Corapi Lounge is fairly new to Shrewsbury Street. Dan and I had never been there before. It was nicely decorated and you can tell it looks like a fun bar/nightclub to hang out at. If I wanted to dress up and go out for some cocktails with my girlfriends or for a date, I would come here. 
The server was very nice! He explained that we could order either chicken parm with pasta, eggplant parm with pasta, or steak. We got one of each. I didn't eat my portion (still stuffed from Funky's damn it!) but everyone seemed to like it! 
I will definitely be back to Corapi Lounge again.
Corapi Lounge Worcester
Cafe Manzi was serving three different types of soup: stuffed pepper, italian wedding, and pasta fagioli. The italian wedding soup was fabulous! Dan especially loved the stuffed pepper soup...he said it was amazing. The atmosphere is very old...its an Italian mom and pop type of place. 
I could see myself coming back for some good italian food.
Cafe Manzi Worcester
We then stopped at the Vintage Grille, where Dan and I have frequently gone to dinner. 
They were serving clam chowder and pulled pork. 
I didn't try the clam chowder. Dan said it was good, and that it had pieces of corn bread in it (which is interesting!). The pulled pork was delicious. It was more tomato based and less BBQ based. 
The Vintage Grille is a great place to hang out especially during the summer when their patio is open. The atmosphere is very cool. It was once an old mechanic shop and is now designed with car memorabilia.
 I was a little put off by the servers while we were there. 
They were complaining to us that we weren't taking the clam chowder... 
Do they not realize that they are just ONE of 35 restaurants that we are possibly visiting?!
Vintage Grille Worcester
We then passed by Flying Rhino. We were disappointed to find out that they were ALSO serving pulled pork. None of us took a sample because we had just finished our serving of pulled pork from Vintage Grille. 
Unfortunately, I would have gladly had Flying Rhino's pulled pork over the Vintage Grille's sample. It just looked more appetizing! 
Flying Rhino looked like the place to be...they closed off their parking lot to have an outdoor block party. If you want a fun place to go during Taste of Shrewsbury Street, this would be the place!

At this point, the boys made us take a break and stop in at Rivalry's Sports Bar for a beer special. The bar wasn't serving any food so Sarah and I just sat and complained until the boys were finished haha. Overall, Rivalry's Sports Bar is a nice place to be. They have comfortable couches and good drink specials!
Rivalry's Sports Bar Worcester
Kenichi Bistro was the next resturant on the list. They were serving sushi and crab rangoons. The sushi was DELICIOUS. It was an avocado/cucumber roll with crab on top. 
Sarah and I both decided that their sushi was our favorite sample from the day! So yummy!
Kenichi Bistro Worcester
Mezcal (one of my favorite resturants!!) was next up in line. They were serving ground beef tacos with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. The tacos were nothing out of the ordinary, but still yummy. 
The manager was helping to serve the tacos. Sarah accidentally spilt her taco all over the table and floor. He was super nice about it and cleaned it up quickly. I've interacted with him before during other times I've come to the restaurant. He has always been super friendly and nice which is appreciated!!
Mezcal Worcester
We then passed by several restaurants (at this point we were running out of steam...!). We specifically passed by Brew City as all four of us have had HORRIBLE experiences there since the change in ownership.The changed their entire menu and the food is just not good...
I really wanted to try Nuovo because I have heard great things! There was a waiter standing outside who explainined to us that they were serving penne alla vodka with pulled pork.
The atmosphere inside was beautiful. It would make a fabulous date night! 
 For the food, lets just say it was just not good.... It didn't have much flavor. The trash can outside which was overflowing with bowls of pasta said it all. 
It was definitely disappointing.
Nuovo Worcester
Next, we tried Volturno which I believe may be the newest restaurant on Shrewsbury Street. I was SO impressed by the decor inside. The restaurant was built from an old car dealership and I was just in awe of the design. It was just beautiful! 
Volturno Worcester
As a brick oven pizza restaurant, you would expect that they would be serving pizza...but no. 
They were serving either meatball or sausage sliders. Again, the food was very disappointing. I got the meatball slider and it just had no flavor or even great texture to it. It was not good.
 I would probably come back to Volturno again because it is a beautiful resturant and because I would love to try their pizza, but I would absolutely say no to their meatballs.
Volturno Worcester
We then stopped in at 7 Nana who also had a great sampling of food! 
They were serving chicken tempura, fried shrimp, teriyaki steak, and kimchi. 
They also had sushi but took it away as SOON as I got up to the table. I was seriously disspointed by that! They took away a FULL plate of sushi...
The kimchi was good though VERY spicy. I loved the chicken tempura, and Dan was a fan of the steak. 
The decor inside is very modern and pretty. I would love to come back with friends for some drinks and appetizers. 
The staff wasn't particularly friendly..they looked tired and overwhelmed more than anything.
7 Nana Worcester
We then crossed the street to try Via Italian Table and One Eleven Chop House. They were both serving together. One Eleven was serving their famous chicken wings, which I have enjoyed before. At this point, we were stuffed and had too many chicken wings at other restaurants..so we passed.

 Via was serving gelato which we had been hoping for!! After all that food we needed a little ice cream! I got tiramasu which was yummy! Dan  loved the wildberry. Sarah got the chocolate gelato which she couldn't even eat because it tasted AWFUL! Instead of being sweet, it tasted basically like cocoa powder and water. I guess this is technically how chocolate is suppose to taste..less sugar more cocoa...but I just did not like it.
VIA Italian Table
Pomir Grill, the Afghanistan restaurant, (which I've heard a lot of great things about!) was closed and had an "out of samples" sign on the door which was disappointing!!

Next, we just HAD to stop at the Boulevard Diner for some meatballs, sausage, and pasta. The boulevard diner is opened 24 hours a day and is a staple of ours for late night eating. Dan is especially a fan of their chop suey. 
The meatball and sausage was AMAZING. It tasted homemade.
Boulevard Diner Worcester
Finally, we visited Paparazzi's, the "new" Piccadilly Pub. They had a crazy big buffet: hummus, jalapeno poppers, fried mushrooms, fried pickles, tacos, pasta...IT WAS NUTS. 
They were definitely more focused on quantity versus quality. 
The pasta was really good. Everything else was mediocre... The fried food was really salty and was probably from a frozen package. I hardly ate any of it.
Paparazzi's Worcester
So in summary...
Best dish: Kenichi Bistoro for its sushi and the Boulevard for its pasta.
Nicest Atmosphere: Volturo's with Corapi's Lounge at a close second.
Nicest Server: Mezcal with Corapi's Lounge at a close second.
Funnest Atmosphere of the Night: Flying Rhino (Though Funky's or Mezcal would be a fun place to hang out too!)
Worst food of the Night: Paparazzi's with Nuovo in second and Via's chocolate gelato coming in third. 
Best bang for your buck: Funky Murphy's

My advice for future years?
There needs to be more communication between restaurants, this year there was too much pulled pork and chicken wings!!
To the restaurants:
Be nice to your guests! The nicer you are, the more likely we will come back for dinner!!
Also, serve your specialty! If you make something good, serve it! We will want to come back for more!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blueberry Muffin


This beautiful summer day inspired me to bake some blueberry muffins this morning! In my opinion, there is nothing better than a lazy Sunday morning and a classic blueberry muffin. This is a simple classic recipe that you can whip up using basic ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. The sugary-cinnamon crumb topping makes this muffin extra special.
Recipe Source:  All Recipes

Serving Size: Makes 9 Muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Crumb Topping Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Recipe:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cups with muffin liners
  • Combine all dry muffin ingredients in a bowl: 1-1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.
  • In a separate bowl, mix vegetable oil, egg, and milk.
  • Mix wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
  • Fold in blueberries.
  • Fill muffin cups to the top with the batter.
  • To make the crumb topping, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon. Mix with fork. 
  • Sprinkle crumb topping over muffins.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when placed in the center of the muffin.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Quinoa Salad

I love quinoa. Its delicious and healthy. You can add anything to quinoa based on what you like. In this recipe, I used mushrooms, carrots, and advocado just because it is what I had in my refrigerator. (Avocado by the way is amazing in this!) I also love to put corn, sweet potato, or black beans when I have it. Kale or spinach would be awesome as well. Feel free to experiment with it and add your favorite ingredients.
Ingredients:
  • 2-3 cups cooked quinoa (directions to cook quinoa below!)
  • 4 sliced mushrooms
  • 12 sliced baby carrots
  • 1/2 avocado cubed 
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Recipe:
  • To cook quinoa: 
    • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a sauce pan.
    • Add 1 cup quinoa, bring back to a boil, cover, and cover for about 12 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all the water.
    • Remove from heat, fluff, and let stand for about 15 minutes.
    • This will make about 4 cups.
  • Add olive oil to a sauce pan. 
  • Add mushrooms and carrots until tender.
  • Mix cooked mushrooms, carrots, and cubed avocado with quinoa and serve!
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