Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Peace out, 2013 (WIAW edition)

Another year is just about over and that means its time for the obligatory "best of 2013 food" post! I don't know about you but I happen to love when bloggers share their favorites of the year. I'm a wicked list person so these round ups really appeal to me.

Speaking of lists, here's a super short one of my previous best-of posts:
I'm also linking up with What I Ate Wednesday because I think this will turn out to be quite an epic What I Ate... kind of post. ;)

Okay, let's get down to this, shall we? Here are just a few of my favorite restaurant dishes from the past twelve months:

Assortment of meat from Mama Africa's in Cape Town, South Africa! From L to R: game sausage, springbok, kudu, ostrich, and croc.

Christmas Eve dinner in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Freshly slaughtered goat...yes, I witnessed the entire prep...

A mopani worm at The Boma, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Okay, so maybe this wasn't the best but it was certainly interesting. And terrible. But an experience nonetheless. The rest of our meal at Boma was great!

My first real year eating sushi and I'm totally addicted! A huge party boat with Crossfit friends at Mai Pearl, Foxboro MA.

Fresh and colorful PEZ! From the Pez Factory in Orange, CT.

Ugandan Vanilla Bean, Buckeye State, and Whiskey & Pecan ice creams from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Columbus OH.

Bacon wrapped tater tots, in a cheesy sauce - enough said. Temporarily blanking on the restaurant but via Newport RI.

Aussie barbie for our buddy's birthday! 

I finally got to have one of them famous kabobs from Australia that I was always hearing my babe talk about. He's right - sweet chili sauce, for the win!

Yes, these look like nothing spectacular but HOLY HELL, these sweet pumpkin dumplings from Shanghai Dumpling House in Melbourne were amazing. I kid you not, they tasted like cake batter!! 

How about some of my favorite home cooking recipes?

My first ever roasted chicken. :)

I completely forgot about this sweet potato salad but was addicted to it over the summer. I have a feeling I'll be making it again really soon! It is paleo, by the way.

Fresh raspberries stuffed with chocolate. In my case, I used halved Enjoy Life chocolate chunks to make this paleo friendly. So quick and easy!

Easily one of my favorite paleo wraps - chicken, bacon, and acorn squash in a butter lettuce leaf. Another one that is super simple but full of flavor. 

Paleo orange chicken over cauliflower rice. Amazing! It doesn't look like I shared the recipe here yet but will get on that a.s.a.p. Trust me, you don't wanna miss this one. 

They might look kind of dull but these Paleo Maple Shortbread Cookies taste great!

Ahhh, how could I have forgotten about these paleo chicken nuggets?! No weird pink slime or additives here.

And my favorite dish of all from the past year has to be Lemon and Artichoke Chicken. It is so freakin' good! Don't forget the mashed cauliflower underneath to soak up that flavorful sauce.

Can't get ready for the New Year without a few of toasts!

Choose between light or dark beer from NYC's oldest bar, McSorley's. 

Wine slushie from ShelaLara Winery in Coventry RI.

Year's most interesting beer goes to Cambridge Brewing Company's Banryu Ichi, a sake-beer hybrid.

Angry Balls! Angry Orchard cider mixed with Fireball whiskey. Yes, I ordered it because of the name. But it was amazing!

I tried a bunch of different Newport Storm brews while taking a tour of their brewery in Newport RI.

A Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard and my beloved Shipyard Pumpkinhead made for a fabulous evening.

So many Black Labels in Africa...and in Australia, as our friend Shaun tracked some down for us all to enjoy and relive our African adventures.

Straight outta the tap at America's oldest brewery, Yuengling. ;)

Cheers and happy new year!!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas...the survey!

I saw this holiday themed survey on Laura's blog and just had to play along. Gotta love a good survey.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with lots of good food! :)

One holy night or eight crazy ones? (Do you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, both?)
We celebrate Christmas and Christmas Eve is my favorite part of the holiday. 

Peppermint or chocolate?
Chocolate. Except for toothpaste and gum, I dislike minty things.

Sing us into the holiday season, what is your favorite carol this time of year?
Oh boy, I got a bunch! My top favorites are the "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" song...Corey Taylor's "XM@$"...Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Canon Rock"...and "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon.

Tell us about a favorite family or personal holiday tradition.
Watching this old VHS of Christmas cartoons with my family. There's this awful ice skating short that we all HATE but we force ourselves to sit through it...and rag on it the entire time. That and eating "toot-lings" - my great grandma's recipe for tortellini that my aunt has perfected making...and is teaching me how to! :)

C'mon you remember your favorite (Christmas, Hanukkah) gift, tell us all about it.
I've had many great gifts that I can't pick one. But I do truly enjoy getting a stocking full of neat little, random things!

That magical moment? (Your favorite scene from a holiday movie...its okay if you have two).
When the Bumble puts the star on top of the tree in Rudolph. I also love the part in the Grinch cartoon when he's getting his Santa costume together. In fact, I just love that whole movie.

Kissing under the mistletoe - who do you hope is standing underneath? (We know its normally your spouse, but if it did not have to be, who would you choose?)
Obviously I'd say my babe! :) But if we're picking unobtainable famous people, everyone knows I'm gonna say Nikki Sixx. 

Swans a swimming, lords a leaping, golden rings; which gift of the 12 Days of Christmas would you like most?
Most if it sounds pretty noisy so I'm gonna stick with those golden rings.

Play Secret Santa: what inappropriate gift would you love to give this year?
Hmmm, as someone that is often inappropriate, I'm surprised that I'm drawing a complete blank right now!

Martha Stewart or the Grinch, what is your decorating style? 
I'm certainly no Martha Stewart and all my stuff is quite random so I guess the Grinch.

What is one word that define the holiday season for you? (Examples: believe/wonder/bah hambug?)
Cookies! ;)

If Santa could assure its delivery, what's the first thing on your holiday wish list?
A brand new car with one of them big ol' red bows on top would be lovely.

Feel free to play along! Send me a link to your survey or answer a couple of the questions below.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Paleo Maple Shortbread Cookies

While I firmly believe that Christmas cookies should be the real deal with plenty of butter, sugar, and white flour, there is certainly nothing wrong with throwing in a paleo option! If you're in the market for yet another holiday cookie this year, definitely check these out.
The other day, I made these paleo Maple Shortbread cookies from Melissa Joulwan, the author of Well Fed 1 and 2. A short ingredient list made me a tad dubious but I should've known better - that seems to be when things come out the best...less to mess up, right? Besides, none of the recipes Melissa has shared have been a dud for me yet. And the streak keeps going!
One tip: be sure to use top-notch pure maple syrup! Grade B tends to be best for baking because that delicious maple flavor really shines through. I snagged mine at Trader Joe's and it is truly excellent stuff. I also found the ghee at TJ's and used that in these cookies for a richer flavor. Recommend tracking some ghee down or making your own.
Paleo Maple Shortbread
recipe from Melissa Joulwan, though my cookie method is a bit different
3/4 cup coconut flour
6 tablespoons ghee (or coconut oil), room temperature
1/4 cup pure Grade B maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Thoroughly mix all ingredients together.
3. Roll about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough into balls, slightly flatten with your palm, and place of baking sheet. Prick each cookie a few times with a fork.
4. Chill entire baking sheet for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200*F.
5. Bake coookies for 45-50 minutes, or until just lightly golden.
6. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
(Note: Melissa says to eat at room temperature. I stored mine in the fridge and ate them straight outta it and thought they were fine. I tend to store most of my paleo baked goods in the fridge because I find they keep better and longer that way.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Goals, why I've been an absentee blogger, and lots of pics

One of my goals for 2014 is to actually keep up with this blog. The past few months have been crazy busy: my work routine was shaken up for a few months, life kept springing up, and I spent a couple weeks in Australia! I'm gonna say that those are all great excuses reasons and because of them, blogging clearly took a backseat. I wish I could say I was one of those people who made time for blogging no matter what...but I just can't at this point since it can be a major time suck, albeit a fun one.  

Anyway, that's the plan. But you'll have to ask the Magic 8 Ball to see if I'll stick with it.

Since you've got me here, I may as well do a little extra writing. And speaking of goals, I'm pretty happy to say that I followed through with a number of them over this past year. Something that rarely happens. I got my car fixed up, my debts paid off, finally nailed 50 double unders in a row, and completed at least one new-to-me activity each month! The new activities challenge was a lot of fun because it helped make me search out new things to do when I otherwise might chicken out or simply get lackadaisical.

And so, here's why I've been a bad and absent blogger this year: 

African safari! Including riding an elephant, petting lions, Victoria Falls, exploring the Great Zimbabwe Ruins and Blyde Canyon, so much more...

Hitting the range and shooting my first gun

Passing my Crossfit level 1 certification; "competing" in my first Crossfit Opens

Spectated my first Boston Marathon, luckily far away from the unfortunate chaos

Road trip to the Rock on the Range festival; hitting Pittsburgh, Columbus OH, a piece West Virginia, and the Yuengling Factory in Pottsville PA

Explored Lowell; attempted my first Tough Mudder. (Though I didn't finish due to injury, I'd always said that I would never do a TM but there I was...I'll get that orange headband next time)

Monkey Trunks ropes course; Newport Storm brewery

Peach picking with the little boy I nanny for

Redhook Brewery tour & exploring Portsmouth NH; Electric Run

Sushi making class with my babe; hot yoga class

Ran my first Turkey Trot; visited Mercy Brown's gravesite

Australian adventures! Since I haven't told my family about my adventures yet, I won't share here until I do - because that wouldn't be right, would it?! But here's a few quick pics to whet your appetite...

Damn, it has been an excellent twelve months! :D 

Aside from these new happenings, plenty of the usual life happenings went on too...cooking, restaurants, brews, concerts, parties, Spartan Racing, little trips around, Saco, Phantom Gourmet Food Fest, Crossfit, yadda yadda yadda. Now you know why its been a ghost town around here. ;)

But stay tuned for a year's end food round-up post coming soon. That is one posting that I haven't missed yet!