The 1st Annual Musing Awards

The first Foodie Buddy

The first Foodie Buddy

It’s coming up on a year of blogging. It’s been such a hoot for me and I intend to continue and I hope you’ll stick with me! I’m going to wrap up my first 12 months of blogging by bestowing the much coveted (not) Musing Awards to some of my favorite persons, places and things I experienced for the FIRST time this past year.

The results are in and the “Musee” (patent pending) goes to……..

Favorite Prepared Foods and Beverages:

Savory: Blue Hill Butternut Yogurt-this stuff is the bomb! Currently, the only place around me where it’s available is Wegman’s and it’s a bit pricey but worth every penny. Check out Blue Hill’s website for locations, other fun products and recipes. My own concoction is the yogurt, hot sauce, and almonds…a perfect at the office breakfast yum. http://bluehillyogurt.com

My fav is the Butternut Squash, but there's beet and Sweet Potato at Wegman's as well

My fav is the Butternut Squash, but there’s beet and Sweet Potato at Wegman’s as well

Sweet: Garden Lites Carrot Berry Muffins– found in the freezer in the Organic Foods Section (at Giant at least) these muffins are just a moist 4-bite piece of Carrot Cake only nutritious too. I swear spread some cream cheese on the top and you have dessert! 35 seconds in the microwave from the freezer and you’ll be in guilt free heaven.

Marvelously delicious with no effort

Beverage: American Harvest Vodka- When I’m not drinking tea, I’m drinking wine. When I’m not drinking wine, I’m drinking Vodka (I think in that order…sometimes I forget). A mid=priced Vodka this Organic-American made Vodka has a wonderfully crisp, clean flavor that in my opinion stands up to being “dirtied” or sipped straight (very chilled of course).

http://americanharvestspirit.com/

Favorite “New to Me” Chef: Chef David Schmidt of Enchantment Resort in Sedona Arizona- I mentioned Chef Schmidt in my post “Northern Neck Paradise”. I met him while vacationing this summer and became enchanted…..with the chef and the resort where he is the executive chef. Check out the website to learn about the Resort and David Schmidt (Chef also has a facebook and twitter page). http://www.enchantmentresort.com/

As a side note, I made the Granola Recipe on the resort website as Christmas gifts to my Office employees at my real job this year.

Granola Gifts for my Office. Double the recipe made 20 bags!

Granola Gifts for my Office. Double the recipe made 20 bags!

Favorite “New to Me” Winery:first ever tie. First Colony Winery, Charlottesville VA and Old House Vineyards, Culpeper VA. I go to lots of wineries, especially in Virginia. Out of a dozen or so that were new to me this year, these two stand out as favorites-great venues, good wines and personable staff! I truly find something to like at every winery I go to (sometimes it just the Corgi!), but at times I find a winery that has it all…go to these two when in VA. http://www.firstcolonywinery.com and http://www.oldhousevineyards.com

 

Marigolds used keep pests away from the grapes at Old House Vineyards

Marigolds used keep pests away from the grapes at Old House Vineyards

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

 

 

 

Favorite “New to Me” Restaurants:

Upscale to the Max- Te at the Inn at Leola Village-If you happen to be in the Lancaster PA area and you want to indulge in an award winning meal go to Te. Matter of fact, stay over night in the lovely accommodations available at the Inn at Leola Village. Our meal at Te was exquisite and I hope to go again sometime soon! http://www.theinnatleolavillage.com

In the Windy City- The Purple Pig-this was tough. I realize we didn’t even scratch the surface of all the fabulous restaurants in Chicago and literally ALL of the places we went to had merit. The Pig though has a certain flair that I found interesting, comforting and just darn tasty. It’s not everywhere you can order bones filled with fat and consider it delicious….you can at The Purple Pig!

Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig

Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig

Just Plain Delicious-Restaurant Sidney (Willoughby Run in Gettysburg or the Original in East Berlin PA)- Love, Love, Love my Sidney. Great Food, relaxing atmosphere at both locations and a Chef and servers who try to please. http://restaurantsidney.com/#!/main

Classic Sidney Pate

Classic Sidney Pate

Favorite “New to Me” recipe to me- Easy Cioppino- the recipe is found in a previous post titled “Easy Peasy”. I swear, I must try 100 different recipes each year (have I mentioned that I love to cook?). This particular recipe is very easy, very delicious and quite healthy.

This is my adaptation of the recipe found Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publication "30-Minute Dinners"

This is my adaptation of the recipe found Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publication “30-Minute Dinners”

Life Time Achievement Award: Gazebo Room Salad Dressing-This is a no-brainer for the first award of this kind. Please refer to the previous post titled “Location, Location, Location”. GRSD is a must-have for all household that are lucky enough to live in a State that stocks the dressing at local grocers.

Photo (3)

Unlike the Oscars, winners don’t go home with gift bags. Instead, I’ve tried to supply contact info when possible so do me a favor and click on a couple of sites that interest you. It’ll show the winners you care and I get a kick out of seeing the number of “clicks” I get on my stats page (anonymous of course)

It’s been a fun year. I look forward to testing out next year’s winners for the next 12 months…stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chow down in Chi-Town

A bit of the Bubbly on the 96th Floor at the Signature Lounge

A bit of the Bubbly on the 96th Floor at the Signature Lounge


Since our daughter was doing a rotation in Chicago for work, my husband and I took the opportunity to visit her as well as the city for the first time. My daughter knows me well and is a bit of a foodie herself. She did an excellent job planning a long weekend packed with “touristy” stuff and a sampling of the fantastic restaurants Chicago is famous for. As with all my blog posts, this will pertain to the culinary portion of our visit!
Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig

Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig


We arrived just before lunch so after a short walk along the river we found ourselves at our first restaurant….the Purple Pig. The subtitle on the menu is “Cheese, Swine and Wine”. I felt obligated try all three. One of my picks was the picture you see above. I was given instructions with this dish…slather the marrow on freshly baked bread, sprinkle with sea salt and top with herb salad. I followed the instructions to a tee and was rewarded with a taste like no other. A few of the other dishes we tried were Chorizo Stuffed Olives, Pigs Ear with Krispy Kale topped with a Fried Egg and Pork Secreto with Roasted Pepper, Leeks and Pickled Watermelon Rind. My first meal in Chicago was better than great!
Next up was a glass of Bubbly at Signature Lounge which was only ninety-six stories up…definitely a tourist trap but well worth the surprisingly short elevator ride to experience that view!
Dinner that night was at GT Fish and Oyster. Again, delicious food with my favorite being the Squash Blossom with Crab, Zucchini and Mozzarella. I also totally loved the Halibut Romesco with grilled peaches and scallions.
Who knew Chicken Thighs could be such an exciting lunch?

Who knew Chicken Thighs could be such an exciting lunch?


My daughter and I had girl-time the next morning with breakfast at Xoco (a Rick Bayless place). We shared a Chorizo-Egg Torta and a wonderful Churro with Pistachio Glaze. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but my daughter will attest to the Chocolate Cappuccino being excellent.
Lunch was at Eataly, a place which more sophisticated foodies than I will say is a bit touristy. Well call me a Country Bumpkin…I thought it was great! My lunch was Seared Chicken Thighs with Sundried Tomato Bread Salad of Kohlrabi, peppers, green onion and tomato vinaigrette. The Thighs were about as tender and juicy as I’ve ever had outside my own home. If you’ve never been, Eataly is like a Foodie Amusement Park. You can shop, get food to go, dine amidst the butcher, the baker and fish monger or go to one of the sit down restaurants. What’s really appealing is you can take your glass of wine or beer with you throughout the two-story establishment. I could’ve stayed for hours but eventually we had to leave to get ready for the ball game at Wrigley field….my chosen destination for a Chicago Hot Dog (oh, and the Cubs were playing the Nats). Chicago Hot Dogs Rock!
Brunch on Sunday was at Siena Tavern which resulted in another great meal. I ate light as I knew what was coming up for dinner that evening (spoiler alert-Beef), but couldn’t have been more satisfied with my Shrimp-topped Salad of Roasted Red, Yellow and Candied Striped Beets with Pickled Fennel, Toasted Hazelnuts, Creamy Nocetto (a sheep milk cheese)and pea shoots.
After a full day of seeing the sights we arrived at our dinner destination which was Bavettes Bar and Boeuf. A Classic Rib Eye-Chicago was shared with my daughter. We had them put maître d’butter on top…yum. The side dish I found most impressive was Elote style corn with chili, lime and parmesan.
I’ve just scratched the surface of the fantastic food we had while in Chi-town. I love being with my family and others who love to share food and sample a large variety. Chicago truly is a great city and while it’s not keeping with the title of my blog I just have to mention how beautifully the city is kept. The city and park gardens are in pristine condition. Some even have herbs and vegetables growing in them. I can’t wait to visit again.