Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tis the season ~ Merry Christmas

I love Christmas. I love the holiday season - this truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and this year, in particular, was particularly wonderful.

As busy and hectic as life is, as stressful as the year can be, the month of December and those few days with family, friends, and food, just make it all melt away. I think the best part is the tradition part. How every year, you do it the same way. But then every year you add to those traditions and make new ones. It makes me all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. There's no place like home for the holidays - and home is where your heart is.

Christmas Eve at the castle is probably my favorite day of the year. I love spending time sitting around the family room with my family, eating and drinking and having a grand old time for ourselves, and I finally got to share it with tt. And in addition to that, I got to spend time with him and his family for their Christmas traditions.

It is now the day after Christmas, and the merriment has (sugar)plum tuckered me out. Not to mention I'm sick on top of it, but it was all worth it. This year was really special to me - it wasn't technically our "first Christmas," but it was the first Christmas we got to spend together, and hopefully there will be very many to come.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

Yesterday, December 14th, 2012, Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary, with the intent of causing some damage. It deeply saddens me to think that someone could take the lives of so many sweet and innocent children, someone's babies, this close to the holidays. Let alone, taking the lives of their own parents, other people's parents. It sickens me, I can't even keep from tearing up writing this. Twenty eight total deaths, twenty of them babies between 5-10 years old, make this the second largest school shooting in American history, second only to Virginia Tech with 32 fatalities. Our Governor, Dan Malloy said "Evil visited this community today." and President Obama said "Our hearts are broken today." My heart, thoughts, and prayers truly go out to those families who lost loved ones, and those families who's loved ones will forever be affected by such a tragedy.

What do you do when tragedy hits? Do you go home and hug your kids a little tighter than usual? Do you call your parents to tell them you love them? Do you go out and volunteer in your community or someone elses? I can tell you what I did- I let my dog sleep on the bed last night. I know this sounds silly, but to me, it made me feel like she would feel loved. We have been having a rough week in our house with the dog, between the ginormous hole that is now in my basement wall, to a trip to the vet, to changing her diet and spending some QT in her crate. I needed her to feel loved and part of the family again.

The events of yesterday made me realize that the day to day hum drum issues that go on in our lives are really so menial compared to the horrific things that other people have to endure. So, my dog is a little is only because she misses me. So, sometimes my job is stressful and least I have a job, one that I love, and job security (I hope) for as long as I want it. So, sometimes my family drives me crazy...I'm just as crazy as they are, and I think we all love each other more for it. I have an amazing family, a boyfriend who I love more than life itself, a secure job, a little house and a little pupper girl, and the best support system in my friends. I really have little to nothing to complain about.

One of my Facebook friends put up one of the most inspirational things that I read yesterday. She said: "It is my opinion that you can never say I Love You 'too much' to those you care for. Hug and kiss your loved ones, and spread kindness to those who you don't know"

Recipe of the day:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: The Melting Pot

Food: «««««
Ambiance: ««««
Price: $$$$

Let me start this by saying that if you don't have a Melting Pot in your area, I feel extremely bad for you. I recommend going online and finding the nearest one and getting yourself there. Or, go ahead and plan a vacation around this unique dining experience. Yes, it's that good.

If you are not familiar with the concept of the Melting Pot, it is a relatively upscale fondue restaurant. There are 4 courses available to diners: the appetizer course is Cheese Fondue, then Soup/Salad (comes to the table preparead, not fondue-style), the Entree course (with 4 choices for "cooking style"), and dessert... aka Chocolate Fondue.

Last night, my family and I went for dinner. There is a great atmosphere, large tables that seat 8 and more intimate booths for 2 or 4 people. Each table has a fondue burner in the center which somehow doesn't become hot to the touch outside where the fondue pot sits. Honestly, it was busy inside but you never would have known, it was not loud at all. Our server was a bit dippy, but she was very thorough and not pushy at all, which I always appreciate.

The menu is pretty extensive, considering it is all based around fondue items. There is a pretty large wine list as well. They have it set up that you can choose individual entrees, or there is the "Four Course Classic" that are essentially prix fixe options per person or per couple. This comes with all four courses, you choose your cheese, you choose the salad you want, and you choose the dessert fondue. The entree includes veggies, five different meats (shrimp, chicken, pork, and 2 beefs), and you pick which "cooking style" you want (vegetable boullion, coq au vin, batter/canola oil, and a carribean spice mixture).

While the waitress suggested we order two of the four course classics becuase there were four of us dining, we chose to order one of them plus one extra salad, and one veggie entree. This was PLENTY of food for us. While we kind of wanted a little more cheese, it is better we didn't have double the amount because it is a delicious but heavy start to a meal. And, because it was a birthday celebration, they let us split the dessert into two small pots! Here was our menu:

Course 1
Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue: Gruyère and Emmenthaler Swiss cheeses come together with white wine, garlic, nutmeg, lemon and Kirschwasser
Comes with 3 different breads, some vegetables, and granny smith apples- amazing. The server "makes" the cheese fondue for you at the table by combining all the ingredients into the pot over heat.

Course 2
Spinach Mushroom Salad: Fresh spinach, baby Portobello mushrooms, red onion, chopped bacon and Roma tomatoes with a warm Burgundy Shallot Vinaigrette
The King and I got this- the dressing was seriously to die for. They actually sell a few of their dressings and I was so bummed that this wasn't on the list.

The Melting Pot House Salad: Crisp romaine and iceberg lettuce, aged cheddar cheese, Roma tomatoes, seasoned croutons and sliced egg with your choice of Peppercorn Ranch Dressing or our sweet and tangy House Dressing
The birthday girl chose the plain old house salad- but there was nothing plain old about it!

Big Night Out Salad: Enjoy the seasonal salad showcased in our Big Night Out.
Sisterfriend went with the special- it was actually a wedge salad that looked outstanding

Course 3
Four Course Classic Entree (for two): Seasoned choice Angus sirloin, Memphis-style BBQ pork tenderloin, succulent white shrimp, herb-crusted all-natural chicken breast and teriyaki-marinated sirloin - with Coq au Vin: Burgundy wine infused with fresh herbs, spices and mushrooms
The Vegetarian Entree: A selection of fresh vegetables including edamame or onion rings, artichoke hearts, Portobello mushrooms and asparagus served with Thai peanut-marinated tofu, spinach artichoke ravioli and our Big Night Out pasta
Six Sauces: Curry, Green Goddess, Teriyake Glaze, Cocktail Sauce, Gorgonzola Port, and Ginger Plum "Sweet and Sour"
All of the meats come to the table unprepared. The server brings your cooking option and it heats up on the burner. Then they will tell you the length of time each item takes to cook (everything was appx 2 mins) - and they leave you to have at it. I honestly don't know that I have words for this course. My favorite item hands down was the artichoke. Why? I have no idea but the flavor it picked up in the coq au vin was unreal. In addition, I would say the  portobella mushrooms, the shrimp (probably because it was the best cocktail sauce in life), and the teriyaki sirloin. I didn't try the asparagus but everyone said it was out of this world. Of the sauces, the curry was also delicious. It was combined with yogurt so it wasn't packing heat, but was packed with flavor! Was not a huge fan of the tofu- it kind of fell apart when cooking and wasn't overly appealing (and yes, I typically like the tofu).

Course 4
The Original: Our original milk chocolate swirled with creamy, crunchy peanut butter.
Bananas Foster: Bananas and a hint of cinnamon swirled in white chocolate create the fondue version of this favorite dessert. And, we didn’t forget the heat as we flambé it tableside.
Dippers... Enjoy fresh strawberries, bananas, cheesecake, Rice Krispies Treats®, marshmallows, pound cake and brownies with your choice of the following chocolate fondues.
So... thank God they let us split this up. The Queen B loves bananas foster, and since it was of course her birthday, we had to get that. (Delish.) And of course what is better than chocolate and peanut butter?! 

Overall... The Melting Pot gets an A+ in my book. It is a little pricey, but definitely worth it for a special occasion. This is not the type of place you would eat regularly though, I think as a treat it's perfect.
And on that note... new workout to try for the AMs this week: 10-minutes and no weights. Thanks, Fit Sugar!

Recipe of the day: