Sippin’ a Blue Moon Cocktail Under the Orange Summer Sun

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Summer is winding down, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a delicious summer cocktail! A few months ago Brady’s uncle made me a Blue Moon cocktail (not to be confused with everyone’s favorite Belgian white beer) and I instantly was crazy about it. I decided to try it out for myself yesterday, and I must admit, it was just as delicious as I remembered it!

Most cocktails I find too sickening sweet. However, the Blue Moon tastes like a refreshing blue Creamsicle. It is extremely simple and friggin’ delicious…which can also be dangerous. Its color is as blue as the pool you’ll be wanting to dive into after sipping one! Pretty girly of a drink though, so grab your girlfriends and a blender (am I writing the lyrics to a new Jimmy Buffett song??) and give the Blue Moon a shot yourself!

Blue Moon Cocktail
1 cup crushed ice

¼ cup vodka
¼ cup blue curacao 
¼ cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla flavored syrup
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon Cointreau (or another orange-flavored liqueur)

Blue Moon
Throw all the ingredients in the blender and viola! It’s as creamy as ice cream. I used an orange liqueur called “Gran-Gala” that worked just as well. Another tweak- I used the whipped cream flavored vodka for more flavor. Impress your buds, sit back and enjoy your last weeks of summer with a cocktail that will certainly take you back to your childhood Creamsicle days (only now with an adult twist). Enjoy, and be sure to post a picture of your concoction on my Facebook page!

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A DeVine Getaway in Wine Country!

“Who wants to driveeee?” These are the dreaded words that nobody wants to hear before a day of wine tasting. As a gift for our anniversary, I surprised Brady with a trip to go wine tasting in Temecula. But not just any trip- a DeVine Wine Tour where I didn’t have to worry about driving!

I’m a big Groupon fan (who isn’t) and when I found a deal for $155 for a wine tour for two, I jumped on it. What does the 5 hour tour include? Transportation to 4 wineries, 6 tastings at each winery, a hilarious tour guide and lunch. SOLD!

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Our pick up time was 10am, and right on time, Adam (our tour guide with raving reviews on Yelp!) pulled up and handed us our itineraries. He made two other stops for 18 other eager winos- and we were on our way to our first winery – Bel Vino, which was perched atop a hill that gave great views of the surrounding vineyards. Brady and I got into our wine tasting groove, took some pictures and had a blast. His favorite wine was Tatria, a Bordeaux blend, while mine was the White Merlot. So sweet and so delicious!! The hour went by fast, and we were delicately herded on our way to the next stop- Danza Del Sol. The farther along on our tour, the louder and more hilarious our group got, with Adam cranking up the tunes in front!

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Danza was at the bottom of a hill, so we didnt see spectacular views, but we did sip some spectacular vino! The interior of the winery was boutique-y with tons of trinkets and quote pictures. The Tres Rose was my favorite- and I promptly bought a bottle for my Mom. We sat outside on the patio for a while, I played on Instagram and then we were off to stop #3, Cougar Vineyards (Bradys favorite ha ha).

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Cougar had excellent views and beautiful surroundings. Inside the winery was a Boar’s Head Deli and it was there that Adam brought out our lunches which we selected when I booked the tour. Lunch consisted of a gourmet sandwich, salad and, of course, grapes. Our whole crowd was getting a little rowdier/friendlier by then and we had some more tastes (including a port, which I was wanting to try!) As the day went on, the wineries got more crowded, so the earlier you start, the better!

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Our final stop (noooo!) was at Lorimar Winery, where we tried Brady’s favorite wine on the tour. The Cabernet Sauvignon had notes of bell pepper, and would pair well with pizza or pasta. I’m getting hungry/thirsty just thinking about that combo! Brady did his best Ray Charles impression at the piano, we had more wine and talked with our new buddies Nick and Janelle. Lorimar had a nice expanded outdoor area that was a perfect picture opportunity for shots in the vineyard. Another hour flew by, and it was time to head back. We were sad it was over, but the experience was amazing. (I don’t like ending things!)

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We had an AWESOME time, and would take another DeVine tour in a heartbeat. I have a pretty fun family, so the next time they are all out here from back East, that will be the first suggestion I blurt out. I could also see the tour as the perfect girls day out, and great for bachelorette/bachelor parties. You really can’t beat the price either. On weekends, most tastings were around $15 per person. With the tour, you get transportation, don’t have to hassle with waiting in line to pay for tastings and you get lunch. It’s almost a no-brainer!

What stood out the most to me was the amazing customer service we received. Yelp did not lie. Adam was a great host, and rolled with all the jokes, and stragglers, very well. As soon as the bus pulled away I realized that I left my Mom’s bottle of Rose on it and was pretty bummed. Brady called the company and Adam actually met up with us at a street fair on the Main Street and personally handed me my wine. THEN, as a token of gratitude, I thought I would buy him a beer. By the time the beers were poured for the three of us, I realized it was cash only. Adam didn’t even blink when he offered to pay for our beers. Such great service! (Brady and I later bought him a round when we got cash). Just goes to show you that the DeVine tour staff will go the extra mile. Can’t say enough good things about our trip!

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The next time you are pondering a trip to Temecula, forget the hassle of driving to wineries (they aren’t within walking distance) and book a tour with DeVine and taste without a care in the world. I can guarantee that you will be glad you did! :)

http://devinetour.com/
http://www.belvinowinery.com/
http://www.danzadelsolwinery.com/
http://www.cougarvineyards.com/
http://www.lorimarwinery.com/

A Lesson Learned on Taco Tuesday

Another Tuesday has rolled around. And Tuesdays in San Diego mean one thing… TACO TIME!

Brady and I have made it a tradition to go to World Famous on Tuesdays for their delicious $1.75 shrimp tacos. (I think I’ve mentioned this place…more than a few times ;) ). In one of our many trips to WF, we noticed the tortillas were different (not as fresh as usual) and asked our server about them. She explained that the tortillas are made in-house at their sister restaurant Fat Fish Cantina & Grill a few blocks down, but unfortunately they ran out of the homemade ones that night. Which brings me to a tip- make sure to get there early!  I had no idea that World Famous had a sister restaurant, but from our great experiences at WF, we knew we had to give Fat Fish a shot.

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Fat Fish Cantina Grill lies on the corner of Mission Blvd & Garnet, and I am ashamed to say I had never been there before. Their weekday happy hour specials are pretty awesome- and last from 4-11pm (yes that’s 7 hours of specials each weekday!). Specials below:

$3 Margaritas from 4-6pm Monday-Friday

MONDAY $7 lobster tails
TUESDAY $1 street tacos $1.50 shrimp tacos
WEDNESDAY 1/2 off appetizers
THURSDAY $2 fish tacos–Live music by Cantua
FRIDAY Live music by Cantua

My best friend Elizabeth, Brady and I went to test out their shrimp and street tacos and, of course, we had a few beers to wash them down. Coronas and tacos by the beach, such a typical Tuesday night in San Diego! While you can’t beat the view at WF, we sat on their outdoor patio and got a lot of people watching in. The tacos were amazing for the price. We ordered the $1.50 shrimp tacos and $1 street tacos and to our delight, they had the homemade tortillas!  I don’t think I would need another street taco, but I would definitely go back for the shrimp and fish tacos (they were delicious).

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All in all, we had a good time. Fat fish is a lot bigger than it looks from the street and seems to be always popping. The next time I go, I will be sure to try one of their cocktails because they look amazing from pictures on Yelp. Another Taco Tuesday down, another amazing spot to satisfy my taco craving. And I definitely learned a lesson. When it comes to tacos, homemade tortillas definitely do make all the difference!

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www.fatfishcantinagrill.com

A 1920’s Theatre In Our Own Backyard

 Ahhh, a night at the movies. We’ve all had our own cherished memories of first dates and midnight premiers. Its an American staple! I visited a theatre a few weeks ago that is as unique as they come and had to share. For those of you who don’t know, La Paloma, one of the World’s first “Talkie” theatres, is right in our own backyard in the beach town of Encinitas.

La Paloma
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La Paloma was built in 1928 and is still in operation today, 86 years later. Take note- it is definitely not the theatre to go for luxurious seats and a dazzling lobby- go to Cinepolis for that! And if the Drive-In is still too new of an experience for you, La Paloma is the perfect place to step back in time to when going to the movies was an exciting social event. It’s located on the main drag in Encinitas around plennnnty of restaurants, so you will no doubt find the perfect dinner outing before your show. Just as in the olden days, this theatre only accepts cash, so be prepared.

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The owner of La Paloma have done his best to keep it extremely unique. It’s an independent theatre that shows a mix of indie films, mainstream movies (we saw Jersey Boys there) and surf films (because what is a movie theatre on the 101 without surf movies??). The owner issues your tickets, serves the concessions then turns on the projector himself. Very old school! More added charm to the theatre: the owner’s friendly duo of dogs named Oscar and Sammy, who roam through the rows searching for any remnants of popcorn. The interior of the theatre itself has an Arabian feel, and made my imagination roam to think about what a treat it would’ve been to visit in its prime. The building is such a cool piece of history and I am so happy that it is still up and running almost 90 years later!

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La Paloma usually has multiple showings a day, featuring 2 films. And for a real classic treat, they have the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday at Midnight (cool date idea!!) The next time you are in Encinitas, take a step back in time to nostalgic America and catch a show at La Paloma!

       www.lapalomatheatre.com 

It’s About the (Paint) Journey, Not the Destination

Who doesn’t get the itch to express their creative side every now and then? I have always been a creative soul and love to draw and paint, but sadly I hadn’t made much time to be creative lately. That all changed last week when my best friend Kelly recommended a “Girl Date” involving wine and painting!
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I am sure many of your inboxes have been bombarded with emails from LivingSocial and Groupon advertising deals for paint nights. I am also willing to bet that your friends have been posting pictures about their fun times at these painting outings as well (some more Picasso than Da Vinci). This has been a trend for a few months now and I finally tried it out last Saturday with my best friends and had a complete blast! After my fun experience, I think you should try it too!

The deal was extremely reasonable- $22 on LivingSocial for a 3 hour class which is well worth the time. After purchasing the deal, we went to their website to choose which date we wanted to get our creativity on, based on availability and the painting choices for the month (every class featured a different painting). We chose a Saturday where the selection was “Yellow Tulips.” Awww Tulips, a girl’s best friend.  (Take notice gentlemen).  I really liked the idea of basing your date on the painting, because different paintings “speak” to different people. Seeing as my friends and I have known each other for 15 years, we are pretty in tune with each other and all loved the flowers. The date was booked!

The day had come and our Saturday started off with breakfast at The Cottage in La Jolla per Michelle’s recommendation. I will save this for another post, but if you can beat the crowds, breakfast is amazing there – from delicious pesto scrambles to refreshing fruit plates!The Cottage Breakfast! We had a little bit of everything!

A few blocks down from the Cottage was the paint site at Roppongi Restaurant on Prospect Street. I would recommend getting there early to make sure you get the seat you want, with enough seats for everyone in your group to sit next to eachother. Be sure to a seat front-and-center, because at times it was hard to see exactly what the instructor was doing. There was a set up of 40 or so canvasses supported by easels, individual palettes, brushes and water for the event. I was in heaven! We chose our table for 4 (perfect), put our smocks on and ordered fruity adult beverages.

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 An example of “Tulips in Bloom” was showcased up front next to a blank canvas. Our instructor began painting a duplicate and the group followed along… which became more interesting with every sip of my “Cove Colado.”   Not particularly artsy? No need to worry! The instructor, Deron, did an excellent job explaining the steps in both an artsy and technical way for painters of all different skill levels to understand. He emphasized that the class was about having fun, relaxing and enjoying yourself- not about the end product. (It’s about the journey, not the destination mantra). In the end, we all held up our paintings for the camera and said “cheese.” Despite everyones different levels of paint expertise, the 40 paintings looked surprisingly similar, each with their own personal touches. See? Anyone can do it!!

Classes run three hours in length, but given the great environment and flowing drinks, it could have just as easily run for five hours. The women around me made sure the instructor knew it (all jokes of course)! Thinking we would have plenty of time to finish, we barely finished at the end of hour three (this was my only complaint). We all had a great time – albeit some moments were “stressful” as we had to work faster then we wanted. The most entertaining part of the whole class was listening to people laugh at their progress and hearing their hilarious comments that they made with their friends. One woman couldn’t stop snorting behind me! People were laughing at their work, chatting with friends, and letting the paint brush take control.

All in all, it was a great memory with my best friends. We collaborated together when one or more of us were behind and had a TON of laughs. The instructor team was organized, funny, and on the ball whenever someone needed more supplies or help on a painting step. I plan on trying one with my Mom and boyfriend soon. We’ll see how that turns out!

So the next time you are about to hit “delete” on that pesky LivingSocial paint deal, make the purchase, grab a buddy and give it a shot!

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Check out their website to see their upcoming paint dates!
www.paintingandvino.com

–Briana

Love Me Tender (Greens!)

I was sitting at my desk last week (hungry as usual) and had a craving. A craving that I knew would not go away until I got the chance to bite into the soft tender steak, dig into some yukon gold mashed potatoes, munch on a salad of soft butter lettuce and finish the meal off with the most amazing cookie I have EVER tasted. I, of course, had a serious stage 5 craving for Tender Greens.

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Tender Greens…where to begin. My love affair for the restaurant began a few years ago, when my cousin Jen introduced me to this magical place when I visited her in Santa Monica. She had hyped it up so much, yet by the sound of it, it sounded like another spinoff of Panera. (NOT knocking Panera by the way- that is a good place). Yes, you order at the counter, like Panera. But unlike Panera, you get to watch the production line create your heavenly meal right before your eyes (would you like roasted vegetables with that?).

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You order your protein (in my case-steak every time) in a salad, sandwich or as a hot plate. But everyone who has been to Tender Greens knows to order the hot plate. With the hot plate comes your choice of salad (my go-to is ALWAYS the butter lettuce salad) and the amazingly, incredibly smooth and buttery yukon gold mashed potatoes. As Jenny describes them- “So good it ain’t even right.” You said it Jen. I’m not going to go into detail about how great they are- you just need to try them to experience the magic for yourself. Brady always orders the herb brushed albacore. He loves it. I am just more of a steak fan. And if I am feeling especially hungry/gluttonous, I order the roasted vegetables. They are pretty delicious, just not as delicious as the potatoes. They set their standards high with the yukon golds.

Steak Hot Plate

One day I was feeling especially bold and ordered the Salted oatmeal white chocolate cookie. HOLY DESSERTS! It was exactly as amazing as it sounded- and more. Look it up online and you will see plenty of people raving about the recipe. Even Brady loves them- and he isn’t a dessert fan!

Salted White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie

Tender Greens is a California chain, with four locations in San Diego – Liberty Station, Downtown, UTC and at the airport. The indoor/outdoor seating provides a laid back atmosphere, with art local art pieces decked on the walls. I am hoping- no, pleading-for a location closer to Chula Vista. I think it would be a great addition in the Otay Ranch area.

Welp, there you have it. If you get the opportunity to go to Tender Greens, I have taken it upon myself to tell you exactly what to order: steak hot plate with butter lettuce salad, potatoes being a given, and a delicious salted oatmeal white chocolate cookie – you’re welcome. * Note- everything looks/is delicious.

I think I know where I will be eating dinner tonight…

This post is dedicated to Jenny. The angel, cousin and best friend who introduced me to this amazing place. ;)

www.tendergreens.com

As American as Blueberry Pie!

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The 4th of July weekend full of barbequing, beer, relaxing at the beach and, of course, fireworks, has come and past. I don’t know about you, but the 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Every summer when I was little I would visit my family in Buffalo, NY, and stay with my Grandparents. And every summer I could expect the same great traditions that came with this amazing summer holiday.

My Grandparents live in the adorable, all-American small town of East Aurora, NY- complete with a quaint Main Street, a Five & Dime store (Vidlers!) and amazing 4th of July celebrations. East Aurora would always have their parade and fireworks on the 3rd and my cousin’s town of Orchard Park (the next town over) would celebrate on the 4th. This meant double the celebrations, watermelon, corn-on-the-cob, catching of fireflies and, of course, sparklers and fireworks! Those memories with my grandparents and cousins are honestly my favorite memories of my childhood and make me so much of who I am today. I could go on all day about my love of my grandparents, cousins (who have always been best friends to me) and my love of Buffalo-  but I’ll keep that for another post, because I need to get down to business and share an amazing all-American recipe with you all!

As much fun as I was having at the beach this 4th, I was feeling “homesick” for my family in Buffalo. I was deciding on a patriotic dish to make to celebrate on the 4th when Brady mentioned pie – and a light bulb went on in my head. Every summer, I would pick blueberries with my cousins at a farm nearby, and my grandma would take the berries and make THE most DELICIOUS blueberry pie I have ever tasted – and instantly I knew I had to share it with my boyfriend, friends and family here. I had never made it before- but thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some Buffalove! Once I tasted the pie- this is going to sound overly dramatic- I felt like I was transported back to those many summers, and was so happy that I got her recipe right!

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Blueberry picking a few years back!

My Grandma got this recipe from a friend from church many years ago, and has been making it ever since.  I am not much of a cook/baker- but the beauty of this pie is that it is relatively simple, and AMAZINGLY delicious. Trust me- if I can make it- so can you!

 Mr. Siedler’s Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:
1 quart of washed blueberries
½ cup regular sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Pie crust (I go with premade- if you wanna make your own- that’s up to you! ;) )

 *For pie crust, follow directions with pre-made crust, or use your own recipe. This is the only time you will use the oven!

1. Mix half of the blueberries with flour, salt and lemon juice
2. Place in heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a soupy consistency (5 minutes or more)
3.  Add the regular sugar and brown sugar, and continue to stir constantly until mixture is evenly combined
4. Add in remaining blueberries, stir for a few minutes to soften up the whole berries
5. Let mixture cool
6. Pour blueberry mixture in baked pie crust, and refrigerate for 3 hours (or more/less to let mixture set)

The end!!

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I truly hope you guys like- or LOVE- this recipe. My best friend Michelle tried a piece on Monday and loved it as much as I did, and told me I should share this recipe on my blog. If you get a chance to try it- let me know what you think, I would LOVE to hear your feedback, as this family recipe means a lot to me! Enjoy your pie and the rest of our sunny summer months and God Bless the USA!

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