Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer Shandy Cocktail

Beer cocktails are one of my favorite drinks, and the possibilities are pretty endless when it comes to them. Since it is Labor Day Weekend I thought I would share my favorite summer beer cocktail with you!

Shandy's are a citrus based beer that is super popular during the summertime. There are tons of different kinds (you will be hearing about my favorites in an upcoming post!) but new to the shandy world this year is Narragansett Beer's  Dells Lemonade. I used this as the base for this yummy cocktail. 

Shandy Beer
A white whine
Club Soda (you can also use sprite, ginger ale, or in my case all I had in my fridge — Mountain Dew) 
Frozen Raspberries 

Add equal parts shandy and white wine into the glass. Top with fizzy soda and garnish with frozen raspberries. I love adding frozen raspberries to my cocktails, they add a nice tartness to the drink without being over powering. Orange slices would also be an awesome addition. 

I am trying to savor the last couple days of of summer, and this drink is the perfect accompaniment to a lazy summer afternoon. 

xo. Casey

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Caturday

I know that technically the summer is not over until the middle of September, but for me once August is over I am in all out fall mode. So I am spending this weekend with this sweet guy hanging out on our balcony taking in the last few warm days in the sunshine. I am going to spend this weekend having drinks by the water, picnicking by the lake, kayaking, fishing, and completely taking advantage of this holiday weekend. 

Before you know it I will be sippin pumpkin spice lattes bundled up in a comfy sweater and scarf enjoying the leaves change. But this weekend it is all about the summer time- I am taking full advantage and living in the moment. George agrees. 

xo. Casey

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Five, August Favorites

I can not believe that August is practically over. This summer absolutely flew by. It feels like I was just moving into my apartment yesterday. Cray.

Here is what I was loving in the month of August. 

1. Starbucks Iced Coffee with one pump of the cinnamon dolce syrup. Super simple and super delicious. 

2. Canva. This is a free graphics site where you can make totally awesome customizable banners. What up to my new banner up there! 

3. Heart of Dixie. Most of the shows that I watch have me saying "OMG!" and "Who are they going to kill of next?!" all the time (I'm lookin at you the walking dead and dexter). But sometimes I just want to watch something totally lighthearted and I found that in the Heart of Dixie. It is the absolute perfect show to put on and fall asleep to. (but is that girls name really lemon?)

4.  Divergent. I finally got to sit down and watch this show and oh man, now I understand what all the hype was about! It is very similar to the Hunger Games so if you loved those books/movies I think you will really like this one. Unlike the Hunger Games I did not read the books before the movie and I am totally cool with just enjoying the film for what it is - and I am super excited for the next one! I think my boyfriend will enjoy this movie way more than he enjoyed the Hunger Games movies. (Oh, and Tris is a way less dramatic version of Katnis). 

5. Haircut! My hair may or may not have been two drastically different lengths for over a month. This past weekend I finally got off my lazy butt and went to the salon. After the stylist said "Oh this no good" I knew they were going to cut a decent amount off. It is a little shorter than I hoped but I am actually growing to really like this length, and it feels super healthy. Worth it.

xo. Casey

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

We have an overabundance of tomatoes in our garden.  We pick them and then they seem to multiply tenfold. As delicious as it is, I do not think my stomach can handle any more fresh tomato toast. We decided to make and jar our own tomato sauce to enjoy ourselves or give away as gifts. It came out awesome, so I wanted to share our simple recipe here with you, in case you have a million tomatoes just like us. 

We made a quick pit stop at Target to get a couple of things that we needed: mason jars, a pot, and one onion. The rest of the staff was hand picked from our garden or already on hand. 

What went into the sauce: 
one onion
two shallots
an entire small container of chopped garlic
tons of basil
white wine
olive oil 
salt & pepper

Method of Prep:
Chop the onion, shallot, and garlic and then sautee in a large pot with olive oil. Next you can remove the skins doing a tomato concasse which would involve cutting a small x on the bottom of the tomato, boiling them until the skin starts to peel, placing in an ice bath, and then removing the skin. Because of time however, James just removed the skins with a paring knife. 

Slice and dice the tomatoes and add them to the sauteed vegetables. And now you wait. Let the tomatoes simmer and reduce down into a sauce. Chop the herbs and add them to the sauce. To speed up the process James used an immersion blender to combine everything together. Continue to taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary.

In another pot, bring water to a boil. Place mason jars in boiling water to sterilize. Do this just as you are about to jar the sauce. We filled each jar until they were just about full, then put the tops on and placed the jars upside down. This helps with the sealing process. Make sure that you fill the jars straight out of the boiling water - this is a critical step in sealing the jars. 

And there we have it! Our very own absolutely delicious sauce. It is super simple - the fresh ingredients do all the work, all you need is the time and patience to let it do its thing. The longer you reduce it the thicker your sauce is going to be. 

You can now store your jars in the fridge or at room temperature. I am excited to give a couple of these away as gifts, and enjoy the rest with some nice fresh pasta and crusty bread. A perfect Sunday night dinner. 

xo. Casey

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Caturday

James was in Vermont this week and George and I were missing him a lot. He doesn't go into work until three today so we are spending this lazy Saturday morning watching Masterchef, drinking coffee, and enjoying our time together. These are some of my absolute favorite moments. 

After he leaves for work I want to get to work organizing and decorating some spots in the apartment I have been ignoring. I will be stepping into the vortex that is Target and probably leave with a million things I do not need and be totally happy about it. I will also finally check "get a haircut" off my list of things to do. It is way over due (it may be two different lengths right now because I tried to cut it myself..maybe). 

How are you spending this breezy Saturday afternoon? 

xo. Casey

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lays Flavor Finalist Tasting

Today's Friday Five is technically a "Friday Four". Lay's is at it again searching for their next million dollar flavor, and this year there are four finalists. I tried them all - you know, for science. 

 Here they are ladies and gentleman, from the worst to the best.

4. Cappuccino. This is not a chip, this is a desert. It kind of tastes like a crispy dough boy with cinnamon sugar and coffee powder dusted on top. I ate one and I was pretty set on this flavor. 

3. Wavy Mango Salsa. I had heard horrible things about this flavor so I went into it already thinking I was not going to like it - and I didn't. BUT, it was not nearly as bad as I was hearing. You get the mango flavor straight off the bat, which is not very appealing in a chip, but then the saltiness of the salsa kicks in and it is almost enjoyable. This one was a hit with many people in the office, but still belongs on the bottom of the list.

2. Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese. When I heard there was a bacon mac and cheese version I was pumped and immediately figured it was going to be my favorite. This flavor is great, it definitely has a distinct (artificial) bacon and cheese flavor. The thing that stopped this flavor from making the number one spot was the lack of originality. Despite the hint of bacon these chips taste exactly like my favorite lays flavor the cheddar sour cream chips. 

1. Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger. These chips are awesome, and are the clear winner in the group. These chips taste like a sushi restaurant in the best way possible. The mix of soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger blend so perfectly together. Nothing is better than a kettle cooked chip. 

Compared to last years awesome flavors these are kind of underwhelming. 
Have you tried any of the new flavors? Which one do you think deserves the 1 million dollar prize? 

xo. Casey

picture courtesy of the business insider. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Peak In My Garden

When we moved into our apartment the first thing my boyfriend wanted to do was grow his own garden. Being a chef, having your own vegetables and herbs right at your finger tips is as good as it can get. I also have many fond memories growing tomatoes and mile long zucchini with my grandfather. James went all out with our little garden, getting a fence for it and everything! Now are garden is fully grown and we are enjoying the fruits of our labor- well, his labor. Although he left me a section of the garden to plant what I wanted I never actually did that. He definitely did all the work and I am just enjoying the benefits. 

He planted a couple tomato plants, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, habanero peppers,  basil, parsley, thyme, cilantro, and cucumbers. 

I have been taking full advantage of the large amount of tomatoes that we have grown. There is nothing better than a tomato that is picked right from your garden. You can taste a sweetness and a freshness that you will never get from a super market. 
I have been enjoying my tomatoes on toast with a little cheddar cheese, some hummus, or some basil cream cheese. Most recently I made a simple caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil. It just doesn't get any better than that. 

Have you been gardening this year? How are you enjoying your harvest? 
We will be making a tomato sauce with all of our tomatoes and a hot sauce with the peppers. 
More on that soon :) 

xo. Casey

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Empty Fridge Challenge

One thing that I am particularly proud of is my ability to create a meal out of almost nothing. When I see an empty fridge with just a couple of ingredients something just comes to me, and if I can toot my own horn right here for a moment, it usually comes out pretty darn delicious. Now seeing as how we do not go food shopping nearly enough this happens more times than I would like to admit. My boyfriend however did an amazing job with our first garden this year and we have tons of vegetables and herbs we can utilize. 

Even George was not impressed by the selection. 
So here's what we had to work with: 
1. Two Sausages
2. One Steak 
3. Half of a bell pepper
4. One avocado
5. Frozen Loaf of Bread
6. Variety of condiments
7. Box of couscous 

Initially I thought I would just saute up the bell pepper and use that as our side, but then I saw the frozen bread and I immediately thought Panzanella Salad. This is something that I love, and I have shared the recipe for my roasted vegetable version on the blog before. What I love about this type of salad is you could add any components you have available, how little they may be, because the bread is the star. 

For the Panzanella Salad: 
1.Take the bread and cut into cubes 
2. Coat them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic
3. baked them in the oven until golden brown. 
4. I then added in the sliced bell pepper, avocado, a tomato and some basil from our garden.

For the dressing I combined: 
1. red wine vinegar 
2. dijon mustard
3. raspberries 
4. honey
5. salt and pepper
6. garlic

I then just grilled up the steak, the sausages, and cooked the couscous. It was a simple meal that was full of flavor. The star of the meal? Definitely my Raspberry Dijon Dressing, which I am now going to start using all. the time. 

Meals do not have to be extravagant to be delicious, as long as they are cooked with tons of flavor. 

xo. Casey

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Caturday

George should seriously be referred to "the boy who's tounge is always out" - sweet Harry Potter Reference bro. Here he is smackin his lips over breakfast. And yes, that is a kitten egg soufflĂ© with turkey and vegetables. Yeah my cats fancy. 

Today George and I are spending the day doing his second favorite activity before eating of course - cleaning. My cat is a neat freak! Before he eats his food he literally sweeps the ground with his paws where his plate is to make sure there's no crumbs near his precious meal. If his litter box is too dirty for his liking he will stick his head in, look back at you, and meow loudly until you stop what you are doing and clean it. And you better believe he will sit right next to you as you do it, inspecting the job. He takes cleaning very seriously. 

I definitely need to take a page from his book and do some cleaning and organizing of the apartment today. Also on the agenda is food shopping (our fridge is 100% empty) and an oil change. Pretty exciting stuff man. I love getting everything done on Satuday so that way I can spend my Sundays without a worry in the world with my two favorite guys. 

xo. Casey

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Five, The Definitive Ranking of Hard Ciders

In college I was never the biggest beer or hard liquor fan, and so I never really had a drink of choice. That was until I heard about hard cider - from a friend of mine who was making his own jug of it in his room. Angry Orchard was my drink of choice from then on, but it was news to me that there were so many varieties. Fast forward a couple years later, and although I now enjoy the occasional beer and mixed drink, cider always seems to draw me in. I have tasted many different brands and now have my favorites. 

So here it is - The Definitive Ranking of Hard Ciders 
According to Casey...

1. Wood Chuck Cider. With so many flavors to choose from Wood Chuck, made in Vermont, is definitely my go to choice when buying cider. I love the the Pear flavored (which is actually known as a perry not a cider) and the Amber which has a nice sweetness to it. My absolute favorite however is their fall blend which tastes like apple pie in a glass. yum. (I have also heard rumors about a Woodchuck Pumpkin flavor? O M G my pumpkin spice heart be still!)

2. Harpoon Cider. Also made is Vermont, Harpoon has more of a crispness than Wood Chuck does. It is light, refreshing, and has a little bit of an acidity to it. Sometimes I do not want something so sweet, and so Harpoon is the go-to guy. (Note: I have heard that they have a Honey Cider flavor which I am very interested to try).

3. Downeast Cranberry Cider. I became aware of this cider because it is on the very long drink menu at Harry's Burger Bar in Providence. It is a thick cider - if you do not slightly shake it first you will see the thick sediment in the bottom of the can as you pour. It is very sweet, but the cranberry cuts the sweetness a little. I have also tried their original blend as well but without the cranberry it is way too sweet for my liking. Downeast Cider is from Boston, MA. 

4. Angry Orchard.My original fave which also has tons of flavors to choose from, from granny smith to elderflower. They have sweet options to dry options, and even a cinnamon apple flavor in the fall. Angry Orchard is my favorite cider to make into fun fall drinks - which you will have to wait until the fall to learn more about! foreshadowing

5. My last choice was a difficult one to make. I have tried a variety of ciders, some I do not remember the name to. The one that comes to mind however is the cider by Stella Artois. It is very crisp and light and has no overabundance of sweetness to it at all. If the sweetness is whats stopping you from trying ciders than this is the one for you. 

Let me know in the comments section what ciders you think I am missing out on, I am always on the lookout for new ones to try. And I would love to hear from you!

xo. Casey

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boyfriend Cooks, Mexican Stuffed Shells

I am lucky enough to have an amazing chef as a boyfriend. On his days off he always surprises me with a delicious home cooked meal. Sometimes it is something decadent like a Dijon Encrusted Rack of Lamb, and sometimes it is something super simple like these Mexican Stuffed Shells. It is something that brings my boyfriend back to his childhood, and is one of his favorite meals his mother used to make him. It has a super simple ingredient list, but there is definitely no lack in the flavor department. This meal is spicy, cheesy, and crunchy all at the same time. Yes please!

Lets Get Started. 

Ground Beef
Bell Peppers
Large Pasta Shells
Fresh Herbs 
Hot salsa 
Shredded Cheddar & Pepper Jack Cheese
Fried Onion Strings for topping

Super Simple Method of Prep
1. Chop your produce and herbs into bite sized pieces
2. In a hot pan sautee your vegetables with the garlic 
3. Add the ground beef and cook through 
4. While the beef is cooking, cook your shells in salted water 
5. Add the cumin and herbs to your mixture
6. Add salsa to the pan, we used an entire jar

7. Remove the shells and place them on a sheet tray
8. Carefully stuff each shell with the ground beef mixture until each one is stuffed

9. Top each of the shells with shredded cheese and fried onions
10. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted

Though this is not a complicated dish, it is flavorful. This is comfort food with a spicy twist, and I picture us making these on a cold winters night. And for good measure here is a picture of the cheesy, but not so photogenic, dish


xo. Casey

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Newport Reggae Festival

Yesterday my family and I spent the day together at the Newport Reggae Festival.
The day was filled with delicious food, great music and lots of laughs. Oh, and lots of Red Stripe. I have a big place in my heart for reggae music. It is all about love and togetherness, and it truly is feel good music, and is definitely my go to genre of music in the summer time. There were some really good bands playing but the highlights for me were New Kingston, which is a group of three brothers and their father, and of course Freddie McGregor. 

Red Stripe Lager is a light lager from Jamaica with a crisp taste that I really enjoy, so of course it was the drink of choice at all of the bars there. There were also a couple of different options for delicious Jamaican Food like curried goat and oxtail. I however was not feeling that adventurous and stuck with the Jerk Chicken and a couple different patties which were absolutely delicious. 

Sunshine, good vibes, good food, and great people, that is exactly what summertime is all about for me. 

xo. Casey

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Caturday

August means some of the hottest days of the summer. I came home from work and this little guy sat me down and gave me the talk "ma it's too hot in here I think it is time you buy an air conditioner". 
Better late than never right Georgie? 

Now he wakes up with a little cold nose. 
Maybe this means more cuddles for his mom. 

xo. Casey

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Five, Favorite Naturebox Snacks

So if you remember last month I did a review on my first NatureBox. I have received two more since then and I was pretty excited with some of the snacks I received. My boyfriend made a comment one night as we were eating them "These snacks have to much flavor". Too Much Flavor? Is he crazy? Then I thought about it...and weirdly enough I agreed. But still the snacks were good. But were they really worth $20 a month four five pretty tiny bags? Not on my budget with all my new found bills I need to pay. If that is not an issue and you like receiving different snacks go for it, although there are similar boxes that offer more snacks for less money and they are a wide variety of items. 

But I digress. If you are curious about NatureBox, here are my top five favorite snacks I received.

1. Guacamole Bites - these guys were love at first sight. Snacks that taste like guac? Yes please! (although I have to admit after a while these guys lacked in luster. The started to resemble stale fritos. No Bueno.) 

2. Sourdough Cheddar Pretzels with a hint of beer - These guys were AWESOME. I love pretzels, I love cheese, and I love beer. All these things in one insanely flavorful bite? Definitely the best snack NatureBox has to offer. I would have kept my subscription solely for this snack. I have a couple pretzels left and I am savoring them (and hiding them from my boyfriend). 

3. Italian Bistro Pretzels - you really can not go wrong with pretzels, and these guys tasted like garlic bread. 

4. Honey Nut Medley - this was another serious winner. This was a perfect snack before lunch at work. My only complaint was that the bag was so tiny. 

5. Coffee Kettle Popcorn - This was pretty good.. not the best but was landslides better than the others. The problem was that I opened the bag excited to taste it, but then went stale quickly because it was not in a resealable container. Still it was pretty tasty. 

Will you be trying NatureBox? Let me know about your experience with the monthly subscription. 

xo. Casey

All photographs taken from the NatureBox website. Seriously, I am not that skilled.