This weekend I was on the hunt to find a simple and refreshing cocktail recipe to celebrate the summertime! The weather here in D.C. was less than stellar on Friday and Saturday ( it rained for 48 hours straight essentially) so I wanted something to bring the sunshine inside. After some Pinterest digging, I landed on what looked like an amazing White Wine Sangria Recipe on The Lemon Bowl and tried it out…
It was so so so SO tasty.
White Wine Sangria by Liz Della Croce
2bottles dry white winei.e. sauvignon blanc or chardonnay
Ginger Simple Syrupsee below
1cupfresh orange juice
slicesorangelemon and lime – garnish
Ginger Simple Syrup
6-inchpiece ginger rootcut in large chunks
To make Ginger Simple Syrup, place water, sugar and ginger root in a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Stir for 60 seconds or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let ginger steep while syrup cools.
Place white wine in a large pitcher and add in orange, lime and lemon juice. Add additional orange, lemon and lime slices to the pitcher for garnish and added flavor.
Once ginger simple syrup has cooled, strain ginger root from the mixture and add the syrup to the pitcher of wine and citrus juice. Stir well and let mixture chill for 4 hours or up to overnight.
To serve, pour mixture over ice until glass is 3/4 full. Top each glass with ginger beer before serving.
Garnish with extra citrus slices if you wish.
Isn’t it beautiful? And it tastes as good as it looks! I highly recommend using Gosling’s Ginger Beer, it was just wonderful. I put mine in a stemless wine glass to feel a little fancy but I could also see this drink looking amazing in a mason jar for an indoor or outdoor party!
If you are a ginger fanatic like me, I recommend simmering it a tad longer than recommended to really get that flavor in the sangria. Also, more is MORE when it comes to the lemon, lime, and orange slices. Not only do the citrus slices make the beverage gorgeous, they also infuse the sangria with more flavor the longer they soak!
You know when you get an overwhelming craving for Mexican food and your body is like “QUESO. NOW.”? If you don’t you’ve probably never lived in a place where amazing Mexican food or Tex-Mex is available. If this is you I suggest you travel somewhere where you can experience the delights of melty cheese in a bowl served with chips ASAP.
For me, this Mexican food craving is accompanied 99.9% of the time by the need for a margarita. I run into an issue though every time I try to order one at a restaurant, most use some sort of margarita mix. This is a problem for me because each sip I take tastes like a sugar bomb mixed with a powdered lime sports drink. In other words, an insta-hangover. The flavor of the tequila is totally lost, my taste buds go into shock, and I’ve already consumed a day’s worth of calories before my tacos even arrive! Unacceptable.
Not to worry though, I have a solution to this problem that doesn’t take hardly any time at all! Over this past weekend while my parents were visiting, we got a hankering for Mexican food and decided to do a taco bar at my apartment. To accompany this food fiesta, we chose a margarita recipe out of our Death & Co. Modern Classic Cocktails book and it was so simple and delicious I had to share!
The Margarita Cocktail
2oz Blanco Tequila (Siempre Azul)
1oz Lime Juice
1/4oz Agave Nectar
Shake all ingredients with ice and then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice cubes and rimmed with kosher salt. Garnish with a lime wedge.
We used the tequila that we had on our bar, Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila Silver, and it was absolutely delicious. I did not rim my glass with salt but most everyone else did! You do you, not everyone is into the salt.
So if you are like me and don’t care for margarita mixes (aside from Skinny Girl for when I’m at the lake), make your own! This super simple recipe is a great place to start.
I have absolutely LOVED going out to eat ever since I was little girl. While exploring different types of food is a huge part of this love (duh), I am also drawn to the ambiance of a restaurant. The same holds true for my favorite bars!
When I go somewhere to eat or drink, I am looking for a “vibe”. What are they trying to communicate to me, as a patron, with lighting and decor? This vibe may speak to me, in which case I will remember that feeling and want to come back to re-immerse myself, OR it won’t and I won’t. I will say though, that as long as there is a good vibe created with thoughtfulness (even if that reads as “chaos”), I will respect it! For me, the dining experience is as much about this feeling as anything else.
I tend to favor restaurants on the cozier side and there is no shortage of those in D.C. The Hamilton is one of my favorites! Despite the fact that the restaurant is enormous, they still manage to make each dining area feel private using well placed booths/partitions, ornate lighting, and colorful decor. I would describe my favorite room as Tropical Traditional…
SEE! Tropical Traditional. I’m making that a thing if it’s not already. The food is wonderful and if you’ve never been you should definitely pop in! MAKE A RES though if you are going for dinner, they are always slammed because the restaurant is so close to the White House.
Another wonderfully cozy place to go on occasion* (it’s a tad pricy) that is right across the street from The Hamilton is the Round Robin Bar in The Willard Intercontinental. The hotel is a perfect place to take out-of-town guests which is exactly what I did this weekend! The Willard common areas, like The Hamilton, are huge but feel cozy all the same. It is ornate but warm…
The Willard is an amazing place that is quintessential D.C. in my eyes. Both of these establishments, The Hamilton and The Willard are perfect examples of places that inspire feelings of warmth and comfort that draw me back again and again. I think you will find this common thread in many of the restaurants and bars I feature on my blog! I’d love to know what you look for in a bar or restaurant aside from wonderful food…what vibe draws you in?
I’ll be honest, I drink quite a bit of wine on the weekend. This past weekend (including Wednesday and Thursday) was particularly wine-filled as my parents were in town visiting and let’s just say my love for this beverage runs in the family.
I did not meet a wine this weekend that I didn’t truly enjoy so I though I’d share them with you!
So when you are standing in the wine section of your fave grocery or liquor store this week, trying your best not to zero in on your go-to and feeling the burden of beverage choice that our amazing nation bestows upon us, grab one of these bad boys and let me know what you think!
Let’s face it, if you work in an office there comes a time for everyone on Friday afternoon when you get antsy. Whether your antsy-ness comes from a place of exhaustion from the week behind you or anticipation for the weekend ahead, a shockingly persuasive part of your brain is urging “I CAN’T SIT ANY MORE, GTFO OF HERE!”. But alas, you cannot. It is probably only about 2 or 3 o’clock (that is my peak fidgeting hour) and you are stuck daydreaming about what is calling to you post-work (your couch, drinks with friends, your couch, a friend’s couch, Fridays are hard sometimes and couches are soft…).
If you are like me, to get through the afternoon slump you try desperately to focus on work, start responding to emails, and then BOOM come out of an Instagram blackout having liked no less than 50 photos of different adorable animals! I follow so. many. animals. it’s unreal. My Moosebear (the name inspiration for this blog) is far away in Arkansas being his Goldendoodley self with my family so I fill the void by looking at other people’s precious pets, mostly puppins! To share the joy of these precious angels, I’ve put together a list of a few of my favorites:
@thewilburglar -How could ANYONE deny that sweet face? Careful though, Wilbur tends to say inappropriate things for such a precious pup!
2. @deanthebasset -THOSE EARSSSSSS and wrinkly little legs! I can’t deal.
3. @walterthewolfhound -Look at the eyes on this gentle giant, he’ll surely help you get through the afternoon!
4. @nelsonthegoldendoodle -Walter’s brother Nelson, the cutest pair around! If that doesn’t make you smile I can’t help you…
6. @wally_and_molly– If this Angora Bunny isn’t THE purest I don’t know what is! Thought I would throw in a bunny curveball here at the end.
This is only the very tip of the iceberg that is my love for animals on Instagram but I don’t want to overwhelm you! These are a great starting point for turning your Friday into FriYAY and, in my mind, is a productive way to spend your Instagram work blackout. Plus, it is WAY better than looking at photos of all your friends traveling while your stuck at a desk, am I right? Enjoy!!
Tonight Game of Thrones starts up again and I am LOSING MY MIND! I’m so excited/nervous its nuts. To protect my delicate emotions I’ve made a habit of going into each episode with the mindset that everyone I love in the show will die a horrible death in the first five minutes. THEN, when they don’t die, I’m super excited! This is the game I must play with my mind so I don’t have to look away every time there is a prolonged silence or they zoom in on one persons face for too long (at which time I am always convinced an arrow or an axe will come out of nowhere and crush my dreams)! We all have our ways of riding the emotional roller coaster that is GOT.
You, like me, may need a way to manage this wild GOT anticipation. I’ve got your answer! In addition to being a design junkie, a professional eater and drinker of tasty foods and beverages, and writing about such things on the interwebs for fun, I am also a certified yoga instructor! I’ve already run through my yoga routine this morning to ward off the V unwelcome Sunday scaries and the V welcome GOT nerves so I thought I’d share some of my more relaxing stretches with you…
Find a comfy spot on the floor (or a mat if you have one) and sit your tush on your heels.
Bring your toes to touch beneath you and spread your knees out as wide as is comfortable (you can also leave your thighs and knees together if that is more comfortable).
Hinge forward at the waist to fold your belly over your thighs and touch your forehead to the floor or mat.
Reach your fingertips out long in front of you.
With every inhale reach your fingertips further forward, with every exhale lengthen your tailbone back and feel that wonderful stretch!
If you chose to keep your thighs and knees sealed together with your forehead on the mat, you can either extend your arms out long in front of you or send them back, palms up, to rest alongside your legs.
You should feel this in your hips, ankles, and thighs.
Lie down on the floor with your arms long by your sides.
Bend your knees and walk your feet in towards your tush.
Now bring your right ankle on top of your left thigh and open up your knee towards the right side, flex your right foot to protect your knee.
If you feel a deep stretch in this position stay right there.
If you are not feeling much and want to take it a bit further, interlace your hands behind your left thigh and lift your left leg up so that your left knee is stacked over your left hip and your left shin is parallel with the floor.
Take the same shape you did on the opposite side to balance out.
You should feel this in your hips.
Seated Forward Fold with Bent Knees (Super creative, I know)
Sit upright with your legs outstretched in front of you.
Put a generous bend in your knees.
Flex your feet back towards your face.
Reach your hands high overhead on a big inhale.
Exhale, hinge forward to drape your belly over your thighs and release your hands to wherever is accessible for you (feet, shins, resting alongside your legs).
We bend our knees here to feel this in our lower back as opposed the traditional seated forward-fold with straightened legs which is a hamstring stretch.
You should feel this in your lower back but if you are particularly tight you may feel this from the base of your spine all the way up to your neck.
Lie down on your back and pull your knees into your chest.
Pull your right knee towards you right armpit and your left knee towards your left armpit.
Flex your feet and stack them over your knees like you are going to stamp the ceiling with the soles of your feet.
Keep your knees bent and reach for the insides or outsides of your feet, your calves, or the backs of your thighs, wherever is comfortable for you.
Seal your entire spine and shoulders down to the mat, so if your tailbone and shoulders are up off the mat, consider grabbing behind your thighs instead of reaching for your feet or calves.
You should feel this in your inner groin and along your spine!
These are some of my favorites for releasing tension so let me know what you think! Ready or not WINTER IS HERE (even though it feels like it is 1 million degrees here in D.C.) so you might as well do everything you can to prepare for the GOT whirlwind tonight and start the week of right.
When asked where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner, it came down to a choice between two D.C. heavy-hitters: Le Diplomate and Rasika. I’ve been wanting to go to both forever and this was my chance to check one off my list! Did I want to fulfill my dreams of diving into a giant seafood tower, OR did I want to spice things up with what some have said is the best indian cuisine in the city? Life’s big questions.
I decided on Rasika in West End and our experience was amazing. A little bird tipped off the restaurant that it was the day of my birth and VIOLA!, complementary champagne! I am all about complementary items of any kind, it makes me feel fancy. We then ordered a couple of appetizers that I highly recommend:
The fish was perfectly cooked with a delicious layer of garlic mash on top and the jeera aloo (potatoes, cumin seeds, and indian spices) was a tasty spicy accompaniment!
This shrimp was so flavorful that, had the sauce not been there, I would have been content without it. But add the shrimp to the spicy green sauce and BOOM, flavor bonanza.
For my main dish I ordered my go-to, Chicken Tikka Masala, but I TRIED to branch out. Really, I did! Before I ordered, I asked the waitress what she recommended and she basically told me to order it because they do it so well. My efforts to be adventurous were thwarted. At the end of the day though, the dish was some of the best I’ve had!
My boyfriend ordered a lamb dish with rice and a cool yogurt dressing that was also to die for. His had a completely different flavor profile that mine, almost a lebanese vibe. He was V content!
I cannot overlook that we orderd both garlic naan AND truffle naan (so excessive) with our meals! Whatever, it was my birthYAY.
Following this amazing meal, our waitress brought out a small plate of cardamom ice cream with a candle in it, and two tiny pastry like bites on either side. More complementary luxe things with a birthday candle! Needless to say, our experience at Rasika West End was truly wonderful, and a great way to spend my birthday. I highly recommend visiting if you haven’t already!
I am always on the lookout for delightful indian food so please share if you have a favorite spot so I can try it out!
Getting back into a routine after spending a week on vacay is rough. I’m so thankful for the time spent away with family and friends but now that I’m back in D.C., it feels like I need another vacation to reset! “Just a couple more days to get my life in order, pleassseeeeeee” I would say to my boss in a perfect world… Oh well, I’ll get back into the swing of things and have all sorts of fun things to share in the meantime!
Over the years I’ve heard friends and family rave about Maine. They’ve talked about the gorgeous coastline, amazing seafood, and charm of vacation spots well loved by New Englanders. I can finally share in the convo (about southern Maine at least)! I agree with all the wonderful things I’ve heard about the state but would like to add that I am CERTAIN mother nature likes Maine way more than anywhere else (D.C. for sure) because the weather was perfect from our arrival on Sunday evening until our departure on Thursday Morning. Mid-70s to Low-80s, a dream really.
We stayed in Wells for our trip, a great jumping off point for our adventures into Kennebunkport, York, and Ogunquit (try saying that one 10 times fast). I had a REALLY tough time with the word Ogunquit in the beginning but can now proudly say I’ve got it down (that second “u” is a rascal). Our first full day we went to Kennebunkport to do lunch and see all the beautiful homes. I was overjoyed to see the Bush family compound, it really is gorgeous and quite impressive!
For lunch we popped into Arundel Wharf where I gleefully consumed a Bloody Mary, steamers, and lobster salad piled high atop half an avocado (meal of dreams). I’ve found lunch is made better by picturesque views of pristine boats bobbing in the water!
The following day was the 4th of July (YAY AMERICA) and we drove to York to spend some time at the beach! We were visiting my boyfriend’s Aunt and Uncle who are members of a delightful beach club with a pool area where we basked like turtles in the sun and consumed many tasty beverages. The frozen lemonade with vodka was too good, as was their cucumber basil lemonade with vodka!
After visiting the beach club we drove into Ogunquit to have Lobsters! We went to Barnacle Billy’s etc. in Perkins Cove and it was magical. I ate a Lobster the size of my head and had the most fun doing it! We sat on a stone patio canopied by trees and surrounded by flowers. We could see the boats coming in and out, preparing for the fireworks to take place that night, it was a wonderful experience!
After dinner we went and found a prime spot for watching the fireworks, an activity I look forward to every year no matter where I am for the 4th! The Ogunquit Beach firework show was one of those that you could swear the finale is happening about every five minutes because it is so spectacular. Between lounging at the beach/pool, eating a Lobster, and watching the fireworks, I’d say it was a perfect 4th of July!
The next day we decided to go wander around Ogunquit for a bit to shop and eat lunch before heading back to York for another day at the beach club. We ate lunch and had a couple of drinks at Cornerstone, obviously sitting on the patio for people watching reasons. After lunch we bopped over to the CUTEST shop called Calluna Fine Flowers and picked up a navy serving tray to give to our hosts as a gift! If you have the chance to visit, this shop has a wide variety of items that are perfect for gifts (or you obvi)!
As many have said before me, GO TO MAINE! It is absolutely beautiful. If you are like me and grew up in the south going to the beaches in Florida, Alabama, Texas, the East Coast is a fun change of scenery. The best word I can use to describe Maine is charming. The towns we visited were lively and vibrant but quaint!
We ended our week of vacation on Lake Winnisquam in New Hampshire with friends! We ate delicious food, worked puzzles, played beer pong, and sat by the fire. Just the right amount of rowdiness and relaxation!
This past weekend I planned to do some serious R & R before rolling full steam ahead into the 4th of July. The idea was that I would go to a friend’s birthday celebration/housewarming party for a bit on Friyay, get into bed early to rise and shine on Saturyay. I needed to be up early (well, early for me on a weekend at least) for the Quicken Loans Golf Tournament where I planned to stroll around drinking mostly water (because hydration). After the tournament I would get home to cook dinner and pack before getting into bed early again to leave for Maine bright and early Sunday morning. I was going to be well rested, I was going to be energetic, I was going to be ready for a party week! As you have likely gathered at this point, things did not go as planned and I was not any of these things on Sunday morning.
On Friday night my boyfriend and I headed to my friend’s housewarming where she was having a Rosé tasting. Sounds classy AF, right? WELL, for me and my galpals “tasting” turned into full blown glasses of each type that she bought. She bought 8 or so bottles and there were about 6 of us “tasting” consistently so you do the math. We then proceeded to stay out until about 1am before finally moseying home to get some sleep for our 7am wake up time the next morning. Restful this evening was NOT, but was it super fun, YES! FYI, my fave Rosé was from Austria, the more you know!
So I’ve discovered that I LOVE going to golf tournaments. The manicured grass, chirping birds, and abundance of people wearing athleisure takes me to my happy place. While I was far from well rested, I had a good amount of energy and was ready to seize the day when we arrived on Saturday morning. And seize the day I did, quite aggressively. Three glasses of Chardonnay, one torrential downpour, and a moscow mule later I not only probably looked like a wet dog, but had turned a lovely shade of lobster red from that delightful (hot as the blazes of hell) DC summer sun. Again, not at all relaxing but a ton of fun. I did get Rickie Fowler’s autograph though, definitely a win!
One of the many beautiful views of the golf course!
I just really loved the giant Rolex clocks!
Time to go home and pack now, right? WRONG. We then went to a friend’s impromptu barbeque where I thought it was a good idea to get back into the Rosé and eat my bodyweight in Oreos… woof. So let’s fast forward to 10pm when we are finally home trying to pack (I literally had no idea what I put in my suitcase). On the way to Maine I was thinking, hopefully I have all the things I need but who knows? I chose to look at this like a fun game rather than an adulting failure!
Rested and relaxed I am certainly not but it was an awesome weekend! I’m choosing to look at it like my boyfriend and I are just extremely dedicated to getting the most out of our vacation (beginning literally and hour after we got home from work on Friday… whatever, YOLO).
Throughout what I am calling my “Rosés of the World Tour” this weekend I did pick up some useful things to share:
Firework Oreos are GOOD. They taste just like regular Oreos but have itty bitty bits of candy that pop a little in your mouth (sounds weird but is pretty delightful).
Oreo Thins are GOOD (but it defeats the purpose of buying them if you recklessly eat half the package AND regular sized Firework Oreos).
Miraval Rosé from France is amazing and the most beautiful amber/blush color.
Zweigelt Rosé from Austria is V Tasty.
Pallas Rosé from Spain is also wonderful.
See, my indulgent behavior was all for you so you can know about these wonderful things! Pick one or ALL of them up to upgrade your 4th of July Party! Meanwhile, I’ll be over here in Maine continuing to recover (and by that I mean continuing to drink Rosé)…
It is always so exciting when a holiday rolls around because it is a great excuse to try out new recipes to serve at parties. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have go-to dishes that I know will be a hit, but making something new is always fun. You’ve got a whole room full of taste testers!
Where food is concerned, I’m looking for options. I like a few different flavors on my plate to keep things interesting. Given this tendency, it is no wonder that one of my favorite parts about attending any kind of holiday party is the variety of food! I am always wondering (dreaming really) about the food spread awaiting me. A significant percentage of this obsession with party food is focused specifically on different types of dip (and chips, but I can’t even begin to discuss that dangerous love affair right meow without starting a whole new post).
Dips are simply the best. So many flavors, so many textures, it is overwhelming I know. You can essentially build a meal of JUST DIPS! I’m not saying you should necessarily, but you surely could (and I definitely have many times)! I’m too excited. My point is, with the 4th of July just around the corner and parties galore to attend, you need to be armed and ready to take an amazing dish to share, so why not a dip? I’ve got your back! Below are 7 recipes that are sure to delight no matter where you’re headed to celebrate:
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated onion
1 (12-oz.) jar diced pimento
8 ounces coarsely shredded extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese
Stir together first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in onion. Fold in pimento and cheeses. Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, and stir well before serving.
Small Dice bell peppers & onion either by hand or using a small chopper. Finely chop the cilantro. Drain the corn. Drain & rinse the black beans. Place everything in a bowl adding lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
8 slices bacon (9 oz) cooked until crisp, cooled and crumbled into bits
1 (8 oz) pkg. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 (1 oz) pkg. Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Dressing Mix
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped green onions (from about 2)
Fresh vegetables and crackers , for serving
Place Neufchatel cheese in a medium mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer to whip until smooth. Add sour cream and mix until smooth. Add dressing mix, cheddar cheese, green onions and bacon. Stir and fold until well blended. Serve with vegetables and crackers. Store dip in refrigerator in an airtight container. If you’d like to have some of the cheddar, onions and bacon on top of the dip just set some aside before mixing the rest in.
Four 9-ounce boxes frozen artichokes—thawed, drained and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Tabasco
2 1/2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Crackers or sliced baguette, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. Roast the jalapeño directly over a gas flame, turning, until charred all over. Let cool, then peel and seed the jalapeño and cut it into 1/4-inch dice. In a large bowl, mix the artichokes with the jalapeño, mayonnaise, Parmigiano, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and Tabasco. Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until hot. Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar evenly over the hot dip. Broil for about 2 minutes, until browned in spots and bubbly. Serve hot or warm, with crackers.
3 cans (15 oz each) white beans, drained, liquid reserved
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¾ tsp table salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
zest of half of a lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
In the bowl of a large food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add desired amount of reserved liquid from white beans, if you want to thin it out to desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or sliced baguettes. Can also be made ahead of time, up to 1-2 days ahead.
1 lb of pork breakfast sausage, browned and drained
2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Cut the Velveeta into chunks. Place Velveeta, both cans of Rotel and cream of mushroom soup in your crock pot set to low. Once the cheese is melted, stir in the cooked sausage and ground beef. Stir occasionally and serve with tortilla chips.