Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Party Weekend Recap

Our (belated) St. Patrick's Day party was a resounding success!  I didn't take any pictures during the party as I was too busy mingling, eating, refilling drinks and snack bowls, playing Cards Against Humanity (I finally got to use my 3 expansion packs!), and in general just chilling with friends.  We had a good turn out and everyone brought their favorite Irish-inspired food and drink.  Our fridge and cooler were chock full of Guinness and Harp and our counters were filled with delicious dishes such as the baked potato bar, cheesy beer dip (made with Irish Cheddar and Harp), and chocolate stout cupcakes (the frosting rocked my world) that I made and Irish soda bread (the cranberries are soaked in whisky - drool...), corned beef and cabbage, beer bread, Guinness cake, and cheesy potato casserole supplied by friends. 
We decorated with lots of green and shamrocks.  S placed his creepy new leprechaun friend dubbed "McLovin'" by the front door to freak everyone out when they walked into the house.  The tables were all stocked full of snacks in addition to the food I mentioned above too - potato chips, pretzels, and peanuts were everywhere.  And the bar, as usual, was a hit with all of the guests.  Everyone loves their chance to play bartender!  Not only did we have games like Cards Against Humanity, darts, and beer pong set up, but S had a new toy ready for the enjoyment of our guests as well:
That's right, he turned our family room into a movie theater!  The 120" screen was a recent purchase that allows us to take the movie projector out of the movie room and set up a massive viewing screen anywhere we darn well please!  S had it set up in the family room to play British and Irish themed movies most of the night, but he hooked up his Super Nintendo later on so that those who were interested could engage in big screen Mario Kart races!  Future plans for this big guy include a pool party at our friend's house over the summer with a Jaws viewing...  dah dum!
The last few guests left around 4 am and our final guest didn't wind up leaving until 5 am!  Now that's what I call a successful party!  Everyone said they were stuffed and had a good time, which is all we can ask for.  As for the aftermath, we obviously slept in quite late on Sunday and were more than a little exhausted. Cleanup was pretty easy but we have a LOT of beer bottles overflowing from our recycling bin , which is just begging to be taken to the recycling center.  And we will be eating left over baked potatoes for at least the next week (we may have overestimated on those).  I'm planning to mix it up a bit later this week though and give some twice baked potatoes a try too (this or maybe this?)!  Also contemplating maybe a soup or some potato croquettes...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fun Weekend Plans and BINGO!

Last night S and I went to play bingo with friends at Voodoo Queen, a NOLA inspired bar with a swampy, voodoo vibe and ridiculously strong drinks.  Seriously, I only had 2 and I was definitely feeling it (I know I'm a light weight these days, but I can usually handle 2 drinks...).  Good thing S was driving! 

Playing bingo reminded me a lot of my great grandma.  She totally would have loved playing bingo with me while having a drink in a weird campy bar/restaurant (she was fun and spunky like that)!  GG was a special person and our entire family remembers her fondly and with so much love - quite  legacy to leave behind.  It always makes me happy to be reminded of her and I plan to carry that happy feeling with me through the weekend!  S and I are throwing a belated St. Paddy's Day party tomorrow too so the weekend is definitely looking up!  I put together an Irish themed playlist, we stocked up on Guiness and Whiskey, and I'm making a baked potato bar and chocolate stout cupcakes topped with irish cream frosting!  Yum!! 

I hope you have some fun weekend plans too - and if you don't come stop by the party!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Germany Trip Part 8 (aka, the Last Leg of the Trip!) - Prague Day 1

We woke up super early on our final morning in Munich so that we could haul our suitcases down the sidewalk to the large train station just around the corner from our hotel for our train trip to Prague.  Getting through the train station was not intuitive and when we finally reached our train (a rather normal, old school looking one, which was quite disappointing since the station was chock full of super modern looking bullet-type trains...) we were all a little tired and stressed.  On top of that, our first seats on the train turned out to be in one of the cars that would not be going all the way to Prague, and so we had to switch seats after we'd taken off from the station.  On the plus side, we found an empty compartment that we were able to keep all to ourselves.  Given my motion sickness issues and the early hour I just popped a Dramamine and zonked out.  S and K said I missed some really beautiful countryside covered in orange and gold leaves, though...  We arrived in Prague, changed out our money from Euros to Koruna at the station and then caught a cab to our hotel.  K had some hotel points saved up so we all stayed in a really nice Hilton right in the Old Town of Prague.  After we checked in to our rooms we set out to get some food (we hadn't really eaten much yet that day).

I had found U Medviku online, it is a beer hall in Old Town Prague that is known for having the strongest beer in the Czech Republic, X33.  Naturally this was quite high on S's list of things to do in Prague, so we decided to hit that up right off the bat.  After dinner and some beers in the downstairs beer hall, we headed up to the special bar and S got to try his X33, which surprisingly was quite good and didn't taste very strong at all - a dangerous combination!  On our way out we also found these guys (above) playing some old school music for a group of tourists in one of the back rooms.

After dinner we wound our way through the streets to Old Town Square.  On our way we discovered that there were a number of temporary light exhibits that had been installed throughout the streets.  One was a chandelier display (above) on a street corner.  There was a huge one in Old Town Square that had a light, sound, and smoke machine display within a huge cube of transparent fabric and metal beams.  And a third exhibit was an interesting movie/light display that was projected onto this old building about a block away.  We naturally took time to look at the famous Astronomical clock as well.  I had SO MANY memories of my last trip to Prague back in 2006 with my friend K Koz as I wandered the streets on this trip.  The city itself was very much the same but what blew my mind was the ridiculously huge number of tourists EVERYWHERE!  It was so much busier and more crowded than it had been on my last trip, the tourist stops were charging more money, and many of the shops had become more touristy as well.  The Czech Republic hadn't been open to tourism back in its Communism days and it's amazing how just 8 years (since my last trip) has changed Prague into such a busy tourist destination. 

Since we'd woken quite early to catch our train, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.  Day 2 of Prague (and our final day of the trip - finally!!!!) is up next!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Drink of the Week - Frozen Cherry Mojito

S has demanded that this week's cocktail, the Frozen Cherry Mojito, be resurrected once the Houston weather reverts to it's typical hot and sticky summer norm!  I already had some homemade simple syrup in the fridge, so I changed up the recipe a bit and just zested and squeezed my lime juice directly into the blender.  I also used less simple syrup than the recipe called for (maybe half-ish) and a little more rum.  So what we got was a little sweet, a little tart, a little minty, and very refreshing!  One batch made 3 drinks.  I imagine this would also work very well with any other frozen berry if you wanted to experiment too.  I highly recommend!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meyer Lemon Palooza

I went on a meyer lemon spree last night and it was delicious!  I made the two recipes I mentioned last friday, the meyer lemon roasted chicken  served with a side of roasted vegetables and the meyer lemon and blackberry cocktail (both were super yummy!)  The secret to the chicken is to eat the roasted pulp from the lemon slices smeared all over the top.  The jolt of lemon makes the dish!
My sister-in-law had actually made the cocktail over the weekend after seeing the link to the recipe on the blog.  Her take was that the gin was a little too much.  So I knocked the gin down to 2.5 oz instead of 3 and added a little extra selzer water (I didn't have tonic water handy) and an extra half tablespoon of simple syrup.  The balance was perfect.
S and I were both quite pleased with our gourmet meal last night.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to stock up on some more meyer lemons while they're still in season!  Also, the cocktail last night has inspired me to try to make a new cocktail weekly.  Blood oranges are also in season now, so I'm thinking another citrus inspired cocktail next.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Awesome Weekend Recap

First time at the drag strip!  Got to hear a lot of engines revving and smell a lot of tires smoking!

S was excited to take his little red mini out on the strip for the first time.

Pulling up to the starting line...

A happy driver :0)

We spent Saturday afternoon at Market Square Park for their Mardi Gras party complete with live music, St Arnolds beer, and a free gumbo competition!

Finally got to cross Hearsay Gastro Lounge off of my Houston restaurant/bar list with a tasty Bywater cocktail.

Sunday morning brunch at Pondicheri, one of my favorite new breakfast spots.  I had a lentil and rice pancake filled with wilted greens and a coconut chutney, topped with a zing-y curry sauce and a DELICOUS freshly juiced drink called a Naka, made with pears, lauki (a squash), lemon, ginger, and kale.

Dexter cupcakes!!!!