Wednesday, April 28, 2010


For years I have wanted to get involved in the way children and adults eat and think about food! After watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution I have decided to get involved and start my own revolution! BUT I NEED EVERYONE'S HELP! I certainly have the food knowledge and the cooking skills to do so, but I need HELP! If any of you are in the Chicagoland area and want to help me with ideas or anything at all...please contact me!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Holy Peaches!!!

Fooled Ya! If it looks like a peach, it must be a peach right? NOPE!

8 years ago my brother and sister-in-law had the most amazing wedding...and with it came an incredible sweet table. The one dessert that I remember and that unfortunately the bride and groom never tasted were these beautiful little peach looking cookies. I guess the past has a way of resurfacing :) I was at the in-laws house last week and my mother-in-law made these beautiful peach looking cookies. They were gigantic but none the less amazing! So I vowed to make my own, at the very least so that my brother and sister in law could have some :) They tasted exctly like I remembered at the wedding...Delicious! They are a tad bit time consuming but totally worth it! The look on everyones' faces when they saw those little imitations was priceless!

Peach Shaped Cookies

1 cup white sugar
1 Stick of butter, softened
2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (You may have to keep adding flour until the dough is firm enough)
1 hazlenut for each whole cookie made
2 Cans of Dulce de Leche
*If the store does not have Dulce de Leche, go ahead and use sweetened condensed milk and boil in its cans for 2 hours.*

For the dying of the cookies:
2 bowls of milk, one colored with red food coloring, the other with yellow.
1 bowl of sugar (abour 1/2 a cup)

1. Heat your oven to 350°.
2. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
3. Mix together the sugar, eggs and butter. Add flour and baking powder.
4. Form 1" balls by rolling them in your hand and placing on the cookie sheet. Make sure the balls are a bit flat on the bottom where the rest on the cookie sheet.
5. Bake until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

6. While they are still warm, with a knife, scoop out the inside of each cookie and save the crumbs.
7. Combine sweetened condensed milk with the reserved crumbs and the 2 tablespoons of Cognac.
8. With a teaspoon, fill a half with the filling and one hazlenut. Take another half and smoosh together to make one whole peach. (The hazlenut adds for a surprise on the inside)
9. Dip each whole peach into the red food coloring first, then the yellow. Let them dry for about 10 minutes and then roll in the sugar.

Voila beautiful peach cookies! The more you practice the more beautiful they will get!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Got a New Toy! And I Made Herb Chicken Thighs with Latin Quinoa

I got a new toy!!!! I was at my brother's house this weekend with my grandmother and noticed that my sister-in-law was making paninis. I was very intrigued by this gadget and that's when she showed all the bells and whistles of this thing! You could take out the grill plates and replace them with flat plates...with this you could make an entire breakfast! Plus the paninis I could make with this thing are endless! So my grandmother insisted that she get one for me and herself.
Look how pretty and shiny it is! Hypnotizing isn't it?

Well I have already made breakfast and several paninis! Today I decided to make a really easy chicken recipe on the panini grill! These chicken thighs were so simple, healthy and pretty...I forgot how good grill marks look!

Herb Chicken Thighs

3 Pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs-All Fat Removed
1/2 a Lemon, Juiced and Zested
1/4 Cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Parsley
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Tablespoon Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine all ingredients, except chicken, in a blender or food processor until pureed.
2. Place chicken in a ziplock bag and pour in marinade. Let sit for a minimum of four hours.
3. Preheat your grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side.

Latin Inspired Quinoa

1 Cup Quinoa-Rinsed
2 Cups Water
1/2 Tomato, Chopped
1/2 Red Onion, Diced
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, Chopped

1. Sweat onions and garlic until translucent in a bit of oil.
2. Add quinoa and coat with garlic and onions.
3. Pour in water and tomatoes and bring up to a boil.
4. Lower to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes.
5. Add in cilantro and fluff with a fork.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chocolate Lover's Dream: Flourless Chocolate Nutella Cake

Now I know...I know...this cake sounds REALLY evil but I made it for a good cause...It was Passover last week and I had to bring dessert. I thought of making creme brulee again, but it's not that easy to make individual desserts for 18 people. So I decided to actually bake. Now I think I have made it clear that I do not bake. Oddly enough, recently I developed a liking to baking; in fact I really enjoy it! So I decided to make something with simple flavors but that will please all different pa lattes! CHOCOLATE! I find it hard to believe that there is anyone out there that does not like chocolate; so it was a pretty easy choice. I found a recipe I used in culinary school and added a very magical ingredient to it: NUTELLA! Nutella, the delicious hazelnut and chocolate spread is fluffy, creamy goodness. The addition of the Nutella and a touch of coffee was a perfect compliment to this chocolaty goodness!

Flourless Chocolate Nutella Cake
*Just an FYI, this cake is so dense that it could probably feed more like 20-25 people.*


6 large eggs- separated
1 Tsp Instant Coffee
1 stick soft unsalted butter
1 jar of Nutella
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 Cup finely ground hazelnuts
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Ganache Topping
1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees and butter a 9-inch spring form pan.

1. Melt your chocolate over steam or in a double broiler.
2. Place the jar of nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds to loosen it up a bit.
3. In a mixer, combine butter, coffee, Kahlua and Nutella...make sure to scrape out every bit of that goodness!
4. With the mixer on low, add in the egg yolks one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.
5. Add in the melted chocolate and combine.
6. In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Slowly fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
7. Pour into the pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until top has set.
8. While the cake is baking, make the ganache by bringing the cream up to a high simmer.
9. Turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.
10. Once the cake is ready, let it cool for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
11. Once cooled pour the ganache on the cake and smooth out. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and slice yourself a piece!

Perfect Crockpot Pot Roast

Every once in awhile, a certain dish comes around that is so simple and so delicious that no alterations need be made. Usually these are the dishes that have been around for ages, the ones that grandmothers and mothers make, that fill up our houses with incredible aromas and fill our hearts with memories. "Zharkoya" or the Russian word for pot roast (or stew) is one of those classic recipes that I have unfortunately tried to change. I added wines, root veggies, herbs, cognac, etc. However, the original recipe only calls for 3 or 4 ingredients and is outstanding! It wasn't until my friend called me and said, "You know I've tried all your crockpot recipes for pot roast, but this one is still the best!" I hated to admit that she was right, but she was.

This classic dish consist of beef, lots of onions, salt, pepper, garlic and potatoes; that's it! The sweetness of the onions permeates every bit of the meat and potatoes and gives it a flavor you will never forget! There is a certain magic that happens when you combine all the simple ingredients in this dish. When I decided to make it today and I was barely able to let it finish cooking before I had 2 servings!!! It was exactly how I remembered it to be: tender, sweet and delicious!
I promise once you try this recipe you will never go back to any other complicated pot roast recipes!

Perfect Crockpot Pot Roast

3-4 Pounds Beef Pot Roast
4 Onions, Sliced
4 Garlic Cloves, cut in half
2.5 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into quarters
1 Tablespoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Pepper
Olive Oil

1. Cut meat into large chunks and season with salt and pepper.
2. In a heavy bottomed pan, sear your beef until it has a nice brown color.
3. Remove meat and reserve; add in onions into the same pan and cook over medium heat until nicely caramalized, about 20 minutes.
4. Add in 1 cup of water to the onion mixture to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
5. Layer half the onions on the bottom of a crockpot, then add in the beef, seasonings, potatoes and garlic. Toss everything together.
6. Layer the remaining onions on top of the beef and cover with enough water to submerge potatoes and meat.

7. Cook for 6 hours on high, or until beef and potatoes are fork tender.
8. Enjoy!!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Dirrrty Pots

So at one point...when I bought my pots and pains they were so beautiful, shiny and new! Now...not so much! So ladies and gents I ask for your help! What do you do to get that burnt on mess off of your pots and pans? Mine look horrendous and even that gosh awful Easy Off can't get it off! I'm all ears! Please let me know what your favorite remedies are for my pots' illness :(

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

White Bean and Escarole Soup with Meatballs

It may be getting warmer but my soup addiction is still going strong!
In fact I may be the only person I know that can eat soup in the middle of summer while sitting outside in the heat! Since I was a kid soup was always a way for my mom to make me eat lots of veggies and calories. Now, it's actually recommended for people who are on a restricted calorie program! I know that years ago when I was on Weight Watchers, they recommended to eat a cup or bowl of veggie soup before each meal to fill up. It worked! I always ate less when I had that bowl (or 2) of veggie soup!

Yesterday, I really wanted something fulfilling and full of greens for dinner. So while watching LOST (yes I'm a lostee) I made myself this really healthy and filling soup. It's a healthy twist on an Italian classic. I used nice, lean ground turkey to make the little meatballs and homemade chicken broth I had frozen from some leftover chicken soup. It was delicious, hearty and really healthy!

White Bean and Escarole Soup with Meatballs


1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
2 Minced Garlic Cloves (On my microplaner of coarse)
1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesano Reggiano
Salt and Pepper


6 Cups of Chicken Stock, homemade or boxed
2 Cups Chopped Escarole
1 Can Cannelini Beans
1 Diced Onion
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Rice

1. For the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and roll into little balls; reserve.
2. Add olive oil to a pot and sweat the onions. You do not want them to get brown, just nice and translucent.
3. Add chicken stock to the pot and bring to s simmer.
4. Once the soup simmers add in the meatballs and rice. Simmer for 20 minutes and add in beans, escarole and lemon juice.
5. Serve with freshly grated cheese of your choice!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smokey Pasta with Scallions and Escarole

I love pasta and like most people I like it with a delicious creamy sauce. Which of coarse translates to dreamy love handles :) I have been trying to create a healthier cream sauce. And after many failed attempts...I finally got it! The key is ricotta. When the ricotta is pureed with a touch of milk, you get an amazing, delicious, creamy and thick sauce!

This pasta dish in particular is simple with a lot of complex flavors. It uses three pork products, pancetta, prociutto and bacon! Now while the ricotta makes the sauce a bit healthier, the pork products certainly does not...however once in awhile one has to be bad :) The added sweetness from red onions balances out the dish beautifully. I still have a taste in my mouth from this incredible pasta!

Smokey Pasta with Chicken and Escarole

1 pound whole wheat rigatoni or penne pasta
2 oz Prociutto, thinly sliced
2 oz Pancetta, thinly sliced
2 oz Smoked Bacon, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups escarole, thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced
1 cup of ricotta
2 tablespoons of milk
2 garlic cloves
1/2 a cup Parmesano Reggiano
1 tsp of olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water for use later.
2. Add the tsp of olive oil to a pan and add in the prociutto, pancetta and bacon.
Sautee the bacons until nice and crispy. Remove from pan.
3. Add in red onions and scallions and cook over medium heat until tender.
4. In a blender, food processor or Magic Bullet, combine the ricotta with the milk, parmesan cheese and garlic until smooth.
5. Lower the heat and add in ricotta mixture and pork products. Add pasta and escarole and toss to coat. The escarole will wilt nicely from the heat of the pasta. * If the sauce is too thick add a bit of pasta water to thin it out.
6. Serve with a few cracks of freshly cracked pepper.

White Chocolate Creme Brulee with Macerated Berries

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to teach him a few recipes. So I was on a mission to create a nice gourmet yet simple menu. Everything was going smoothly until I came down to dessert. I could not think of anything that would really be simple but completely impressive. So I asked my friend, "Name one dessert you would love to learn how to make?" He paused and then replied, "Creme Brulee!"
Of coarse I agreed and went to work on a recipe. However, the words creme brulee did not equal easy in my mind...until I looked at the recipe. OMG there was nothing to it!

Now the one ingredient that I believe makes a simple creme brulee special is s fresh vanilla bean. I was actually able to find them a lot easier than I though. Both Williams and Sonoma and The World Market had them. In fact, I also bought the Little ramekins for the creme brulee at The World Market as well for a much better price than any other store I went to that day. The best part of using the vanilla bean in a creme brulee is when you get to the bottom of the ramekins you see the little black dots from the vanilla bean...and everyone started asking what it was!

I served some really simple macerated berries alongside the creme brulee and we had an amazing simple and delicious dessert!

White Chocolate Creme Brulee

6 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
4 oz white chocolate chips
12 teaspoons raw or cane sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
2. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds out of the bean and make sure you get every last bit!
3. Over medium heat combine the heavy whipping cream, vanilla seeds and the vanilla bean; bring to a simmer.
4. In a separate bowl combine the sugar with the egg yolks and whisk to combine.
5. Once the cream mixture comes to a heavy simmer, begin tempering the eggs: with a ladle add in some of the cream mixture into the eggs and whisk. Do this 2 more times. This will allow for the eggs to reach temperature slowly and not curdle. Once tempered, add the mixture back into the pot.
6. Add the white chocolate to the pot and over low heat, slowly whisk the mixture, making sure the chocolate melts.
7. Pour mixture into a measuring cup through a strainer to catch the vanilla bean and any pieces of egg that may have curdled.
8. Arrange ramekins in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of dishes.
9. Pour custard into each ramekin and divide equally.
10. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until set in center.
11. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until ready to serve, at least 1 hour.
12. If you have a flame torch, like myself this makes for an exciting activity for the guests to do. Just sprinkle the raw sugar on top of the creme brulee right before service flame them! If you do not have a flame torch, (you should invest in one, they are very impressive and not that expensive!)then just stick them under the broiler with the sugar sprinkled on top until nice and golden brown!

Macerated Berries

1 pint strawberries
1 pint blackberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1/4 cup Amaretto Disarrono
1/4 cup sugar

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Let rest for at least an hour and serve with your favorite dessert!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sticky Gooey Smothered Pork Chops

On a cold and miserable Friday night I opened up the fridge and noticed in the very back of the fridge...concealed by a number of other dishes I made...that I had some pork chops left that I forgot to make. Completely uninspired by my empty pantry, I stood and stared at the onions, apple juice and flour. Hmmm what can I make with this? Well I can caramalize some onions and make a roux...and make a delicous thick sauce for my porkchops!!!!

To say this was easy is an understatement! The sticky gravy was delicious, more of a marmalade than a gravy actually. We actually just had the pork chop and a huge green salad for dinner...MMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Smothered Pork Chops

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 cup broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to season
4 thin bone-in chops (each about 12 ounces)

1. Season the pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
2. Sear both sides of the pork chops until they are golden brown. Because the pork chops are so thin, they will be practically done by this point.
3. Remove the chops and reserve.
4. Add onions and turn down the heat to medium low. Slowly caramalize the onions for about 10 minutes.
5. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and toss to coat. Add all the liquids to the pan and whisk, this will ensure the flour previously added does not clump.
6. After whisking in the flour, add in the pork chops and turn the heat on high; cover with a lid. *Now this is my new trick for a quicker caramalized onion. With the heat on high and the pan covered, the onions quickly absorb all the juices and flavors. The steam trapped in there softens the onions.
7. After 3 minutes, turn off the heat, add in parsley and dig in!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blogging Along...

It has been insane the past couple of months. Job searches, home reorganization and a broken laptop has been enough to keep me away from my blog. However, I'm back!
With my morning coffee in hand and my cat on my lap I'm, ready to roll out all the recipes I have been working on!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Upside Down Apple Cake

A couple of weeks ago my fiance bought me some apples. Cute and little they were, but their flavor was more reminiscent of cardboard than apples. So instead of throwing them out, I decided to make some baked goods with them. I have recently run into quite a bit of free time and have decided to give baking another shot. It seems like it's that time of the year again where I will bake frantically for 2 or 3 weeks straight and then vow to never do it again!

I found a nice and easy upside down apple cake recipe. It was extremely easy to put together and actually quite impressive looking! It does require making a quick caramel and some coring and slicing of apples. I tweaked the recipe a bit to add some more zing to it and it turned out fabulous! I was quite proud of myself. I will add this though: make sure you take the caramel to that perfect amber stage. Thinking that the residual heat will finish it in the pan, I turned it off and it turned out a bit too light. The next time I make this, I will be sure to take the caramel to a darker stage.

*I found that because the cake uses caramel and there is sugar in the batter, that it was a bit too sweet. In the recipe below I have adjusted the amount of sugar so that it is not that sweet.*

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 1/4 Large Apples, Peeled and Sliced
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the apples in the dish.

3. Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, making sure the entire time you DO NOT stir the caramel, this will cause crystallization.
4. Pour evenly over the apple slices.
5. Cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy.
6. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time.
7. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined.
8. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix only until combined.
9. Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
10. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

*I actually ran out of regular granulated sugar and ended up using raw cane sugar in the batter instead. The batter still came out great! *

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review: Sandals Whitehouse European Village and Spa in Jamaica

On December 31st, 2009 my fiance and I along with a group of 6 others, took a trip to The Sandals Whitehouse European Village and Spa in Jamaica. We started discussing this trip at the end of August and there were quite a few arguments. My fiance and I have traveled to the Caribbean a couple of times and we both love Jamaica so we knew that would be our destination. We have stayed at only 5 star resorts such as Riu's and Reef' we knew that you could still get an all-inclusive vacation at a great price...even during New Year's. My best friend found an incredible deal on the Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica. Now the price was significantly more than what we paid before. But we knew that it was Sandals...the epitome of luxury and service plus it was adults only which was nice for a change.

About a week after we booked it we found out that the hotel would be going through with renovations...and it would be scheduled to reopen December 18th...TWO weeks before we were scheduled to arrive! So I went into control freak mode and sent the Guest Services Manager a request for a timeline to ensure that the repairs would be completed on time. Heather, the manager, got back to me and assured me that everything would be done in time for our arrival.

Unfortunately, things did not go as smoothly as we had planned on our end. 10 days prior to our trip my fiance tore his soleius muscle (the smaller muscle in his calf). After numerous x-rays, doctor's appointments and panic attacks (on my end), we were ready to go! My fiance had to wear a stupid stabilizer boot that we called the "RoboBoot" but we made it there in one piece!

Arriving in Montego Bay put smiles on all our faces :)

A Sandals representatives came up to us by the luggage carousel, loaded all our luggage and took us to the designated waiting area that Sandals has. It was like we arrived in a cute little mini hotel, complete with couches homemade DELICIOUS cookies, mimosas and Red Stripe Beer! We waited for no more than 15 minutes until they took us to our private transport. This was one of the negative parts of the trip: the ride to the was an 1.5 hours long. However, mostly everyone fell asleep on the ride there and those of us who didn't, like myself, were just excited to be in Jamaica and enjoyed the Reggae music and scenery.

The vastness of the hotel really took my breath away! The hotel is situated on 75 acres of beach!!!! All the rooms face the sea! The hotel is divided into 3 main areas or countries I should say, France, Dutch, Italy.

We were greeted very warmly by the bellmen and the concierge staff. There was however a problem with our check-in. We were placed in France, the farthest from all the restaurants and festivities. This would not have been a problem if my fiance did not have the "RoboBoot". After we explained that we had to be in Italy and all 8 of us would need rooms in the same building, they said they were at full capacity and would not be able to accommodate us. So I asked to speak to my dear old friend Heather. Within 10 minutes Heather fixed the problem! We were all together and in a very convenient location in Italy!

I have found that the best way to give a detailed review is to include pictures and categories. So below I have done just that :)

Beach: For my fiance and myself, the beach is one of the most important factors when deciding whether or not to go to a hotel. The day that we arrived, it had just finished raining on and off for about a week so the water was a bit cloudy. We went to the beach closest to us in Italy. I was instantly disappointed, although the water was tremendously clearer the next day, it only showed how full of seaweed the water really was. Seaweed I can deal with it was the rocks and the surprise critters in the seaweed that scared me:

There were starfish everywhere! I was not scared of them, I just did not want to step on the poor little things..and apparently they looooove seaweed so they were all over the place. The site was absolutely breathtaking! There were ones as big as my head! But we realized that swimming there was out of the question due to all the seaweed and starfish. So we walked the entire length of the beach and saw that the beach by France was incredible. We ended up lounging there for the remainder of the vacation and the water was perfect. What I loved about this beach is that it's HUGE...Sandals own 75 acres of beach and after their property ends there are security guards standing at the so-called border. After that border is one of the most beautiful wild beaches I have ever seen! The sand is like silk and the water is stunningly clear! It's a great walk and definitely a romantic one too!

The food was beyond incredible! Everything that we put in our mouth was perfectly cooked and seasoned! I was happy to know that there was only one buffet restaurant and it was only available as a buffet at breakfast and lunch. Firstly I will start with breakfast food. The breakfast buffet was smaller than I have seen in previous hotels, however it had everything I would ever want or need. Egg station, cereals, oatmeal, sausage, bacon, deli meats, smoked fish, breads and pastries, yogurt and fresh fruits. My personal favorite was of coarse the famous Blue Mountain Coffee and instead of adding cream and sugar I add in sweetened condensed milk. It's literally a piece of heaven with every sip :)

The other breakfast place was Elanore's Restaurant, which was a sit-down a la carte restaurant. It was fabulous as well! Everything we had there was terrific! We only ate there once though because it was better for us to just eat quickly and go to the beach.

For lunch there were many options. We went to the Bayside Buffet for lunch once and it was absolutely outstanding! There were plenty of delicious options and the salad bar was gargantuous! I saw other reviews where people were complaining about the choices. Honestly, I'm really not sure what they were complaining about because I am quite the picky eater and I had to be rolled out of there after lunch!

Neptune's Mediterannean Seafood was another lunch favorite for us. The food there was great! The catch of the day was incredible always! And the mussels were so good that everyone at our table (except me) ordered 2 orders!

Bluefield Beach Club was one that we visited often because it was right in France and we were able to just grab the food and take it on the beach. It was some really nice Jamaican fare and some of the most amazing cheeseburgers I have ever had! It always had some nice fish as well and their jerk chicken Caesar was a favorite of mine :) And of coarse their jerk chicken was fabulous!

Moving on to dinners...
Our first night there, there was a huge New year's Eve buffet so we just attended that. From what I can recall the buffet was nice...but there was plenty of Champagne involved :) As you can see they filled the entire fountain up with champagne bottles...

We went to Elanore's on our second night. Elanore's was a French Colonial inspired restaurant...Apparently, reservations could only be made by people who had Butler Service in their rooms. I found that quite odd since I easily made reservations earlier that day...but more on that later. The food and ambiance was outstanding! In every single one of those restaurants the ambiance was unimaginable. It really felt as if you were sitting in the middle of France somewhere enjoying a meal outdoors. The promenade surrounding us was stunning and there was always some type of beautiful music playing. One night it was a violinist, who we paid $5 to request a song and they played it beautifully! Honestly, out of everything, the ambiance and the feel we got in the resort was worth every penny and then some.
I had smoked Blue Marlin for an appetizer. It was served with a simple salad and some capers, but it was outstanding!!!

My fiance had the duck confit in a roasted potato with a wild cherry was AMAZING!

For an entree I had the filet with roasted potatos and seasonal veggies. Honestly, this filet was better than most I have had in Chicago! It was a perfect medium rare and so juicy and flavorful!

Someone else ordered the roasted pork tenderloin which was great as well.

Giuseppe's Italian restaurant was really fabulous as well. I had a sliced tenderloin there with a garlic sauce I believe. My fiance had the seafood pasta and loved it!

We went to Jasmine's Asian Fusion, but unfortunately my fiance' wa a bit under the weather so all the food I actually brought back up to the room for him. The food was good as well, no complaints.

Onto Bayside Grill! This was definitley a group favorite. The appetizer consisted of a chicken terrine, a mango, papaya chutney and a smoked marlin wrapped shrimp. YUM!

As an entree I had the surf and turf...I gave the surf to my fiance because I don't do lobster :) It was served very simply with scalloped potatos and it was AMAZING! It was so good that we ordered to plates of the scalloped potatoes alone! I mean wow!

We did not get a chance to go to Neptune's for Dinner but we heard great things about it.

And last but not least, Cafe De Paris...this was the perfect end to every night and the best beginnning to an early morning! The cafe was filled with new desserts every day! The classic French Napoleon was amazing. And the cheese and chocolate croissants were out of this world! They made fresh crepes like right in front of you! It gave us the feeling of sitting outside in a French village.

Service and Drinks:
The service was the only thing left to be desired. The wait to get seated for dinner was ridiculous. Being in the industry myself, it was so frustrating that things were not getting done to any sort of protocal. We waited for our tables sometimes 1.5 hours! I mean I understand, we were a large group of 8 to accomodate, but still, there were 2 tables sitting next to each other outside and all that needed to be done was for them to be pushed together...sometimes that took over 40 minutes just to do that. Evantually, we adjusted to this and spent that time wisely at the bar and taking pictures. Once we sat down we had to get accustomed to over 3 waiters. This got very confusing and frustrating for all parties involved. During the day, the bartenders at all the bars were very overworked. I think the problem was more that they just did not have enough bartenders for the amount of guests that were being served. There was an extreme lack in communication and organization.

Later we learned what the problem was: About a month ago, one of the managers left to the other Sandals in St. Lucia and he took majority of his staff with him. So in under a month, the hotel had to replace and retrain a completely new staff. Many of whom have never worked in a hotel or food service enviornment. Certainly we were understanding of that. All in all the staff were AMAZING! They were incredible if you just gave them a chance. A few people who really stood out were Sasha at Le Cabaret, Marlin at Bayside for Dinner, Venitha at Neptunes, Ian (lifeguard) at the beach and Orande at the front desk!

The grounds:
The grounds were INCREDIBLE! Beautifully manicured and cleaned. The most amazing part were the peacocks that roam the grounds. If you are lucky they will just spread their tails and show you how fascinating they really are!

On the second to last day, we decided to forego the 1.5 hour ride to the airport and take the helicoptor instead! It was absolutely amazing! The sights and views were something that everyone should experience once in their lifetime!

All in UNBELIEVABLE hotel with a couple of flaws...none of which cannot be fixed with a bit of time! I highly, HIGHLY recommend this to everyone!

What's to Come...

Hello All!
There is something about the cold winter months that inspires me to cook more and more! So I will be blogging quite frequently again! Be prepared for beautiful pictures, comforting recipes and fabulous reviews!

My fiance recently purchased us a new camera and it is AMAZING! I have never worked with a camera that takes such incredibly vivid and detailed shots. It really has made a huge difference in the way food looks on camera!

Along with the brand new camera, there are also quite a few other reviews that I have for my loyal readers.

Additionally, my blog has been chosen to review a few products from CSN stores! YEA!! Good think I love to use and review! I checked out several of their websites and they have everything from bar stools to cookware to home decor all in all some pretty incredible products!

As always it's great to be back!