Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Beach Diner

After last night's disappointing diner experience, my husband and I decided to try the Beach Diner in Atlantic Beach this morning.  We were NOT disappointed with this one.
This cute diner is located right on Atlantic Beach Blvd approximately a block from 3rd St. They are open Monday through Saturday, 6 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. The first clue that it is a good place to eat is that it is always FULL!  Fortunately, we found a place at the counter. The decor is beachy leaning towards kitschy but not so much that it looks over done. Overall, it is visually appealing. The wait staff were friendly and attentive. I was a given a cup of coffee within the first few minutes of sitting down. There is a happy buzz of voices that contribute to the carefree atmosphere.  They serve typical diner food with reasonable prices. My husband and I both ordered the Sunrise Special, which consists of two eggs, any style, bacon (2) or sausage links (2), grits, hash browns, or fruit, toast or english muffin. I chose sausage, fresh fruit and the english muffin. My hubby chose the hash browns and an english muffin. Both of our eggs came back perfect (mine over medium well and his sunny side up).  The fruit was seasonal, sweet and fresh. All in all, a great place to eat and hang out with friends and family. We'll definitely return! 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cheap Eats

Thought I would share this tidbit with you if you haven't already heard.  You can buy gift certificates for local restaurants at a discount. So you buy a $25 gift certificate, but you only pay $15.  If you get their emails, they run specials for 60%, 70% and 80% off the gift certificates. I bought a $25 gift certificate today for only $3.  Here's the info...

Only catch is you usually have to spend more than what the gift certificate is for...I bought a $25 one and have to spend at least $35. Plus, I have to pay 18% gratuity on the original amount. Still not so bad.

****UPDATE****
We went out last night to the 3rd St. Diner (in Jax Beach, FL) with certificate in hand and the owner refused to honor it!  I've used at least three of these vouchers and have NEVER had problems. On top of everything, he was rude. Churlishly, he said we had to spend $50 instead of $35 to get the $25 off. Apparently, that night there were two other guest using Restaurant.com certificates. One of the guests said he was told that he had to spend $100 to get the $50 certificate (versus $75). This was at a diner. Can you imagine how much food you would have to eat to spend $100 at a diner (even for a family of 3)? Both parties were upset and said that although the food was good they would not return due to the service. As we were leaving, another party overheard the conversations and said he would not return to the restaurant. NOT GOOD for business. In one night they lost 12 return customers and lost 4 that night. We were meeting Carolyn-Marie and her husband that night. Fortunately, they were running late and missed the drama. But, after she heard what happened she said she was never going back either.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On my "to do" list...

I've been busy lately and haven't had time to make anything...well, besides Easter Dinner, which BTW, was  a total success.  Everyone had so much fun. Plus, my friend Carolyn-Marie made the BEST salad. I'll see if I can get the recipe and share it with you.

Anyway, this week, I found a couple recipes I want to make. The first is using the left-over pink champagne I had from my cupcakes.  I found this recipe for Strawberry jam using Pink Champagne:

STRAWBERRY PINK CHAMPAGNE JAM

4 ½ cups strawberries
1 package powdered pectin
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup pink champagne
7 cups sugar

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, pectin and champagne in pan. Over high heat, bring to a rolling boil. Add sugar. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a rolling boil again. Continue to stir and boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Place in sterilized jars while still hot.

The other one is Cake Batter Pancakes from the blog, "How Sweet It Is."

The next creative endeavor I want to tackle is a mixed media art project. I got a book for my birthday from my friend Tiffany called, "Art at the Speed of Life", which has inspired me.

I have a huge canvas in my office/studio ready to go. I just have to get in there and start!

I'll keep you updated.

Until then...have a great week!


Friday, April 22, 2011

A little inspiration for a friend

If you haven't figured out by now, I like making collages. I have a friend who is planning a special event where tartan plaid may be used. I thought I would put together some inspiration for her!  However, it might be overkill...what do you think?

Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe

I'm going over the final touches of the menu for Easter dinner. I ended up not going with leg of lamb because:
a) I'm having 10+ guests
b) I'm having picky eaters over (read: teenagers who may or may not like lamb)
c) at $6 a pound I can't afford it (can't afford the chance to spend over $60 and people not like what I'm serving. I know most people like ham).


So, ham it is...I still think it's weird that as Christians we eat ham at Easter. Then again...$1.77 a pound is easier on the pocket book. I guess that must be why we do it. Anyway, I digress.

I'm making Au Gratin Potatoes as the side dish. My mom never made them when I was growing up or if she did, then it was rare. Counting this year, I've only made them twice. However, I used this recipe last time and now wouldn't consider making anything else with my ham (at least at Easter).

Remember calories don't count when you are eating with friends AND it's a holiday :)

Here's the recipe:

Au Gratin Potatoes
Serves 8
4 russet potatoes & 4 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into 1/8-1/4 inch slices
1 onion, diced or grated
6 Tbls. butter (NOT margarine)
6 Tbls. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
4 C. milk
3 cup shredded cheese (I'm using 1 1/2 C. Cheddar & 1 1/2 C. Colby)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish and then layer the potatoes in the dish. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper as you layer.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft and transparent. Make a roux by mixing flour, salt, and pepper into the butter and stirring constantly with a whisk for one minute. Next, stir in the milk. Cook until the mixture is thickened. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the cheese and continue to stir until the cheese is melted and thoroughly incorporated into the béchamel. Pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes and cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 1 1/2 hours in a preheated oven.


Bon Appétit

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Getting ready for Easter dinner

Can you believe it's almost Easter! I love Easter. It is hands-down my favorite holiday. This year we've invited friends over for dinner after Church. Depending on what's available at the market for a decent price, I'm making roast lamb, beef or a baked ham. Here's the rest of the menu:

Raspberry White Iced Tea 
Deviled Eggs 
Fruit Plate 
Refrigerator Pickles 
Apricot Honey Glazed Ham 
Or 
Roast Lamb 
Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes 
Steamed Asparagus 
Biscuits 
Pink Champagne Cake 

I'm totally excited about my "new" Easter tradition-the Pink Champagne Cake. This will be the second year I've made it for Easter. However, I'm thinking I will make Pink Champagne cupcakes this year.

Come back, 'cause I'll share more recipes as the week progresses. Here's my refrigerator pickle recipe:

REFRIGERATOR PICKLES


6 c. sliced cucumbers

1 c. slice onion

1 c. vinegar

2 c sugar

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. celery seed

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Place in jar, refrigerate. The pickles will be ready in 24 hours and will keep up to 1 year



Saturday, April 9, 2011

My birthday @ Carrabba's

My husband arranged a "surprise" dinner for me at Carrabba's last night for my birthday. Through quite a few unintentional "clues" he left behind, I figured out what was going on by one o'clock in the afternoon. (I already knew who was coming by last Monday). No matter, it was definitely the thought that counted. It was such a sweet and kind effort. You can see some of the snapshots I took with several different camera apps on my iPhone last night (some better than others). I then used a new app called Zapd to create a website. It was quick, free and easy to use.  I highly recommend it. Click here to see the website

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The best "Best Banana Muffins"

A sweet friend/co-worker of mine makes "The Best Banana Bread." That is actually the title of the recipe. Truth be told, it really is good. However, I can't ever leave anything alone so I tweaked her recipe yesterday. I had some time on my hands and since I had several bananas in the freezer that I've been saving up to make banana bread, I pulled out the recipe. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to wait an hour for bread to bake, so I decided to make muffins instead. I call this recipe, The Best Best Banana Muffins.

Here at home, we've managed to eat several over the last couple days. I also brought some to work, which were gobbled up, too. I'm trying to save some for breakfast tomorrow. Try the recipe. You may find you have the same problem. Caution: This recipe contains chocolate. *yum*

4 ripe mashed bananas (thawed if previously frozen)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk (I used the Vanilla Light Silk)
1 tsp Butter nut & vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp Baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Pour batter evenly into muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 24 muffins

What I've been doing lately... making a fabric handbag

Several years ago, I bought several purse handles on clearance at a craft store. Then, I packed them away never to be seen again...until last Saturday. I pulled out the wood handles and some brown and white pin-dot fabric from the closet but then was stumped on what to do with it. So, I started looking for inspiration. It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do, but after some doodling sketches, searching google images and diddle daddling at Hobby Lobby--I came up with this bag>

It has a front and back pocket and snaps in the middle. I made the rose, too by melting satin ribbon. I'll take a better picture of the rose and post directions in a different post later. I'd give you step by step directions to make the purse but since I made up the design by trial and error...you don't want to go through what I went through. In addition, there are things I would have done differently. None the less, I think it turned out cute for the first time purse I have ever made.