Sunday, February 26, 2012

::Fun:: Boat Days Have Began

This post will probably seem strange to those in different parts of the country but today was our first boating day for 2012. My family and I are typical Florida Beach Bums and usually spend every weekend from April to September in some form of outside, sun related activity----usually boating. Today we were able to enjoy great weather (a little windy, but overall great) in the 80's, in February!

The morning started out cloudy, windy, and cool----I was not optimistic that there was a nice boat day in our future. By 11:30 though, we were out on the water enjoying clear skies and sunshine! Since it's not too hot or humid this time of year, Fitzgerald even gets to join us! Here are some pics from the day.

Husband and the pup
Pups relaxing

Clear Skies

Ladderball which is a perfect beach game

I, however, am not anywhere close to good at it!

Sister and her bf Nick


Sister and I

Now if only tomorrow wasn't Monday! Hope your weekend was perfect!!

:-) Mere

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

::Foodie:: Strawberry Cupcakes!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I really love baking and lately have been dreaming of owning a bakery which has really had me in the baking mood. In the spirit of all things delicious, I decided to make a couple sweet treats for my husband for this holiday including Strawberry Marshmallow Popcorn and Strawberry Cupcakes with homemade Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.

The popcorn was so easy to make ::recipe here:: and it was quite addictive! I think I ate more than half of the bowl before the end of the day yesterday.
I think this recipe will be a repeat for us and would also be fun to try with other flavors of Jello.

Strawberry Cupcakes ::recipe here:: were really good also however I think next time I am going to try and lighten them a bit. They were very dense, almost the consistency of banana bread. I may try cake flour next time or even try folding in egg whites or something similar to get them lighter. Either way they were (are) really good but I think a little lighter of a cake won't be as filling.

Strawberry mixture on the left, flour on the right

Cupcake batter all mixed up

Williams-Sonoma cupcake kit


Hope you have a great night!

:-) Mere

Sunday, February 12, 2012

::Running:: Rock n Roll St Pete Half Marathon

Today was my second half marathon in St. Petersburg. The morning started out at 5:00am with the phone alarms going off and the hotel wake up call ringing. I was a little anxious about missing the alarm so I had Ted set his alarm, I set mine and I set up for the hotel wake-up call. We got up, ate a couple granola bars and bananas and were on are way.

The temps this morning were in the low 40's and windy with a wind chill of around 30*. We arrived at Tropicana Field, the start line, at about 6:00. The race didn't start until 7:30 but due to road closings, we had to get there by 6:30. We sat in the warm car, watching a movie until about 7:00 or so. We had to wait in line about 15 minutes for the Port-a-Potty and it was freezing. Thank God I dressed warm!

The race was cold and frozen but overall awesome! There were live bands all along the course, plenty of water and Gatorade every mile or so. The race was really well organized by the Competitor Group. Since it was so windy, I was pretty numb in the face and hands for the majority of the race. Around mile 11 I was really feeling the pain and was ready for it to be over. My time was 2:26:02, 21 minutes faster than my last race! I could not be happier. To make everything a little better, they had Flo Rida in concert at the finish line. I think this may be my last Half Marathon for a while but in my opinion, I went out with a bang! :-)

Using the green screen at the expo Saturday.

Before the start of the race

Smiling before starting----even though we were FREEZING!

Start line

Tried to get an action shot---stupid finger in the way :-)


Resting after the race with my new medal!


Now time to recover! Nap time. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

:-) Mere

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

::Foodie:: Croque Monsieur

For those that aren't aware, I am a huge Meryl Streep fan. In 'It's Complicated', there is a scene where she is making dinner for Adam, played by Steve Martin. She makes croque monsieur. It looked pretty interesting and I made a mental note to try it sometime. A few months after watching the movie, I discovered a French bakery in town that served this and I was hooked. It's a French ham and cheese sandwich with a layer of cheese on the outside as well as inside.

I recently found a recipe for it from the Barefoot Contessa and we tried it for the second time tonight. The flavors are exactly like the ones we tried at the French place. 

Croque Monsieur

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

I hope you try this and enjoy! Let me know if you make this also.

:-) Mere