Where to Book Now for Valentine’s Day

Maui

Want to start off the New Year with a Valentine’s weekend you’ll never forget? Here four of my top picks on where to go this Valentine’s Day:

  1.  Maui

Maui has been recognized as one of the most desirable romantic destinations in the world, and the island’s most coveted neighborhood has welcomed its newest resort – the reimagined Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui. Following the December 2016 debut of their $100 million transformation, the resort’s sprawling 22-acre contemporary retreat offers couples a picture perfect Valentine’s Day getaway.

Wailea Beach Resort Maui

Here is our guide to a magical retreat, Wailea Beach Resort style:

  • Calm down: Enjoy a couples treatment while overlooking the serene Hawaiian waters, Molokini crater and the island of Kaho’olawe at the newly renovated full-service Mandara Spa.
  • Get lost: Unplug with your loved one while soaking up the sun at the new adults only adults-only infinity edge serenity pool, participating in a couples scuba diving class at the resort’s new dive pool or snorkeling together with an underwater photographer.
  • Shake it up: Try something new! Embrace the Hawaiian culture at Te AU Moana, Maui’s highly anticipated vibrant luau exclusively curated for the resort, taking place at the property’s new Luau Gardens
  • Treat yourself: Perched at the highest point of the property, the resort’s new signature restaurant is serving loved ones the ultimate dinner with a view. Humble Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi is the go-to date night locale to feast your eyes on a new menu influenced by Japanese, Filipino, Chinese and Hawaiian cultures and sweeping views of the Pacific.

The Resort at Paws Up

2. Montana

Head to The Resort at Paws Up, an ultimate romantic retreat on 37,000-acres of winter wonderland in western Montana. This rustic, chic setting is the ultimate destination for romance, zen and adventure.

The Resort at Paws Up

  • Calm down: Treat yourself to a spa day at the Morris Ranch House. Then head back to your cozy home to build a fire in your wood-buring fireplace or relax in your outdoor hot tub.
  • Get lostWith spectacular views of the legendary Blackfoot River and endless forests, Paws Up’s winter horseback adventures offer a wide-eyed gulp of the winter wonderland. Enjoy 60 minutes of beautiful winter vistas and the unforgettable Old West history.
  • Shake it up: In the mood for adventure? Book a private snowmobile tour, attempt skijoring (but this time behind a horse), enjoy snowshoeing, ice skating, dogsledding or cross-county skiing.
  • Treat yourself: Relax with a cocktail in Tank with the best and friendliest mixologists. Savor every bite of Chef Ben Jones‘ Creations at Pomp. Be sure to ask for a table fireside and leave room for dessert.

shore lodge

3. Idaho

A majestic mountainscape, a crackling fire, snow falling softly on a frozen lake. This may sound like the setting of a romantic movie but, in fact, it is very much a reality. McCall, Idaho has everything lovebirds could want for a getaway: stunning scenery, exciting excursions, luxurious amenities and, perhaps most importantly, a feeling of complete escape. Nestled in the heart of the Salmon River Mountains, and on the shores of the stunning Payette Lake, Shore Lodge in McCall is an idyllic retreat that offers refuge from big city life amongst unparalleled natural beauty.

Here is our guide to a magical retreat, Shore Lodge style:

  • Calm down: Treat yourself to a spa day. The Cove offers side-by-side couples massages, calming body treatments and one of the most soothing experiences in town: soaking in the heated indoor/outdoor immersion pools. Enjoy a cool glass of champagne and a hot soak to get you loosened up for other activities.
  • Get lostSo often we get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life and lose a little bit of touch with the one that matters most. Remedy the distance by getting lost together! Strap on some snowshoes or Nordic skis and spend some time reconnecting as your explore the beautiful snowy wilderness around you.
  • Shake it up: Lacking a little adventure in your life? Try something thrilling with your significant other to bring your closer together. Shore Lodge offers countless excursions for adventurous couples of all skill sets, from snowmobiling to heli-skiing.
  • Treat yourself: A little indulgence goes a long way. Dinner at The Narrows is a must for the ultimate fine-dining experience. Enjoy the artfully crafted menu of Pacific Northwest cuisine and an extensive, award-winning wine list alongside panoramic views of Payette Lake. End the evening with a nightcap martini in the Narrows Grill or enjoy the view on your private balcony of your Lake View Suite.

Monarch Beach Resort

4. California

It’s nothing but California Dreaming with this romantic beachside getaway, whether you are looking to surf, sunbathe or just take in the sunset.  From luxurious pampering and captivating views to unsurpassed dining options and with professional Resort Hosts and Experience planners ready to ensure your every need is met, couples can reconnect with a curated couple’s retreat at Monarch Beach Resort. 

monarch

Here is our guide to a magical retreat, Monarch Beach Resort style:

  • Calm down: Take relaxation to a higher level at Miraval Spa, where couples can participate in treatments and activities that will transform you from the inside out.  From private partner aerial yoga to couples relaxation spa treatments, loved ones will leave feel rejuvenated and reconnected.  For a more intimate experience, revel in the luxurious comfort of an elegant suite and enjoy a romantic evening in.
  • Get lost: Watch the glowing sun fall behind the horizon as we host the nightly Champagne Sabering, or share a bottle of bubbly from our wine cellar and warm up by the fire on a cool California evening.
  • Shake it up: For couples interested in active pursuits, the resort offers paddle boarding, tennis, yoga classes, championship golf, and so much more.
  • Treat yourself: Wine and dine your loved one at Michael Mina’s acclaimed restaurant concept Stonehill Tavern, offering tavern fare in an elegant and sophisticated setting.  Enjoy a one-of-a-kind dining experience, including modern American cuisine that features seasonal ingredients and contemporary twists on classic tavern dishes.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar New Years Giveaway

new years eve menu

 

What better way to ring in the New Year than by spending it dining at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar? Fleming’s is hosting a spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration, pairing steak and seafood with Fleming’s three-course New Year’s prix fixe menu.

I am excited to give away on lucky winner a $100 Fleming’s dining card. For a chance to win leave a comment below telling me your favorite New Years Eve beverage. One winner will be chosen on December 31st! Good luck!

The meal includes Fleming’s favorites, including the Crab Louie Wedge Salad, lobster bisque, filet mignon paired with Australian lobster tail and Fleming’s signature potatoes. To top off the night, Guests can select one of the following indulgences: chocolate lava cake, New York cheesecake, crème brulee, carrot cake, walnut turtle pie, ice cream and sorbet or fresh berries served with Chantilly cream.

Fleming’s has also pre-selected the perfect drink pairings to complement this meal. Sip on a glass of French 75 Plymouth Gin Mas Fi cava, JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset Brut Burgundy No 21, or Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne Yellow Label.

Don’t forget to enter to win and happy holidays!

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower is the latest trendy vegetable right now, and did you know it makes a great substitute for rice in fried rice? Believe me, it does! This Cauliflower Fried Rice recipe is so amazing, and it makes yummy leftovers too. When you pulse the cauliflower, it resembles the texture (and color of rice). Sautéing it creates a winning main dish for those who are following a gluten-free diet or those who can’t eat rice. Cauliflower also makes a good substitute for mashed potatoes.

And did you know that cauliflower is really good for you? Cauliflower is high in Vitamin C, B Vitamins, fiber and vitamin K. The antioxidants in cauliflower can helps with our immune systems and aid in reducing the cancer and stroke. Eating cauliflower works well for those on an anti-inflammatory diet, and it can also help maintain bone and brain health. Enjoy this thirty minute recipe for Cauliflower Fried Rice on any weeknight since it’s quick and easy! Serve it with a salad, and dinner is done is ready.

7 Ways to Eat Green on St. Patrick’s Day

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Drinking green beer and savoring a green cookies aren’t the only ways to eat green on St. Patrick’s Day. I am so thrilled that Nutrition Expert, Patti Wooten Swanson has shared with all of us her healthier plan for celebrating St. Patrick’s day. Here are 7 ways to eat green this St. Patrick’s Day:

1. For breakfast, sauté chopped spinach, kale or Swiss chard in a little olive oil, then add a beaten egg to make scrambled eggs. Dark green vegetables are among the most healthful of vegetables, Wooten Swanson said. They are low in calories and high in vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, iron and dietary fiber. The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend adults eat 9 to 13 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, with most of those being vegetables.

2. Mid-morning snack, grab a green apple. Not all apples are red; you’ll find several green varieties in grocery stores just right for St. Patrick’s Day. Light green Golden Delicious apples are sweet, plentiful, inexpensive and easy to find. Granny Smith apples are deep green, tart and very crunchy. Granny Smith are often used for apple pie, but are also great to eat out of hand. 

3. At lunch time, prepare a crisp salad with a blend of romaine lettuce, baby kale, spinach or mixed greens. For crunch add sugar snap peas, slices of green bell pepper and pieces of celery. Artichoke hearts, avocado and healthy green goddess dressing add gourmet flair. To make the dressing, blend 2 green onions, ½ green jalapeño pepper, 2/3 cup Greek yogurt, ½ cup cilantro, juice from 1 lime, ½ cup olive oil, salt and a teaspoon of sugar or honey. (Recipe adapted from Oklahoma State Extension.) “When you put a lot of different green ingredients in your salad you get a lot of different nutrients,” Wooten Swanson said. 

4. For an afternoon snack, blend a green smoothie. Put a handful of green leafy vegetables in the blender with non-fat yogurt or almond milk. Add half a banana and any kind of fresh or frozen fruit. 

5. Cabbage and corned beef are traditional St. Patrick’s Day foods, but Wooten Swanson has suggestions that are greener, healthier and just as festive. Mix cooked spinach fettuccine noodles with prepared basil pesto (made with olive oil), fresh spinach leaves and green olives. Add cooked chicken and some feta cheese.  “The meal will offer a balanced blend of whole grains, vegetables, protein and dairy,” Wooten Swanson said.

6. A healthful and simple green drink to accompany meals is cold tap water with a squeeze of lime. 

7. For desert, there’s no reason to punish your body with sugary green jello shots. Treat it right with a healthy and delicious green desert. “I layer non-fat Greek yogurt and kiwifruit. Sprinkle pistachios and drizzle a little honey on top,” Wooten Swanson said.  Kiwifruit are high in vitamin C and pistachios are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Both are great sources of antioxidants.  

Of course, eating a green diet shouldn’t be limited to St. Patrick’s Day. “Once you start enjoying these green vegetables and other healthy foods, you’ll probably want to eat a lot more,” Wooten Swanson said.

Smoothie copy

Wooten Swanson is the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for UC ANR Cooperative Extension in San Diego County. She manages the county’s federally funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, in which staff members visit schools and community sites to provide lessons on healthy eating to low-income families and children. Thanks for sharing your nutrition knowledge with me and my readers!!

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts

So, it’s Brussels Sprouts season, and I know people either love them or hate them. I happen to be a fan, and 2 out of 3 of my kids are too. This recipe for Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts is one of my new favorites which I’ll serve on Thanksgiving this year. I used a simple apple cider vinaigrette mixture to flavor the Brussels Sprouts and tossed them with sweet dried cranberries and crunchy walnuts. For another healthy and easy Brussels Sprout side dish option, see Brussels Sprouts-Tomato Salad, which is another tasty way to serve this healthy vegetable.

5 Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts:

1. Brussels Sprouts are high in Vitamin K which promotes healthy bones and brain function.

2. Brussels Spouts are high in fiber which helps in digestion, lowers cholesterol, prevents constipation, and aid in weight loss, making you feel fuller longer.

3. Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants helping to fight against cancer.

4. Brussels sprouts are high in Vitamin C (1 cup contains over 161% of the recommended daily allowance) which helps boost the immune system and lower blood pressure.

5. Brussels Sprouts are high in iron and folate which helps maintain red blood cell count and prevents against diseases and birth defects.

FYI I will be on WMJJ 96.5 FM this morning talking about how to cook healthier during the holidays.

For Breakfast or Dessert: Lightened-Up Coffee Cake

There’s nothing better than a slice of Coffee Cake in the morning or even for dessert after a light meal. I have been searching for a really great recipe that is “lighter”. I used nonfat Greek yogurt and light sour cream and a topping made with chopped pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. My kids as well as my parents loved this, and honestly, I could not stop eating it either. This would be great to serve for “break the fast” for those celebrating “Yom Kippur” this weekend.

Easy Honey Cake Recipe for Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah)

Honey Cake is traditional to the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah because of its sweetness. The tradition on this holiday is that you are supposed to eat something sweet to start off the new year right. Honey Cake is also really popular because it’s a true taste of fall. I love this particular recipe because it is so moist, and it really doesn’t have a lot of oil or fat in the recipe (many Honey Cake recipes do). It has a wonderful hint of strongly brewed coffee, apple cider and lemon zest, adding terrific flavors. I also love that you can make this recipe ahead of time as the flavors get stronger everyday. This recipe is adapted from the wonderful cookbook “Adventures in Jewish Cooking” by Jeffrey Nathan. It is truly a great cookbook!

Note: The platter in the photo is from my favorite “Earthborn Pottery”

Meatless Monday Main Dish: Ziti with Roasted Summer Vegetables

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School is a few weeks underway already in Alabama, and I am amazed at how hard my kids’ homework is. Last week, my two oldest children were up to almost 10 every night doing math problems, reading their quota of 150 minutes a week and so on. My son even had to do a “glog” which is actually the same thing as a “blog”. Pretty cool, huh. After a long day at school (and after-school sports), I love to serve the kids something really healthy, colorful and fresh. This dish was a hit the other night, especially topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It’s great when I can feel good about what they are eating, especially when they are working so hard and need good nutrition.

Summer Fest 2010: Fresh Corn, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

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One big job of a recipe developer and blogger is to consistently read as many food blogs as I can. I found out about a wonderful summer blog event that started last week from one of my favorites, White On Rice Couple’s blog. They are part of Summer Fest Community which is in it’s 3rd year celebrating the peak harvest season of produce. This idea was created by Margaret Roach and Deb Puchalla. For the next several weeks, talented bloggers are sharing their recipes or growing tips for ingredients and produce. Margaret Roach from A Way to Garden has chosen to feature corn this week. I love this Corn-Tomato and Basil side dish using fresh corn, cherry tomatoes, basil and Parmesan. Feel free to cook your corn on the grill or however you like. I roasted mine in the oven while I was reading some of my favorite food blogs. For more information on Summer Fest, visit http://awaytogarden.com/3d-annual-summer-fest-starts-wednesday