Monday, November 30, 2009

Moving…

Hey everyone!  I’ve moved my blog to MommyRD.com  Please be sure to update your Google Readers, feeds, favorites, etc.  I promise to post more frequently, and include more nutrition, exercise and Ava pictures.  Please follow me there!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kudos to Flemings!

Last night we met up with some friends for happy hour at Flemings Steakhouse in North Scottsdale.  It has been a favorite of ours, and recently our friends became big fans as well.  Their “5 for 6 before 7” is one of the best deals in town.  You get a choice of 5 different martinis, or 5 different wines, and 5 appetizers; each being $6.00, before 7 pm.  These are drinks and appe’s that are normally upwards of $15. 

So, last night, being Friday night, not only was the bar already packed, but so was the outdoor patio off the bar when we arrived at 5:30 pm.  The hostess was wonderful and allowed us to sit in the main dining room and get the happy hour specials in there.  We were seated and a highchair was brought out for Ava’s car seat to rest in, since she was imbibing  joining us as well.   So we began catching up with our friends, chatting about their recent marriage, how Ava is growing, etc.  Well, a few (maybe 15-20?) minutes had passed, and no one had come by to ask us if we wanted to order anything.  Finally, we asked the manager as he was passing, and he said he’d send someone right over.  A waitress immediately arrived and apologized for the wait, and the mix up of who was covering our table.   We weren’t upset or complaining at all, just merely looking for a glass of vino. 

We ordered our drinks and appetizers.  The Prime burger is by far the biggest and best burger I’ve ever had, and cooked to perfection and was glorious with the 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon.   As Ava’s bedtime approached we asked for our check so that we could finish up the evening.  To our surprise, the server returned with it, saying it was covered by the manager and apologized again for our wait/inconvenience.  We were happily stunned at the generous gesture and initiative of customer service this imparted.  We thanked them profusely and left a nice tip. 

Thanks again Flemings, for a great night, and fantastic customer service!   We will be back for sure and continue to recommend this favorite spot of ours to friends.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brussel Sprouts!

Once again, it has been a little while since I have posted.  I have been thinking a lot about that lately, and while I’d like to have more frequent posts, we just aren’t creating as many new or exciting recipes now that we are concentrating on our little peanut.  Don’t get me wrong, we still cook almost every single night, it just seems to be things I’ve already blogged about.   And when it comes to pours, we’ve been drinking more of the tried and trues as well, now that we are spending more time in, and less time out.  So, I’ve debated changing the content of Paws and Pours a bit, to maybe encompass more nutrition information, favorite products, or balancing exercise and healthy eating with an infant, etc.  I’d love to hear from readers what draws you to food blogs, and what kind of content you are interested in reading.  Please leave a comment if you have ideas. 

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog topic…

I don’t know about you, but I’m just loving the fall produce.  Bring on the winter squash, fall apples, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes.  Also, I start using the grill less, and begin the migration to roasting and braising and even making a little soup.

Up until a few years ago, I didn’t care much for brussel sprouts.  Looking back, it was because I had always had them boiled, with salt and pepper.  They were too bitter, and overcooked for my tastes.  After seeing recipes for roasted brussel sprouts, I thought I’d give them a try.  It was love at first bite!  Since that time, I have looked forward to them every fall.

So, this summer, my mom grew brussel sprouts just for me.  The only problem is, she lives in Minnesota.  I got to eat a few while there, and manage to sneak a few home to Arizona, but alas, now I’m buying them.  Imagine my surprise when I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday and they were selling them still on the stem!

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Did you know this is how they grow?  I have to admit, until I saw them in my mom’s garden, I had no idea how they grew and what they looked like before being picked. 

The way I enjoy them the most is roasted, but sauteeing is another wonderful preparation method for these mini cabbages.  To roast them, I simply preheat the oven to 425.  I lay them on a cookie sheet and spray with olive oil and sprinkle some kosher salt flakes on top.  Roast for 15 minutes, or until the outer leaves are crisp and brown.  Take out of the oven and drizzle maple syrup over sprouts (approx. 1-2 Tbsp.) and stick back in the oven for another 5 min.  Enjoy!  The sweetness of the maple really contrasts nicely to that bit of bitter you get from the sprout.

Another way I enjoy them is to toss them with olive oil and good balsamic vinegar before roasting.   Do everything else the same except omit the maple syrup. 

What is your favorite fall fruit or vegetable?

Leaving you with a picture of the paws and pacifiers part of this blog.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TurboDog

Note: This is a guest post by Scott (with an assist by Chase)

Every once in a while when we are perusing the isles at our favorite Total Wine store, I have to get one of those marketing-ish brews. Our last visit was no exception. Thinking back to our time in San Diego, the TurboDog was the most apt brew for our golden, Chase.

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TurboDog is from a brewery called Abita Beer from New Orleans. I had previously tried their Pecan Harvest Ale just to see if you really can taste the pecan (my verdict, not at all). After an afternoon of yard work, I needed something to quench my thirst.  Reaching back into the fridge I came out with TurboDog.

TurboDog is a dark brown ale, with a dark body and a slight coffee/toffee/chocolate flavor. It is a nice overall medium bodied brown ale….perfect for an autumn afternoon!

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kale Salad!

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Happy Day after Halloween!  Is anyone still on a sugar high – or should I say chocolate high?  I wait all year to eat my fill of candy corn.  It is like crack to me.  I can pass up the candy bars, but give me a pound of candy corn and I can’t be trusted. 

We did fuel up before the Halloween festivities with a great dinner.   Mostly tried and true, except for the salad.  I have only recently started eating kale, and then it’s been only braised, steamed or baked into “kale chips.”  The thought of eating it raw hadn’t really occured to me, until I started seeing it pop up on blogs, and even a local restaurant menu.

So, after browsing the downtown Scottsdale Farmers Market and coming home with some fresh, local kale I was ready to take on Massaged Kale Salad.    I used a combination of about 3 recipes, including the one on the True Food Kitchen website

Massaged Kale Salad

1 bunch of kale (approx. 4 cups) washed and chopped

2 Tbsp. Olive oil

½ tsp sea salt

1/2  avocado

½ tomato, cut in cubes

juice of ¼ fresh lemon

  1. Add olive oil and sea salt to bowl with kale and gently “massage” together for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add avocado and gently keep rubbing ingredients until all of the kale is coated with olive oil
  3. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste and top with tomatoes
  4. Sprinkle nutritional yeast or parmesan on top (optional)

Optional ingredients:

Pom arils

Carrot, grated

Small pieces of jicama

Garlic clove, smashed

Let it marinate together for a few hours to overnight.  (I found it got tastier the longer it sat.)

I think this is my new favorite kale preparation.  So fresh tasting and not at all tough and bitter.  I can’t wait to make it again. 

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Here is a picture of Ava and Chase in Halloween attire.  Of course as a foodie, I had to dress up my kid in some kind of food related theme. 

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Tired out from the festivities…and she didn’t even have any sugar! 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seafood Sundays

Not to be confused with Meatless Mondays, we have a little tradition of making a nice Sunday night meal together before the busy week starts.  Since fish and seafood are our favorite main dish treat, we usually roll with that.  This past Sunday we tried a new recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Kevin Kathman, of restaurant Max in Minneapolis.

I haven’t actually eaten at restaurant Max, but I did see him on Kare 11 news when I was visiting family in MN.  He prepared this dish of Seared Sea Scallops and it sounded like all the things we love.   I printed it out off the internet and waited until I found some nice looking fresh scallops.    We followed the recipe on the above link.

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The dish was simple enough to prepare and really brought a lot of complex flavors.  I particularly liked the sweetness of the butternut squash over the saltiness of the scallops.  The lemon emulsion added another dimension that just made the dish sing. 

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We served it with the Sobon Estate Viognier. 

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This was a nice match with the acidity of the white, but the floral aromas that matched the sweetness of the squash.  I think this dish would actually pair nicely with a light red as well. 

What is your Sunday night tradition?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nature’s Pride Bread

Hello  -  hello – hello?  (echoing)  Is anybody still there? 

Sorry for the lack of posting, but I haven’t really had any inspiring eats lately.  I mean, we still cook, and of course,  still eat, but it’s just been a lot of the same old, same old.  Pizza, grilled veggies and seafood, etc.  I do however, have a new recipe to try tomorrow evening, that looks divine, so stay tuned…

For now, I will tell you about the Nature’s Pride Bread I received as a sample from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program.  I received two loaves, of the new Nature’s Pride 100% Natural Whole Grain breads; the 12 Grain, and the Whole Wheat.  I have sampled them both and I’m happy to report they are both winners.

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I really enjoyed the seediness of the 12 Grain bread.  It had a lot of chew, and a nice, naturally sweet taste.  The texture was hearty enough for my “everything turkey sandwich” without being to heavy and filling.

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The Whole Wheat variety was also delicious and slightly sweet tasting, but I missed the seeds and extra chew of the 12 Grain.  I have to say, it was the perfect vehicle for my homemade pecan butter!

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Homemade pecan butter and agave nectar…mmmmmm!

I never realized how easy it is to make your own nut butters.  Since I’m not a fan of peanut butter (yes, I know I’m weird like that,) I found that I do like almond butter and I really like pecan butter.

HOMEMADE NUT BUTTER:

Take your nut of choice, and put about 1/2 – 1 lb in the food processor and process until smooth.  It took about 5 minutes or so for mine. 

And finally a fun photo of Chase.  Whenever we have finished a carton of yogurt, Chase gets to lick the bits that are left stuck to the edges.  Don’t ask why, it’s just the way we roll around our house.  Here he is trying to get every last lick.

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What is your favorite nut butter?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

San Diego Salad and Ava’s first ‘first class’

My sporadic posting has something to do with our frequent travel.  After 9 days in San Diego, we were home for 5 days before heading out to Minnesota.   Fortunately, in those few days home between trips I was able to do a little cooking. 

As a side dish, I made a simple salad with some of the lovely produce we brought back from San Diego. 

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Sliced heirloom tomatoes, with a handful of the smallest heirlooms I’ve ever seen,  (literally, come of these were as small as capers) and a goat cheese and caper stuffed squash blossom.  After photographing I decided it needed just a hint of something more and added a little olive oil and balsamic and a dash of S & P.  Not only stunning, but the flavor, when all ingredients were so fresh, really was wonderful.  The tomatoes were actually quite sweet and really mixed with the saltiness of the goat cheese/caper combo. 

Now, back to flying to Minnesota.  Not only was it Ava’s first flight, but she was spoiled with riding First Class both ways!  Hope she doesn’t think that is how she will always be flying.  ;-/  She did wonderfully well.  Slept through take off and landing without drugs, bottles, etc. 

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More coming on the MN trip in the next post!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Meatless Mondays – More Mushrooms!

Sometimes when it comes to vegetarian entrees I get in a rut, utilizing only tofu, pizza, or some beans.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those and could eat them happily over and over, but I can’t forget another favorite, the portabella! 

Every time I make portabella mushrooms I tell myself I have to have them more often.  So versatile, and yet so satisfying, even for the diehard meat lovers.  I have to admit, I never use a recipe, instead using up whatever ingredients I have on hand and my imagination to build a magnificent meatless ‘shroom. 

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This week, I marinated the ‘shrooms in a little balsamic and red wine.  I scooped out the inside of each of the mushrooms, diced it up with onion and capers and sautéed in a skillet for 3-4 minutes.  To that mixture, I added a bit of chopped basil and arugula.  Sprinkled with goat cheese and fresh purslane, it was ready for the grill.   Grill for 7-10 minutes or until portabella is done and cheese is melted.  I served some marinara on the side for dipping.  

We couldn’t decide what wine would complement the meal, so we celebrated ‘Martini Mondays’ and had dirty martinis instead.

What are you having for meatless Monday?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back From Vacation

My lack of posting in the last two weeks has to do with eight glorious days of this…

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and this…

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and a little of this…

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That’s right, our summer is not complete without a week in San Diego.  We stayed in Del Mar, renting a condo with our friends, Renee and John, we found on VRBO.  We have had great luck finding vacation rentals this way and absolutely love being able to have the space and freedom of a condo or house, versus a hotel room.  Especially now, having a new baby and all the gear that goes a long with that.  Of course, it also allows us to take advantage of the local farmer’s markets and do some cooking! 

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This is a picture of Chino Farms, an organic farm where many popular San Diego restaurants get their local organic produce.  Renee and I had fun coming up with some yummy meals with our loot.  One evening we decided to do a casual pizza night.  (surprise, surprise huh?)  We love our pizza nights.  Now, our pizzas are no ordinary pizzas.  No, we take it up a notch from cheese and sausage.   We made three this particular evening, one traditional, one with fresh arugula, tomatoes, capers, etc.  But, the real star of the night was Renee’s little creation…

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Make this NOW, and thank me later!

Here’s how:

Trader Joe’s original pizza dough ( or homemade or your favorite brand of refrigerated dough)

Lightly pre bake the crust for 3-5 minutes.  Spread with a lot of nice creamy goat cheese.  Top with fresh arugula, a few roasted red peppers, and some sliced tomato.  Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until dough is cooked.  Take out and drizzle with balsamic syrup.  A-freaking-mazing! 

Of course lots of wine was consumed over the evening, a tried and true, J Lohr Seven Oaks Cab, and also a new found white that was quite good. 

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I used to think I didn’t like Chardonnays.  What I’ve realized this summer, is that I didn’t like overly oaked, big, buttery chardonnays.  I’ve fallen in love with a few Argentinian and Chilean chards that are more crisp and citrus, and this one was no exception.  It was a delightful apertif, with crisp hints of green apple and a little mineral, it did not overpower like a chard sometimes does.  Will be seeking this one out around home. 

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A great time was had by all:

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The trip is not complete without mentioning the Paws and Pacifiers.  Ava and Chase loved the fresh air and ocean breezes…

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Cheers!

What was your favorite vacation this summer?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Quick and Easy

I don’t know if I can entirely blame being a new mom on my interest in quick and easy meals lately.  It might be the record breaking heat we’ve had here this summer.  Either way, it has been fun coming up with things Scott and I can make for dinner, when our hungers high, and our motivation low. 

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know we love pizza night at our house.  We make the dough from scratch and love coming up with topping combination that we both will enjoy.  As much as we love to make homemade pizza, it’s not going to happen when it’s 7:15 and we walk into the kitchen with the low motivation I mentioned above.  Enter Ten Minute Flatbread Pizza. 

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Utilizing Flat Out Wraps (or pita bread would work,) toppings of your choice, and the toaster oven this came together in 10 minutes (about 3-5 minutes of prep and 5 minutes in a 400 degree toaster oven.  Scott and I each topped our own flatbread with what we were craving.  I went with the simple pizza sauce, mozzarella, sliced tomato, capers and fresh basil.  It rocked my face off!   A few of these would make a great appetizer for a happy hour get together. 

We had our pizzas with a great weeknight wine, the Meridian Pinot Grigio.  A nice hint of citrus – grapefruit? and a mineral like finish, it was the perfect refreshing complement to our meal on this hot evening. 

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Colorful Meatless Monday!

Have you been eating meatless on Mondays?  Even though I may not be posting each week, we are still going meatless at least one day per week.  Budget friendly and eco friendly, it’s a fun challenge to create new ways with tofu, beans, and other non animal sources of protein.

This week, I had some leftover orange sauce from this recipe.  It is such a flavorful sauce that I wanted to use it again, and thought it would be great over some baked tofu.  To create a bit of tropical-ness to the tofu, I marinated it in coconut rum for 3 hours.  (Probably could also use coconut milk.)  Then baked for 15 minutes per side in a  375 degree oven.  I was right, this was divine.  Fresh flavor of cilantro was predominant, followed by the fruity and gingery background. 

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To round out the meal, a little red quinoa for some whole grain goodness and some colorful veggies.

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Isn’t that purple cauliflower gorgeous? 

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I think we got our dose of healthy antioxidants in this meal.  Especially when you add the resveratrol we got in the red wine.

 

Finally, a picture of the Paws and Pacifiers of our life.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chase has a Sleepover!

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Chase wants to say hello.  He thinks Ava has been stealing his limelight here on the blog.  This week he has a houseguest and is having lots of fun.  Better yet, this houseguest is another Golden Retriever and she is a sweetheart.  I think Chase is going to be sad when she goes home…

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Should we trust these two home alone together while we go out? 

Taking Ava out for sushi…

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OK, only mom and dad had sushi, Ava had her usual…Enfamil Premium a la carte. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Easy Meal, Boxed Wine and Garden Fresh Produce

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Although Ava has been a great baby, and we seemed to have escaped the colic phase (knock on wood,) time still seems to be a limited commodity in the evenings.  Couple that with it being hotter than hell, 108 degrees at 6 pm, and the desire for a lot of time in the kitchen disappears.  Still, we want to eat a healthy meal, without relying on frozen dinners or takeout.  I think we’ve gotten pretty good at creating fast and easy delicious dinners. Can you believe this meal took less than 20 minutes

Again, it comes down to having a well stocked refrigerator and freezer.  I took out some frozen tilapia fillets earlier in the day, so that when I headed in the kitchen at 6:30 I was all set to cook.  The only other short cut is the “Chard of Many Colors” bagged chard/kale combination from Trader Joes.  I started by sauteeing that in a little olive oil and garlic.  For fun I tossed in the last couple of fresh pre-sliced ‘shrooms.  Seasoned with salt and pepper and a splash of raspberry vinegar.  After about 10 minutes the chard was done, and I set it aside and used the same pan to grill the tilapia.  While that was cooking, I threw a couple of sweet potatoes into the microwave for 5 minutes and chopped a handful of grape tomatoes and tossed with capers to make a bit of a relish to top the tilapia.   Plate the chard and fish, and top the fish with tomato-caper relish, and drizzle with good balsamic. 

I received a coupon to try the Fish Eye single serve boxed wines and decided to give it a go with the chardonnay.  Again, being something we could quickly add, it was a perfect complement to the meal.  It was fruity with a little zest and very little oak – not bad for the price!

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I really like that the tetra pak has more than a 50% smaller carbon footprint than the bottles it replaces.  Now, I must admit that I miss the “experience” of having the “bottle of wine", but then again, it’s going to be perfect for the drive-in or the many picnic lunches we do while hiking.  I wouldn’t hesitate at all to buy this again. 

Have you tried any wines in the tetra pak packaging?  If so, what’s been your experience?

PS- My mom came for a vist this weekend from Minnesota, to visit her grandaughter.  Just a few things she brought with picked that morning from her garden.  I felt like it was Christmas!!

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kale, zucchini, yellow beans (there were green too, I just forgot to get out of the bag,) lovely chard, cucumbers, green pepper, and Japanese eggplant.  Also unpictured is some huge beets.  Let the cooking begin! 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Meatless Monday Returns

Not that it really ever went away, we were still eating meatless, I was just slacking on the blogging aspect of it.  ;-) 

This week we took advantage of the not hot as hell, slightly cooler weather and did a full grill of different veggies.  Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, etc. were sliced and seasoned.  I decided that the juicy heirloom tomato that we got at the Farmer’s market should be showcased as well.  The result: grilled eggplant and goat cheese “stacks” with balsamic reduction aka party-in-my-mouth.  A.Mazing!!  Seriously, this could be our favorite meatless meal of all times.  The goat cheese really took it over the top.

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So ladies and gents, fire up the grill and get your veggies, and have a par-tay in your mouth!  

To make:  slice the eggplant into 1/8'” slices, zucchini and yellow squash cut lengthwise into approx. 4 lengthwise slices per medium zucchini.  Grill over medium high heat until done. 

While veggies are grilling, take about a half cup of goat cheese and mix with some chopped, fresh basil and chives. 

When veggies are done, start with eggplant slices as the base.  Spread goat cheese mixture over the eggplant slice, then layer with fresh tomato, zucchini and squash slices, and fresh mozzarella (we used leftover tofu from the night before instead.)  Top with another eggplant slice and drizzle with balsamic syrup. 

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On a bed of fresh arugula made it even more of a taste treat!

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Cross Section:

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And a sweet potato in the background for some healthy carbs!

Oh, Mondays are also special to us because Ava was born on Monday – 4 weeks ago today!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another new favorite “pour”

With the extreme heat and dryness of our summers here in Phoenix, a girl does need to hydrate occasionally with something other than wine.  Water, meh, that gets so boring with the copious amounts of fluid we need to keep from dehydrating.  So, enter my new obsession this summer, China Mist Hibiscus Raspberry Frenzy decaf herbal iced tea.

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I love the natural sweetness and the floral depth that the hibiscus adds.  Being that it’s not caffeinated, it’s a hydrating and delicious alternative to water.  It has become a habit to stop at AJ’s each morning and get my fix. Cheers!  

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Paws and Pacifiers have to be represented too!

What is your favorite way to hydrate in the summer?