Meet Me in St. Louis – Part 2

So I know I left you with a total cliffhanger last week…but I’m back to share the rest of our amazing trip to St. Louis!

After trekking around the zoo and stuffing ourselves with a very hearty Italian lunch – it was time to do some more walking! We took a 5 minute drive to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden, which was just amazing – I wish I had planned some more time to spend there! We had to look at the map and pick a few key spots that we wanted to see. We made our way back to the Japanese garden, which was absolutely beautiful – lots of picturesque bridges and flowers around the water and rock gardens.

The Gardens are in the middle of a lantern festival – so there are a bunch of really cool looking lanterns in the shapes dragons, flowers, etc.

We passed through “Magnolia Grove” and wandered through the day lily garden – and the husband and I both fell in love with a giant Dogwood tree that I just wanted to live under forever!

Sadly, we had to make it through rather quickly in order to get to the next stop on our trip – the Anheuser-Busch Brewery! I had just done the tour a few weeks prior, but since my husband is a huge fan of Bud Light, I knew we had to stop by the very historic site – so we went to beer school.

We were given four samples of beer ranging from light to dark and taught the proper glasses to serve them in and pouring techniques for each. I also think I found a new beer to drink during the summer months – hellloooo Shock Top Lemon Shandy!

After wetting our whistles, it was time to check into hotel #2 for the weekend, which was downtown. We changed and headed out to the next destination – the Broadway Oyster Bar. I’d read up and found out that it’s “the” place to go before a Cardinals game – and boy was it ever! We managed to find some seats outside on the patio to enjoy some drinks before the game while listening to live music and hanging out with fellow fans.

A great place to go before, and I’d imagine after, the game – not a far walk to the stadium at all! I’d love to make it back here to check out the atmosphere at night – and to eat some of the stuff I was drooling over on the menu!

Enter Busch Stadium – I love sporting venues and this place was no different!  I absolutely loved the Arch in the field! We ended up feasting from the concessions for dinner (I just can’t pass up good ballpark food!) and then heading back to the hotel afterwards…a little dejected from the loss, but still a great time!

Saturday – I took it a little easier on the husband! We took the Metrolink out to The Gateway Arch – the symbol of St. Louis. I just couldn’t fathom how something like that is built! We didn’t have time for a tour (there was a long line) but that didn’t stop us from being a little touristy of course! I’m sure he’s making a face at me…but at least he got my good side! =)

 

From the Arch, we took a cab to the Schlafly Tap Room. People, if you ever make it to St. Louis, do yourself a favor and go here. A lot of good beers on tap and I cannot even explain to you how good the food was – so I will, of course, show you pictures!

We started with some beer bread – the blue cheese cream cheese was out of this world. Then I had the turkey monte cristo – turkey, brie (my FAVORITE) and cranberry chutney – beer battered, deep-fried and topped with a little powdered sugar.
Clearly minimal calories consumed here…

The husband got pork schnitzel on top of potato salad – it was pretty delicious too – but it didn’t have brie! (Hey, at least we walked a lot on the trip!). This place was bar food taken to a whole new level – I’m salivating just thinking about it!

So then it was time to head to the afternoon game – which was the big birthday gift! We had some pretty nice seats…but let me tell you what friends, I have never been so hot in my entire life! Mis-er-able! Especially after eating that super-light meal pictured above. However, it was an exciting game and we enjoyed every single second of it. Probably even more when the sun finally made it behind the stadium! It was such a fun trip and the Cardinals certainly showed us a good time and won – so it was totally worth it!

Took this one early before the combination of sweat and sunscreen took it’s toll!

Well, that concludes our St. Louis trip! I hope you enjoyed a little insight into our travels and maybe were inspired to plan a trip of your own. We will definitely be back!

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Meet me in St. Louis – Part 1

My apologies for the lack of posts lately – I have been crazy busy the past few weeks, including last weekend! Luckily, it gave me some great blogging material that’s a little different from the usual…

My husband’s birthday was in April (remember the super naughty cookie pie I made for him?) and since he was studying until June, I wanted to give him something he could look forward to – so I presented him with a trip to St. Louis to see the Cardinals play!

He was very brave and let me plan out the entire weekend, which, shockingly enough, did not involve any shopping!

So we drove in on Thursday night and had 2 full days of being touristy – and of course, eating!

Our first evening, we stayed outside of downtown and chose a fabulous hotel. The Cheshire is a boutique hotel that is essentially diagonal from Forest Park (home of the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, a history museum, a boat house, tennis, etc.). The Cheshire is modeled to look like a traditional British inn, and from the very little time we spent there, I can tell you that the details and staff are amazing! All of the rooms pay tribute to a different British author (we were in the Elizabeth Barret Browning room) – and they even have amazing themed suites (the James Bond suite looks the coolest to me!) Even the lobby makes you feel like you’re in England!

Right up the road (maybe a 5 minute drive) is “The Loop” – a strip of restaurants and bars located near the beautiful Washington University. I know my husband’s love for pizza, so Thursday evening after we arrived we went straight to Pi Pizzeria for some deep dish pizza. We split a 9” and it was incredibly delicious – especially sitting outside on a beautiful evening and enjoying a nice cold draft beer.

After that, we wandered down the street and headed to the top of The Moonrise Hotel for a drink on their rooftop bar – which gave us a beautiful view of downtown St. Louis. There were a ton of other great places I’d love to have explored, but we had a very early morning ahead of us according to my very strict itinerary…

Early Friday morning, we headed to the St. Louis Zoo – which is pretty much amazing. It’s free admission – and we managed to hit Caribbean Cove in the first hour of operation so we didn’t have to pay the fee. You can pet the rays and sharks…but we chose to just observe!

We walked around and took in a lot of exhibits – and I have to say I absolutely loved the penguins! One species of penguin is outside – but then you walk inside into a very very cold corridor that has the Antarctic penguins. They are so beautiful – and it’s a nice reprieve from the heat!

 

We got to see hyenas being fed, two baby elephants playing in the water and a Daddy lion sleeping on the job while his two little kiddos played.

 

After that, we headed to “The Hill” – which is the Italian district of St. Louis. It’s about a 1 mile square that is full of amazing looking restaurants. I chose Zia’s – which was absolute perfection. A glass of wine for me, a beer for my husband – and of course, a delicious Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and tomato sauce. And the obligatory side of pasta..

Well, I will leave it there for now – but I will post Part 2 of our trip soon, which includes a trip to the Botanic Gardens, beer school at the brewery and of course, some baseball!

Hope you enjoy this little peek into our fabulous weekend trip – and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

As I have mentioned before, I’m not a huge fan of baking – I have to seriously put myself in a special place to make myself do it! It’s so stressful to me and when I attempt cakes, they never turn out as pretty as the picture in the recipe. I’m not a huge presentation freak when it comes to my main courses (as I’m sure you can tell) – but for some reason, I just feel like baked goods have to be “pretty”.

I think I have a few go-to baked dessert recipes, but it’s breakfast foods that I really struggle with – particularly because I’m not a huge fan of sweets for breakfast. Seriously, on the honeymoon there was a massive breakfast buffet – and my husband looked at me on about the third day and laughed at the differences between our plates each morning. Mine: Croissant, slice of sunflower seed bread, cheese, fruit, salmon with capers, egg and onion. His: A variety of pastries, cereal and omelets.

Don’t get me wrong – I love omelets and all that jazz, but I had been working out and dieting for months and had been dreaming of a table filled with carbs and cheeses. I am pretty sure a light from heaven illuminated the giant table in the center filled with all of the glorious bread I could ever want in life.

So anyways, the other week I needed to bring some breakfast food for our Sunday school and it’s tough to whip up omelets and transport them – but luckily I came across a delicious recipe that pleased both sweet and non-sweet breakfast parties!

Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup non-fat, plain yogurt

3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 c. light brown sugar

1/3 c. vegetable oil

1 cup raisins

4 Tbsp. toasted oats, chopped (for topping)

2 Tbsp. honey (for topping)

In a large mixing bowl, add oats and yogurt and stir. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

 

Preheat your oven to 400.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs.

Add eggs to the mixing bowl and stir into yogurt mixture. Add in vanilla, brown sugar and vegetable oil.

Now add the flour mixture into the mixing bowl, mixing until just incorporated.

Fold in the raisins.

Pour batter into a lightly greased muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes, until cooked through.

While muffins are baking, heat your honey in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until a little thinner.

Toast your oats in a small skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove your oats and chop roughly.

When your muffins are done cooking, brush honey over each one and sprinkle with toasted oats.

These look beautiful if you put them into some decorative cupcake/muffin liners – so it makes baking these even more enjoyable in my book!

Buffalo Shrimp

I know, I know – “Another ‘buffalo’ recipe? This chick is cray – to the – z!”

You may be right. But you know what? I am okay with that!

Seriously, when the husband and I started losing weight – the one thing I said I couldn’t do was give up foods I love. I love buffalo anything and everything. But it usually comes deep-fried and loaded with butter. Nothing wrong with that, unless you’re trying to avoid fried food and excessive butter.

So I needed ways to curb my craving so I didn’t go on a crazy hot wing binge.

Enter a really easy and delicious buffalo-style shrimp. This is great with mashed potatoes (particularly blue cheese mashed potatoes) – buuut I didn’t have potatoes on hand so I just poured the shrimp on top of some whole wheat couscous! Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Buffalo Shrimp (2 servings – 6 WW Points per serving)

8 oz. shrimp

1 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

3 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

Thaw your shrimp and remove tails if needed.

Mix together your flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Add to a small Ziploc bag and shake until combined.

Pat shrimp until slightly dry. Heat your oil in a medium to large skillet over medium heat.

Add your shrimp to Ziploc bag and seal, leaving some air. Toss until shrimp is coated with flour and seasoning mixture.

When oil is heated, add shrimp to the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then flip, cooking another 3-5 minutes. You should get a good golden brown color and a crisp coating on the shrimp.

In a small saucepan, melt your butter and whisk in hot sauce. If you don’t have a great heat tolerance, you can add some honey to tone it down a little (this would affect your points value).

Add shrimp to sauce and toss to coat.

Serve with potatoes, couscous, rice or just by itself and dig in!

Try this and you won’t question my buffalo-obsession any longer…

Promise!

Grilled Lemon Chicken

So it’s rather funny to me looking through pictures of the delicious grilled dish I’m blogging about today – as it has been pouring on and off all day. Listening to loud claps of thunder and rain against the window is quite relaxing – but it is certainly not grilling weather!

Good thing it’s supposed to be gorgeous out this weekend though – not to mention my husband takes his exam on Saturday so we get to celebrate with friends on Saturday night  at our favorite watering hole!

Anyways, I often get wrapped up in making an elaborate meal with lots of ingredients or that requires a lot of time to marinate when it comes to grilling.

But this recipe? This is a piece of cake. Well, not really – it’s chicken people. See the title?

I served this with my Feta Mac n Cheese and some green beans – but next time, when I actually have groceries in my house, I’m definitely going to throw this together with some potatoes and a crisp green salad!

Oh and if there are any of you out there afraid of your grill – don’t be! Embrace it – there is no better time to learn than right now and I promise you, it’s kind of addictive once you’ve learned the ropes. This is a great “starter” recipe…and it’s only 6 WW points per serving!

Grilled Lemon Chicken (serves 2)

2 thin cut chicken breasts (about 4 oz. each)

3 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/4 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Preheat your grill to about 375 degrees.

In a small saucepan, heat your margarine. Add your lemon juice, soy sauce, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper.

Whisk ingredients together until well incorporated.

Now, arm yourself for grilling! Take your chicken, some tongs, your sauce and a basting brush.

Place chicken on the grill and brush the top with your sauce.

Close cover and cook 3-4 minutes. Flip and brush other side with sauce.

Once you have cooked another 3-4 minutes, reduce heat to about 350. Flip chicken every 2 minutes or so, basting with the sauce.

Once your chicken is cooked through and you have some nice grill marks (not char marks, mind you) you are ready to plate. I added one last brush of sauce once it was on the plate to ensure all of the flavor was there!

Just so your chicken doesn’t feel left out, make sure and add some delicious sides to your plate too…

Now this recipe made a ton of sauce which is why I lowered the heat on the grill and kept flipping, to get as much sauce on there as I could. But you could just add a chicken breast or two – I’m sure it would be great for leftovers…

Have a great weekend everybody!