Friday, January 16, 2015

Foodie Friday: Jamaican Brown Stewed Liver Recipe

Finished Jamaican Brown Stewed Liver with Floaters

Both of my parents are from South Carolina.  We grew up eating beef liver with gravy and onions over grits.  I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! It's so good!

Anyway, you're probably wondering, "How is this girl going to teach me how to cook Jamaican Brown Stewed Liver?"  If you know me, you'd know I love Caribbean foods.  Two of my best friends are Trinidadian, and my husband's family are from Jamaica. Plus, the majority of my friends are of Caribbean decent so I grew to love the food. When you get tired of purchasing foods at restaurants, especially when you're trying to save your pennies, you learn to make things on your own. That's what I did.

Ingredients
1 lb frozen liver
2 stalks scallions sliced 
Fresh Thyme
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 medium onion thinly sliced
1 bell green pepper 
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (seeds removed) finely chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp browning
1/2 tbsp adobo
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbs coconut or vegetable oil

Note: The liver should not be completely thawed. It makes for easier slicing and removing the thin film from the liver.



Instructions

1. Slice the liver into thin strips

2. In a medium sized bowl incorporate all of the ingredients into the bowl, and then mix it around.  Use only half of the onions, scallions, and green bell pepper.

3. Cover for 30 minutes (or more) to marinate.

5. Heat oil in pan until smoking hot.

6. Add all of the liver to the pan, and saute for about 15 minutes.

7.  Add thinly sliced onions, and scallions and green bell pepper to the pan.  Mix, cover the lid, and lower the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

You may serve the liver with fried dumpling, grits, or rice. You can also add floaters like I did in the photo above.

Enjoy!



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dreaming of Providenciales,Turks and Caicos and The Sands at Grace Bay


It's been five months since our trip for my 30th birthday when we visited Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.  Five months too long if you ask me.  It is funny how below 30 degree temperatures can make you wish you were on a beach wearing nothing but a bikini, taking in the sun, and enjoying a cocktail or two. Quite frankly, I'm tired of bundling up, and layering clothing. Instead of sloshing around in the cold, wet snow, I'd rather frolic on Grace Bay Beach that was conveniently located steps away from our room at The Sands at Grace Bay.

Upon our arrival at The Sands at Grace Bay, we were first greeted by friendly staff with a complimentary beverage, rum punch.  The hospitality didn't end there.  In fact, throughout our stay, we encountered the same hospitality and friendliness from the staff at +The Sands at Grace Bay just as we did on check-in day.

The Rooms 
The Sands at Grace Bay is a beautiful, 4-star, 114 room luxury resort that has courtyard, garden, and ocean view suites or studios, which are housed in six, three-story buildings.  Like its name states, the resort is conveniently located on the 5 miles of the 12 mile long Grace Bay Beach, which is one of the world’s most top-rated beaches due to its soft white sand, and clear turquoise waters. 


Peep that mirror across from the bed.

During our stay, we had a modest one bedroom studio that was equipped with a queen-sized bed, kitchenette with a microwave, dinnerware, cutlery and a small sink.  It was kept immaculately clean by the staff at The Sands at Grace Bay.   Our room had views of the tropical foliage of the central garden courtyard that surrounded two free-standing wading pools, which was not only beautiful during the day, but, even more so, and romantic during the evening hours.




Unfortunately, during our stay, the resort was pretty booked so we had to keep our studio, which had an adjoining room that was divided by a locked door. Needless to say, we heard everything our neighbors did. Everything.  Our next visit, we’d definitely try and get a different room. Thankfully, most of our time was spent outside of the room.  



If you're wondering about the bathrooms, they were simple. The shower stall is cut out from the picture, but, it was a standard walk-in shower.  The bathroom was kept clean, and the toiletries were re-stocked daily.

Location



Not only is The Sands at Grace Bay conveniently located on Grace Bay beach, it was just a few minutes’ walk to downtown shops and restaurants.  Both my husband and I love it when a vacation spot is walkable and safe.  Providenciales, and The Sands at Grace Bay offered both.  This is why every morning we walked to what turned out to be one of our favorite breakfast spots, Shay Café, which I mentioned in my previous post about our trip.  And later on in the day for lunch, we frequented Big Al’s Island Burger.  We were also able to walk to one of the popular spots, Mr. Groupers, where we once had lunch.

We spent a lot of time on the beach. I think I mentioned that in my initial post.  When I say lots of time, we were on the beach first thing in the mornings, in the afternoon, and at times, we'd even walk the beach at night to catch the sun setting. 

We even woke up early to catch the sunrise.  My husband enjoyed this the most.  He's an early riser.  I'm talking, 4:00 a.m. Who does that on vacation?  It was nice, but, I'm really not a morning person.

Amenities
Besides air conditioning, one of the most important things a resort needs to have for me as a mom, and blogger, is a wi-fi connection.  We were going to be away from our daughter for five nights.  That’s a long time.  With a wi-fi connection, we were able to connect with her via Facetime, and receive updates on her from my mom and sister.  The wi-fi connection also allowed us to research local restaurants, and things to do around time using one of my favorite travel sites, Tripadvisor.




View of pools from our room

As I mentioned previously, The Sands at Grace Bay has two free-standing wading pools that are connected by a canal.  There’s an additional pool located closer to the beach.  Closer to the entrance, in the garden area, there’s an adults-only hot tub, which we took advantage of several times.  The resort does provide for free non-motorized water sports activities – hobie cats (small sailing catamaran) sea kayaks, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.  My husband snorkeled while I floated in the water using one of the complimentary pool noodles. Life jackets were also available for use.  Palapa and lounge chairs are also complimentary.  Trust me, 15 out of 24 hours of ours were spent lounging on the beach under the palapas sipping on cocktails from the resort’s restaurant, Hemingways.

The Sands at Grace Bay provides complimentary bicycle rentals, and features a tennis court for anyone looking to get more active outside of the water. There’s also a gym, but due to the storm that hit Provo a few days prior to our arrival, the gym was closed.

Getting there
The Sands at Grace Bay is about a 15-minute ride from the Providenciales airport.  Airport transfers are provided via taxi for a fee.

I recommend The Sands at Grace Bay
The Sands at Grace Bay is the perfect atmosphere for couples, as there are very little activities for children outside of the pool and water sports.  To me, the resort was the ideal romantic setting for both my husband and I, and a lot of other couples we saw during our stay.  Couples can spend time strolling the white sand beach, having cocktails and conversations under a palapa, snorkeling, and more. If you are looking for a vacation offering seclusion, then you need to stay at The Sands, and experience the serenity and "Grace" of Grace Bay.  

My 30th birthday spent in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos at The Sands at Grace Bay was just the retreat from city life, and the calm that I needed to relax and regroup. It's time to plan another trip!

For rates, please visit The Sands at Grace Bay’s website.   

Keep up with The Sands at Grace Bay on social media

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We Celebrated Our 4 Year Anniversary with a Broadway Play & Dinner at Paul’s on Times Square


We Celebrated Our 4 Year Anniversary with a Broadway Play & Dinner at Paul’s on Times Square
We now have four years of marriage under our belts.  .:Woot Woot:.  I was told after 7 years, things get a whole lot easier.  Other married folk, is that true? 

Although we didn't celebrate on our actual anniversary day, we did, however, have a night out on the town in Times Square.  We enjoyed the Broadway play, Disgraced, and afterwards, we ate dinner at an Italian Restaurant located in the heart of Times Square, Paul’s on Times Square.


Disgraced
I picked up tickets for Disgraced using the GoldStar app on my phone.  If you do not have that app, but you enjoy things like plays, concerts, museums, etc., then you need to download the app, like NOW!  I paid $88 for tickets for the both of us. 

Disgraced. I came to see actress, Gretchen Mol in a different light other than as the character she played in one of my favorite HBO shows, Boardwalk Empire.  Without giving away too much about Disgraced, I will say that due to the topics covered, there were some uncomfortable, thought-provoking moments.  You may like Disgraced if you are into plays that touch on topics like race, religion, terrorism, injustice, and infidelity.  Yes, that sounds like a lot for one play to cover in one hour and 25 minutes, but, it was well done.  Even though Disgraced started off slowly, it did pick up around the 30-minute mark.  Both my husband and I enjoyed it.

Paul’s on Times Square
I know it sounds kind of cheesy for us to have dinner in Times Square after seeing a movie.  Plus, restaurants around the theater district aren't known to have amazing food; however, Paul’s on Times Square was a good surprise. The food was good, and the direct view of Times Square was amazing. 

After seeing Disgraced, my husband said, “Let’s go for a walk.”  I obliged.  It was only 4:30 p.m. and it was warm considering it was early January.  We ended up at The Hilton Garden Inn Times Square.  I thought, “What kind of woman does he think I am?”  Once we got upstairs, I saw the beautiful décor of the restaurant, and was greeted by Paul, Chef Dino, and the restaurant staff.

Calamari Grillatti

As an appetizer we both had the Calamari Grillatti ($18).The calamari was cooked perfectly.  The best part was the seafood and herb stuffing. I also had one of their signature cocktails, a blue margarita.  They were not shy when adding the tequila to this drink either.  It was delicious. I had two, any more than that I would have had to been carried to the car.
Tagliata Di Manzo

Anatra Con Riso Selvagio

My husband loves steak, so as an entrée he opted for the Tagliata Di Manzo - Prime aged grilled 16 oz New York sirloin steak with potatoes gratin ($48), and I had the Anatra Con Riso Selvagio ($37), which was the leg of duck confit and seared breast with wild rice & raspberry sauce.  The breast, wild rice, and raspberry sauce were amazing.  The leg of duck confit was cooked too done; therefore, it was hard and dry.  The meats for the most part needed a little bit more salt and seasoning.  Otherwise, the meal was good.


After we completed our dinner, we were provided with a complimentary dessert platter.  The platter included, two of each petite-sized dessert item like mini cheesecakes, crème brulee, chocolate mousse, and grapes.  My favorite was the crème brulee.

Overall, we had a great date night in celebration of our 4 year anniversary of marriage.  We still randomly have conversations about the play, Disgraced, and we left Paul’s on Times Square happy with full bellies.  Unfortunately, that’s where the excitement ended because we had to pick up mini me afterwards from her grandma.