Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dining under the Full Moon

There's nothing better than having date night during the week. There's just something about going out during a "school night" that makes it extra special and somewhat adventurous. Earlier this month we had the pleasure of having a spectacular spring dinner at OCEAN2000 inside Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale. Florida.  

Each month, the beachside restaurant hosts a unique event called “An Evening Under the Moon.” Nowhere else in Fort Lauderdale can you dine just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean on sand dunes simply lit by moonlight and a few strategically placed tiki torches. We sat so close to the water that we could actually hear the crashing waves and smell the sea salt. It was glorious. Although the weather was murky all day, the evening brought a cool breeze and soft clouds that made the night incredibly romantic and set the tone for surprises the evening had in store. 

As soon as we arrived, we felt relaxed and at ease at the sophisticated yet laid back hotel with an Old Florida vibe. We began our evening with two glasses of sparkling wine and butler-passed horderves during the cocktail hour on a beautiful terrazo-tiled private balcony. There were three telescopes lined up against the white railings overlooking the gleaming water and night sky. On the night we were there, there was a full moon and it happened to be the night after the blood moon made its appearance. The moon was absolutely breathtaking and awesome. 

Chef Todd Lough prepared a three courses dinner made with fresh ingredients and inspired by the season - a starter, main dish and dessert. In between the starter and the main course, we were treated to a granita to cleanse our pallets. It was hard to choose just one of each dish, but thankfully there's two of us and we get to share and try our two favorite picks. 

We choose the burrata and octopus salad for starters, filet mignon and lamb for the main dish. The soft burrata was served with peppery arugula, crisp yellow tomatoes and balsamic glaze. The octopus was fresh and very tender. The filet mignon and lamb was cooked perfectly.

We shared a chocolate parfait and passion fruit panne cotta for dessert. Panne cotta is one of Mr. P's favorite desserts and he couldn't get enough of it. The parfait was also delicious. The food was just as good as the view and atmosphere. 

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that an astrologist was reading people's auras during the event. Although we can be a bit skeptical of fortune tellers, we took a chance and met with her. Right away, she mentioned that we are both very creative and leaders, not followers. Check, check! Then, she asked us to pick a card from the upside down stack on the table. The card was "The World," which means all of our stars are aligned and we are grateful for our blessings. She said that we have great things in store in 2014 and 2015! We can't wait to find out!

For more information on Pelican Grand Beach Resort, visit www.pelicanbeach.com. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Healthy Turkey Chili

Lately it's been really hot in Miami, which reminds us that beach season is right around the corner! Although it is a little too warm for chili, we still like to treat ourselves to a nice bowl of it every now and then, especially when it won't make us feel guilty for eating it. For a few months now, we have been making small healthy changes that have added up to a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes its the little changes that make the most impact. This recipe is a lighter version of the original beef chili. We promise you won't miss any of the fat or calories from regular chili. This healthy turkey chili will satisfy your family and friends and they won't even know its good for them. All they will notice is how thick and satisfying this dish is, not matter what the weather is like outside!

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions
1 green pepper
8 garlic cloves
3 lb. of ground turkey
2 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
2 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bottles of light beer
1 15 oz. can of black beans
1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans
1 15 oz. can of red kidney beans

Light sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh jalapenos
Fresh tomatoes

Kitchen essentials:
Dutch oven or large pot
Cutting board
Wooden spoon or spatula
Measuring spoons
Can opener

Chop the onions and peppers finely. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven. When the oil is hot, throw in the onion and peppers. Add a little salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Finely chop the garlic and cook for about a minute. Next, add the ground turkey and cook thoroughly. Add some more salt and pepper. It is important to season each layer for intense flavor. 

Once the meat has browned, add the tomato sauce, beer and diced tomatoes. Add the rest of the spices and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is bubbling.  Strain the liquid from the canned beans. Lower the heat and add the beans. Simmer on low for about 45 - 60 minutes and allow the flavors to marry. Stir the chili occasionally. Taste to make sure the seasoning is right. Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, cheddar cheese and cilantro. This turkey chili pairs perfect with warm bread! Enjoy!

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