Adventures in Wine & Recipe

In a one week span (a couple of weeks ago), I was lucky enough to hang out with this fun group of women TWICE! Considering we normally all get together only once a month, this was a treat.

Our first adventure was a 30th birthday outing for Mel in Milwaukee. We all decided we do not utilize this city nearly enough with how close it is to Madison/Sun Prairie.

We met at Mel’s house on Saturday morning at 9am to kick off the weekend right: bloodies and mimosas (obv virgin mimosas for Jena and I). The drive to Milwaukee was fast, and we arrived at Lakefront Brewery for our tour (my second brewery tour as a pregnant person).

The tour was lots of fun – our guide had a great sense of humor, and with it being Mel’s birthday weekend, she wasn’t shy getting involved.

At the end in the tasting room, you can exchange your plastic cup for a pint glass. I love drinking out of these, so I was happy to add another beer glass to our everyday use collection. Classy stuff around here.

It was way past lunchtime by the time we left Lakefront (hello extra drinking tokens from two pregnant ladies), so once arrived at The Wicked Hop, we ordered a bunch of more substantial appetizers to share. The bloodies were also meals within themselves – check out all of those goodies! The marinated mushrooms were the best.

Cheers to Mel!

We were in the Third Ward, which has some cute shops and boutiques. We shopped for a few hours, and I found a bright neon orange and white stripped infinity scarf for $15. Almost everyone bought at least one thing – Laura actually walked away with an entire outfit from various shops.

Post-shopping pic on the hotel stairs – Laura’s in the front with the dark hair and all the bags

After some eating, drinking, and gift-opening at the hotel, everyone got gussied up for a nice dinner (and I cannot remember the name of the restaurant now – pregnancy brain?). Three of the ladies weren’t spending the night, so they took off after dinner while the five of us – Mel, Jena, Emily, Nicole, and myself – went to The Oaks, a small but very club-like bar.

One NA drink later, Jena and I called it a pregnant night and walked back to the hotel. The remaining three party animals hit up The Whiskey Bar and closed it down, not coming home until after 3am. Damn impressive ladies!

It was a super fun weekend, and spending so much time with a group of friends like that made me feel like I was in college again…just sober and/or not hungover.

Four days later, we were all reunited for a monthly Wine & Recipe night for our second adventure. Steph hosted and chose the theme “Caribbean/Tropical.” Very timely considering the crap weather we’ve been having.

I failed to take any pictures but I will share a few recipes, starting with mine.

Because I’m still on my “chicken-breasts-make-me-wanna-gag” thing, I felt compelled to go with a pork recipe. While I could’ve done an app or dessert, I really prefer bringing main dishes. I turned to a favorite recipe blog, Skinnytaste, and was not disappointed.

Slow Cooked Pork with Caribbean Salsa was a winner. Even Brody liked it!

Photo from link above
I’m glad I re-read the recipe the day before because it does require you to marinate the pork for at least five hours before putting it in the slow cooker. As the picture shows, I also served mine over brown rice but as leftovers had it in a whole wheat tortilla. Last thing: I didn’t have the specific jerk seasoning Gina used but found a jerk seasoning at my local grocery store for $5.

Other all-stars from the night were Mel’s tropical quinoa salad and Amber’s coconut banana bread. While the the bread recipe is not the exact one she used, it’s pretty close, and I know to trust anything coming from America’s Test Kitchen.

The weather outside was not even close to tropical, but the fun eats and umbrellas in our water glasses made us forget about that. Too bad Steph couldn’t have brought a heat lamp into her dining room or passed around self-tanner.

Before the night ended, the three of us pregnant ladies took a photo because, interestingly enough, we all wore basically the same outfit. Actually Amber and I had on the exact same top from Target!

When this was taken, Amber was 34 weeks (gender unknown), I was 31 (with a girl), and Jena was 25 (with a boy).

It was such a fun week being with these ladies, and it made me look forward to our monthly get together all the more.

Do you have a regular get together? Book or dinner club? Scrapbooking or stamping group? Weekly runs with a group?
Thoughts on brewery tours? Best ones around you?
Of the recipes I shared, which one would you be most likely to make?

Good Eats from the Weekend

Welcome to Monday (evening) people! (Do you ever wish there was a punctuation mark of the intensity between a period and an exclamation mark? I do.)

My day felt a little off today because I took off of work on Friday. If you are a teacher, you understand the disarray you can come back to after a sub, even if the sub is great, the lesson plans go accordingly, and the kids behave. When I first started teaching, I would think about school the whole day; I would even call or email teacher-friends to check in on my room. Now I am able to let go and trust that everything will be fine.

Thinking back over my weekend, I realized how much amazing (and kind of unhealthy) food I ate. With friends in town and it being my birthday weekend, I didn’t show much restraint. Plus, running gives me good reason to take in a few more calories.

1. Dairy Queen Butterfinger Blizzard
Once my friend Rena, her mom, and her sister were all in town, I suggested Dairy Queen. Luckily, they all agreed! I saw Kathleen’s Butterfinger Blizzard sometime last week and it stayed with me. It was the perfect birthday treat.

*still not good about bringing my camera places…will get better, I swear

2. Scrambler at Bluephies
After Crazylegs, my grumpiness was soon cured with a coffee, a horseradish Bloody Mary, and an egg scrambler. I ordered the Popeye (spinach, tomato, and feta) with Egg Beaters; it came with wheat toast and shredded potatoes. They let me in despite all of my sweatiness, stinkiness, and saltiness (although I did have a wardrobe change in the bathroom of the vodkatorium).

3. Bibimbap at Graze
Brody has gotten this dish many times before and raves about it. It includes crispy rice, sautéed spinach, winter vegetables, bean sprouts, sunny-side up egg, chili paste, and marinated tofu or pork. Mmmm…this was so good! I ate it all but saved room for dessert. My friend Rena and I chose the chocolate peanut butter cheesecake for the table to split, but after everyone else (four other people) took a bite, Rena and I polished it off. Oh, and my drink! While I don’t drink a lot of liquor, I do enjoy anything with gin and grapefruit juice. I ordered the Marquez Collins which obviously had those two liquids but then topped with red wine, all over ice. It was a lovely dinner experience, as it always is at Graze.

4. Steak and pie at home
Brody was MIA for most of the weekend eating due a hockey tournament, but he made up for it Sunday night. I requested steak for my birthday dinner and the best place around us is Jacobson Bros (they also make killer potato salad). We picked up two bacon-wrapped filets before swinging by Market Street Diner for a sweet treat (Brody doesn’t bake). I chose a slice of turtle pie and Brody got carrot cake. When we ate around 7:30, we accompanied the steak with roasted veggies (potatoes, sweet potato, onion, and fennel).


After a weekend of indulgences, it is time to clean things up a little. Fortunately I have frozen mango in the freezer, which as I’ve said, helps me avoid chocolate at night.

See you again soon!

What were some of your yummy eats from this weekend?
What tricks or strategies do you have for cleaning up after an indulgent weekend?