Girls & Pearls - Jewelry Event with Stella & Dot

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 
Girls & Grapes is one of the many events hosted by my sorority's local alumnae chapter.  It was created because, well, I love wine and suggested that we have a monthly wine tasting!  This monthly event continues to flourish every month (since February 09) as we try new wines and visit different homes for the month.  It is the perfect opportunity for our alumnae membership to try new wines, unwind with great conversation, and indulge in small nibbles provided by the hostess of the month.  It is a pretty casual event - we all bring a bottle that fits with that month's theme, which can be a label color, a region, a certain varietal, or even "bring a bottle with an animal on it!"  Price isn't an issue, as many of us know that we all have our own taste buds to please.

This month, we transformed our G&G to become Girls & Pearls.  My dear friend, ML, is a consultant for Stella & Dot jewelry, brought over a great collection for the women to peruse as they sipped sparkling wines (of course, to match the theme of the jewelry!)  A little love for ML - she is absolutely fantastic at what she does.  Completely honest about what works and what doesn't when it comes to the jewelry that you wear, and I recommend you look at her products!


While we tried on the jewelry and sipped the wine, as hostess, I was able to provide the nibbles for the event.  My dear friend, Fun & Fearless in Beantown, had recently gave me the InStyle Parties entertaining book for my birthday (thank you again!) when I had visited the Boston area.  I was excited to try some of the inspirations with my own spin.  I decided to take concepts and twist into my own (and very simple) for party nibbles.  Here's a look with some details:

So easy - grab a tortilla and spread some goat cheese (I used Chavrie's herbed...oh so good.)   Throw some roasted tomatoes on (cut up some tomatoes, toss with some olive oil & generously salt onto a baking sheet, then bake for about 30 minutes or so in 450 degrees) and chicken (I used grilled with some seasoning, use whatever you like!) onto your cheese covered tortilla, and just like that, chicken roll ups.

Pears.  I'm not a fan of pears, but alas, I gobbled this right up.  Simply put a dab of goat cheese (yes, again Chavrie, I just can't get enough of it lately...) on the pear and wrap prosciutto around.  Simple, and oh so good.

Finally, I quickly whipped up a guacamole dip.  Simply put, took one avocado and mashed it together with some sour cream, added a dab of salt & pepper with parsley (if I had cilantro, I would have substituted) and served with a rainbow of veggies.  Nom.

Maybe 15 minutes total, three simple appetizers to satisfy the girls as we sipped sparkling wine and tried on some jewelry.  And I of course was happy to share and entertain!

Wii Olympics - SK Foundation Fundraising Event

As some of you may know, I am the president of my local alumnae chapter for my national sorority.  My alumnae chapter was the place I found many great friends when I first moved to Indy, and I'm ecstatic that these relationships continue to grow every year.  From our wine tastings to our dinners out, we always have a good time at one of our many planned events.  On a quarterly basis, we hold some sort of fund raising or philanthropic event, and this Saturday was one of my favorites - the Wii Olympics!

All proceeds benefited the SK Foundation, a leading supporter of Alzheimer's Research

This was the first time we hosted this event, and we had some great support not only from our chapter, but friends and local vendors as well.  We held the event at Fox & the Hound, at their Carmel location.  The staff was phenomenal, as they assisted from setting up the Wii's with the best presentation possible, serving delicious food (have you had their new chicken tenders lately?! mmm...) and providing great service (thank you to our server Shannon!!!)  Brenna, the event coordinator for F&H, made the whole planning process as smooth as possible.  AND they donated the grand prize...4 happy hour certificates, valued around $400 total!  Thank you F&H!  If you have any upcoming events and are looking for a great venue, check out F&H.  They'll take good care of you. 

Another shout out to Karen at Holy Cow Cupcakes!  She donated these beautiful cuppies for our one of our prize packages.  If you have never been to HCC, I encourage you to do so!  She's got a variety of cuppies (my fave is the cookie dough) to indulge in, but get there early as they sell fast!  She's a local vendor who participates in the Carmel Farmer's Market, so stop by and say hi once the market's open too.  Until then, you can find her on N. Rangeline.  Just look for the cow in the window! 

Thanks Karen, they were SO well received!

We also had representatives from the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Indianapolis.  SK Foundation is one of the leading supporters, and half of our proceeds will be given to the Alzheimer's Association.  I had some friends come and promote one of their events, QUASH, which is in June this year (think Amazing Race, but for Indianapolis-so much fun! But that is another blog at another time...)  They also donated a prize package - thanks to JK for her help in getting everything together!

Quest to Unravel Alzheimer's Scavenger Hunt (QUASH)

Everyone registered for a low fee and snacked and drank while participating in the three events: bowling, baseball, and golf.  There was even a hole in one during the golf match, and the room erupted in cheers!  Here are some photos to recap:


And after all the playing, eating and drinking, we had our champions, my dear friends JR & MR!  Congrats you two, looking forward to sharing in the grand prize!

All the champions

A big shout out to LDM, our fundraising/philanthropy chair, for all of the hard work she did to make this event a success!  She's such a trouper, ready to have a beautiful baby boy, and I couldn't be more happy for her!  Her work and dedication to our chapter is outstanding - thank you LDM!  And of course, thank you to all the alumnae chapter members who arrived early to set up, assisted with set up, "ran" the games, and of course, participated in the games!

 Just a few of us

Thank you to all who came out for the event!  We had more than 30 people show up and raised just under $300.  We are looking forward to making it even more successful next year, so stayed tuned!

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Jon Pieciul!

Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 
I had the pleasure of flying out to the Boston area this past weekend.  When I graduated from UMass in 2004, I made a promise that I would visit once a year.  Happy to report, I am 6 years strong!  The main reason for my visit East this year was due to Ms. MM's wedding to Mr. JP!

My dearest friend, MR, and her FIANCE PPD let me crash on their couch for the first few nights.  Let me tell you, time with MR is valuable, so I was VERY excited that I had her to veg with all by myself!  We played lots of Wii on Friday (it was rainy, and I had a sore thumb to prove it) while indulging in lots of laugh and great conversation.  PLUS, we even noshed on a love of mine Thursday night (and potentially all Amherst kids a like)...WINGS!

Seriously - so good...

On Friday, I had a lovely dinner with some near and dear friends of mine, including Fun & Fearless in Beantown.  When I get to see these girls, I know life is good.  Of course, time was too short and photos were forgotten, but that happens sometimes when caught up in the moment.  A BIG thank you to those who came out for the shindig!

I made my way to CT on Saturday morning with a few friends who I hadn't seen in quite some time.  It was a beautiful wedding, and the bride was absolutely glowing with love.  I am honored to be a guest at their special day!  A few photos to recap the evening...

I was lucky to stay Sunday night as well, as I was able to spend some lazy time with with DC at her place.  Her roomies included me on a house purchasing celebration and treated me to chocolate covered smores bites.  I was spoiled, especially with True Blood on the tele. 

Unfortunately, all good things had to come to an end on Patriot's Day.  Many of the girls went off to the Red Sox game (jealous!) and I even had a high school friend run the Boston marathon.  If I planned this out, I could have done both!  But alas, I made my way back to the hubs in good old Carmel, Indiana.

A big hug to all of my East coast friends.  Though distance makes visits sparse, I know that you are always a phone call and virtual hug away.  I miss you every day, and cherish the annual visits!

Melting Pot's Birthday Celebration

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 
I love the Melting Pot.  From the cheese (leave it to the Wisconsin girl) to the chocolate and all the flavors in between, I just love it.  Hubs and I frequent at least 6 times a year with two of our besties, the M's, with no excuse to celebrate besides everyday.  So when there is a reason to celebrate, well, it just seems obvious to dine at the MP.  This year's birthday month is upon us (yes, I celebrate the whole month, I'm that girl) and we of course made our reservations.  Props to the hubby, he originally wanted to surprise me, and made mid week reservations.  Always good to go mid week - it isn't really busy, and they have great specials like half priced bottles of wine, martini specials, etc.

 Sneak preview of dessert, but all of us getting ready to enjoy!

A quick tutorial on the MP for all the first timers: It's a fondue restaurant, but don't limit your imagination to just cheese and chocolate.  There are salads and a collection of foods to cook as well.  No kitchens at MPs, only prep stations, because you as the guest get to cook your own food (don't worry, they tell you how long to cook the items.)  You get all kinds of dippers for whatever you are dipping in, and you eat yourself happy.  MP is not only about the food, but the experience.  Whether it is a romantic night out (MP in Indy is usually voted 'most romantic' each year) or a girl's night out, there is always a reason to go.  

Once seated, our server came over and welcomed us while wishing me a happy birthday.  MP is good about celebrations, you get a card and everything.  Plus, if you are part of the Club Fondue, you get a coupon for a free dessert.  And free chocolate is a good things.  But let's focus on Susan, our server.  The service is usually pretty good at MP.  But Susan was top notch.  I will forever request Susan, cause she "got" us and was attentive to our requests.  And you should if you frequent the Castelton location in Indy, request Susan.  Hopefully she'll be there to serve you and your party!

Another great thing about MP - the wine.  Their wine menu is quite extensive, especially bottles.  They normally have a wine flight to compliment their Big Night Out (BNO - more to come on this) and this time was no different.  I always order it, because it is the perfect opportunity to explore new wines that were selected especially for the food I'm about to devour.  This wine flight with Pacific Island flavors and included two whites, neither overly sweet, and one red (which was my favorite.)  I know, vague explanations, but I wouldn't have normally ordered the wines on their own.  Their flavors were good, especially with the cheese, but not something I would normally indulge in (but isn't that why I said I order flights, to try new things?!)

 Poor attempt on my part to capture descriptions, but worth the $9!

Hubs and I always order the Big Night Out (BNO) as it is the complete MP experience.  Each couple (whatever you make for 2 people) receive a cheese to share, salad, a plate full of delicious protein, and dessert for two.  BNO gives you all the staple food that we happen to love for the main course, but with flair. By flair, I mean marinades mostly.  Plus, you can always substitute the cheese, salad and dessert if you don't like the offered courses.  Normally, we will get whatever is offered to try something new, but just once in a while, we'll stick with our "norms" on the main menu.  First timers tip: if there is something you really don't like on the BNO, like you don't eat shrimp, you can usually substitute it for something else on the platter, like more chicken.

We both decided to stick with the cheese that was offered.  Unfortunately, we were so hungry that I have no photos, but let me explain all that was offered.  Going with the Pacific Islands theme, the cheese was called Feng Shui.  We began with a base of white wine, rice wine and sake.  Havarti and gruyere were then melted into the liquid mixture.  But Susan (once again being wonderful) invited us to try their version as well.  This mixed in a bit more horseradish than the original, and some other goodies.  The difference between the two?  In the original, you could taste more sake flavor with a dominant havarti flavor.  The MP's style (also delish) was more about horseradish, just a little more kick with not as much of a creamy taste.  We scraped those two bowls clean (we always get two pots on our table) with the apples, cauliflower, carrots, celery and three kinds of bread.  Trust me, all go perfectly in their own little way with the gooey cheese.  I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Next up, salad.  To go along with Pacific theme, they offered lettuce wraps.  Now, I just had PF Chang's lettuce wraps earlier that week, and they are very hard to compete with.  So, both hubs and I opted out (as did the M's) and selected one of the usual suspects.  

My usual suspect for salad - Spinach Mushroom
I love their mushroom salad, but with a note.  This salad has changed - their "old" mushroom salad was pretty much ALL mushrooms.  I'm not kidding, fungi heaven (it is rumored some MP restaurants will still let you order it if you ask - I've confirmed this at Castleton, as I have ordered it.)  The current salad is a spinach salad with warm burgundy vinaigrette.  Some crispy bacon and red onions on top, you are good to go.  And please do not forget to add the wine & garlic seasoning the MP offers you.  Shake that on, and buy yourself a jar on the way out.  First timers tip: you'll shake it on everything once you get it home.

Hubby got his staple, the California Salad. Mixed greens topped with gorgonzola and tomatoes.  But his love comes in with the dressing - a raspberry walnut vinaigrette.  He could drink it, I'm not kidding (and if you like it, we've found Ken's dressing to be the closest in flavor, it is always in our fridge.)  In addition, you can see how much he loves the wine & garlic seasoning.  Note - it does not come seasoned like that, he is literally just obsessed. 

California Salad, hubs fave.

Salads finished, we were ready for the main course.  For all you newbies, you select a cooking style for the plate of protein love you are about to receive.  When it is just the two of us, he always lets me get the Coq au Vin, which is a bunch of mushrooms, garlic, herbs & spices in a lovely bath of burgundy wine.  He on the other hand loves the Mojo Style, which is citrusy caribbean style bouillon. - a little too citrus for my taste buds.  So when we dine with the M's, it works out perfectly, because they like the same cooking styles as hubs & I.  Thus, the two pot table.  CAV for the girls, Mojo for the guys.  A perfect balance for our main entrees.  First timers tip: these two cooking styles cost more if you get individual entrees, but this is never a problem for us as they are complimentary with BNO's.

Once again, the M's are just like us as the always get the BNO too.  There are three options for BNO, and the both of us always get the Fusion, because it includes a little bit of everything.  From lobster to pork, chicken to beef, shrimp and dumplings, the Fusion has everything to offer.

Do you see all this delicious protein!?

As you will see, there is quite a variety.  What we have at the top are ahi tuna chunks sandwiched between dumplings stuffed with spring veggies.  Moving counter clockwise, you then have some chicken (with chili garlic marinade) and citrus pork tenderloin.  Lobster, sesame teriyaki sirloin and then kiwi lime shrimp.  You cook these bite sized portions in whatever cooking liquid you choose (times vary by product of course) and then gobble them up.  First timers tip: before slathering them with the abundance of condiments (more to come,) I encourage you to taste them in all their glory.

The shrimp, though looking awfully green, had a perfectly balanced lime taste.  The teriyaki steak is always good, especially when cooked to medium rare, as is the chicken, always plump with perfection (though the seasoning wasn't too apparent once cooked.)  Hubs and I normally substitute the pasta option, but in this situation, we decided, eh, why not?! And I was glad we didn't!  They cook fast, but they were light and great addition to the platter.  The tuna was fantastic, as was the lobster.  But the star of this BNO for me was the pork!  It was so delicious with the light citrus marinade.  So once again, try before indulging in the sauces...and I know it is hard when you have them staring at you...

I love condiments as previously mentioned....

Sauces.  I love dipping sauces.  MP gives you SO many to choose from, and once in a while, they even offer a special sauce just for that BNO.  This was one of those cases as we were given the sriracha aioli as well.  Think of a buffalo sauce, but for tuna.  It was perfect for the tuna.  There is also their cocktail sauce (nice and spicy, but not like St. Elmo's in downtown Indy, but still spicy!) and the lovely green goddess.  Go right ahead and order more green goddess (and maybe mushrooms too, see below) cause that stuff is perfect on all the veggies.  My personal fave (which is way in the back, far right of the photo) is the gorgonzola.  It is PERFECT on the steaks...that is, if you aren't putting the teriyaki on them.  And of course, my other fave, the curry.  Perfect for chicken...and pork...and whatever else you want.  There is also a plum sauce, which is new to the MP world about, mmm, maybe 2 years ago?  None of us eat it, but some people really enjoy it on their pork.  Give it gander, you may be one of those who like it.

First timers tip: you also get broccoli, mushrooms and potatoes.  Put those in immediately, especially the potatoes.  They never seem "done" to me, but you may as well give them all the time in the world to cook.  So put potatoes in first, then eat those last (if you still want more food.)  Stuff the mushrooms with the green goddess, and same thing with the broccoli too.  You won't regret it.  But remember, you still have chocolate...yes, there is more, the finale of the event.

Pretty huh?

We decided to try the featured chocolate fondue, the passion fruit yin & yang.  It is a mixture of white chocolate infused with passion fruit, then swirled with dark chocolate.  I was slightly concerned about the passion fruit being overly sweet, but I didn't taste it after the first bite.  We had stirred the two together (using a marshmallow of course) and the only flavor that really remained was dark chocolate (I'm not complaining.)  First timers note: if you have never been, and you like peanut butter, get the original.  SO good.

And of course, the dippers!  A variety of options to choose from: buttery pound cake, creamy cheesecake, soft graham cracker and cookie covered marshmallows, sweet rice crispy treats, and to balance the sweet intake, so bananas and strawberries.  The fruit is my favorite (and the first bite of the cheesecake smothered in chocolate goodness,) so I was sad to see pineapple taken off back in the day.  BUT, if you your stomach allows, dip to your hearts content.  And if you still need more, just ask.  Servers are happy to bring out more so you can gobble all that chocolate (and don't forget to dip your after dinner mint too!)

Yippee for birthday's!

Will I go back?  Well, it should be obvious that I already do on a semi regular basis.  I always look forward to dining at the MP, whether it is a special celebration or just one of great friends (and that my friends, is special in itself.)  I'm sure the hubs would recommend their Chairman of the Board martini as well.  If you like dirty martinis and bleu cheese mushrooms, you are in for a treat.

And remember, ask for Susan.

Scotty's Lakehouse: A Burger Joint

Monday, April 12, 2010 - 
I've always been a fan of Scotty's Brewhouse.  Hubs like to think we discovered it back in the day (the location on 96th Street,) and since then, the restaurant has expanded several locations.  But now, a new twist for Mr. Scott Wise - his Lakehouse, a burger joint.

Near the Geist reservoir, the Lakehouse is at the perfect location for all the Fisher's folks.  Hubby and I attended a wedding (my dear friend The Daily Sweatpants will post this lovely info) earlier that day, and surprisingly were left with an early and free evening.  So we headed to the Lakehouse, as we've been wanting to try since it opened about a month ago.

Thank goodness for their call ahead seating, as we shaved a good 45 minutes off our wait - the restaurant was packed!  After 10 minutes, we were escorted to our outdoor table.  We had requested outdoor seating thinking there would be some fantastic views, but alas, all we saw was the parking lot.  Eating al fresco is one of my favorite things in the whole world though, so I was happy, especially as there were only a few tables outside.

 100% Certified (paper menus, nice touch with the famous towel napkins)

Scotty's Lakehouse is considered a burger joint, a different twist from the other Scotty locations.  I was craving a burger, so I knew we were at the right spot.  We ordered some draft Sun King beverages to start off with, which were delivered very quickly (thank you server Chris!)  I personally ordered the Cream Ale, and couldn't help but smack my lips. So good.  Hubs got the Scottish Ale, a great creamy taste, but wasn't too heavy.  However, I was smitten with my Cream Ale.

Draft Cream Ale = Delicious.  Thank you Sun King!

It was the perfect light beverage (but not too light, don't think commercial, this is after all a fantastic microbrew my friends) to compliment our appetizer, the 7 Tidals Dip, which is served at all Scotty's locations.  It is their version of buffalo chicken dip - perfectly spicy taste that is cooled with the celery and chips that it is served with.  I'm not going to elaborate on this too much, because, well, we really went for the burgers.

None of the burgers have names, so you order by number.  I had a hard time deciding, as did the hubs, so we decided on our top 3, then each picked one from that so we could do the honorable split.  That way, you get to try two, and that makes me a happy girl (for all those who know me, I like to try everything.)  I ordered a number 6, which consisted of a bleu cheese coleslaw (maytag blue I believe,) french fries and garlic mayo.  I was surprised to see french fries are actual french wedges, and that was slightly disappointing.  Only because it gave the burger a much more potato taste (french fries are usually really crisp, while wedges can be more soft.)  The coleslaw was great, and individually, so was the garlic mayo.  I love me some garlic, so it was a great creamy compliment to the wedges.  I had ordered the burger medium well, and it was definitely well done, but I didn't let that deter me from eating my delicious half.

Mmm...number 6...

Hubs ordered number 3, which out of the two burgers, was my favorite.  Smoked Gouda (especially when local, as this was Indiana Gouda) and applewood smoked bacon is a great marriage.  What happens when you slap a perfectly fried egg on top?  A match made in heaven.  The fried egg was perfect, not overly done, but with a nice crisp edge and tender yolk.  I also want to thank Mr. Wise as he has now made my hub appreciate the concept of eggs and ketchup.  A firm believer that "ketchup shouldn't touch an egg," he couldn't disagree that the chipotle ketchup brought a nice kick to bring the whole burger together. 

Thank you for allowing me to win the 'egg & ketchup' battle

 The fries and mac (which I will need to get next time I am there) are dubbed "burgers bff" at the Lakehouse, so how could we pass that up?  Despite needing anymore food, we took the bait and decided to share the Indiana Loaded fries.  Once again, wedges, not fries, were part of the deal, but in this case scenario, I like.  Loaded (again) with local Indiana Gouda and 2-year aged cheddar, the loading continued with bacon crumbs.  And of course, one of my favorite accompaniment of fries - ranch.  Creamy goodness to bring the oh so good loaded fries to their highest potential.

Do you see the cute little fryer basket they were delivered in?  Nice touch Scotty, nice touch.

Did I like the Lakehouse?  Absolutely.  Next time, I'll have to get some mac.  And now I know my food limit, because I was indeed full.   If you haven't had a burger from Scotty's, you should visit the Lakehouse.

Other plug - I have to admit, my fave burger from Scotty's is still the Shewman Special on the Brewhouse menu.  Oh man, oh so good.  Don't gripe with peanut butter being on the don't want to pass this burger up.  So if you can't make it to Fishers, go to Scotty's either way.  Get the Shewman.  Trust me, you'll love it.