Busch Gardens with the Fam!

29 10 2012

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, mostly work-related. I can’t believe it is almost November! What’s even crazier to me is that stinkin’ hurricane causing a raucous up north. My hometown is directly in it’s path, so I’m keeping all my friends in my prayers. Stay safe friends!

Thankfully, my family is down here visiting me! My parents and brother came into town on Tuesday and they planned on staying until today (Monday). Unfortunately, all flights in and out of Atlantic City have been cancelled, so they have to stay down here until Thursday! Too bad we have a cold front coming in. I guess a few cool-weather Florida days is better than windy/wet/powerless/cold NJ hurricane days.

On Friday, I took off work so we could spend the day at Busch Gardens! I think the last time I was here my dad was pushing me around in a stroller. I didn’t remember much about the park, but I knew it had a bunch of roller coasters. What I didn’t realize was there are animals all over the park, like a big (expensive) zoo.

We spent the day walking the park and checking out the animals. I was so exhausted from my week at work that I wasn’t really in a coaster-riding mood. I’ll need to go back with my thrill-seeking friends!

Especially if I plan to ride this thing:

uhhhh…Maybe not.

The park is smaller than the parks in Orlando, but walking around and seeing all of the animals took up the entire day. I don’t know how you’d have time to get on all of the rides and see the animals in one day!

I finally got to see Florida gators up close and in person!

And I saw a baby kangaroo nursing!

There are a lot of opportunities at Busch Gardens to get within inches of the animals.

One of which was the safari ride, which was a discounted $20 for the month of October.

This was probably my favorite part of the day, because we really got up close and personal with the animals. I’m sure it doesn’t really compare to a real African safari, but for $20, it was well worth the 30 minutes of riding around and seeing the animals in their “natural” habitat.



And the best part? We got to feed the giraffes! They knew that tours=food, because they walked right up and stuck their heads into the back of the truck.

We fed them leaves of lettuce for about 10-15 minutes, posed for pictures, and then said goodbye to our new friends.

We spent the rest of the day meandering through “Nairobi,” “Timbuktu,” “Jungala,” and the other sections of the park. I loved seeing the big cats (duh), and we watched the gorillas for quite some time.  One stood on a rock beat his chest all tarzan-like, and a few of the others were chasing each other. One even ran up to the window and loudly banged his fists on the glass, which was a little startling! I’m glad that glass was sturdy!


Watching them made me wonder what it would be like to be going about your business, but you’re being watched by these weird creatures who take pictures and point and stare?

Speaking of “business,” we saw (and heard) a giant tortoise handling some of, uh, his own business. Who knew tortoises grunt and groan?

There’s just no privacy, I tell ya!

And on that note, I’ll leave you with my favorite picture of the day:


Happy Monday friends!

Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

22 10 2012

Hello! Hope you all had a great weekend! Sorry I’ve been a lil MIA, work has got me pretty busy right now.
I wanted to pop in to say hi and tell you about these fabulous new tortilla chips by Garden of Eatin‘.

A little while ago, the company contacted me to see if I would like to review their newest tortilla chips, Sprouted Blues and Sweet Potato. I’m a huge sweet potato fan-I’ll swap sweet potato fries for regular fries any day- and I love tortilla chips, so I jumped at the chance.

I’m also a fan of the Garden of Eatin’ company. They pride themselves on using all natural, all organic ingredients.

Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips: Prepared with premium quality organic yellow corn and organic sweet potato that can be seen and savored in each chip, Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips provide 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per serving.  Like all Garden of Eatin’ products, Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips are made without any genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. In addition, the new flavor is kosher and certified gluten-free.

That sounds pretty good to me!

I can’t shouldn’t eat an entire bag by myself, so I saved the chips for the night I hosted book club at my house. I made my favorite pork tacos, Courtney made some homemade salsa, Meghann cooked up some kale, and Jess brought the sangria.

The chips were a little crushed from traveling in the mail, but I managed to grab some of the bigger pieces to have with my meal. It was love at first bite! They were slightly sweet, with just the right balance of sweet potato and corn. I could definitely taste both! I dipped a few in the salsa, but I honestly preferred them plain; they didn’t need anything to add to the flavor. By the end of the night, all that was left of the chips were a few crumbs. I guess the chips were a hit 🙂 I’ve already purchased another bag; I think I might keep these all to myself! Thanks for the chips, Garden of Eatin’!

While on the topic of sweet potatoes, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite sweet potato recipes! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Doughnuts

Lime Lover’s Nachos

Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin

How Sweet Eats Sweet Potato Cream Pasta

Mama Pea’s Spicy African Stew

Note: Garden of Eatin’ provided me with the chips, but the opinions are my own 🙂

Question of the day: What is your favorite sweet potato recipe? (Link below!)

Moroccan Spiced Pizza!

10 10 2012

So the other day I was reading my friend Meghann’s blog, and she wrote a post that I think could win an award for most creative use of leftovers. She made a pizza with brussel sprouts, feta, walnuts, and soup. Yes, I said soup!

Not gonna lie, but my initial thought was one of skepticism- I assumed that the soup would make the dough soggy and the pizza would be gross. But there was no mention of soggy crust, and I pushed my negative thoughts aside. I love all of the ingredients independently, so why not put them together?

Her post was enough to get my creative juices flowing. If soup works as a “sauce,” what else could I use?

Flashback to Mary’s Fourth of July party. One of her friends made a delicious Moroccan carrot dip, and I’ve been dying to make it ever since. I’m a big fan of Moroccan spices- cumin, cinnamon, YUM! and I happened to have a bag of shredded carrots.

The dip’s consistency was a little thicker than a soup, so I figured it would be a great “sauce” for my pizza. I’ve seen red peppers and raisins in other Moroccan dishes, so I decided they’d be two of my toppers, along with some caramelized shallots and pine nuts.

I had no idea what kind of cheese would go well on the pizza. I considered paneer because it is so mild, but then I opted for goat, mostly because I love goat cheese and I had some in the fridge.

Oh, and why not take it up a notch and make the dough extra special?

I followed Ashley’s recipe for pumpkin garlic knots (which I also made for a pumpkin themed Eating Club almost two years ago!)

Topped with fresh cilantro after the pizza comes out of the oven, this baby knocked my socks off.

Yeah baby. Not gonna lie, I ate almost half the pie in one sitting. It was THAT. GOOD.

I definitely learned a lesson in creativity in the kitchen, and it paid off! Thanks for the inspiration Meghann!

Moroccan Spiced Pizza


Pumpkin Pizza Dough
Moroccan Carrot Dip (I halved the recipe and left out the olives)
1 red pepper, cut into strips,  ~1/8 or 1/4 inch thick
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins, rehydrated slightly
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 oz goat cheese (leave out for a vegan pizza)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Note: my measurements for the raisins, pine nuts, goat cheese, and cilantro are approximate. I was just topping the pizza with what I liked. It’s your pizza, put what you want on it!

How to:

Start by making the dough. While it is rising, you can make the carrot dip and start to caramelize the shallots. When the shallots are done, saute the peppers so they are warmed through.

When you’re ready to make your pizza (aka the dough has finished rising, you’ve got the sauce made, and your shallots have caramelized), preheat the oven to 425°F.

Top your pizza with the sauce, the peppers, the shallots, the raisins, the pine nuts, and the goat cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is starting to brown. The cheese will start to brown too.

Take it out of the oven, and top with freshly chopped cilantro.