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Restaurant Review – Chincoteague Diner

Yesterday I was directed to an article on The Huffington Post that mentioned my home, Chincoteague, in it’s compilation of America’s Best Little Beach Towns. We’re definitely use to the attention of small town seekers and tourist/vacationers truly love our home. However, While reading the snippet on the slide I realized I had not been to the restaurant mentioned.

The author, Tom Austin said:

The Chincoteague Diner is a welcome destination after a long day on the beach. Fill up on baskets of fried seafood (flounder, scallops, shrimp) or barbequed baby back ribs.

Instead of cooking the chicken I had planned for dinner I decided we were going out to eat. After all, I had to see what made this place worthy of being the sole eatery mentioned in this article.

We arrived at the diner, which was undergoing some construction. It looks like they’re building a deck on the front which could be a good or bad thing. I’m sure many visitors will want to eat outside, checking out the scenery.

Restaurant Review - Chincoteague Diner

Walking in to the establishment we were greeted in a very friendly manner, which is always a plus. A bar on our right and a dessert freezer on our left the diner really had a pleasant and inviting atmosphere. The first thing I noticed was the smell. While I wished it had been of the food being prepared, instead it was the smell of a just cleaned room. There were only a handful of diners among us so the busboy was doing a lot of cleaning. I do appreciate a clean eating environment but it’s not something I crave when I walk in. I want to be hit by the smell of the food that is being served.

We were given our menus and our drink order was taken and served; my son immediately ordered an appetizer – Mega Fries. My boy does love his bacon. The description was “Fries smothered with a blend of cheeses and bacon served with ranch dressing on the side.” When the fries came out it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. More like a couple slices of Mozzarella melted on a pile of fries with some chopped up bits of bacon (which was cooked perfectly.) I had to ask for the ranch dressing since that didn’t arrive with the dish.

Restaurant Review - Chincoteague Diner

We each ordered our meals; my son ordered a meat lovers omelette (breakfast is served all day which is music to his ears), John the Beef Liver & Onions and I ordered the Broiled Stuffed Seafood Combo. I also ordered a cup of soup – Manhattan Clam Chowder is my favorite soup and I was excited they offered it.

The serving time was great, and I immediately dipped into my soup to compare to some of my favorites. As soon as I tasted it I was met with a familiar flavor. Lipton Chicken noodle soup – the kind with packets in a box. I loved that stuff as a kid, but didn’t expect my clam chowder to taste like it. While it was edible it wasn’t anywhere near the best.

Once our meals arrived we were excited to dig in. New restaurants always excite me. I wasn’t overly impressed with my meal. I’ve ordered similar dishes at other restaurants and what I received wasn’t close. On my plate were 2 scallops on top of a pile of crab meat and filler, 1 shrimp on top of the same crab meat and filler and a rolled up fillet of flounder filled with yet the same stuff. Despite my initial disappointment I began to sample the dish. Since scallops are my all time favorite seafood I tried them first. I was expecting the sweet, succulent taste I’ve come to expect from scallops but instead got a mouthful of old bay and other seasonings. The seasoning wasn’t overwhelming but it was the only discernible flavor. The scallops were flavorless and no doubt from a frozen state.

Restaurant Review - Chincoteague Diner

From there I tried the crab meat, which while wasn’t bad, was also nothing to rave about. There was an equal amount of filler (bread crumbs) as crab meat which is highly disappointing. It was also greasy and dense which I have never experienced when eating crab meat. I picked up the shrimp which was sitting atop a pile of crab. While the shrimp seemed to be stuffed with the crab meat, as soon as I picked it up the crab meat fell out. I couldn’t bring myself to try the shrimp so I moved on to the flounder. The flounder and the scallop were similar in taste as the only discernible flavor was old bay. I can’t say 100%, but I honestly believe the seafood on my plate (including the crab meat) was frozen and/or from a can. Completely void of any other flavor I had no other option but to order something else.

I ordered the Hot Roast Beef and Gravy Open Face sandwich. The sandwich was topped with loads of thinly sliced roast beef which was tender, juicy and flavorful. The gravy was a little too oniony and slightly sweet, but good. It was a much better meal than my previous, which our waitress removed from the bill.

John and Dameon both enjoyed their meals. They were quite what they want from a restaurant, but there were minimal complaints. For me, the seafood was not at all acceptable – especially when you live on an island that is well known for its seafaring roots.

My overall opinion on the Chincoteague Diner is they have some work to do. When I go out to eat I want good food. I want food that is prepared fresh and with dignity. Much, if not all, of what we were served was from a frozen or pre-packaged state. It wasn’t a great first impression so I’m not sure why The Huffington Post saw fit to list them as their sole eatery. The waitstaff was great – friendly and accommodating. The prices are wonderful for the Island, but the quality of food isn’t something I’d pay for outside of a grocery store. I’m hesitant to go back and try other menu items as I don’t feel it will be any better.

The images in this post are courtesy of my son and his Nintendo 3DS.

Memorable Mornings from the Strawberry Creek Inn Review

From the first moment you open Memorable Mornings from the Strawberry Creek Inn,  the author, Rodney Williams, invites you into his life. You’re introduced to him, his family and his highly raved about Strawberry Creek Inn. Just do a search for Strawberry Creek Inn and you’re given results from top travel sites recommending the Strawberry Creek Inn. There was even a movie filmed there, From Grace! Memorable-Mornings-from-the-Strawberry-Creek-Inn

Memorable Mornings from the Strawberry Creek Inn boasts recipes for breakfast favorites served up at the Strawberry Creek Inn. Recipes for meals like Basil-Cheddar Egg Puffs and Shrimp and Grits adorn the pages of this book. These are recipes that have that touch of southern tradition and love that I’m all about. Each recipe comes with its own story on why it’s special and/or how it originated. The recipes are all easy to follow with special attention being paid to the details. I’ve made a few so far and each has not only been a success, but allowed me to experience what I can only imagine guests experience every morning. Memorable-Mornings-from-the-Strawberry-Creek-Inn-1

Memorable Mornings from the Strawberry Creek Inn makes the perfect coffee table book as the pictures are phenomenal.  Mouth watering photography is found on every page capturing the pure essence of those mornings at the Strawberry Creek Inn. The first few pages of recipes were enough to put a visit to the Strawberry Creek Inn at the top of my bucket list.

This 11″ x 11″ coffee-table book is a wonderful addition to any room you entertain in. It makes a nice conversation piece and anyone who flips through it will most definitely be impressed. Sandra Hale does an amazing job of capturing the savory, succulent and pallet pleasing meals that leave people raving from their stay at the Strawberry Creek Inn. And, these meals really are amazing! I’ve made a few recipes from the book and each turned out amazing. My family raves every time we have a breakfast from this book. Memorable-Mornings-from-the-Strawberry-Creek-Inn-2

You can get your copy of Memorable Mornings from the Strawberry Creek  Inn here. You can also stay up to date on all Strawberry Creek Inn news and photos by connecting with Rodney & Ian on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All thoughts are my own.

Thrive Frozen Nutrition Review

Have you ever tried a meal replacement bar that promised a delicious experience only to be disappointed? Chances are high that you have and let’s face it – not many meal replacements are actually tasty. Sure, some are better than others but still nothing great. If I’m replacing a meal with something I want it to be worth it; and not just because it has fewer calories, fat and/or carbs.

I’m always open to new things but there’s not much new with meal replacement bars. You can wrap them in pretty paper, throw in a few different ingredients but most still taste like you’re eating a cardboard box, am I right? There’s not much motivation to keep eating them regardless of how convenient they are.

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The people behind Thrive must have heard the complaints and pleas for a non-cardboard based meal replacement because they delivered. For almost 10 years Thrive has been developing something special to replace your regular meal replacement. Not only does this meal replacement have tons of vitamins and minerals but it’s actually enjoyable to eat. In 1 serving of the frozen nutrition that is Thrive you’ll get:

  • as much protein as an egg (at least 9 grams)
  • as much calcium as a cup of milk
  • as much potassium as a banana
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 25% of the daily recommended amounts of 24 vitamins and minerals
  • 4 different strains of probiotic

The fact that Thrive is an ice cream like product makes it the perfect vehicle for anyone to get the nutrition they need without sacrificing the things they love. Thrive is available in Milk Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate Fudge flavors. I would compare Thrive to a frozen yogurt before an ice cream. The smooth, creamy texture is so similar to fro-yo you wont be able to notice the difference. Thrive-ice-cream

I can’t think of anything negative to say about Thrive, it blew my socks off. The only issue I’ve found is a bit of a gritty texture if it melts; but it doesn’t normally stick around long enough to actually melt.

As far as taste goes Thrive is out of this world. Forget any meal replacement product you’ve put in your mouth before. There is so much flavor and I’m talking about real flavor – not the artificial, fake wannabe flavors. Thrive is the real deal and my son doesn’t want to eat anything else. He begs to have it for dinner and I will admit I gave in one night. It leaves you feeling full – but in a good way – and without the guilt.

Shop & Connect with Thrive

If you’re sick of eating cardboard, need something tasty on the go, have trouble getting the nutrition you need or have picky eaters Thrive is the answer. I can highly recommend Thrive to anyone and everyone and yes, it really is that good! Thrive is still being introduced so if it isn’t available near you you can order it online. You can also connect with Thrive on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest news and products.

 

I received samples of Thrive to try to give an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

Spice Lab Gourmet Sea Salts Review & Cheddar Biscuits Recipe

A salt by any other name would smell as sweet… wait, that’s not right.

When it comes to salt there are 2 types of people: The people who think all salts are created equal and the people who realize how diverse various salts really are. I used to be that first type and refused to jump on the sea salt bandwagon. I figured it was just another gimmick to get people to spend more money. Then, call it chance or fate, I found a sale on sea salt at the grocery store. Not one to pass up a sale I grabbed several bottles and proceeded to check out. I don’t remember what I was hoping to accomplish, but it was probably something to do with debunking the myth that sea salt was better than regular table salt. spices

Needless to say I’m now a sea salt person; a salt aficionado if you will. I have a deep appreciation and enthusiasm when it comes to salt and haven’t had regular table salt in my home in years. When I was given the chance to get creative with the Pacific Collection from The Spice Lab a million ideas started running through my head. I mean, how could I not when presented with salts like Szechuan Pepper Sea Salts from China or Chardonnay Oak Smoked Fumee de Sel from France?! There was also Hawaiian Bamboo Jade Fine Sea Salt, Murray River Pink Flake River Salt from Australia, Hawaiian Pink Passion Fine Sea Salt and Japanese Aguni Island Sea Salt from Japan.

Before doing anything with the salts I popped out the {all natural} cork from the ridiculously cute test tubes each salt came in. I smelled each salt and then tasted a granule or 4 from each. I want to share my observations with you. Is there a name for someone who tastes salt?! If not there definitely should be. The-Spice-Lab-Gourmet-Sea-Salt

  • Szechuan Pepper

Fragrance – Peppery with a hint of a woodsy aroma.
Flavor – Very mild saltiness with a delightful bite.

  • Hawaiian Bamboo Jade:

Fragrance – Somewhat citrus – kind of like limes.
Flavor – Very light with a herb like flavor.

  • Murray River Pink Flake:

Fragrance – Similar to the aroma of pepper, but not as prominent.
Flavor – Distinctly salty with a bold, lingering flavor.

  • Chardonnay Oak Smoked:

Fragrance – Hearty and woodsy salt with a slight sweet undertone.
Flavor – A pungent flavor that isn’t overly salty. It actually leaves you wanting more.

  • Hawaiian Pink Passion:

Fragrance – Fruity is the first aroma that hits you when smelling this sea salt. Afterwards you’re left with a slightly sweet undertone.
Flavor – A wonderful blend of sweet and salty. It’s fresh and not overwhelming.

  • Japanese Aguni Island:

Fragrance – Crisp and Clean.
Flavor  – Probably the most salt flavor of the 6 sea salts in the collection. It’s a bold salty, not an overwhelming set your mouth on fire salty.

To say these aren’t your typical, run of the mill salts is an understatement. These salts are to cooks what roses are to florists – a needed component to create something amazing.

I’ve been experimenting with these salts and using them in various recipes. The Chardonnay Oak Smoked salt brought my mushroom & onion gravy to life! I had never made hamburger steaks that were so savory. The Hawaiian Bamboo Jade salt went into my Oyster & Sausage Stuffing and John couldn’t stop eating that. The-Spice-Lab-Gourmet-Sea-Salt1

I used the Szechuan Pepper salt to add some zing to my cheddar biscuits (recipe below) and they came out fantastic. The subtle hints of pepper and salt dance together and playfully tease the taste buds. I can’t wait to create even more with these salts – I see a cake in the future for the Hawaiian pink passion and stir fry with the Japanese Aguini Island!

Cheddar Biscuits Recipe
Author: Amber
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1? tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • ? teaspoon Szechuan Pepper
  • 3 tablespoons shortening, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet.
  2. In a large bowl or food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  3. Beat in the butter and shortening until uniform.
  4. Add in the cheese and milk and blend until wet and doughy.
  5. Knead the dough (it will be sticky) 6 times and pull pieces off and form biscuits. They don’t have to (and really shouldn’t) be perfectly shaped.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. When the biscuits come out, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the garlic powder and parsley. Simmer for 5 minutes and brush on the still warm biscuits.

These salts are incredible and so much more than just salt. They’re the paint that completes a canvas. Have you ever tasted something only to realize it was missing something. Something you couldn’t quite put your finger on? That’s where the Spice Lab Gourmet Sea Salts come into play. They give you that little something you’re missing. spices 4

Shop & Connect with Spice Lab Gourmet Sea Salts

There are so many varieties available from The Spice Lab and checking out the reviews on Amazon they’re a huge hit. I can’t wait to check out the other collections for myself and I can highly recommend you try these for yourself! You can shop for Spice Lab Gourmet Sea Salts website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter

Clean Up with Windex Touch Up Cleaner

touch-up

When John and I got our first home together I made the joke “I don’t do windows.” I really dislike cleaning, but I hate cleaning windows – especially those that are high up. Of course I do clean them, and I’ve always used Windex to get the job done. It’s a brand I trust and puts less work on me.

Windex has come out with a great new product called Touch Up Cleaner.  Cleaning your kitchen and bathroom has never been easier.  Windex Touch Up Cleaner is an antibacterial meant to stay near the action, so that you can keep a bottle in your bathroom and kitchen…  The bottle is designed to be up close and personal in the action to make cleaning that much easier for you, which is always a plus in my book.

 Windex Touch Up Cleaner

My cutting board before Windex Touch Up Cleaner

 

Windex-Touch-Up-Cleaner-Before

I use the kitchen cleaner to wipe down my cutting board between prep work. It has a lovely citrus scent (hence the name Glistening Citrus®) that leaves the entire kitchen smelling like lemon. I love that smell (yea, I’m slightly obsessed with lemons.) John spent an extra amount of time in the kitchen just sniffing – it was one of those you had to be there moments.

These cleaners don’t just smell great though, they’re also easy to use!  Just push down on the pump to apply the solution to the paper towel, rag, or whatever you are using to clean, and rub down your surfaces, and voila!  Clean in just one easy step, and you don’t have to cart it with you into the next room, because there will already be a bottle waiting there for you!

 Windex Touch Up Cleaner

My cutting board after Windex Touch Up Cleaner

 

Windex-Touch-Up-Cleaner-After Cleaning and sanitizing can now be achieved quickly and easily.  Use it on your most used surfaces to get a shine you haven’t seen in years.  Your counter tops will sparkle, your mirrors will be super shiny, and more!  All of this from a small bottle, that is compact enough to leave sit on a window sill if you want!  That way you can get the grimy toothpaste off of your mirrors in the mornings (and give your husband NO excuse not to do it himself!)

The great action of Windex in a general cleaner for any dirty surface!  Nothing beats the power of Windex!

Have you tried Windex Touch Up Cleaner yet?  If so, what did you think?

You can find  Windex Touch Up Cleaner at your local grocery, drug, hardware, and discount stores in the U.S. At just $3.99 you can’t beat it! You can also connect with Windex on Facebook.