Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Salute to America for $1.99

It's that time of the year again. Backyard BBQs, picnics, gatherings, fireworks, parades and the whole family decked out in red, white and blue. Yup, that's right. The 4th of July weekend is just around the corner! Not only is it a great time to get together with family and friends, but it's also a time for Americans to celebrate the independence of their beloved country.


Starting 30th June, 2009, Amazon will release the digital album " A Salute To America" by 101 String Orchestra. This as an amazing collection of 30 Patriotic favorites that is perfect for your 4th Of July celebrations! You can purchase this digital album for $9.49 or $0.99 for EACH song if you were to download them individually. It features songs like America the Beautiful, God Bless the USA, America, You're a Grand Old Flag as well as all time folk favorites like Red River Valley, Yellow Rose of Texas, Old Folks at Home and much much more! All songs are in MP3, 256 kbps format and plays on your iPod or any other MP3 player. Isn't that a good deal?

But wait, it only gets better! On July 3, 2009, Amazon MP3 will offer a "MP3 Deal Of The Day" for this digital album. It's a one day only sale where you can download the ENTIRE album for $1.99!! That's right...$1.99!!! That's a savings of nearly $28 if you were to buy each song separately. How much more amazing can it get? So what are you waiting for? Head over to Amazon and check out this awesome album today!


Creamy Seafood Gnocchi

I saw some fresh gnocchi at the deli section of our neighborhood grocery store and decided to pick that up for dinner last week (it's been a long while since I last had some gnocchi). Of course it's not that difficult to make from scratch, but it doesn't really make much sense to make a whole lot, since it's only for Kevin and myself. Sooo, ready made gnocchi it is! :D I made some creamy tomato sauce with seafood to go with it.

I started off by boiling the gnocchi in salted water for about 2-3 minutes. It doesn't really take that long for it to be cooked. To prevent the gnocchi from sticking to each other, I just left it in the water while I started working on my sauce.

Earlier, I cleaned and sliced up a few pieces of fish fillet into bite size pieces, shelled some shrimp and defrosted some bay scallops.

Melt some butter in a large pan and add in some chopped garlic.

Once the garlic is nicely cooked, add in the fish slices.

Allow the fish to cook for a bit then add in the shrimp and scallops. Since the fish takes a little longer to cook than the shrimp and scallops, this is to ensure that we don't over cook the shrimp and scallops.

Crack in some black pepper and throw in some freshly chopped basil.

Mix all the ingredients together and then add in some ready made pasta sauce.

Stir the pasta sauce in with the seafood and allow it to cook for a bit. When the seafood is almost done, add in some heavy cream.

Stir that in with the tomato sauce and allow it to come to a boil.

Turn off the heat and the sauce is ready! Drain the gnocchi and add it into the sauce.

Mix it all together and serve.

It's simple and easy to make. I could have made the gnocchi and pasta sauce from scratch but it's so much of a hassle and it can be time consuming. Unless cooking for a large crowd, I feel that buying ready made products are usually cheaper, less of a hassle and the taste is not that much different that making it from scratch. Sometimes it might even taste better :P So, here it is. My version of Gnocchi with Creamy Tomato Seafood Sauce.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Experience Hilton Hospitality in Branson

It's almost July and summer is now in full swing! Are you still looking for that perfect place to go for your summer vacation? Well, I know of a place that has loads of fun things to do for everyone in the family, both young and old. Everything you’re looking for this summer is in right here in Branson, Missouri, the electrifying entertainment capital of the Midwest! Known as the "Live Music Show Capital of the World", Branson is truly an amazing vacation destination with live performance theaters, pristine lakes, championship golf courses, an international award-winning theme park, dozens of attractions, museums as well as a shopping and dining haven.

With so much to do in Branson, what better place to stay while enjoying all the shopping, entertainment and attractions than the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. Both Hilton Hotels are situated amidst the Branson Landing, giving guests easy access to shops, boutiques, restaurants, a river walk and other attractions. And only minutes away, the all-new Payne Stewart Golf Club offers hole after hole of breathtaking scenery. Payne Stewart Golf Club is a tribute course honoring the life and legacy of golf legend Payne Stewart. This unique course is interwoven with stories of Stewart’s life and golfing experiences throughout his career at each of its 18 scenic holes. Whether you’re an avid golfer, new to the sport, planning an event, here for business or for pleasure you can enjoy the facilities of the Payne Stewart Golf Course.

The Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing, Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel and the Payne Stewart Golf Course, which is managed by Hilton Golf, are within easy driving distance of Branson’s lakes, museums, theme parks and 49 live entertainment theaters. With so much to offer, this exciting vacation community is perfect for everyone! Remember to check out this summer's great golf packages as well other Hilton Hotel specials. Head over to their website and book your stay at either hotel today!


Clam & Scallop Linguine

I bought some really fresh bay scallops a while ago and wanted to make some clam and scallop pasta. I was however too lazy to make the white clam sauce from scratch so I bought a can of Progresso's White Clam Sauce with Garlic and Herb. It's really good, one of the best white clam sauces around.
Since we are not making the sauce from scratch, this is really simple to make. First, you would need to cook the pasta. I cooked some whole wheat linguine until al dente, drained it and set it aside.

Then, in a large pan, melt some butter.

Next, throw in the bay scallops.

Season them with some freshly cracked black pepper and garlic salt.

I then added in some fresh parsley from my herb garden followed by a few splashes of white wine.

Pour in the can of white clam sauce, let it go to a boil. Once it's boiling, set the heat to medium to allow it to reduce a little.

Once that's done, toss in the pasta and mix it all together.

There you go. It's done! So simple and quick, it doesn't take much time to prep or cook at all. Just perfect when you need to prepare a quick dinner or when you are too lazy to make anything elaborate. Try it! :D

Head to Branson, Missouri this summer!

Are you tired of doing the same old stuff every summer? Are you looking for somewhere fun to go to this year for your summer vacation? Well, look no further. Just head to Branson, Missouri - the "Live Music Show Capital of the World"! Truly a remarkable vacation destination, Branson has non stop fun all around the clock, with more than 49 live performance theaters, three pristine lakes, 12 championship golf courses, an international award-winning theme park, dozens of attractions, museums and a shoppers paradise.

If you enjoy outdoor adventure, Branson is the place for you. Within minutes of the bright lights of Branson, outdoor enthusiasts enjoy hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, trout and bass fishing, hunting, trap and skeet shooting, spelunking, rock climbing and other recreational activities. Go fishing at Lake Taneycomo, swimming at Bull Shoals Lake or boating at Table Rock Lake. The choice is yours. Whatever it is, there is non stop fun for everyone.

No matter what you do in Branson, there is no better place to stay than the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. Situated within the electrifying entertainment capital of the Midwest in Branson, Missouri, the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel offer guests access to shops, boutiques, restaurants, a river walk and other attractions. Both hotels are within easy driving distance of Branson’s championship golf courses, lakes, museums, theme parks and 49 live entertainment theaters. Remember to check out the new Payne Stewart Golf Club (managed by Hilton). It's close by both the hotels and features hole after hole of breathtaking scenery. Also, remember to check out the many great packages offered this summer by both the hotels.

Not only that, Branson also has ongoing events for everyone’s entertainment this summer like the National Kid’s Fest at Silver Dollar City, the 10th Annual Clown Jam, live entertainment and much more. So what are you waiting for? Enjoy being in the midst of all the action by booking your stay at either hotel today!


Easy Chicken Marsala

I felt like making Chicken Marsala a while ago and decided to look up the recipe for it online. I soon realized that there were just so many different versions and different types of recipes for it. After looking through quite a few recipes, I found this particular one that seemed pretty simple to make and after trying it out, it turned out pretty yummy too!

First, mix together about 1/4 cup of all purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano in a bowl.

Then, coat the pieces of chicken in the flour mixture. In the recipe, it called for 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast, each pounded into 1/4 inch thick. Both Kevin and I prefer dark meat to white, so I used boneless chicken thighs instead. After coating the chicken pieces, set them aside.

In a large pan, melt about 4 tablespoons of butter in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

Place the chicken in the pan and lightly brown it.

Turn the chicken pieces over and add in about 1 cup of sliced mushroom.

Allow it to cook for a bit then pour in about 1/2 a cup of chicken stock.

Next goes in about 1/2 a cup of Marsala wine.

Cover the pan and allow the chicken to simmer for about 10 minutes, turning it once. You know that it's done when the sauce thickens, the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

I served the Chicken Marsala with a side of instant Lipton Herb Rice and some Italian Green Beans with Parmesan cheese. I just love this recipe, it's so easy to make and it tasted really good!

3 New Fun Games by Triviala

I have always been a big trivia buff. Since I was a little girl, I would spend hours reading up about on various trivia facts, watching trivia game shows on TV as well as playing trivia games with my friends. Fun trivia quizzes used to be my favorite. Up til today, I would still play trivia games online. I would spend hours on the computer, playing trivia games and trying to beat all the other players. Recently, I found a great Trivia Game website. It's called Triviala!

Triviala.com is a fast paced FREE TO PLAY Trivia and Quiz site. Players can win CASH PRIZES totaling $/£5000 each month by accumulating 'Crowns' and using them to enter the daily and weekly prize draws. The more Crowns you win by answering our Trivia Quiz questions, the more times you can enter the draws. Users can also create their own trivia quizzes and share them with friends as well as play quizzes created by other users on the site.

Triviala recently launched three new fun games. The first game is Faceoff , Triviala’s fun multiplayer game. Play for fun or ‘Triviala Crowns’ it’s your choice. This challenging multi-player game is open to players worldwide and is the perfect place for you to prove your trivia knowledge on an international stage. Next is Triviala's Coin A Word game. The objective is to create 3-6 letter words from the 6 letters provided as fast as you can. The more words you create, the more points you’ll win! Collect 40 crowns when you spell TRIVIALA. A great way to accumulate crowns to enter the cash prize draws! Last but not least, the third game is Quiz Mania. It allows you to challenge other keen trivia players in the new user-generated multi-player game. This is a fun way to prove your skills and compete with friends, family and other Triviala players from around the world. Each player will answer the same 15 questions. The faster you answer, the more points you can gain.

Head over to Triviala.com and register to play today! More fun games will be added over the coming weeks. Be sure to keep an eye out for them!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

This is a very backdated restaurant review. I initially didn't want to write about this anymore but I enjoyed the food there so much that I just had to write this review. We were on our way to Pittsburgh for Nick's confirmation when we decided to stop at Cracker Barrel in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania (somewhere off the Interstate, near Allentown) for dinner. We have always seen many Cracker Barrels along the way whenever we drive to home to Pittsburgh but this is the first time we are actually stopping at one.

It was a Friday evening and the car park was packed. The restaurant was filled with locals, so I guess it was a good sign. There is this old time country feeling the moment you step into the restaurant and there was also a nice working fireplace. The overall decor is very rustic (I like :P).

Our server handed us the menu and boy! it was a hugeee menu. There were so many yummy country style dishes to choose from. It took us quite a while to decide what to order :P

We finally placed our order and our server brought out some country biscuits as well as some home made corn muffin. It was served with real butter and a whole bowl filled with all kinds of jam and honey. The muffin wasn't really the best, it was just alright. The biscuit however was the bomb! Really buttery and nice, very very good! We tried the biscuits with all the different types of jam..mmm mmm mmm.

They even have games on each table for the customers to keep themselves busy while waiting for the food. We of course were keeping ourselves busy by stuffing our faces with the biscuits and muffin, so we didn't really have time to check out the games.

It didn't take too long for our dinner to arrive. Kevin ordered the Meatloaf Dinner, which comes with a thick cut of Meatloaf made with tomatoes, green peppers and onions. He had a choice of three country sides and he chose the Whole Kernel Corn, Country Green Beans and Fried Apples. He said that they were all really good and he enjoyed the whole dinner lots.

Since everything looked so good on the menu, I ordered the Cracker Barrel Sampler. A small selection of their three most famous dishes. Half a slice of Meatloaf, half a slice of Sugar Cured Ham and some of their famous Chicken n Dumplins. I just love their Chicken n Dumplins. Pieces of chicken tenderloin and dumplins that were hand made from scratch, slowly simmered in country chicken stock. Reallllly hearty and good. I also had a choice of three sides and I chose the Fried Apples (bad choice, I didn't really like it), Country Green Beans and Breaded Fried Okra. The fried apples tasted like commercial apple pie filling, so I didn't really like it that much. However, the green beans and okra rocked my world! It's really good, especially the okra.

After dinner, we took a walk in their gift shop. The whole place oozes of country charm. They had all kinds of apparel, boots and cowboy hats, Paula Deans cookbooks, old fashioned baked goods as well as old time candy! I felt like buying everything! At last we bought some chocolate covered walnuts and Dad's Root Beer hard candy to eat along the way to Pittsburgh.

As we left the restaurant, we noticed that they even had hand made rocking chairs on sale at their verandah. Man, if we had a southern style ranch house with a big verandah, we would definitely get a few rocking chairs. It would be so cool to just sit outside on the rocking chair, sipping ice tea and watching the sunset :P Overall, I'm glad we stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner. It was a pleasant break from the long journey and it's always good to eat some hearty 'home cooked' country style food. If only there was a Cracker Barrel somewhere nearer to our apartment. I should bring this franchise to Malaysia, anybody want to invest and be my partner? :P

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
7720 Main Street,
Suite 19,
Fogelsville, PA 18051
Tel: (610) 481-0055