Summer Appetizers: No Cooking Required

With MDW (that's memorial day weekend) just three weeks away, I started thinking about the loads of summer parties and picnics we would be attending in the next few months. I love experimenting with new appetizers, but sometimes in the heat of the summer, the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven and make bacon wrapped water chestnuts or even boil water for an easy pasta salad. Here are six appetizers that require zero cooking and are super easy to make.

Do you have any other delicious, no-heat appetizers that you make during the summer? Tell me about them in the comments!


Wilderness Explorers; the wilderness must be explored!

We had a whole new kind of Sunday funday this past weekend. Instead of grabbing a seat at our local watering hole, we decided to venture into the wilderness and explore some of the trails in Valley Forge National Historic Park. The hiking there is not too challenging, there are a few steep parts on Mt. Misery, but they don't last very long. There were signs of spring all around us and it was really nice to get some sun on our faces and fresh air in our lungs. 

After our hike, we took a drive further into the country to check out Wyebrook Farm in Chester County. The farm is absolutely gorgeous and they believe in producing healthy animals without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics. And that's something we can get down with. We explored the market, grabbed some eats from the cafe, visited with some of the animals and then purchased some meat, eggs and veggies to bring home with us. A few miles from Wyebrook Farm we stumbled upon another cute farm, Bethany Farm - a dairy farm selling raw milk and other produce from a cute little roadside stand. Check out photos from our Sunday adventure below. 


Parental visitation required

Look at those faces. How can you resist them? My parental unit, and little bro, spent a little time in Philly this past weekend. We were blessed with a super sunshiny day and we visited the creepy Mutter Museum, followed by a walk through Rittenhouse Square before we headed to Northern Liberties for dinner and bowling. After my father kicked our butts in bowling, we headed back home for family game night. It's always so nice when family visits, especially when the weather is warm, you can just walk around stop in some places for a bite to eat or a quick drink and all is good in the world again!


Ten happy moments of the week

1. Grilling outside for the first time this year! Bry loves to grill and he's really good at it, so in the summer we try to cook outside at least twice a week. This week he made his famous skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. 

2. This video of people interviewing for the world's toughest job. 

3. Spring cleaning. I spent this week getting my house in order and it feels really good to have everything looking so fresh and so clean clean. 

4. On Wednesday night, I went to a comedy show featuring Godfrey -- that dude is so funny, I could not stop laughing. 

5. We had a few fancy events last weekend -- a gala one night (a work event) and then a wedding the next night. It was a lot of fun to get dressed up two nights in a row and dance the night away. My friend's wedding on Saturday night was so beautiful and she and her husband are so in love -- I'm honored that we were able to share in their special day.

6. I don't think it needs to be said, but the 80 degree weather last weekend was the happiest thing ever. Checking out the Manayunk StrEAT food festival was awesome and having a little brunch at Taqueria Feliz made my day. 

7. My parents and bro are coming to Philly and hanging with us for a few days, and I've got loads of fun activities planned for them.

8. Doing a photo shoot with this handsome little lad, he was adorable and perfect and he makes me so happy. Plus, I finally put together some info about photography packages on my site. 

9. Even though I've felt a little under the weather this week, I made a point of still getting to the gym. I might have to move a little slower than usual, but I'm just happy I got in a few workouts.

10. Beautiful flowers in my house this week because I stole them from our fancy events last weekend. Bry liked them too, and made a point of saying he's going to buy me more flowers :) Awww


Taqueria Feliz a.k.a. my home away from home

Meet my friend, Mr. Fish Taco. He's a lightly battered and fried tilapia filet smothered in chipotle mayo, sitting atop a bed of cabbage slaw and garnished with a few thinly sliced radishes. He is freaking delicious. He is available at my favorite local watering hole, Taqueria Feliz. When Bry and I first moved to Manayunk we decided that we needed to be pick one bar to be our bar. We were really hoping to have that Cheers, "where everybody knows your name..." feeling. Well, that really never happened for us. We like variety, so we were always trying new places, meeting new bartenders and never being quite frequent enough to be regulars. That was all until the most wonderful of all restaurants came to our neighborhood. Slowly but surely we're making our way into the "regulars" status by visiting at least once a week. Taqueria Feliz is hands down my favorite restaurant in Manayunk. I could go there three times a week and never get sick of it. If you're ever in the 'hood, you should definitely check them out. They also have sister restaurants in Fairmount/Art Museum area (Calaca Feliz) or Fort Washington (Cantina Feliz) Keep reading for more photos and my recommendations on what to order. 


Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival 2014

I apologize that this post is past due, but I think it's still worth sharing. If you don't think so, stop reading. No really, don't, that will make me sad. Picture this, it's Saturday, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you've got a massive hangover. Believe me, you'd want to shut the blinds and stay in bed all day, but you shouldn't. There's a whole world out there to be explored! I found myself in this situation and instead of being a hermit for the day, I threw on some clothes and zombie-shuffled my way down to Main Street in Manayunk for some eats and a little hair of the dog. It also happened to be the day of the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival so there were lots of food trucks and people out and about. After we grabbed some food from a nearby restaurant, we ventured out to try some of the deliciousness offered out on the streets. 


Newborn photos of Leo Jones Ronca

Meet Leo Jones Ronca, he's only 11 days old, but he has super human baby strength! Mr. LJ is holding his own head up and making attempts to crawl around already. His mom and dad are doing very well and managing to get some sleep (you might remember his mom from this CrossFit maternity photo shoot). LJ was having a little trouble going into a deep sleep so we didn't get to do as many posed photos as we had intended, but I'm actually really happy with the way they turned. I think these images really capture Leo's curious personality and the adorable Jones/Ronca family dynamic. View more photos from the shoot below. 


Go Popcorn

Step right up! Boy, have I got a treat for you! If you're not one of those people that's obsessed with popcorn, don't worry, you will be soon enough. I was recently introduced to Go Popcorn by some of my coworkers, although the adorable shop on 12th Street has been open for about five months now. The founders of The Pittsburgh Popcorn company recently popped up (pun intended) in Center City. This ain't your regular run-of-the-mill popcorn stand my friends, this is gourmet to the max popcorn. You want sweet popcorn? Treat yourself to the peanut butter cup variety covered in melted milk chocolate and gooey peanut butter. Feeling savory? Might I recommend the cheesy garlic bread? Yes. You read that right. Popcorn covered in cheese, butter and garlic. Just make sure to stock up on some mints before you dive mouth-first into that.

When you enter Go Popcorn you will file into a queue marked off with red velvet roped stanchions. A lovely lady or gent, behind the counter will greet you with a warm smile and ask if you would like to try any samples, to which you will answer, "Yes please. I'll try all of them." It may seem a little pricey at first, but once you see how much popcorn they pack up your bag and you take a bit into those flavorful kernels covered in chocolate, cheese, or whatever, you'll understand it's all worth it. More photos below.


Ten happy moments of the week

Image credit: Found on Pinterest, original source unknown. If you know the original source of this image or own rights to it, please let me know and I’ll credit/remove as appropriate.

I'm going to be honest, it was hard coming up with ten happy moments this week. At least happy moments happened, but I probably wasn't paying attention when they did and then it makes it that much more difficult to think them up later. My point being, it's not always easy to write this list. Sometimes I have tough weeks, busy weeks, or stressful weeks, but I'm certain that ten good things happen each week and I should take a moment to think about them and reflect on them. 

1. Getting to meet my friend's beautiful new baby yesterday! You might remember her from these CrossFit Maternity photos but she has a perfect and healthy baby boy now and both mama and the little one are doing great!

2. Having an impromptu Taco Tuesday at Taqueria Feliz with good friends after a tough workout! 

3. A lazy Sunday relaxing at home with BryGuy. We watched movies and spent time catching up on laundry and straightening the house up. Sometimes you just need a lazy day at home. 

4. Despite the rainy weather this week, I really loved being able to just throw on a trench and head off for my day. Shall I dare suggest that it's time to pack up the winter coats? 

5. Getting to try Federal Donuts for the first time last weekend. It was glorious. 

6. Trying out new fun nail polish colors (I know. So girly.) But really I always hesitated to do anything really funky on my nails because I didn't think it was professional, but these days I think it's definitely more acceptable and it 

7. We're heading to New York this weekend to visit our families and I'm extra excited to find out that my good friend is going to be in town unexpectedly. 

8. Visiting the 2 St. Gym last weekend for the first time and watching both the new and experienced athletes take on a super challenging workout. 

9. Listening to Neal Brennan stand-up, he makes my tummy hurt from laughing so hard. 

10. Seeing two little purple flower buds on the side of the street. They were so cute and so alone among all of the brown dull surroundings. I can't wait for everything to be green and in bloom, and apparently it's just around the corner. 


Finally got my hands on some Federal Donuts

BryGuy and I have been talking about going to Federal Donuts for like, ever. I love fried chicken. I love donuts. It seems like a match made in heaven to me! So last weekend, when we were visiting our friends at CrossFit 2 St. -- conveniently located only two blocks from the original Federal Donuts -- we decided that would be the day! We walked into the small storefront and were greeted by a warm smile behind the counter. We settled on a half order of the buttermilk ranch chicken and six chili garlic style wings (which we were told were excellent choices btw.) The lovely lady behind the counter told us she'd cut us a break and just charge us for the whole chicken instead of two halves to save a buck. Then of course, we needed to decide on donuts. Lots of their specialty donuts were sold-out so we stuck with the classics. I ordered the Indian Cinnamon and Bry went with the Apollonia Spice, then as if our day couldn't get any better, the sweet lady behind the counter told us she would throw in the Vanilla Lavendar for free, just so we could try it! Bam! They just earned themselves a lifelong customer. Check out more photos below. 


Baked Chili and Lime Drumsticks

Okay, so the sauce on these bad boys is pretty good and super simple, but what really makes the wings great is how crispy and moist they are. And they're not fried! The inspiration for these wings came from our favorite restaurant in Puerto Rico, Jose Enrique. We ordered the wings there and were practically licking the dish, the sauce was so good. When our waiter returned to find us face-first in a plate of chicken wing sauce, we asked how they were made, and he let us in on the secret. Get the full recipe and more photos below.

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