Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ranch Potatoes

I've made this Ranch Potatoes recipe for years and it's always a crowd pleaser!  How can you go wrong with ranch, bacon and cheese! This potato side dish goes well at any gathering from a summer BBQ to Thanksgiving dinner.

Before the final 20 min in the oven

Final dish with melted cheddar cheese

Ranch Potatoes

  • 8 large red potatoes
  • 1 cup ranch salad dressing (I use Hidden Valley)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  1. Cut potatoes into cubes.  Place in a large saucepan.  Cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil until tender, about 6 minutes; drain well.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Meanwhile, combine salad dressing, sour cream, ½ cup cheddar, bacon, salt, garlic, onion in a large bowl.  Add potatoes; stir well.
  4. Spoon potato and bacon mixture into an 8x10 baking dish.  Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake potatoes until bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Let me know if you love these potatoes as much as I do!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Visiting the Oxford Exchange + GIVEAWAY

Oxford Exchange in Tampa was so many of them being, absolute amazing!  I had the opportunity to attend a Holiday Blogger Event last week to learn all about Oxford Exchange in downtown Tampa.  I must admit, before the event, I had no idea what Oxford Exchange was or where it was located.  Now, I can't wait to go back!

Oxford Exchange is located across the street from the University of Tampa on Kennedy Boulevard.  It's housed in a building that was originally built in 1891 as a stable for the Plant Hotel (now UT).  Oxford Exchange opened last year and offers a gathering place atrium that sells coffee and tea; a bookshop; a boutique; a restaurant and conservatory; and office and conference rooms.

We started out our night in the bookstore.  I loved this centerpiece Christmas tree made from books!


We walked from the bookstore, through the beautiful hallway, to the atrium where we tasted party appetizers from Chef Erin Guggino.

She prepared Butternut Squash Soup Shooters

And Dried Figs, Goat Cheese & Toasted Walnuts

These appetizers were delicious!  I especially liked the dried figs as I went back for thirds.

We also sampled TeBella Tea Company paired with Mast Brothers Chocolate and Buddy Brew Coffee paired with Dandelion Chocolate.

In the atrium, we learned about the history and creative process behind 7th Avenue Apothecary.  Their 100% soy candles are hand poured in Ybor City.  They offered many unique fragrances that reflect the history of Ybor City.  Two of my favorites were leather & vanilla and tobacco & vanilla bourbon.

Next, we went on a tour of the upstairs office and conference room space.  Oxford Exchange provides a quite workspace and private meeting rooms for members of their Commerce Club.  The building's charm and character continued throughout the upstairs area.  I loved the reclaimed wood, exposed brick and vintage looking furnishings.  Oxford Exchange delivered!

Our tour continued to the restaurant and conservatory. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.  The kitchen counter featured a piece of petrified wood that washed ashore in Asia.

The conservatory appeared to be a sanctuary; with a glass ceiling, calming fountain in the center and plants surrounding the room.

Last but not least, I ventured into the boutique.  The boutique offerd an eclectic assortment of gifts including, best selling candles from 7th Avenue Apothecary, Christmas ornaments and spa accessories.  Many of the gifts were one of a kind items.

I had an incredible time at Oxford Exchange, learning and tasting what it has to offer.  I look forward to going back soon for lunch or one of OE's other events.

Now, it's giveaway time!  I have three chocolate bars to give away to one lucky reader.  I sampled two of these scrumptious, smooth, incredibly, dark chocolate bars at the blogger event.  I'm excited to be able to share these with one of you.

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Disclaimer: I attended a free blogger event in exchange for my review and promotion.  All opinions are my own.


The Greatest Show on Earth + GIVEAWAY

The Greatest Show on Earth from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents a new show called Legends at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, January 1-5, 2014.
We haven't been the circus in years.  In fact, I think we took my oldest son, now 12, when he was two and my youngest son, now 9, wasn't even born yet. I loved the circus as a kid.  I still have a flatten circus balloon in a scrapbook from when I was a child.
Here's the show description and all about the show:
Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in an all-new show -- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDSSM. Experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and the mysterious: a Unicorn, a Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions!

Click HERE to purchase tickets online.  Save $4 on select performances using promo code MOM4.  Offer not valid on Front Row or Premium seats. Not valid day of show.  Only valid for these performances: Thurs 7:30pm, Fri 7:30pm, Sat 11am, and Sun 5pm.

OR win tickets here....

Time for an exciting giveaway!!  One lucky reader will win 4 tickets to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS in Tampa.  The winner will choose a show on either January 1 or 3, 2014, for the 7:30pm show.  Good luck!  My boys can't wait to see this performance!
You must be local to the Tampa Bay area to win.

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Disclaimer: I was given tickets to the show in exchange for promotion and review.  All opinions are my own.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Bourbon and Brew Fest Preview and Giveaway

I'm excited for Tampa's Bourbon and Brew Fest happening on Saturday, November 23 at The Heights Waterfront from 3pm - 11pm.  My husband is even more excited because he loves bourbon!  This is the same venue we visited for the Rum Fest in August.

The Bourbon and Brew Fest promises bourbon, BBQ, craft beers, country music, southern rock, a fireworks show and a lot of fun!  They will also have a mechanical bull, corn hole and other entertaining games.

Check out How To Fest.  They offer a couple of different ticket options.

General admission gives you access to the Bourbon & Brew Festival for $25.  Then your bourbon and specialty beer drinks start at $5 each.  OR

VIP Grand Bourbon Tasting Experience gives you access to the Bourbon & Brew Festival for $100.  This gives you access to the inside Grand Bourbon Tasting area where you can have UNLIMITED samples of over 40 different brands of bourbon/whiskey!  This tasting experience also includes a Bourbon & Brew rock glass.

Bourbon & Brew Fest will feature Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Knob Creek and Laphroaig bars.  In addition they will have Sweetwater Brewing Company, Woodchuck Draft Cider and wine.  It's a little something for everyone!

Check out Bourbon & Brew Fest's Facebook page.

Who's ready for a giveaway!!  I have two General Admission tickets to give away way to one lucky reader. The General Admissions tickets give admission in to Bourbon & Brew Fest in Tampa on Saturday, November 23, 2013.  You must be local to the Tampa Bay area to win.

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Disclaimer: I was given tickets to the event in exchange for promotion and review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Frankenfooter Half Marathon 2013 Recap

I ran the Bride of Frankenfooter 5K on a Saturday night and then the Frankenfooter Half Marathon the next morning to complete the Living Dead Challenge!

This race was the weekend before Halloween so of course I needed a costume.  But running 13.1 miles in a must be comfortable.  My friend Denise and I dressed as Finn and Jake from the cartoon Adventure Time.  I bought my favorite type of running skirt from in gold and a tank that matched. I finished my ensemble with a yellow Jake hat.

Our group of crazy costume runners including a zombie cheerleader

Again, I had the goal of a PR.  The weather was cool, I was well rested and hydrated.  The race started and I took my time with the first mile, running about a 10:15/M pace to really warm up.  I've learned that if I take off too fast, my energy is zapped.  After the first mile, I picked up my pace.

We ran in and out of some small Port Richey parks.  I liked seeing people run past me in the opposite direction (both ahead and behind me on the course).  The costumes kept my interest and I was able to cheer for my fellow runners.

At the first fuel stop, they handed out chocolate PowerGel.  I ate it reluctantly, not enjoying it at first but then I grew to like the chocolate.  I definitely felt the boost of energy whether it was the caffeine or sugar/carbs that my body needed to keep going.  I ate another one later on the course.  Yum!

At about mile 7, I caught up to my costume buddy, Denise.  We ran a little ways together but I was in the groove so I pulled ahead and kept going strong.

At mile 9, with 4.1 miles left, I looked at my Garmin to check my PR status.  The time was 9:41 am, yes, time of day.  I had it in my head that since the race started at 8:00 am, I needed to finish before 10:14 am to beat my Gasparilla Half PR.  I thought to myself, "I can't run 4.1 miles in 30 no PR for me, oh well, too bad, but that's weird because I've felt great during this race."  I continued to run a nice pace even though I didn't think I'd PR.

At about mile 11.5, I looked at my Garmin again.  This time I looked at race time instead of time of day.  I had been running for 1 hour and 53 minutes!  With 1.6 miles left, I was definitely going to PR.  I had such a dumb moment at mile 9!  The race didn't start on time at 8:00am.  What was I thinking? Why would I look at time of day?!

I got a PR by 6 minutes 45 seconds!

My friend Maribel also PRed!

Photo by Denise

Overall place: 87/228
Female place: 42/143
Age Division place: 8/26
Average pace: 9:47/M
Gun time: 2:08:04.4
Chip time: 2:07:51.1
Race #16 for 13 in 2013.

Have you ever run in a costume?


Bride of Frankenfooter 5K Recap

This was my second year running the Bride of Frankenfooter 5K.  Last year this race was in Starkey Park which was perfect for me because I run there most weekends and know the area well.  I was disappointed when this year's races were moved to Gill Dawg Marina in Port Richey.  Then I ran the course and loved it!  For the 5K, we ran along a portion of water on an out and back course that allowed us to pass other runners and get a nice look at all the costumes.

I dressed as Supergirl, cape included!

Photo by Denise

I loved all of the costumes at this race!

Here's our group with tough-guy faces.  Although my snarl looked more like a smile.

Photo by Christina

Photo by David
Photo by Denise
Stormtroopers at the finish line!!

Bob won best costume!

Yes, I'm holding Frankenstein's hand

I got a PR at last year's race and hoped to PR again.  The weather was cooler but a PR wasn't in the cards for me.  I've been more focused on marathon training than speed training (and I slacked on my shorter runs during the week).  I still had a great time and enjoyed the race!

Overall place: 76/252
Female place: 31/163
Age Division place: 4/27
Average pace: 9:12/M
Gun time: 28:30.1
Chip time: 28:27.2

This is race #15 for 13 in 2013.