Friday Favorites & Giveaway

Happy Friday!

Today’s Friday Favorites is going to be a bit different than normal but even better as I have a giveaway! Instead of sharing recipes, articles, posts and other things that caught my eye this week, I’m going to share a recent adventure as well as foods related to that which I’m loving!

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Last week I had the pleasure of joining five other bloggers and social media influencers (Gina, Vicki, Margaret, Michelle, and Paul) and the Fresh Direct team for a trip out to Long Island learning about one of my favorite foods – oysters! In case you’ve never heard of Fresh Direct, the company prides itself on bringing customers fresh, quality ingredients to their doorstep!

The Fresh Direct co-founder and “Chief Food Adventurer”, David McInerney, joined us for the day while we spent time with Blue Island Oyster Company, one of Fresh Direct’s primary oyster sources. Both companies know how to plan a great day. From time in the “classroom” learning about oysters to kayaking and grilling on the Long Island Sound, their passion for food and locally sourced products was at the root of everything.

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We started the day at Blue Island Oyster Company which is located in West Sayville, Long Island. Founded in 1995 by Chris Quartuccio, Blue Island Oyster Company is the number one shellfish distributor in the New York area. Quartuccio has worked in the industry since the age of 12, when he began digging for clams.  Over the years West Sayville has been a hub for the shellfish industry, once supporting 7,000 clam diggers. Today, only one shellfish company remains in West Sayville -Blue Island Oyster Company. They ship their shellfish all across the country and can be found on the menus of top restaurants in Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago and Boston.

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After a brief history of the company and region, he led our group into the “nursery” where we we learned all about oysters and how they are spawned.  IMG_0779

Oysters are typically 3 years old when they are harvested, however if farm raised that time can be reduced to 1.5 years. The farm raised oysters are incubated in barrels for 3 months before being transferred to the Great South Bay where they live until they reach maturity. Wild oysters have more mineral flavor than farm raised. Since oysters feast on algae, the company grows algae in large tanks.

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Their top selling oyster, The Naked Cowboy, was inspired by the Naked Cowboy in Times Square after Chris drove past him back in the 90s. Though the name was once laughed at by restaurants, today the Waldorf, Four Seasons, Oceana and other top restaurants request them by name. 

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Today Fresh Direct’s partnership with Blue Island Oyster Company allows for Fresh Direct customers to enjoy these oysters within days of their harvest. Blue Island harvests them one afternoon and the next morning they head to Fresh Direct! On their website you can find steamer clams and six different types of oysters!

After learning all about oysters we headed out to the Blue Island Oyster Company’s floating dock in the Long Island Sound for an afternoon of grilling, dining and kayaking.

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During our waterside picnic we were able to taste the delicious Blue Island steamers and oysters as well as an array of Fresh Direct’s food including lots of Summer favorites and items sourced from small farms and fisherman across the country. The team taught us some tips and tricks along the way such as how to shuck an oyster and perfectly grill rib eye and swordfish.

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Our group could not stop remarking how delicious everything tasted! From prepared food to seafood, I was amazed! While I have shopped with Fresh Direct and love the convenience and assortment they provide, I had never tried their prepared foods, meats, seafood or cheeses. 

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This is where this week’s Friday Favorites comes in as I have since ordered many of these items and raved about them to friends and family! The Fresh Direct team, led by David their “Chief Food Adventurer” travel the world sourcing products and building relationship with local companies. The entire team were experts on everything we tasted, answering our questions and explaining how and why they chose certain products!

IMG_2187These are the products I fell head over heels for last Friday and have since then ordered.

But, Fresh Direct and I don’t want you to take our word for it. We want you to experience Fresh Direct for yourself. You can click this link to enjoy $100 towards your first TWO orders! What better way to stock your fridge next week or help you get prepared for your next barbecue or party?

In addition, Fresh Direct and I want to give one lucky reader a $50 gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you again to Fresh Direct who hosted such a wonderful day and provided the gift for this giveaway.

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Finding the Confidence to Strip

I can’t pinpoint an exact date. There was no epiphany that took place one day. But, over the past year, slowly but surely, I’ve started to enjoy living each day just a little bit more.

For 30 years, I wasted time and energy worrying about what others thought. Would they like the dress I was wearing? Would they think I was too slow? Would they notice those extra layer of softness on my arms? I spent countless hours comparing myself to everyone. This constant struggle caused self-doubt and affected every aspect of my life.

What took me so long to realize is that 99.5% of the other people are too busy and focused on their life that they don’t have time to think about that girl next to them. Whether it’s the girl running next them at the gym or the girl lying next to them at the pool.

In the past six months, I have felt more confident and happier than any other time in my life.

On Saturday, after ten years of running, I finally found the confidence to run in a sports bra. The slight breeze felt cool and refreshing against my skin, and I couldn’t help but smile. I don’t have a six-pack and don’t have a perfect body but I felt strong and I know how hard I’ve worked to feel that way.  Even though the miles didn’t come easy, the feeling of freedom and confidence gave renewed meaning to the run. 

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After sharing the picture on Instagram and Facebook, I was amazed the number of women who commented. These are women who I’ve considered my inspirations whether for fitness or physique. Somehow, they were amazed that I ran without a shirt. Many of them said they wish they could reach that point.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic pill I can prescribe or a book I can recommend to each of you so that you can feel the joy that is, for lack of better words, “not giving a shit.”

The only thing I can do is to beg and plead that each of you find the courage to strip down, whatever that means in your life. Try just one thing that scares you or intimidates you. If you want to strip off the shirt and run in a sports bra, try running in a new area, where you won’t be recognized or run earlier in the day. If you want to practice hot yoga in one layer less, try it at home first, so you get comfortable in your skin. If you want to clip in, but are scared of falling, try riding with only one foot clipped in until you feel comfortable. Want to wear something that isn’t on the pages of this month’s fashion magazine? Own it and wear it with pride.

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Don’t believe it’s that easy? Two of the women who inspire me daily stripped down for their workouts for the first time this week! Both Bonnie and Mindy shared that it felt liberating and helped them realize how far they’ve come in their journey. All it takes is a little bit of confidence and the freedom to not care what others think. I bet you’ll have a high from all that libration and far more time on your hands to focus on the important stuff.

Oh and don’t forget, it is a gradual evolution. As I said, it didn’t click overnight. Slowly but surely I worried less about other people and spent more time focusing on me.  There are moments when I lack confidence or worry about what others think, but it’s far less often than before.

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A-Z Survey

You know those days where your day goes crazy? Yup, welcome to my day. It’s a wild way to start the week, but luckily I love this new role, even the crazy and chaotic moments!

Since I only have a few minutes, I thought that this A-Z Survey, which I’ve seen on both Theodora and Christine’s blog would be a great way to kick off the week.

A – Age: 31

B – Biggest Fear: I have an extreme fear of drugs. I can’t watch any movie or television show that includes drug use. But if you want to know about my other, more normal fears, sharks have be scared to swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

C – Current Time: 1:27pm

D – Drink You Had Last: A huge glass of sparkling water flavored with some lemon and lime wedges. Our SodaStream has really helped make cutting out Diet Coke easier.

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: My mom

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F – Favorite Song: Right now I like Honey, I’m Good and Hold My Hand.

G – Grossest Memory: Over the years there have been plenty but as of late, having my flip-flop clad feet step in a New York City sludge puddle after yoga was a sure fire way to ruin my zen.

H – Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

I – In Love With: Bo! He has been my rock, more so than ever before, as we’ve gone through this huge transition together.

J – Jealous Of: At my age I don’t have room in my life for jealousy. I spent far too many years being jealous and refuse to do so any longer.

K – Kindest Person You Know: My mom. I don’t think she could harm a fly, and she has the largest heart.

L – Longest Relationship: Bo – 11.5 years together. We’ll celebrate our six-year wedding anniversary in November.

M – Middle Name: Originally my middle name was Elizabeth but much to my mother’s dismay, I took my maiden name (Rudolph) as my middle name when I got married.

N – Number of Siblings: 1

O – One Wish: Continue living a healthy and happy life.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: My manager

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: As of late everyone is asking me “Don’t you miss Europe?”

R – Reason To Smile: I am happier, more confident and more content with my life  at 31 than I’ve been at any other point in my life.

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S – Song You Last Sang: The last song this tone deaf gal attempted to sing was Shake It Out. I often try to sing and dance to this song while shaking out the stress.

T – Time You Woke Up: 5:36 am

U – Underwear Color: hot pink

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V – Vacation Destination: I am pretty easy to please. Place me on a boat and surround me with fun people and I’m in paradise. But, if you want to know my favorite vacation spot thus far then I’d have to say Maui.

W – Worst Habit: This depends on who you ask. If you ask friends and family, it may be not picking up the phone more often. I’ve fallen back into the habit of texting too much. If you ask Bo, it’d probably be taking up more than my fair share of our bed. What can I say, I’m a tree pose sleeper for life.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: If you don’t include dental x-rays then I think I’ve had two, thumb and lower back.

Y – Your Favorite Food: Salty, crunchy tortilla chips and perfectly made guacamole are the way to my heart.

Z – Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius

Your turn: What question would you want me to answer?
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Rosemary Chimichurri Recipe

Yesterday afternoon Bo and I spent an hour exploring the Union Square Farmer’s Market as we shopped for our farm-to-table dinner, which we were creating together as part of our Saturday date night.

IMG_2299IMG_2302Finding the produce for the dinner was easy as every stand was overflowing with gorgeous, ripe Summer vegetables. There were hues of red, yellow and green coming from all directions. Heirloom tomatoes, New Jersey sweet corn and fresh herbs were the first things to go in our basket. The incredible diversity of the herbs and produce at the Union Square Farmer’s market shocked us at first. For the past two years, we’ve shopped at a farmer’s market that is far smaller, and it had a very different mixture of products. As you’d expect, there were far more cheese, bread, and wine stands but the produce and meats are often limited.

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Since we were exploring the market at 3 pm, quite late by farmer’s market standards, the one area we started to run into issues was finding the meat or fish for the meal. We went stand to stand only to hear that they’d sold out of their meat and only had eggs or sausage options left. Since this we wanted our entire meal to be farm-to-table, we started to brainstorm creative ideas for a vegetarian meal in case we couldn’t find a protein. Luckily, at the last stand, right as we were encountering the palm readers and chess players on the southern end of Union Square, we found a small meat stand that still had flank steak.

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An often overlooked cut of meat, the flank steak is a steak cut from the abdominal muscles or butt of the cow.  Due to how lean and economical it is, Flank steak is a great option for both weeknight or weekend meals. It packs an intense beef flavor while coming it at half the price of many other steak cuts. The perfect vehicle for flavor, last night we decided to whip up an easy Chimichurri sauce to accompany our flank steak.

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In South America, Chimichurri is a favorite condiment, often served with far more than meat. A traditional Chimichurri is a green sauce primarily composed of parsley, garlic, olive oil and white vinegar. Inspired by the large, fresh bundles of rosemary at the farmer’s market, we created our own version of this flavorful condiment last night – Rosemary Chimichurri Sauce. Ready in less than five minutes, this healthy and flavorful sauce should become a staple in your kitchen. A delicious blend of herbs, Chimichurri adds a flavor punch to just about anything you grill or cook. 

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Rosemary Chimichurri Sauce 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons minced red onions
  • 2 packed tablespoons of minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the first eight ingredients, stir and let sit for a moment. Slowly drizzle in the oil while continuously stirring until well combined. Add a dash or two of salt and pepper, or more depending on your taste. Cover and let the sauce marinate for at least 15 minutes before serving so the flavors have time to combine.  Serve sauce on top of flank steak or your protein of preference and enjoy.

*Since we don’t have a food processor, we chopped the ingredients by hand and combined them in a bowl but you may of course also use a small food processor.

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