Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chico's at Clinton Crossing Premium Outlet

Back to School With Chico's Outlet

Every year my local Chico's Outlet at Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets holds a Teacher Appreciation - Back to School event. Whether you're a teacher, or a student, or not... it's a great opportunity to start working on your fall wardrobe!

This year's Back to School event was an afternoon "iced tea" affair that included fun activities, a glimpse into some great fall fashions, information on upcoming trends, and some informal modeling by the Chico's associates.

Love the color of this top!

And we even had a little sampling tasting. Because cookies aren't just for after school snacks! Especially when they're gluten free! These treats were provided by Still Delicious out of Westbrook CT, a bakery known for being allergen free!


Back to shopping!!!

I loved the continuation of bright colors and jewel tones that will be transitioning us into the fall season. And Chico's offers some great pieces to complete your look. Jean jackets, lightweight sweaters, and effortless tops, that mix and match with so many great things.

The girls of Chico's!
Modeling some new fall fashions.
Love the fabulous jewelry!

There is always room for traditional fall colors light burnt orange, golds, and earth tones.

Traditional fall colors abound

But I also loved the muted tones of pale rose and grays 

Muted tones with a geometric edge
and a little animal print thrown in for good measure!

This new line of "perfect" pants features some great colors and prints and there's even a built in tummy control! They're comfortable and figure flattering!

OMG! These jeans are AMAZING

Chico's is a specialty retailer of exclusively designed, private label, sophisticated, casual-to-dressy clothing, complimentary accessories and other non-clothing gift items. Virtually all of the clothing, accessories and non-clothing gift items offered at Chico's stores are designed by the company's in-house product development team and bears the "Chico's" trademark. (From Clinton Premium Outlet Store Dirctory at

Visit a Chico's near you soon!

My closest Chico's is at the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlet Center - but you can find your local Chico's here

Chico's at Clinton Crossing

20-A Killingworth Turnpike, Suite 160. 
Clinton, CT 06413
(860) 669-2097

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Johnny Utah's Country Fun in Connecticut

Social Media Promotion : Sponsored          

Two Step over the Threshold to Johnny Utah's in SoNo

In the township known as South Norwalk or SoNo for short, is a community of small shops, boutiques, and some of Fairfield county's best restaurants.

We finally were able to make it up to one we've been waiting to try for what seems like forever, Johnny Utah's on Washington Street in South Norwalk.

Why have we been so anxious to try this place?

How about it's a country-western inspired destination that I knew my husband (aka the cowboy) would love - and it serves great Americana pub food with a fun flair that I knew I would adore!

How country-western is it? Try a mechanical bull, a beer can flag wall, deer antler chandeliers, and cowhide covered chairs and booths! And country line dancing on Friday nights!

What? A bucking bronco is not your thing?

How about a swing over the back bar on your way to the outhouse instead?

What ever your thing, Johnny Utah's is a fun destination to grab some great bar grub and have a good time.  Operated by the same management group who oversee Stamford's popular Sign of the Whale at Harbor Point, Johnny Utah’s is a one-of-a-kind social hybrid which embraces its inner Blake Shelton, wrapped in Cowboy Boots, Old No. 7 Jack Daniels Sippin' Whiskey,  Respectable BBQ, Burgers and Brews.

Here's a snapshot pictorial of some of the items we sampled on our visit.

Cocktails at Johnny Utah's

The Johnny Utah Moscow Mule

 The Johnny Utah (Jim Beam Ghost White Whiskey,
coconut rum, spiced rum, pineapple and cranberry juice);

Appetizers / Small Plates / Sides at Johnny Utah's

Lo and Slo Barbecue Ribs

Johnny Utahs Down Home Chili

Johnny Utah Fries

 Onion Tumbleweeds
(thinly sliced onions battered and fried and served with chipotle mayo)

Johnny Utah's Egg Rolls

And we really had some fun with Johnny Utah's over the top chicken wings prepared every which way! lightly dusted and deep fried and sauced up, Guinness, Sriracha, house spicy, teriyaki, or even smothered with peanut butter and jelly and served with a Fluff dipping sauce. You name it! They make it!

Johnny Utah's Wings

Burgers at Johnny Utah's in South Norwalk

The true stars of the show that night were the 10 ounce grass fed, certified all natural beef burgers in every shape and form that are available. This juicy, all natural, naked burger can be topped with any number of saucy, cheesy, fried, cold, hot, or even healthy additions. Because a fried egg is considered healthy, right???

Johnny Utah's Burger
The simple burger is always best
Red Onions, Tomatoes, and Crisp Lettuce

Johnny Utah's Burger
Is it a nacho or is it a burger?
With Spicy Pepper Jack Cheese, Jalapenos, and Peppers

Johnny Utah's Burger
Man oh Man! With Mushrooms and Fried Onions

Johnny Utah's Burger
With Diced Peppers, Tomatoes, Garlic, Onion
and Slices of Red Onion on a Brioche Bun

Johnny Utah's Burger
The Breakfast Burger with a Fried Egg
Cheddar Cheese and Slab Bacon

Johnny Utah's Burger
Red Peppers and Grilled Onions with Melted Artisan Cheese

And you can even have a pulled pork selection

Johnny Utah's Pulled Pork
Jalapenos, Cheddar Cheese and BBQ Sauce

Or, the Big Bucking Burger, a beautiful burger stuffed between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches (on the top and the bottom of course) slathered with pulled pork, with slab bacon, lettuce, tomato and house made burger sauce.

The Big Bucking Burger
at Johnny Utah's in South Norwalk

Dessert Milkshakes at Johnny Utah's

Believe it or not after all that beef we saved some room for dessert. This dessert came more in the liquid form as in some decadent summer milkshakes. Flavors include Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake topped with Hershey's chocolate bar, Reese’s peanut butter cups, whipped cream and roasted marshmallows, Cookies & Cream Milkshake topped with cookie crisp, whipped cream and Oreos, Cherry Milkshake blended with skittles, rimmed with vanilla frosting and various candies, topped with whipped cream, skittle shavings, a cherry pop-tart and cherry pie, Blueberry Milkshake rimmed and topped with vanilla frosting blueberries, blueberry muffins and whipped cream, Vanilla Milkshake blended with bits of bacon topped with bacon, whipped cream and French fries. (well, maybe we should have tried that one for dinner instead!)

Johnny Utah's Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake

Johnny Utah's Blueberry Muffin Milkshake

So, embrace your inner Johnny Cash or Brad Paisley or Patsy Cline or Miranda Lambert and head on down to Johnny Utah's for some country western fun and grub!

And, best of all, it's cowboy approved!

Johnny Utah's SoNo

80 Washington Street
Norwalk, Connecticut 06854

Disclaimer: We were invited to this sampling event by members of Johnny Utah's management and marketing team, however, all views and opinions expressed are our own.

© Home Place 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lobster Life Cooking Class at Ella's Fine Food in Westerly RI

Social Media Promotion : Sponsored   

Chef Jeanie Roland's Lobster Cooking Class   

A few weeks back we received an invite to travel up to scenic Westerly, Rhode Island to participate in the first of Chef Jeanie Roland, Owner, Operator, and Executive Chef of Ella's Fine Food and Drinks' summer/fall 2016 cooking classes,  this one titled ... 

Lobster Life!!!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes

Ah, such is MY life! A weekend trip to coastal Rhode Island - and the chance to eat some lobster! Ummm, okay!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Lobster Life Cooking Class at Ella's Fine Food & Drink
 in Westerly Rhode Island.

But this was more than just eating lobster, this was the ability to learn some fabulous tips and tricks about lobster preparation, and some great general insight on food preparation from Culinary Institute of America (CIA) alum, Chef Jeanie Roland.

Chef Jeanie is a seven-time James Beard nominee, and one of the few contestants to “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network.  Chef Jeanie and her husband James also own and operate The Perfect Caper restaurant in Punta Gorda, Florida. 

Chef Jeanie began the cooking demonstration by welcoming us into the restaurant's kitchen

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Chef Jeanie Roland in the Ella's Kitchen

She's an absolute whirling dervish and impossible to photograph - her hands are always moving - pots are always rotating - and spoons are always stirring.

Chef Jeanie is one bad-ass female chef and a warrior in the kitchen! I could certainly see how she beat Bobby Flay!

In the kitchen she taught us about the proper way to prep our lobster for its culinary demise - and how to make a heck of a lobster stock. And, if that's not enough - she even gave us a few trade secrets on what can be substituted for lobster stock if you're in a pinch.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Make sure you grab that crispy sediment in the pan
That's where all the flavor is!

After our kitchen lesson we moved back to the dining room where Chef Jeanie began class. We learned so many neat tips with every step of the process. Best ways to open a lobster, best ways to remove meat from a lobster and more!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Chef Roland demonstrates how to break apart a lobster

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Chef Roland demonstrates the best way to
remove lobster meat from the claw and tail

And all that work resulted in this delicious Lobster Bisque. Rich, creamy and delicious, and in the center was a beautiful surprise, a delicate dollop of lobster chive custard.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes Lobster Bisque

I mean really. There are just so many ways you can say yum before you sip this up and lick your bowl clean.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes
Lobster Bisque at Ella's Fine Food and Drink

Next we moved on to Lobster Pot Pie. Now, I have to admit, I am a die-hard crust on the bottom - crust on the top - 'pot pie' maker. But Chef Jeanie convinced us all to have a bit of fun with this dish, especially in the summer months when you want everything a bit lighter.

And she taught us the fine art of pie dough making. What kind of flour to use,  the proper way to knead, how to roll in only an outward direction (less gluten!), and the importance of resting your dough.

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes

Throughout the entire class she would stop and take questions, or take the time to show you just how things should look. In the photo below she shows how the dough should be just this side of crumbly with bits of butter visible.

And, here's where she really got me!  Instead of crust on the top and bottom, why not just place a nice flaky lobster shaped pie pastry smack dab in the middle of  your pot pie!

I have to admit - I'm a convert! This was a beautiful light dish - perfect for summer - and the lobster cut-out made for a nice presentation that would be impressive when entertaining. A great alternative to crust on the top and the bottom.  And I didn't even miss it! In fact, I thought it was so much better to go a bit lighter when the weather is so warm!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink Cooking Classes Lobster Pot Pie
Lobster Pot Pie
Ella's Fine Food and Drink

Next we moved on to Stuffed Lobster and a beautiful Lobster Cream Sauce. Chef shared with us some of her favorite kitchen gadgets, her favorite size knife to use, and how to properly cut vegetables.

Here's my dish of Lobster Cream Sauce over pasta with a roasted cherry tomato garnish.

And a delicious forkful of stuffed lobster.

Chef Jeanie closed with her recipe for a wonderful Grapefruit Vinaigrette Dressing, perfect for all those fresh summer salads from local produce!

Chef gave great direction on alternatives and substitutes but also told us to stick with our favorites as staples. Why? Because a change in brand can completely change the flavor of the dish.

Love Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce? Don't sub it out for a generic brand!

The result -  an aromatic, tangy, with just a hint of sweetness creamy dressing. I can't wait to make this for my next summer salad!

Speaking of which, Chef Roland sent us home with full recipes for everything she demonstrated - and kept us busy taking notes on all her hints and tips. In addition to just plain delicious, this was truly an informative and fun class!

We strayed away from lobster for dessert when Chef Roland treated us to this Honey and Fig covered creamy dessert.

Because, really, every good dinner should end on a sweet note.

And you can experience this same sweet hospitality at one of Chef Jeanie's upcoming cooking classes!

Chef Jeanie Roland's Upcoming Classes:

  • August 20th: END OF SUMMER PARTY,- Tomato & corn buffet theme
  • September 17th: ALL ABOUT APPLES - Soup, salad, and more
  • October 22nd: DUCK, DUCK & DUCK- Discussion on types and the different usage
  • November 12th: ELLA'S THANKSGIVING - Classic Thanksgiving Preparation of Turkey with Jeanie's own twists and some hor d'oeuvres
  • December 10th: CHRISTMAS DAY - Holiday Specialties

Cooking classes are $100 per person and start at 12 noon on all dates listed. Classes last 2-1/2 to 3 hours and include: instruction, recipes, adult beverages, featured food and Q & A with Chef Jeanie. Demonstration includes cooking in both the kitchen and their studio kitchen in the dining room.

Visit them soon for a great class or a delicious meal (or both!)

Ella's Fine Food and Drink

2 Tower Street
Westerly, RI  02891

About Ella’s Fine Food & Drink

Ella’s Fine Food & Drink, located at 2 Tower Street in Westerly, RI, opened in 2011 by Chef Jeanie Roland, a seven-time James Beard nominated Chef, and her husband and business manager, James Roland.  A premier dining destination for coastal, southern New England, Ella’s features French-Asian inspired fare imbued with Chef Roland’s passion for cooking with the freshest seasonal ingredients. In her pursuit of perfection, everything is made from scratch, from breads to desserts and everything in between, and menus change frequently in an effort to highlight the best available ingredients and to challenge Chef Roland and her culinary team. She has been quoted as saying that perhaps, "she has yet to create her best dish!"

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by members of Ella's management and marketing team, however all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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