Fondue for Two

Greetings from Antarctica!  Oh wait…I mean Arkansas.  We are iced in…again…and it makes me forget where I live.  But that gives me time to catch up on the blog, so I won’t complain!

As mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I had to postpone our Valentine’s plans on account of the flu in our household.  Our plans finally came to fruition last Saturday, and we had such a great night!  Let me give you a little backstory first….

My hubby, Jeremy, and I have a tradition of taking turns surprising the other with Valentine’s Day plans.  So one year, he’s in charge of planning Valentine’s, and the next year, I’m in charge of our plans.  And so on and so forth.  Several years ago, I surprised him with a trip to Memphis to see “Spamalot” (which was so stinkin’ fantastic) and dinner at The Melting Pot.  When I told him it was a fondue restaurant, my usually up-for-anything husband said, “Do what?!?”  Haha!  He is a very picky eater, and fondue was something he never intended to try.

When we got to The Melting Pot, we were shocked to discover that you cooked your own food.  We were like, “We came all this way and are paying all this money to cook our own dinner?”  Little did we know what a fun experience it would be!  For any readers who have not experienced The Melting Pot, you get four amazing courses when you order the whole nine yards: cheese fondue, salad, entrée, and chocolate fondue.  The entrée is the part where you do your own cooking – and it was so much fun.

We were hooked upon the first bite of the cheese fondue, but if we hadn’t been, the variety of meats would have sealed the deal for my husband, and the chocolate fondue would have made a believer out of me.  All this to say, we love The Melting Pot!  It is a bit pricey, so we usually only go once a year, usually for Valentine’s Day or our anniversary.  We love the fondue experience so much that we asked my parents for a nice Cuisinart fondue pot for Christmas four years ago.  And they bought us one.  And we never used it.  Until now….

Flash forward to Valentine’s Day 2014, my year to be in charge of Valentine’s Day.  I thought to myself, “By golly, I am going to use that fondue pot that’s been in the cupboard for four years to fix a romantic fondue dinner for us at home.”  I hadn’t gotten around to using it because I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking.  But I was determined to make it happen!  I got on The Melting Pot’s website back in January to see if they had any of their recipes listed, and lo and behold, they are now selling a Melting Pot cookbook!  I ordered one right away, along with some marinade, salad dressing, seasoning, and chocolate wafers.  My goal was to recreate a night at The Melting Pot…and we did.

It really was quite a production…it took us five hours!  Lol!  We started at 5:00pm and didn’t finish until 10:00pm.  There was a half hour break in there for me to rest…I was worn out!  Not only was there TONS of prep-work that started the night before, I had to clean the fondue pot between each course.  My back was killing me from all the cooking and dishwashing.  But it was so much fun.  Jeremy was my sous-chef, and I every time I needed him I’d holler, “Get this, Sous!” or “Fetch that, Sous!”  It was great bossing him around the kitchen, and he learned a lot.  Together, we cooked a fabulous meal.

Here are some pictures from each of our four courses:

We started with a traditional Swiss cheese fondue.  Not nearly as good as the cheddar one we order at The Melting Pot, but I wanted to start with a classic.

cheese fondue

Next up were salads with The Melting Pot’s house dressing.  Can you guess which salad is Jeremy’s?

salads

The main course included teriyaki sirloin, jumbo shrimp, barbecue pork loin, and four cheese ravioli (for me).  On the side, we had potatoes and broccoli.  We had so much leftover food, it was ridiculous.

main course

The fourth and final course was Bananas Foster fondue, which is made with white chocolate.  Absolutely. Divine.  This course was all mine, and I had all kind of goodies for dipping: strawberries, bananas, pound cake, marshmallows rolled in graham cracker crumbs, Rice Krispie treats, and sugar cookie pieces.  And of course, plain iced sugar cookies for my honey.

chocolate fondue

It was a memorable evening for sure, and even though it was hard work, I look forward to doing it again.  Not anytime soon, but sometime.  I am so thankful for my Valentine.  He is my best friend, amazing father, hard worker, and love of my life.  He has been very supportive of my weight loss goals, and I look forward to celebrating with him when I accomplish them.  Maybe we’ll celebrate with a trip to The Melting Pot.

Ode to a Cadbury Creme Egg

“Oh, messenger of spring,

how you lift my soul when I see you in the store.

Your shiny foil wrapper brings a tear to my eye,

and I realize that everything is right in the world.

Your milk chocolate shell…so scrumptious.

Your soft fondant center…so decadent.

Your richness is worth more than all the gold in the land.

Though each moment with you is precious,

it’s for the best that our time together is brief.

When Easter has passed, we must go our separate ways,

for I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I…keep going.

Oh, and I love you with milk.”

creme eggs

Okay, you get the point.  I love Cadbury Creme Eggs.  And yes, I bought a five-pack of them at the store last weekend.  I couldn’t find them last year!  By the time I gave in to the urge to buy one, all I could find were the mini-eggs, which are totally different and completely inferior.  So even though Easter is still two months away, these babies are hot-off-the-shelf so I don’t miss out this year.

In other news, I am still struggling to get back to a regular exercise routine.  Things have been super-busy lately (nothing new there), and I’ve only managed to squeeze in a few sporadic workouts.  The good news is that I have been able to exercise without any serious flare-ups with my hip.  It’s still sore sometimes, but it’s not popping out of place anymore.  For the time being….

I was really looking forward to a fun night of cooking with husband for Valentine’s Day, but our oldest son came down with the flu.  :(  Thankfully we caught it very early, and he recovered nicely.  So our cooking plans have been rescheduled for this weekend.  Stay tuned for details!

One thing that has made me determined to get back on track ASAP is the warmer temperatures we’ve had this week.  It’ll be time for flip-flops and shorts before we know it, and I am hoping to buy some new spring clothes!  My winter clothes have gotten pretty loose, but I’m trying not to buy too many new clothes because I am only about halfway to my weight-loss goals.  I think it will be kinda fun – and kinda sad, because I get attached to my faves – to pull out my spring and summer clothes and find that they are too big for me.  Warmer weather has also got me thinking about that tropical vacation my husband and I would like to take for our 15th anniversary.  I still don’t know if the stars will align for it to happen, but I can almost hear the ocean calling and feel the warm sand between my toes!

As we dream of palm trees and warm breezes, I pray that we all stay safe and warm during this last month of winter.  I love winter, but I think I’m about ready for spring!  And Easter candy.

Five Reasons I Love the Fair

Well, we went to the County Fair three days ago, and I’m still feeling euphoric!  I LOVE THE FAIR!  While the first six days of the fair were miserably hot, a cold front moved through and cooled things down for Friday, the day we went.  It was about 75 degrees with a nice fall-like breeze.  Perfect. Fair. Weather.  It was a fun-filled night for so many reasons, but here are the top five reasons I love the fair:

  1. THE FRIENDS – We go to the fair with the same family of five every year, and this was our 11th year to go together.  They were a part of a historic event in my life…my very first county fair!  I milked and brushed a cow for the first time in my life…it was epic.
  2. THE FOOD – Corn dogs, funnel cakes, and caramel apples.  ‘Nuff said.
  3. THE PETTING ZOO – I love seeing, petting, and feeding the animals, especially the babies.  Missing this year was the enormous cow you can brush and the freshly-hatched baby chicks, but we had a camel for the first time.  I guess I’ll settle for a camel.
  4. THE FERRIS WHEEL – My absolute favorite ride because you get a bird’s eye view of the fair and the town.  :)  Love me some ferris wheel.
  5. THE MIDWAY AFTER DARK – Although the games are rigged and the rides (and operators) are sketchy, I love the lights and sounds of the midway, especially after the sun sets.

fair favesAs you may have read in previous posts, I have been salivating for fair food, so I saved all my splurge calories for fair night.  I really had my heart set on eating a corn dog, but we got to the fair and saw BBQ nachos advertised.  Yes, please!  That’s what I ended up ordering for dinner, followed by a funnel cake later in the evening.  I ordered my caramel apple “to-go” and ate it Saturday afternoon.  Pure. Heaven.

fair foodEvery Sunday morning we pass by the fair grounds on our way to church.  We are always excited to see the fair being set up, and always sad to see it being taken down.  My boys are already asking how long it will be until it’s fair-time again.  I think one final reason I love fair-time is that it means fall is right around the corner.  I’m so ready for cool weather, pumpkins, and fall foliage.

Thank you, Lord, for a memorable night at the fair and for the hint of fall in the air.  Amen.  Goodnight, friends!