Archive for July, 2009

America’s Best Little Beach Towns

One of my favorite beaches in Florida is on the west coast. It’s in Boca Grande and it’s beautiful. I wrote the article below about the beach and then I found Travel and Leisure Magazine wrote an article that its one of America’s best little beach towns.
I took this picture from the porch of the beach house I was staying in.
Read my article here.

Here is Travel and Leisure’s article…
Nightlife-driven souls looking for Floridian action point their convertibles toward the likes of Fort Lauderdale and Key West. But a certain quieter, off-the-radar destination on the state’s Gulf Coast holds a different kind of allure. The cult-fave town of Boca Grande is a throwback, an Old Florida time warp with such whimsically named streets as Damnificare and no chain stores or ye-olde theme restaurants. This idyllic escape features a much-photographed lighthouse watching over Gasparilla Island State Park and long, quiet beaches touched by gentle surf. Boca Grande is a wonderland, a place that defies the clichés of Florida beach towns—all the sloppy, party-hearty aspects—while embodying the best of what the state has to offer.
In the free and easy days of summer, the quest for a great American beach town like Boca Grande is a national passion. Beach towns are a mainstay of the hot months, a beacon for countless citizens looking for a reprieve from the daily grind. The Great American beach town, apart from being idle as all get out, is also resolutely democratic, conscious that the sand belongs to all. These spots serve as emblems of our God-given right to get too much sun and to eat tasty—if nutritionally unfortunate—fried food.

Take the island of Chincoteague, VA, the gateway to the not-to-be-missed seven-mile-long Assateague National Seashore, a wondrous backdrop for beach strolls rich with herons, bald eagles, foxes, and the famed wild ponies. It doesn’t get simpler—or better—than Chincoteague’s Seashell Café, a welcome destination after a long day on the beach where diners fill up on clam chowder and platters of fried Atlantic shrimp and Chincoteague oysters. Visit in July, when the Pony Round-up and Swim engulfs the island, with ocean-going cowboys herding the ponies across the channel between Assateague and Chincoteague, where the colts are auctioned off to keep the herd at a manageable level.

Of course, the West Coast has no shortage of sandy attractions. In Santa Cruz, CA, the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Beach Boardwalk amusement park keeps visitors screaming for more cheap thrills. Check into the Casablanca Inn, where most rooms have ocean views, and order some fresh seafood at the restaurant, which also overlooks the mighty Pacific.

And salt water isn’t needed for a great beach town. On Lake Michigan, the Silver Lakes Sand Dunes Area draws a faithful midwestern crowd seeking downtime and summer fun.

So get that beach chair and cooler ready—and prepare for the simple pleasures of summer at one of these classic retreats.

Go coastal with wasabi shrimp, island cocktails

Cookbook author Lucy Buffett conjures the seaside with her fun recipes
Crazy Sista Cooking: Cuisine and Conversation with Lucy Anne Buffett

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Turn the heat up on your summer snacking with this recipe for easy wasabi shrimp — and then cool down with a breezy island cocktail.

Screaming Easy Wild Shrimp Wasabi

Serves 4 to 6


• 1 tablespoon wasabi powder
• 1/4 cup beer (use Landshark© beer and drink the rest while cooking)
• 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
• 2 pounds large headless shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
• 1//2 teaspoon course sea salt
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
• Lime slices for garnish

1. Combine wasabi powder, beer and horseradish. Set aside.

2. Peel and de-vein shrimp, leaving tails intact.

3. Place a cast iron skillet over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add shrimp. Shake skillet and toss or stir shrimp for 15 seconds or until they just begin to turn pink.

4. Add salt, wasabi mixture and butter. Stir quickly, turning shrimp for another 15 seconds, then cover tightly and remove from heat. Let shrimp rest for 5 minutes.

5. Add cilantro, stir once, and cover again. Wait another 5 minutes.

6. Garnish with lime slices and serve immediately.

Bama Breeze Cocktail

Makes one drink


• 2 ounces Absolut Citron Vodka
• 1 ounce coconut rum
• Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
• 2-3 ounces cranberry juice
• 1/2 ounce simple syrup
• Lime wedges to garnish


1. Fill a tall glass with crushed ice.

2. Add vodka and rum.

3. Squeeze lime juice into glass.

4. Fill with cranberry juice

5. Add simple syrup to desired sweetness.

6. Stir.

7. Garnish with fresh lime wedge.

To make your own simple syrup: In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then cool, pour syrup liquid into a storage container. This will keep — if refrigerated — for a long time.

7 steps to healthier, guilt-free summer grilling

Grilled food is one of the great pleasures of summer, but unfortunately, the link between grilled meat and cancer just won’t go away. If this is of concern to you, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk. Denise Snyder, a nutrition researcher at the Duke School of Nursing, offers seven easy tips.

Today Showbeach_grill

* If you love the flavor of grilled food, cut down on the amount of meat you eat by throwing more fruits and vegetables like peaches, nectarines, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, and bell peppers on the grill. In fact, almost any summer fruit or veggie is delicious grilled.

* Shorten grill time by using a thermometer (always a good idea) to make sure you’re not overcooking the meat; microwave your food first to give it a head start; and choose thinner, leaner cuts of meat. Or make kebabs or skewers, which require less cooking.

* Flip food frequently.

* To avoid smoky flare-ups, which contain cancer-causing substances that coat the meat, line your grill with foil poked with holes to allow the fat to drip down. Keep a spray bottle full of water handy to put out flare-ups as they occur.
* Trim fat from meats before cooking (this will help reduce flare-ups, too).

* Marinating meat first has been shown to reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances. (Check out our favorite marinade recipes.)

* Use the lowest temperature to cook your food thoroughly. Keep your grill rack as high as possible to keep the meat far from the heat.

Snyder also recommends avoiding processed meats such as hot dogs and sausages because grilled or not, they’ve been shown to increase cancer risk. This is a tough one for me since I love hot dogs, but she’s right — they’re best left as an occasional treat.

Best Beach Bar Drinks!

One of my favorite parts about summer is the cocktails that you can drink at a beach bar or laying on a chair on the beach. The Today Show had a feature about the best beach bar drinks and I was watching it while I was on the treadmill at the gym! I know there are a ton of calories in each drink but I think they are sooo worth it… in moderation of course!

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