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What To Do This Weekend?

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 24, 2016

This week, we thought we would feature two local festivals taking place this weekend. It is officially summer and what better way to spend your weekends than out in the gorgeous weather experiencing new things and making memories?




First up is the Adirondack Wine and Food Festival. 2016 is the second year for this fun event and it is one you will not want to miss. It is even bigger than last year, with over 60 NY State craft beverage producers and food vendors. You will be introduced to numerous wineries, breweries, distilleries, local food vendors, craft vendors and food trucks. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. You will receive a free wine glass with the purchase of your ticket, which you can use to sample all of the delicious craft beverages. This is the perfect opportunity to try before you buy and perhaps find something new that you might like. The event is being held at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in Lake George, NY on Saturday, June 25th from 11am-6pm and Sunday, June 26th from 11am-5pm. A plus to this event is that a portion of all ticket proceeds goes directly to the SUNY Adirondack Foundation, which provides financial support to the college and its students in the form of scholarships and staff development grants. If you're a wino or just like to try new things, this is the event for you!




                                              Photo: Saratoga Performing Arts Center www.spac.org




If you are a fan of music, you have to go to the Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival. This event is one of the most celebrated and longest running jazz events in the world. It is also the most popular jazz festival in the local area and one of the most looked forward to events in Saratoga for the summer! This event is sure to be a good time and is being held at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday, June 25th and Sunday, June 26th. Gates open at noon but the line starts to form long before that time, so make sure you get there early! If you go, you can look forward to performances by 20 world-class jazz artists, including Smokey Robinson! Performances will be held on two stages, with the larger acts performing on the main SPAC stage and the new, up-and-coming acts performing in the Gazebo. A plus to this event is that coolers are allowed in the venue, so you can bring all of the food and drink that you want. Ticket pricing is included in the link above.



We hope that you take advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and get to go to one of these events! Stay tuned to the blog next week for some travel essentials!

Summer Travel Tips

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 17, 2016


Now that the summer weather is upon us and the kids are out of school, many of you might be planning to book a nice summer vacation. While taking time off of work and going out of town can be relaxing, sometimes things come up and unplanned events happen. This can make what was once a fun, relaxing vacation into an overwhelming one. We have compiled a list of simple travel tips to help make your vacation a smooth one!


One helpful tip that we have found to ease some stress during the travel planning process is reading traveler reviews. Sites like TravelAdvisor.com offer traveler’s reviews on everything from restaurants and hotels to tourist attractions. They can help you decide where you would like to go or what sites you would like to see on your travels. While these reviews are helpful, you should still read them with an open mind. Pay attention to how recent the post was made. Many establishments pay attention to these reviews too and are quick to change anything that might have prompted a negative review. It is also helpful to look at the reviews that contain pictures. You can sometimes learn more from the pictures than you can the actual review.


A hugely important travel tip is to purchase travel insurance. This is an absolute must for big-ticket vacations that are non-refundable. Travel insurance covers things like lost baggage, emergency medical expenses, and it will help you recover some, if not all, of the cost of your trip if it has to be canceled or shortened. Always pay attention to whether your vacation is refundable or not. For example, my family is planning on going to Disney World this year. I did not purchase travel insurance for the actual Disney vacation package because it is completely refundable. I did, however, purchase travel insurance for my flights because this is 100% non-refundable without the insurance. You can save a little bit of money here and there by knowing the facts about your trip.


When it comes to packing, it is best to try to keep it to one suitcase. This will depend on the length of your vacation, of course. Packing light may not be easy for some, but it is essential to staying organized and avoiding too many baggage fees at the airport. I typically use a large rolling suitcase for a 7 day vacation. I have also invested in a packing cube system which keeps the suitcase space organized and makes it super easy once I get to the hotel. I will usually pack one outfit per packing cube, which makes it so I don’t have to dig around my suitcase or riffle through the closet trying to find the shirt I want to wear that day. Packing cubes also help cut way down on the wrinkles that my clothes will get, which saves me time because I don’t have to pull out the iron! The less stress first thing in the morning, the better.


Another important travel tip is to keep cash in a few different places. If you keep all of your cash and credit cards in your wallet and then you lose it, what do you do? I tend to keep some extra cash in a toiletry bag or under the insert in one of my shoes. This has saved me a few times in the past and it is something I will continue to do in the future. This is especially helpful if you are traveling out of the country. Cash is king and it is often easier to exchange and use than some credit cards. Banks often offer better exchange rates than those available to individuals, so exchange with them instead.


Our final travel tip is a simple one. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Sometimes, unplanned things happen that you have no control over, but you can’t spend your entire trip angry and in a bad mood because of it. Try to look at the bright side of every situation. If you stayed organized and pre-planned your trip well, you will know what to do. Did you miss the bus? Well, there will be another one. It pays to have a sense of humor in situations like these. Just think, you are making memories! Sometimes, the unplanned and hectic situations make for the funniest stories to tell to your friends and family down the road.


Wherever you are traveling this summer, even if you’re staying local, we hope you find some of these tips useful and have a wonderful, stress-free vacation!


Summer Grill Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 10, 2016

(Photo: Josh Bousel)

If you will be in New York City and anywhere near Madison Square Park this weekend, June 11th and 12th, the only place you need to make sure to stop by is the 14th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. This is a charity event that benefits the Madison Square Park Conservancy. In past years, more than 17 barbecue pitmasters were in attendance serving up some of the best BBQ in the country, making this one of the country’s premiere barbecue events! The event is free to attend and food is sold by the plate. This event has had over 125,000 visitors in the past, so lines can be long. However, the food is well worth the wait! In honor of the event, we thought we would share with you some of our favorite Summer BBQ and grilling recipes. We hope you enjoy the weekend!


Starting off with a bang, here are some of our favorite ribs! The Barbecued Country Ribs with Lemon are a staple in any at-home pitmaster’s menu! Using country-style pork ribs instead of spareribs is a must because they come from the loin, which means they are meatier. This combined with a tomato-based bbq sauce make these ribs one of my personal favorites.


The Grilled Chicken Breast with Chive Herb Butter is one of our favorite chicken recipes for the grill. The use of an herb butter takes away the need to marinate the chicken beforehand, making this chicken super easy and quick to make, but still delicious and juicy. You can even make a variety of herb butters ahead of time to save some time. They will keep in the fridge for up to a month and can be used in many different dishes, not just this chicken recipe!


For a different take on the traditional steak on the grill, try Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. The steak is best grilled quickly over very high heat to sear the outside while leaving the inside a nice medium rare. Thinly sliced and paired with the tart and herbaceous chimichurri sauce, this steak is rich with flavor!


One of my favorite things about summer and grilling is corn on the cob. There is nothing I like more than slathering butter and sprinkling salt on a cob and biting into the juicy sweetness. I never thought I would like corn any other way until I found this next recipe. Grilled Corn with Bacon Butter and Cotija Cheese…yes, bacon butter. So simple, so delicious. Everyone needs to run out and get the ingredients to make this, right now!


We featured a grilled peach recipe in our last blog post, and simply cannot get enough of them! A different variation is Bacon Wrapped Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Glaze. Again with the bacon, I know, but can you blame me? This time it is featured wrapped around grilled peaches, which sounds odd, but give it a chance! The salty bacon amps up the juicy sweetness of the ripe peaches, and the balsamic glaze gives it a touch of tartness. Pretty perfect, if you ask me.


Barbecue is my all-time favorite type of food. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!


Summer Salad Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 03, 2016
(Photo courtesy of Tieghan Gerard)


There is no better way to take advantage of all of the fresh produce that the summer has to offer than with a delicious summer salad. Since it is so hard to pick just one or two varieties of fresh produce, salads give you the opportunity to throw as many as you wish into a big bowl to enjoy. The following recipes prove that summer is made for salads!


We are going to start off the list of recipes with a bang! If you love Caprese Salad and are looking for a way to switch it up a bit, you definitely need to try this Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese Salad. Yes, you read that right…watermelon, grilled. If you thought watermelon was good before, try grilling it and then covering it with honey! Paired with ripe, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella and a balsamic glaze, this salad is to die for!


Next comes one of the easiest salads ever. The Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a salad that you can make with leftovers or whatever extra sauces and pasta’s you have in your fridge. You can really put anything in it! I’ve made this one myself before and it is a bit different each time I make it, but always delicious.


The Sesame, Tomato and Cucumber Salad is packed full of seasonal flavor and is another easy-to-make option. It is served with a salty soy sauce, but if you’d like to add a bit of texture to the tomatoes, you can sprinkle some sea salt before adding the soy sauce. The sesame seeds bring an unexpected flavor and crunch to this salad that is summer on a plate!


My personal favorite summer salad is Texas Caviar. It is a mix between a salad and a salsa and can be eaten with tortilla chips or added to a variety of dishes like chicken or salad. It can even be served as a side dish. If you are looking for a quicker option, you can use store bought salad dressing, but I like to make my own for some powerful flavor. I also add diced avocado to mine which adds a level of creaminess that is much appreciated. This salad is even better if you let it sit in the fridge overnight. The dressing will marinate all of the veggies and bump up the flavor power! I make this a few times every summer and crave it during the colder months!


For something a little more Southern, try the Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. If you think these ingredients together sound like an odd combination, you’d be right but the flavors all meld together perfectly. It makes for a nice unexpected twist on a summer salad. When choosing your onions for this salad, make sure to pick a nice juicy variety, like Vidalia onions. These bring a delicious sweetness when paired with the ripe peaches. This salad is definitely a crowd pleaser!


What better way to gather all of the delicious produce for these salads than visiting your local farmers market? They always seem to have the freshest fruits and veggies and I always make a point of going every week and stocking up! We hope you enjoy these salads and stay cool this summer!



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