Things to do:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review of A Coca-Cola Christmas Exhibit at Louisville Slugger Museum

Allison was given admission to exhibit for purpose of review.

 photo 20141118_110345_zps71b7209c.jpgMy husband and youngest son recently set out to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum's newest rotating exhibit. It is called "A Coca Cola Christmas", and it is included with the regular ticket price of the factory tour.

Inside the room there is lots of memorabilia spanning over 75 years of history for the company. There was a part of the tour where kids both young and old can write their Christmas wishes on post it notes and put them on a designated wall. They also have voting for a favorite Christmas tradition like real tree or artificial, favorite Christmas movie, and a few more categories.

 photo 20141118_105922_zps4d68f6f4.jpgThe exhibit also showcases oil paintings from the famous Haddon Sundblom who painted advertisements for the Coca Cola company for many years. Interestingly, he is credited with creating the image of Santa Claus that we know and love today. My three year old pretty much breezed through the exhibit and was done rather quickly. Due to the "no hands" nature, I would recommend it for older kids or even for family that you have in town over the holidays.

Santa will be making appearances on November 29, and December 6, 13, and 20th. He will be handing out candy canes, posing for pictures and of course taking gift requests.


By guest contributor: Allison

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review of Holden Healing Massage in Louisville, KY

When I was asked to review a local massage therapist's services, I was glad to help out! I said goodbye to my family and headed out for an hour of bliss! Holden Healing Massage is located in one of the suites in the white Kendall Building, right next to Oxmoor Kia.

The owner, Teri, has one room with a massage table, and it is very cozy, comfortable, and inviting. Before we got started, we discussed my health history, preferable massage type (relaxation vs deep tissue vs sports massage, etc), and she let me choose which type of aromatherapy best fit my mood. With the low lighting, soft music, aromatherapy, steam towels, and relaxing pressure, I almost slept through my massage! I did ask her to work through my shoulder tightness, which she did firmly, but not too painfully. She broke up the healthy massage areas with the relaxation massage, so it wasn't too much pressure at once. She checked the pressure with me, asked for feedback on how it was feeling, and seemed to know exactly where my problem areas were. She did a great job preparing me for the massage beforehand, as well as reviewing problem areas (like tight muscles) afterward.

 It was truly one of the best massages I have ever received. Teri has spent several years working as a massage therapist in local businesses and spas before breaking out on her own a year ago. She is very flexible with her schedule (7 days a week), and accepts no gratuity because she owns her own business. Massages are $65 for an hour, $95 for 90 minutes - and no tip! She also sells massage packages at a discount for weekly and bi-weekly massages, has gift certificates, and accepts credit card, paypal, and cash. I enjoyed the massage so much, I bought a gift certificate for my husband, and plan to go back for birthday and holiday gifts for family and friends! I highly recommend you check out Holden Healing Massage!

By guest contributor: Caryn

Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Tree Farms: Where in Louisville, Kentuckiana and Southern Indiana can you cut down your own tree?

 photo Cut-Your-Own_zps00ef75d1.pngAlpine Ridge Christmas Tree Farm Inc.
La Grange, Ky., about 25 miles from Louisville (502) 933-1755. Note: Only open Friday after Thanksgiving, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. White pine, $35; and Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir and Canaan fir, $49. You cut; saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees. Free loose-needle shakeout of trees.

Becker Tree Farm
434 Bates Lane, off Zoneton Road, in Bullitt County, Ky., about 14 miles from Louisville. (502) 599-9427. Note: Open only two days, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4 and noon-5 p.m. Dec. 5. Scotch pine, $30. Wreaths also for sale. Farm prefers to cut trees; customers not permitted to dig trees. Free tree shaking.

Bruce L. Real Tree Farm
Near Marengo, Ind., about 45 miles from Louisville. (812) 944-8824. Opens Friday. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Dec. 19. Scotch pine, $12. You cut, you dig. Saws provided; bring your own shovel. Dug (balled in burlap) white pine, $25 and up.

Creekside Christmas Tree Farm
390 Browns Lane, Vine Grove, Ky., about 35 miles from Louisville. (270) 877-5552. Opens Friday, 1-5 p.m. Thereafter, farm will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 12. White pine and Canaan fir, $30. You cut; saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees. Carts provided to carry trees from field to vehicle. Tree shaking free; baling is $2. Hot apple cider free for customers.

George C. Wethington Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm
10407 Easum Road, Jeffersontown, Ky (502) 267-5119
13 miles from downtown Louisville, White pine and Norway spruce $20-50

Holden Farm on Floyds Fork
3100 Apple Hill Road, Louisville. (502) 417-7852. Open Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through Dec. 12. Norway spruce and Scotch pine, $15 and up. You cut, or the farm will cut; saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees.

Huber's Orchard & Winery
19816 Huber Road,Starlight, Ind., about 22 miles from downtown Louisville. (812) 923-9813. Daily, beginning Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 23. Scotch and white pine, $45 (up to 8 feet); Norway spruce, $45 (up to 8 feet); Douglas fir, $60 (up to 9 feet); and blue spruce, $75 (up to 9 feet). You cut; saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees, but dug and balled white pine and Norway and Colorado blue spruce are available, $50 and up. Free wagon rides to the fields. Free cup of hot cider or coffee with tree purchase. Free shaking; baling, $3.

Leota Christmas Tree Farm
1903 S. Finley Firehouse Road, Scottsburg, Ind., about 35 miles from Louisville. (812) 752-7160. Daily, beginning Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; through Dec. 24. Scotch and white pine, $20-$50. You cut, or let the farm cut; saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees. Free shaking and baling. Gift shop. Santa will visit on the weekends (Nov. 27-28, Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12) from 2 to 4 p.m. Randy the reindeer, potbellied pigs (Gertrude and Barney), two goats and four geese on the premises. Free hayride to the tree fields. Wreaths, garlands and roping for sale. You can take pictures of your family sitting in a sleigh near Randy the reindeer.

Meyer Christmas Trees
Borden, Ind., about 18 miles from Louisville
 (812) 923-9355. Daily, beginning Friday after Thanksgiving, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 23. White and Scotch pine, $23; Norway spruce and Colorado blue spruce, $35. You cut; saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees. Tree shaking free. Baling is $2. Free greenery; fresh wreaths for sale.

Pine Ridge Farm
3701 Valley Creek Drive, Pendleton, near La Grange, Ky., about 28 miles from Louisville. (502) 386-2336. Open only Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Scotch and white pine, $35 (only 10-foot and taller trees available). You cut; saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees. Free tree shaking. Attractions include bonfire and free hot chocolate. Orders taken for custom wreaths and greenery.

Sleepy Hollow Tree Farm
Prospect, Ky., about 17 miles from downtown Louisville. (502) 241-5441. Opens Friday, 1-6 p.m. Thereafter daily hours are Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday-Friday, 1-6 p.m.; through Dec. 18. White pine, $6 per foot or $50 for trees over 8 feet; Scotch pine, $7 a foot; and Norway spruce and Douglas fir, $10 a foot. Farm prefers to cut the trees, but you can saw if you wish. Saws provided. Customers not permitted to dig trees. Wreaths for sale. Review coming soon.

Tower Family Christmas Tree Farm
Columbus, Indiana - It's kind of far but our own writer, Jeanette's family runs this tree farm so we have to highlight it! Check out their blog here. They open Friday, November 28, 10am until dark. Weekdays 1pm until dark, Weekends 10am until dark. Call 812-378-3505 for more info.

Tower View Farm and Nursery
This locally owned family run business in Jeffersontown is a great place to purchase a live tree. They do not have pick your own or u-cut, but they are a great roadside market. They also have wreaths, flowers, and lots of greenery for sale as well.

Werkmeister Christmas Trees
966 Clarks Lane (Ky. 1442 west), near Shepherdsville, Ky., in Bullitt County, about 20 miles from Louisville. (502) 543-6084. Open Friday after Thanksgiving, Saturday, Sunday, Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open weekdays by appointment only. White and Scotch pine and Serbian spruce, $45. Farm prefers to cut trees. Customers not permitted to dig trees. Drilling for tree stands, $2. Wreaths for sale. Free tree shaking and baling.

Zoellers Tree Farm
6900 Loi Road, Floyds Knobs, Ind., about 11 miles from Louisville. (812) 923-8545. Open Friday through Dec. 18 by appointment only. Scotch, white and red pine, $25 or $3 a foot for trees taller than 8 feet. Saws provided. Customers permitted to dig trees; bring your own shovel. Wreaths for sale.

Check out these website links for more information: U-Pick Trees, Kentucky Christmas Tree Association-find a farm, Courier-Journal Christmas Tree Guide (main source for some of this info)

By guest contributor: Dana


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Picks for Things to Do this Weekend around Louisville: November 21,22,23

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Download our App - click here - the events calendar and Kids Eat Free list right at your fingertips!

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Check out our Winter Fun Links page that features our Holiday post! We are donating ad space to charity so please check out this page if you are a small business and want to help us help local kids!
Let's get to the picks for the weekend!

Thursday special: Come shop at our Ladies Night Out event with The Prickly Pear and HerKentucky.  Details here.

Friday:
Dine at the new Noodles & Company for lunch or dinner!  They are donating 50% of this Friday's sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana - wow!

How about an evening trip east on 64 to the Kentucky Horse Park for a special Kentucky Christmas event.  They have their Southern Lights display!  Click here for details.

Saturday:
Enjoy a Turkey, Tales & Crafts storytime at the Crescent Hill library. I just love that library! It's at 11am.

Paint at Whet Your Palette for half off from 6-8pm - you know you want something festive to hang or have a gift you need to make for someone!

Sunday:
There's a Healthy Family Training Camp at the Yum! Center noon to 2pm. For more information visit www.getfit2014.org or call to RSVP at 502-371-6016. All registered participant will receive FREE entry to the UofL Women's Basketball Game at 2:00pm!

Stephanie

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Places: Favorite Crock Pot Recipes from the LouFamFun Writers

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Tami ~ Chicken with Cranberries We love this one in the fall!

Nicolle ~ Chicken Tortilla Soup (I usually use a rotisserie chicken from Costco and use half the beans in the recipe. Family favorite!)

Jeanette~ Slow Cooker Ham  For a delicious, no-fuss ham that is juicy and good, try this slow cooker sensation with only two ingredients! It shreds great. Great for a crowd or to use it in recipes for the rest of the week

Maggie ~Vegan Black Bean Chili Soak dried black beans in water overnight. Canned won't hold up in the crock pot all day. Drain in the morning and add to crock pot. Sauté onions, peppers, and garlic in vegetable oil with Adobo (I use the one with the green lid). Add to crock pot. Dice up 1 sweet potato and add to crock pot. Add 1 cup uncooked quinoa (optional) Add 2 cans rotel or diced tomatoes. (Rotel will make it pretty spicy.) Add 1 box tomato sauce. Refill the box with water and add that. Add Chili powder and stir. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours. You can also assemble this the night before, put it in your fridge, and cook on high 6-7 hours. Don't let the vegan title fool you-this Chili is hearty and packed with protein. My kids love it!

Stephanie ~ 3 lbs chicken + 1 jar medium salsa. 10hrs on low. Shred and serve with tostadas, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, refried beans, cheese and sour cream for a build-your-own tostada dinner Here's another: 1 bag(s) tortellini2 can(s) italian style diced tomatoes (i used roasted garlic & basil)4 c vegetable broth1 pkg cream cheese (cubed up)1 bag(s) fresh spinich Put all in crockpot and cook low for 5 hrs.

Dana ~ Pork BBQ sandwiches - Place 2 pound boneless pork shoulder (trimmed) in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Rub with brown sugar, chili powder, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup water. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and shreds easily, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours (the low setting will make total cooking time 8 hours, 10 minutes). Serve on buns with coleslaw

Erin ~ Crockpot Chicken with Black Beans 3 chicken breasts, 1 cup chicken broth, season to taste the following: black pepper, salt, red pepper, garlic powder, cumin (about 2 tsp). Put in crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. Cut and shred chicken up and add 2 cans of rinsed and drained black beans; continue to cook for at least another hour. Use as a filling for tacos or burritos. Add the fixins!

Karen ~ Crockpot White Chicken Chili 4 cans Northern White Beans (1-2 cans can be Cannelini if you choose)1 onion (chopped)1 can corn1 can petite diced tomatoes (I use the kind with green chilis)1 (4oz) can diced fire roasted green chilis2 packages McCormick White Chkn Chili Seasoning2 cups chicken broth2 LARGE boneless/skinless chicken breasts (at least 8oz each) Drain and rinse beans. Put all ingredients in crockpot, stir, then lay chicken breasts on top. Cover and cook on Hign 3-4hours, or 6-8hours on low. Before serving, remove chicken breasts and shred the meat, return to pot, stir and serve  Taco Soup/Chili 1 sm-med onion chopped3 - 10oz cans diced tomato w/ green chilies2 cans black beans1 can pinto beans1 can creamed corn1 packet taco seasoning1 packet ranch dressing12oz bag of frozen corn Drain all of your cans except the creamed corn, put all in the crock pot and heat. *Add any meat you wish - shredded chicken, ground beef, ground turkey ...

Brandy ~ Amazing Pork Tenderloin in the Slow Cooker- 1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin- 1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix- 1 cup water- 3/4 cup red wine- 3 tablespoons minced garlic- 3 tablespoons soy sauce- freshly ground black pepper to taste Place pork tenderloin in a slow cooker with the contents of the soup packet. Pour water, wine, and soy sauce over the top, turning the pork to coat. Carefully spread garlic over the pork, leaving as much on top of the roast during cooking as possible. Sprinkle with pepper, cover, and cook on low setting for 4 hours. Serve with cooking liquid on the side as au jus. Makes 6 servings.

Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas- 2.5 lb pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed- 6 cloves garlic, cut into sliver- cumin- dry adobo seasoning (I used Goya)- garlic powder- 3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth- 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (to taste)- 2 bay leaves Season pork with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan on medium-high heat, brown pork on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers. Season pork generously with cumin, adobo and garlic powder all over.Pour chicken broth in the crockpot, add bay leaves and chipotle peppers. Place pork in crock pot and cover. Cook low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumalated at the bottom. Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin (you will probably need to add more). Let it cook another 15-30 minutes. Serves 8.

Share your favorite crock pot recipes with us!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review of Christmas at the Galt House 2014

I was hosted at the Galt House for purpose of review.

Each year, we explore Christmas at the Galt House to see how they have changed their holiday offerings.  I love that The Galt House hotel has taken a hold the holiday season and created a downtown festive destination.


A Staycation:
If you are looking to experience something special with your family without the added expense of travel, we really enjoy staying at The Galt House.  The suite style rooms are great for families because of the living area and large amount of space. They are equipped with a small refrigerator to store snacks and drinks you can bring from home and there are two TVs for no disputes over what to watch!  Also, the hotel is decorated throughout for Christmas and the bellmen dance at 5pm for free evening entertainment.   The kids love the views!

You can plan an entire weekend with KaLightoscope, dinner show, Louisville's 40 Nights of Lights along 4th Street, Breakfast with Santa etc.  It will add up in terms of cost but they have some packages to make it a slightly better deal or you can experience just some of the options to keep the expense lower choosing just what you want to get in the holiday spirit.  And, there are ample restaurants throughout the hotel to serve up just about anything your family would want.

KaLightoscope:
My family has loved KaLightoscope the last few years. It really helped set the tone for the holiday season - seeing it early in all of its colorful glory, getting the letter out to Santa and just filling us with joy.  My kids couldn't wait for the big teddy bears, scavenger hunt, writing their name of the naughty or nice list and all of the traditions that have been created over the past few years.   This year, there are changes to lantern area of KaLightoscope and I feel like some of the joyous nature of it is gone.  The "A Christmas Carol" theme is extremely impressive with such detail, moving parts and expressive storytelling through the lanterns and yes, a classic tale - but my kids thought it was creepy and we don't generally want to kick off the holiday season with "creepy."  They are not familiar with the story and left asking questions about why there is a graveyard in their self-named "Christmas Hotel" so we'll look for the movie on TV.  My children are 6 & 7, perhaps older kids would like this new theme or you should read the book/watch the movie before going so that your kids see the scenes as familiar. However, I think most people go to KaLightoscope with an expectation of leaving happy, cheerful and ready to sing Jingle Bells and the spooky, dark scenes of A Christmas Carol left us wishing for last year's colorful, happy gift boxes and reindeer.  We flew through KaLightoscope in about 10 minutes and went onto the village area.  The photos on the Christmas at the Galt House website for KaLightoscope are from previous years and make you think you are returning to something familiar, something you have looked forward to and they are not the lanterns you will see.  To mix things up, I would have liked to see a mix of the new theme with the past lanterns.


The English Village area has a new flow and added features.  The kids enjoyed the village area much more than the lanterns.  They have a new small Elf show area for short musical shows almost every hour, letters to Santa, a mouse game (ask about that because there was no information given to alert me to it, I asked if there were games like previous years), lots of new miniature buildings to look at that were adorable, a snow flake craft, build-a-snowman area, an interactive green-screen sleigh ride (see our video here), digital photo opportunities, a train for small children (no more cute displays surrounding the area), gingerbread houses and visits with the Snow Fairy princess.    You can spend at least an hour in English Village area.  And, this year, the ticket is all-access for a day so you can come and go if the kids need a break but want to go back to ride the train one more time.  Kids' tickets are just $5 (age 3 & under, free).


In the hallways, they have shops and cafes set up to grab delicious smelling treats.  You can visit Santa on the way out (or just on your own, it's free for anyone) and get a photo emailed to you or snap one with your own camera.



Pam Tillis Dinner Show:
Pam Tillis is a big name county music artist and it is awesome that the Galt House has upped their game with this entertainment option. The Pam Tillis & Friends: A Kentucky Christmas Show is in one of the large ballrooms and features holiday classics mixed with familiar songs of Pam's career.  You dine at tables of 10 on salad, beef with gravy, potatoes and green veggies and a pumpkin roll dessert. There are vegetarian and kids meal options.  The cost of attending for a family of four (kids 12 and under) to attend this 2 hour show ranges from $168 to $216 depending on matinee vs. dinner show selection.  This is quite costly for most families so if you want to go - consider a matinee.  It is not as late for tiring children and a lower price point.  I think the dinner show would be a better option for a ladies night out or perhaps something I would take my mother to and enjoy together.  The music was entertaining and it was great to hear some of Pam Tillis' classic hits.


Stephanie

Monday, November 17, 2014

HerLouisville’s Five Fun & Fast Tips for Holiday Shopping in Louisville

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Holiday shopping. The very phrase conjures up images of exhausted, stressed-out shoppers standing in impossibly long lines to find presents.But wouldn’t you love it if this was the year that holiday shopping didn’t bring unnecessary stress to your life? After all, the people on your shopping list are friends and family — the very folks who bring you joy. Shouldn't shopping for them be a little easier, and maybe even fun?

It’s easy to keep your shopping stress-free and enjoyable by being a little more intentional, and making a plan.These five fast and fun tips will help you kickstart your holiday shopping.
  • Keep it Local. Louisville’s locally-owned retailers offer an amazing selection of products and friendly, helpful staffs. You can find gorgeous and unique presents for everyone on your shopping lists when you visit Louisville’s local shops. Help support local businesses this holiday season —you’ll stay far away from crowded malls and department stores and find gifts that are sure to bring a smile to your loved ones’ faces!
  • Make a Day of It. Take a Saturday or Sunday morning to visit one of Louisville’s fantastic shopping districts. You’ll find that the diverse neighborhoods offer something for everyone on your shopping list. Brunch in NuLu can be paired with nearby retailers. Coffee or a cocktail in the South Fourth District or St Matthews can kick off a fun afternoon of shopping. Whether you choose the Highlands, Crescent Hill, or Middletown, you can find,
  • Everyone Loves a Gift Card. Gift cards have gotten an unnecessarily bad reputation as an impersonal and lazy present, but a well-chosen gift card can be a thoughtful and welcome gift. A gift card to a favorite spa allows Mom to schedule a day of pampering at a time that works for her, while a Louisville Originals gift card lets your favorite foodie choose from a variety of local restaurants. A night at a local hotel is a thoughtful gift for a sleep-deprived new mom or caregiver, while a prepaid activity like Louisville Stoneware’s Paint Your Own Pottery makes a fun outing for the DIYer. Don’t forget to look for special promotions that offer savings on gift cards!
  • Stock Up. Remember there are always a few last-minute presents to buy. Find a few all-purpose presents. Go ahead and wrap them and add a name tag. You're ready for a last-minute gift exchange with no stress.
  • Follow Your Favorite Stores. Look for the stores you love on social media for special holiday deals. Local stores often post their latest merchandise on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram along with holiday savings! 
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Get a jump start on your holiday shopping by visiting The Prickly Pear Thursday, November 20th, for their second anniversary celebration. Event details HERE.  There will be refreshments, special deals, a charity raffle for an amazing Kentucky gift basket (proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana), and more! Look for Louisville Family Fun's Founder Stephanie White and me at the event; we'll be there to help you select the perfect holiday presents for everyone on your list!

Heather

Learn about Heather and see a growing compilation of HerLouisville  features on our new page dedicated to the topic.  We'll focus on entertaining, style and dining with moms in mind!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Picks for Things to Do this Weekend: November 14,15,16

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Let's get to the picks for the weekend!

Friday:
Read our Holiday post - there's always events, we can't repeat them all!
Our pick is Light Up Westport Village and the Festival of Lights.  Both will get you in a jolly good mood......but only one is inside.  Just sayin'

Saturday
Why not get that Santa photo done early?  Head to Bass Pro shop for that and more - it all starts this weekend.

Want a night out?  Big Brothers Big Sisters is having The Big Masquerade on Saturday night at The Henry Clay.  It's all for a good cause and a GREAT night out.  Use THUMPER to save $5 per ticket and get your babysitter booked.  I mean....there will be flame spinners!!

Sunday:
Doesn't the new exhibit at Slugger Museum seem cool?  A Coca Cola Christmas!  Details here.  I like to put these in the picks for the weekend because you know, downtown museums aren't just for tourists :)

Have a fabuLOUs weekend,
Stephanie



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review of Dinner Detective Interactive Murder Mystery Show in Louisville, KY

Dana was given admission to The Dinner Detective Interactive Murder Mystery Show for purpose of review. 

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If you’re in need of an intriguing night out or a Parent's Night Out, The Mystery Theater fits the bill. It’s located in The Crown Plaza Hotel and runs every Saturday night. Tickets for general admission, which includes an interrogation reception, hors d’oeuvres, fresh rolls and butter, a mixed garden greens salad, your choice from two entrees and dessert, can be purchased on their website.

 photo photo2_zps1e9563bf.jpgCheck in is at 6:30, where you will be asked to make out a name tag using an alias. I chose Ashley Louisa Davis (long story about my alter ego and fake ID years ago). My fellow writer chose Emily Post and we were seated with Casa Grande, Ladybug, and Alabaster to name a few. There is a cash bar and appetizers of sliced meats and cheeses and as you settle in with your appetizers, the emcee announces that a murder will soon take place and that everyone in the room (including you) is a suspect. There is an interrogation sheet where you can wander from table to table to question other guests and gather clues. Audience participation is highly encouraged.

As the evening progresses, more clues are presented between the dinner courses. As you’re eating you are able to review paper clues and take your own notes outlining your own suspicions. The actors kept us all guessing and laughing through the evening. At the end of the performance, we were given a sheet to write our solution and solve who committed the murder and why – with the winner receiving an award of a $100 value. (And that winner was not me. Not even close.)

Being a mom of three, my attention span lately is lacking and during the three hours, sometimes the performance did seem a little long. However, all in all it was an enjoyable evening. Our table was friendly and being in a live action show was pretty entertaining. At $60 per person it can be a bit of a splurge, but if you can find a groupon, The Dinner Detective is a fun “think outside the box” experience!

By guest contributor: Dana

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey Tips from your Louisville Kroger Insider

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It’s the beginning of November and you receive an unexpected request from your mom. She explains that Thanksgiving has become a bit overwhelming for her and asks if you would be willing to take over hosting duties. You agree and immediately begin searching Pinterest for festive centerpiece ideas. As the days pass, you debate over using the China you got for a wedding gift or the Chinet that is on sale at Target. You begin calling relatives to ensure they will be bringing “the usual.” Then it hits you. YOU are responsible for the main feature. YOU have to cook the turkey. You break out in a cold sweat, completely aware that your ability to accomplish this task will make or break Thanksgiving for everyone.

Lucky for you, Louisville Family Fun has you covered! I recently consulted my favorite local meat-cutter, Steve, who just happens to be my father-in-law. He gave me all the details needed to purchase and prepare the perfect Thanksgiving turkey! I’ve been eating his skillfully prepared turkey for a couple of decades and I’ve never been disappointed. I am so excited to have these wonderful tips to share with our readers. 

The Purchase:

There are a few different options here. The first decision is whole turkey vs turkey breast. If you’re having a small gathering, a turkey breast may be the way to go. For a turkey breast, figure 1/2 - 3/4 lb per person. If you’re having several guests, or you want to provide the option of white and dark meat, you need to buy the whole bird. When purchasing a whole turkey, keep in mind that the yield on a turkey is only about 31% once you remove the bones, etc. You need to purchase approximately 1 lb per person. This should provide about a 6 oz serving per person and a modest amount of leftovers. If you’d like even more leftovers, or larger portions, you can go up to 1.5 lbs per person (butterball.com has a great calculator here that even breaks it down by the number of kids and adults.)

The other big purchase decision is fresh or frozen. Purchasing a frozen turkey is more economical. When you see an ad for a turkey sale, it’s almost always going to be frozen turkey. While more expensive, fresh turkey also has advantages. A turkey that has never been frozen, it’s often less dry. Fresh turkey is typically more “natural” as well. Check the label to verify, but fresh turkey usually has less additives, while frozen turkey is often pre-basted, which means it is injected with additives to “enhance” the flavor. The other advantage to fresh turkey, is that you don’t have to worry about thawing time. If you don’t have room to store the turkey at home, ask the meat department if you can purchase and have it held at the store for you until you are ready to bring it home.

The Thaw:

If you opt for a frozen turkey, you need to purchase it a week or perhaps even 2 weeks before you intend to serve it. The preferred and safest method of thawing is slow thawing in the refrigerator. Set the bird in a container to catch any juices that may leak out during the thawing process. In the refrigerator, a turkey will thaw at a rate of approximately 3-4 lbs per day. Therefore, if you have a 21 lb turkey, you need to allow 5 - 7 days for thawing in the refrigerator. Once thawed, the turkey should be cooked within 48 hours. 

If you have waited too long to slow thaw, you may opt to quick thaw your turkey in cold water. The best way is to carefully clean your kitchen sink, tightly wrap your turkey and submerge it in the sink filled with cold water. You will need to periodically turn the turkey so that it thaws evenly. You also need to drain some water and refill with cold water every 30 mins - an hour to keep the temperature constant. Using this method, a turkey will thaw at a rate of about 1/2 pound per hour. Therefore, your 21 lb turkey should be completely thawed in about 10 - 11 hours. A turkey thawed in cold water, should be cooked immediately.  Microwave thawing is not recommended. 
Prepping the Turkey:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the outer wrapping around the turkey. Every whole turkey will come with a small bag that includes the liver, gizzard and neck. Locate and remove this bag prior to cooking. It can usually be found inside the cavity, in a hole under the breast or under a flap of skin near the top. You can simply discard this bag unless you intend to cook these parts. 

Next, carefully rinse the turkey exterior as well as the cavity to wash away any blood, and then pat it dry. For best results, rub the outside of the turkey with oil and season it with salt and pepper.  For an extra savory flavor, you may choose to add chopped celery and onion to the cavity. This is totally optional. *Note, though a fresh turkey has never been frozen, it may have been chilled as low as 26 degrees. If the skin feels slightly hard, this is not cause for alarm. 

Cooking the Turkey:

For a fool-proof, juicy turkey, Steve recommends using Reynolds OvenBags. Simply purchase the appropriate size for your bird, and follow the package instructions. Be sure to place the bagged turkey in a roasting pan before placing in the oven. Cooking times are on the box, but using the prior example of a 21 lb turkey, you should allow 3 - 3.5 hours for cooking. 

Additional Tips:

Steve prefers to cook his turkey the day before Thanksgiving. After the roasting bag cools enough for handling, he cuts one corner and drains all of the broth into a deep, wide bowl. Expect up to a couple of quarts. Then he covers and places the bowl in the refrigerator.

He stores the cooked turkey in the refrigerator until the the following day, when he slices it up and places it in a disposable roasting pan. Next, he uncovers the bowl of broth. At this point, the solid fat has risen to the top where it can be easily spooned off and discarded. He then pours some of the broth over the turkey to add moisture. The remaining broth is reserved for use in making gravy. He covers the pan of sliced turkey with foil and then bakes it in the oven at 300 degrees for a couple of hours. Using this method helps ensure the turkey is hot in time for serving and prevents guests from having to wait for the bird to be sliced.

For more adventurous cooks, Steve recommends checking out Alton Brown’s turkey brining recipe. It is wildly popular and produces awesome results! 

Happy Turkey-ing! 

By guest contributor: Brandy
Photos courtesy of Butterball, Facebook page