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Thursday, May 31, 2012

3 on Thursday

I love coming back to work for a short week!  I hope your long Memorial Day Weekend was as fun-filled as mine!
On Saturday, Steph and I strolled the SoHo neighborhood picking out her bridemaid gifts, sipping wine, and doing a little shopping.  C. Wonder was having a blowout sale and I couldn't resist.  This store, brought to you by Christopher Burch (Tory's ex-husband), has my name written all over it.  Literally, there is a lot of monogramming going on in this place.  I'm pretty sure I've previously mentioned my love of monograms and all things prep so it should come as no surprise that this store is my preppy piece of heaven.  There was a nice 50% of room where I picked up a shirt, two bangles, and a pair of earrings for $47.  I had to hold myself back from all the great housewares.  Mid-move/renovation is not the time to pick up new decorative pieces.

The only things I had on my must-do list for the long weekend were nail polish and Central Park.  I picked up Essie's 5th Avenue for a nice orangy-red that seemed perfect for the kick-off to Summer.  I'm not sure if you can tell in the pic, but I gave my ring finger a top coat of Essie's new Luxe Effects polish in Shine of the Times for a little glitz.  I loved the final result!  Once my nails dried, I grabbed my latest book club read and headed to the park for some tanning sunburning.

Many thanks to Aunt Angie, Uncle Skip, Seth, Rachel, and Bret for the gorgeous orchid they sent as a housewarming gift!  Even though all my stuff is still in boxes, seeing this on my windowsill makes it less of an apartment, more of a home. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eggplant Pizza

I love pepperoni, but antipasti plates and pizza aren't meals that lend themselves to the "cooking for one" set.  A big thank you goes out to Pinterest for giving me an outlet for my pepp craving.  Instead of pizza crust, I used a round of eggplant that I topped with a spoonful of tomato sauce, some fresh mozzarella, and a couple pepperoni slices.

Pizza crust doesn't reheat well so I know I would end up throwing away whatever I don't eat.  That was a lie.  We all know I would end up eating the entire pizza while sitting on the floor of my apartment watching the Real Housewives of Timbuktu.  This recipe keeps me from stuffing my face full of dough and it still tasted great.  This didn't taste like a healthy version of pizza; it was just a new and interesting way to serve myself pepperoni.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Shrimp Salad Cups

Because I'm hoping to start renovating my kitchen soon, I'm trying not to unpack the boxes of kitchen supplies and utensils and have been eating off paper plates since I moved.  Because I would be utterly poor if I ordered take out every night, I've been trying to keep up the cooking but with recipes that require few pots and pans.  This inevitably leads me to make simpler meals with fewer ingredients.  I've learned simple often correlates to fresh and healthy (yay! considering bikini season has just arrived), but simple can also mean harder to design interesting dishes with limited resources and ingredients.  I think I did pretty well this time with the shrimp salad I made this weekend.

Now that it's warming up, I'm happy having a chilled meal to cool me off at dinnertime.  I mixed shrimp with mayo, hearts of palm, and capers.  The capers have enough salt for the dish, but I added a dash of pepper and garlic powder for seasoning.  I piled the salad inside purple cabbage leaves because we eat with our eyes first and I thought it looked nice and pretty that way.  I'm not a big fan of celery in tuna/chicken/shrimp salad, but you need more than just protein and mayo to make it a meal and this combo is just about perfect.

Friday, May 25, 2012

BLT Pasta

Everyone loves a good BLT and I love pasta dishes of all shapes and sizes so it was time these two joined forces to make one powerhouse dish.  The best part is that takes only five ingredients and about ten minutes to make.  Get ready because a meal this easy might just change your life.

While I cooked up a pot of corkscrew pasta, I cooked some pancetta and added some halved grape tomatoes when it was almost done.  When everything was cooked and ready, I tossed it together with some arugula (the lettuce of the BLT) that wilted with the heat of the dish.  To incorporate the toast that a BLT is always served on, I toasted some fresh bread crumbs (from day old baguette I had lying around) and threw them into the bowl for texture.  The pancetta provides more than enough salt and the arugula adds the pepper, but if you want the mayo that usually accompanies the sandwich, feel free to add that in for more of a pasta salad vibe.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

3 on Thursday

Yay for short weeks!  I have lots to get done so this four-day weekend is just what I need.  Having more time should hopefully mean even more fun than this past weekend which included all of the following:
A couple friends are in the process of doing something big: starting a business that will hopefully fill a niche that's looking for a little love.  While keeping their day jobs, they have followed every step in the book toward building their empire.  It's all quite impressive, though I can't give you much detail now other than that the centerpiece will be a great website.  Over the weekend they shot their promotional video and asked if I would help out.  I firmly believe this acting debut will propel me to my deserved level of fame, but in case it doesn't, I walked away a great gift.  As a thank you for helping out, Emily and Rachel gave me this adorable ribbon bracelet.  It's nautical and green - my two favorite things.
Last weekend was gorgeous and Central Park was littered with sunbathers.  Once I felt myself getting nice and pink I headed home and passed this painter on my way out.  He was just there, doin his thing.

One of the biggest projects I had to accomplish before moving out of my old apartment was painting the bedroom and bathroom back to white.  Matt and Karina came over and we made a little Painting Party out of it.  They provided the helping hands and I provided champagne, pizza, and banana pudding from Magnolia.  I don't like cupcakes, but Magnolia is always on my radar because of this banana pudding.  I don't really want to put this in writing because in my family it is an offense punishable by death, but I think it might be better than Mildred's.  I've never said that about anything before and I'm sure I'll never say it about anything else, but this stuff is gooooood.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Split Pea Soup

It may sound shocking, but I had never tried split pea soup until last night.  My mother loves the stuff, but I always associate it with institutional cafeteria slop and would never let the spoon touch my lips.  Last night, however, I found a new appreciation for the soup after trying Matt's version.

For Jen's big 30th birthday Mark and Allison gave her and Matt an evening of dinner, drinks, and a movie at Brooklyn's hip Nitehawk Cinema.  However, with a baby in the mix, the only way they can enjoy date night is if they have someone to watch Avery.  My services as babysitter were the perfect contribution for poor me who can hardly afford a real gift and helped bring the whole present together.

I don't know how I wound up with a gift on Jen's birthday, but I arrived to find a huge pot of split pea soup, courtesy of Matt.  This looked nothing like the pureed green slop of cafeteria days.  The split peas reminded me of lentils and were mashed, not blended, alongside all sorts of goodies like carrots, sweet potatoes, and ham hock.  This was easily one of the most filling soups I've ever had.  I would even go as far as to call it a stew.  I can also say it restored my faith in split pea soup.  I'll still probably steer clear of it in cafeterias, but I will no longer immediately turn my nose up at it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vic's Bagel Bar

The best part about living in a new neighborhood is getting to explore the new neighborhood.  On Saturday afternoon when I was bored and couldn't find anyone to play with I walked out my front door and just wandered down 3rd Avenue.  Suddenly, I found myself 30 blocks south in the East Village.  I then turned around and walked all the way back up 2nd Avenue.  After 60 blocks I got in a little exercise and saw what my new hood has to offer.

As wonderful as that was, I did my walk before lunchtime which means I didn't get to sample the food options.  If you know me, you know I think the food scene is the most important quality of a neighborhood so I decided to start this week with a bagel from Vic's Bagel Bar across the street.  Vic's is a nouveau bagel place that uses the Cold Stone method of mix-ins with the cream cheese.  Warning: this is not your typical New York Jewish bagel.  The mix-ins are diverse and include fruit, nuts, veggies, pesto, wasabi, potato chips, and sprinkles.

A couple other things set Vic's apart: unlike most down-and-dirty bagel places who have vats of coffee (which, don't get me wrong, I love) they serve Stumptown, my favorite.  They also have beer pong tournaments at night where they serve pizza bagels.  I haven't checked that out yet, but it doesn't sound bad and good for them for capitalizing on the fratty Murray Hill crowd.

I ordered cream cheese mixed with chopped lox, cucumber, and green peppers. I was hoping to get some dill mixed in there, but they were all out.  It's probably good they were short on dill because my bagel had already reached the staggering price of nearly $7.  Sure, my cream cheese tasted great and I got enough of it for two to three bagels, but that's super expensive.  I think I'll go back for Stumptown when I want a treat of a coffee but I'll have to get my bagels at one of the two old-school bagel places that happen to be next door.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 on Thursday

Still running at full speed with no signs of slowing down.  Overwhelming?  You betcha.  Will I crack soon?  Most likely.

I really liked this floor lamp at Blue Water Grill.  I'm not sure whether to think of it as a chandelier on a stick or an overgrown candelabra.  Either way, it's a serious floor lamp.

My new NikeIDs just came in!  When designing them in the store, I told the associate my favorite color was green and he helped me make these bright show stoppers.  The fun color scheme gives me extra motivation to work out, as do the custom tongues - the right says "sic" and the left says "em".  Now, whenever I'm hitting the gym, I'm inspired to "finish the drill" just like my Dawgs.
BIG news.  I bought an apartment.  Read that part again.  I (and not my parents) bought (not rented ) an apartment in Manhattan.  This is a relatively huge deal, one you'll likely be hearing a lot about as I settle in, decorate, and renovate.  Yesterday was moving day, which means last night was my first sleeping there and I have to tell you, it was a little weird.  I'm not used to having elevators or a doorman and now I have two of the nicest men who hold the door open for me and love hearing about my day.  It's so nice, but until I get used to these cushy accommodations I'll feel like a guest.  It was extra exciting to arrive yesterday and find my mailbox already had my name on it.  In all four years at my last apartment, my name never made it onto the mailbox, but now I live in a real community.  I can't explain how great that feels. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smorgasburg 2012

Smorgasburg is back and better than ever!  I have written about this food fair here and here, but I'm writing again because it's just so good and there are new booths to discover this Summer.  Gone are the traditional flea vendors and all spots have been filled with food.  Since Jill was visiting from Boston we had to make sure to hit up enough booths to last her all the way back to Massachusetts.

We started with sliders from Dumont Burger.  It was a great little slider.  Simple and nicely cooked, but I'm not sure it was something we could have gotten elsewhere.  It was a good entree into the fair.  Next we had my favorite of the day: hash browns from Egg.  They start with really good, fresh hash browns and you get to pick your mix-ins.  I went with pulled pork, pimento cheese, and a dash of hot sauce.  The smokiness of the pork pervaded the entire dish.  I could eat this everyday.  Next was the monster cemita sandwich.  I don't even know what each layer to this sandwich was, but the cheese was like a Mexican mozzarella, the chicken patty was thick and juicy, and all the spreads were strategically placed so as not to sog-ify the bun.  Our final savory course came from the Japanese taco stand.  We ordered one whitefish and one short rib.  Japanese and Mexican seem like a weird fusion, but this worked, especially the white fish.  After all that food, it was time to cool down with some sweet treats from People's Pops so we grabbed a blueberry apricot popsicle and a red plum shaved ice.

I think it's safe to say we took the improved Smorgasburg by storm.  I didn't even know there was room for improvement over last year, but they have outdone themselves in 2012.  There are still so many stalls to try, so hopefully this will not be the last post of the season.

Monday, May 14, 2012


For her birthday, Lindsay wanted to cross a restaurant off her bucket list, which means I got to do the same.  Chef Daniel Boulud is known for his ultra high end restaurants - the kind that I can't even dream of going to til I get a new job in finance.  However, his latest venture, DBGB, is a more reasonably priced gastropub so Boulud's cooking is now accessible to all most.

We started with a round of apps.  Lindsay got steak tartare that she said was wonderful, especially the pickled ramps - a nice seasonal touch to a traditional year-round dish.  Rachel ordered the fried egg and asparagus with smoked duck and violet mustard.  When I saw the egg was not the regular diner-style over easy fried egg but a whole egg, deep fried, I had to have a bite.  The crispy layer was thin and the yolk was just less than firm.  I've started seeing prosciutto, asparagus, and poached egg in Italian restaurants and this was a nice twist to that dish.  I ordered a creamy and delicious romanesco cauliflower soup.  At the bottom of my bowl I found a mussel - what a little treat!  Another goodie: laying atop the bowl was a crostini of saffron aioli, shaved cauliflower, and another mussel.  The soup may seem more like a Fall dish, but I would eat it any time of the year.

Lindsay and I split two sausages for our entree.  I'm not sure whether I preferred the espagnole or the tunisienne - both were the type of sausages you usually have to go to Europe to find.  The only downside was the extra pricy drink menu.  The cocktails were smaller than normal and not cheap.  You can get a wonderful meal for $25-$35, but you'll spend at least that much on alcohol and you won't get drunk.  Not a problem, I'm just as happy stuffing my face with the food.


Friday, May 11, 2012


Earlier in the week I had taken some Trader Joe's Korean spiced beef out of the freezer.  Sure, it would be nice over rice, but with a few extra ingredients, I knew I could make something special.  I already had lettuce in the fridge, so I stopped at Katagiri on my way home.  Katagiri is a small Japanese grocery store near my apartment that sells some of the more unique Asian ingredients that won't be found in your typical bodega.  Yes, I know Japanese is not Korean, but I was able to get what I wanted.  

I picked up some bean sprouts, green onion, shrimp shumai, ramen, and a pastry - all for $8.50.  Some of my purchases were saved for future use, but a couple of the goods got their time to shine right when I got home.  I stuffed a lettuce wrap with rice and beef and then topped with the bean sprouts, green onion, and sriracha.  Just a few extra [simple] ingredients and my meal was jacked up.

For dessert I ate a sweet bun filled with red bean paste.  When you hear the word bean and then see the starchy food, sweet is the last thing on your mind so it messes with your taste buds a bit.  I welcome the confusion.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

3 on Thursday

I guess it has officially turned into "the season".  The one where every weekend is packed with things to do and people to see.  I can't complain - every one of those events is a fun escape with friends - but sometimes it's important to stop and enjoy something all alone, like a scrumptious pie...
After meeting friends in Flatiron, I decided I deserved a pie (or two) so I stopped into Hill Country Chicken for a sweet treat.  I couldn't decided which one to get so I rendered the decision unnecessary and got both.  First I tried the sour cherry for something truly fruity.  I enjoyed it, but it was totally upstaged by the special of the month: strawberry lemonade pie with a meringue topping and poppyseed crust.  It was the perfect combo of tart and sweet.
I'm a big fan of PJ Clarke's and always order the same thing: bacon cheeseburger.  But when Lindsay and I decided to stay and grab a bite after our first weekly happy hour meeting (yes, we started a happy hour club - I recommend it), we decided to also order the potato chips with blue cheese dip appetizer.  The blue cheese dip was basically fondue with extra chunks of blue cheese.  I may have gone up a jean size by the time the appetizer course was done, but it was worth it.

This city is not lacking in random festivals and the Cinco de Mayo party we attended on Saturday is a great example.  When we signed up and paid our $20, we only had Yacht Rock on the brain.  We heard they would be performing on a pier and bought tickets.  Apparently, a full fiesta came with the concert so we were able to enjoy tacos, cervesas, Mexican face painting, a mariachi band, and Mexican wrestling.  Aside from Yacht Rock, the wrestling was my favorite part of the day.  The performers had great names like Phat Pat, The Nerd, and Spider and the acting was awesomely bad.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I had just a couple slices of bacon left in my fridge and my mind started reeling with the possibilities since, really, you can put bacon in just about anything.  My first thought was to make a BLT.  I thought it might be a great time to re-create a fried green tomato BLT I had at a restaurant, but then I decided to take it a step further with the BLZ: bacon, lettuce, and zucchini.  The taste is similar and the name rhymes with that of the original so I figured I wasn't straying too far from my starting point.

I crisped up applewood smoked bacon while I coated slices of zucchini with flour, egg, and panko bread crumbs and quickly pan fried them.  The zucchini only took a minute to fry up and remained juicy inside their golden brown casing.  After layering the zucchini, bacon, and lettuce, I smeared the top piece of toast with a thick layer of lemon pepper mayonnaise.  Because I hate runny and/or mealy tomatoes, and that's a risk you have to take when you work with them, I actually preferred using the zucchini.  No risk necessary.  Each layer of the sandwich - bread included - has a distinct crunch that makes this sandwich so gratifying.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review: Blood, Bones & Butter

Now that I have (I hope) reached full foodie status, it's hard for me to resist a foodie book.  How can I turn away something that combines two of my favorite things, food and reading?  I was particularly drawn to Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef because I absolutely love her restaurant, Prune.  The book is way more than a behind the scenes look at the popular restaurant; in fact, the restaurant barely plays into the story.  What Hamilton does discuss is a somewhat tumultuous upbringing that led her to lie about her age and begin working in the restaurant industry.

A significant portion of the book is devoted to Hamilton's frank description of the drug infested restaurant industry.  While this is fun, I felt I'd been there, done that with Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.  The last third of the book deals with Hamilton's crumbling marriage, one she entered after years of lesbianism to help get her male lover a green card.  While the marriage was a weird combination of adoration and convenience it results in annual trips to Italy and two children that made for interesting reading.  Interesting but somewhat out of place after the first more scandalous half of the book.  I enjoyed it, but found it a little disjointed.  I feel a follow-up is needed so we can learn more about Hamilton's life post-divorce.

2.75 out of 5 stars.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Feeling Blue

I have been to Atlantic Grill often, but I have never been to its big brother, Blue Water Grill, in Union Square.  The menus are similar and by that I mean they both serve no nonsense fish; however, Blue Water Grill is in a far more grandiose space that I now know is an old bank.  The ceilings are sky high with a large daisy design and the main area is a split-level so you get the panache that a staircase always adds to a room.  

The fish was perfectly cooked and my swordfish steak managed to flake apart and not dry out as is often the case.  It was blackened and served over a sweet potato and crab hash and a red curry cream broth.  I liked having the sweetness of the hash to take down the spiciness of the blackened seasoning.  I actually preferred eating the sweet potatoes and crab separately since the potatoes have a strong flavor that can drown out the crab.  You probably know Blue Water Grill serves great fish, but when true seafood-only restaurants are harder to find, it's worth repeating. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

3 on Thursday

It seems that my weeks have turned into tightropes between major weekends.  Here's what I've been up to while I try to keep my balance.
While scouting bars that could serve as the new home of the NYC Dawgs, I grabbed a bite at The Australian.  The owner was raving about the kangaroo and brought some out, compliments of the house.  I have to say, I enjoyed it.  The sweet chili sauce paired nicely with the lean meat.  Happy to say I'm a 'roo lover, but then again, I'm a sucker for Australian accents.
In last week's "3 on Thursday", I told you about The Color Run and how cool it would be even though I don't have the stamina to run 3.1 miles.  I couldn't get it out of my head and considered signing up for a race.  I even looked it up and found out The Color Run happens all over the country, including NYC.  When Jimmy Fallon tweeted his followers the next day requesting recommendations for apps that help you train for a 5K, I figured some larger force was guiding me to the starting line.  I downloaded the app everyone suggested, Couch-to-5K, which takes you from zero to 5K through a too-good-to-be-true schedule.  Just 30 minutes per day, three days per week, for eight weeks and I'm supposed to be race-ready.  People swear by it.  I started training on Monday and so far I love it.  I now plan to sign up for NYC's Color Run (on August 25th) as soon as registration opens.  Wish me luck! 

Almondictive Bits have become a new Trader Joe's favorite find.  A few of these dark chocolate covered candied almonds will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cream Cheese Corn

I'm always looking for ways to spice up vegetables, corn in particular.  I don't end up making corn all that often because, as a side dish, I find it a little boring.  Growing up, corn was the one vegetable my brother would eat while it was the one I found most lackluster.  I found the idea of eating it straight off the cob with those cute cob holders more appealing than the food itself.  I have a feeling, though, that if my mother had prepared corn like this, I would have eaten every bite.  It loses all nutritional value when prepared like this, you say?  Yup, sounds about right.  But guess what.  I don't care and my Mom should just be happy I'm now eating corn with such reckless abandon.  (And if I'm being honest, it's not all that bad for you if you use the light cream cheese, so rest easy.)

Combine one pound fresh or frozen corn (not canned), one tablespoon butter, and three ounces cream cheese (I use light) in a pan.  Once it's all heated through and the cream cheese has melted around all the corn kernels, add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.  That's it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Yes to Yefsi

Saturday night I headed to Ashley's for dinner and drinks with her sister and friend.  We kicked off the Spring evening with champagne on the roof of Ash's building before heading around the corner to Yefsi for dinner.  Yefsi is a Greek restaurant that has a long list of appetizers that make it perfect for sharing tapas style (i.e.: perfect for a group of girls).  Though there are entrees on the menu, we opted for all apps because we knew they were on the larger side and it would allow us to try more things and decrease our total bill.  We ordered the fried calamari, horiatiki (traditional greek salad of tomato, cucumber, and feta), yefsi chips (fried zucchini and eggplant chips with tzatziki), octopodi (tender grilled octopus - my favorite of the evening), and halloumi (grilled cheese with citrus vinaigrette).  The food was wonderful and it seemed we ordered the perfect amount for our group of four.  Fair warning: the chef is not shy with the garlic, so make sure you bring some gum before meeting up with other friends.  Also wonderful was the wine.  Ashley knew what she was doing when it came to ordering because she had actually eaten there the previous weekend.  Once she confirmed we all liked Malbec, she ordered a fabulous wine that turned out to be the cheapest on the menu (though you wouldn't know by tasting it).

The food was delicious, authentic (I think, but, then again, I've never been to Greece), and reasonably priced.  It helps when the chef and owner previously worked at the city's top Greek restaurants, Molyvos and Milos.  Here, the food is just as good but comes with a more reasonable price tag.  Our entire bill, including wine and tax, came to $24 per person.  We left a hearty tip because the service was particularly good.  At the end of our meal, the manager brought out dessert wine and when he overheard us toasting Wellsley's birthday, he bought her a huge piece of cake.  That kind of service will keep me coming back...but the food already clinched that one.


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