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Friday, August 31, 2012

Birthright BBQ

Because Birthright just wants us to all keep in touch, they sponsored the big meal of our Rhode Island weekend.  The meal was "recommended" kosher, but we respectfully ignored the recommendation and made a bar-b-que pork feast.  Hey, the important thing is that we were together.

We prepared the meal like a cute little family - each person had their role.  Sam manned the smoker in the backyard where he made the following:

  • Pork butt with a dry rub made with black pepper, paprika, raw sugar, dry mustard, and cayenne
  • Ribs that were first rubbed with brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, and chili powder then mopped with a bbq sauce made with brown sugar, onions, tomato paste, tomatoes, corn syrup, mustard, worcestershire, and cider vinegar 
  • Salmon with a brown sugar and dill rub
Since he had all the meats and bbq covered, the rest of us worked on the sides.  Rebekah created a mean bloody mary with sriracha sauce, further proving that sriracha can be used in just about any dish.  Jill made mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, Spiro chopped her little heart out, and I made a fruity guacamole.  Dan is the only one who didn't contribute in a culinary capacity, but he brought his own car and drove us to the grocery store so he was allowed to sit around with a beer.

Rebekah lives near my office so she knew I was trying to channel nearby Toloache's guac when I mentioned wanting to try my hand at a fruity version.  We didn't try to copy them - we tried to make it better...and may have succeeded.  In addition to the common ingredients of avocado, tomato, lime, cilantro, habanero, and chile powder, we used shallot (sweeter than the typical white or red onion to go better with the fruit), mango, and Asian pear.  I don't think I can go back to non-fruit guac anytime soon.

Not only was it nice to see everyone together again, it was nice to watch everyone working together in the kitchen without killing each other.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

3 on Thursday

Today is my last day in the office until Tuesday thanks to the glorious long Labor Day weekend.  Many of you think of Labor Day weekend as the last official days of Summer.  I think of it as the first official days of football season.  Different strokes.
I love when Sarah comes into town because it means I get to see Broadway shows.  I see shows on a somewhat frequent basis, but not nearly as often as I did when Sarah lived here.  She was my go-to Broadway bud and it's just not the same without her.  The moment she started planning her annual visit, I started looking at shows.  Newsies is one of the latest big bets and Sarah is a Disney freak so it was a no-brainer.  The show was great but very "Disney".  The book was just so-so and I sometimes found myself wishing they would just stop talking and get back to having 20 really talented, short, gay 20 somethings dance and sing.  Thankfully, the dancing/singing portion of the show was the larger one so I was completely satisfied.
Matt and Karina made me feel as special as special can be when they invited me to their rehearsal dinner tasting.  As a lover of both food and event planning, getting to taste a full menu while imagining how it plays into a celebration is heaven for me.  The rehearsal dinner will be at Hill Country and the staff stuffed us so full of BBQ and country style sides that I couldn't eat for the next 24 hours.  I won't divulge the final menu but it's going to be a great way to kick off the wedding weekend.
Karina's mother and sister threw her a fabulous bridal shower, complete with personalized silk fans, customized wine bottle favors, and a full spread of Puerto Rican food.  Karina sat in her ratan throne like a queen as we played games and gifted her with kitchenware.  Though the wedding will be a raucous affair, we made sure this was nice and girly because sometimes you just need to indulge your inner MRS. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I get to cross a state off my list now that I have spent a weekend in Rhode Island.  Rhode Island never happened to come up in conversation while I was growing up so I pretty much forgot it was a state.  I remember someone joined my high school senior year from Rhode Island and I asked him a million questions about what the littlest state was like - as if he was a foreigner.  Unfortunately, he was one of those strong silent types and gave me nothing I could work with.  My questions about the mysterious state were finally answered this weekend when a group of my fellow Birthrighters planned a little reunion.  Sam, one of the boys from our trip, invited us to his place in Narragansett and we made it quite the beach getaway.

The Boston and NYC contingency Megabussed it into Providence where Sam picked us up and took us to his home in Narragansett, about 40 minutes away.  I absolutely adored the New England architecture in this quaint beach town.  All those cute shingled houses looked like they allowed the sea air to flow in and out through osmosis as the gulls circled overhead.  We lived beach life to the fullest by waking up at 5:30 AM to catch the sunrise over the ocean, peoplewatching on the beach (both trashy beach-goers and good looking lifeguards provided ample viewing pleasure), and hitting up the waterside bar at night.

After our sunrise excursion on Saturday morning, the rest of the group went back to regain a few precious hours of sleep, but Jill and I were up and moving.  We had spotted the cute little Grinnell Inn on our way back from our beach walk and decided to walk back there for some breakfast at their restaurant, Riptides.  The second we walked inside, we realized it was one of those dandy local diners they love to re-create on TV.  I was suddenly on the set of Gilmore Girls.

This place had all the local beachy charm we were hoping to find.  Everyone was so cheery at 7:30 in the morning!  Because we sat down before 7:30, our waitress asked if we were here for the morning special.  I figured a special might mean they would throw in a side of toast on the house since Jill and I were already marveling over the cheap $10 max prices.  But no, the special includes 2 eggs cooked any way, homefries or fruit, and toast for - get this - $2.49.  What?!  This exists?!  It does and it was good, just as you would expect from a good local diner.  What they do throw in on the house, regardless of time of day, is a sample of their cinnamon bread pudding with the most wonderful crust.  

The meal was so good, we went back the next day.  Though we arrived after the breakfast special, our meals were still inexpensive and we expanded beyond the typical and ordered omelettes and breakfast burritos.  Both days, we played the peg game and Trivial Pursuit while we sipped on bottomless coffee for $1.95.  Breakfast out is a relaxing experience.  Breakfast out by the beach will put you in a Zen state.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Vault at Pfaff's

I know you're not coming to this blog to hear about my romantic escapades (or lack thereof), so I won't tell you about the blind date I went on last week.  I will, however, tell you about the bar we went to, The Vault at Pfaff's.

The dimly lit room felt like an upscale brothel of the late 1800s - the kind where the ladies all wear corsets.  In fact, that's exactly what the waitresses in this boudoir chic lounge wear.  The folks at The Vault are trying to re-create the same highbrow literary atmosphere that attracted the likes of Walt Whitman when the bar existed in its first incarnation (in basically the same spot) back in the 1850s.  Right down to the menu, they've committed to the theme.  Food and drinks are displayed in newspaper form so it looks nice and old timey...though I'm betting you wouldn't find Twitter and Facebook logos on a paper before the turn of the century.  My drink, the Cobble Rouge Peachy Southern Hospitality, tasted like a bourbon version of sangria.  I didn't know that wine and dark liquor could work together, but they did.  If it gets Mr. Whitman's seal of approval, it gets mine.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicken Salad Sandwich

I don't like fruit, nuts, or celery in my chicken salad so I'm pretty limited.  Don't get me wrong, I'm totally happy just mixing my rotisserie chicken (with it's crispy skin and spices) with mayo and calling it a day; however, sometimes you want something a little more exciting.  I had to get creative since all the typical chicken salad add-ons were on my "do not use" list, but then I remembered the golden rule of cooking: bacon makes everything better!

I crisped up bacon in the oven while I chopped chicken and dill.  Once the bacon was ready to go, I mixed it all with mayo.  I topped it with tomato, avocado, and fresh spinach to make a beautiful sandwich.  The key is to make sure the bacon is nice and crispy so even after it's been chillin with mayo in your office fridge, you still get the crunch all those other people achieve with their nuts and celery.  Who wants grapes in your chicken salad when you can have bacon?!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Edamame Pasta

There is a reason we keep coming back to those ultra simple, tried and true recipes - they're good.  One of those recipes for me is lemon pasta.  All it takes is some lemon juice and zest, some sort of green veggie (like broccoli or peas), maybe a touch of cream, and some parmesan.  It has tons of flavor and only takes a couple minutes to cook up.  With a dish like this, it's easy to fall into a rut; thus, my recommendation reinvigorating the potentially boring meal.  Add one - just one - unexpected ingredient.

For me, this ingredient was edamame.  Edamame is so Asian and lemon pasta is so Italian.  I must be crazy for combining these two cuisines!  But I'm not.  I made my pasta like I typically do, using fresh spinach as my green because it requires zero cooking.  I also like how it starts to wilt against the warm pasta but still retains its firm texture.  The edamame was a last minute addition after my local sushi restaurant sent me an order for free with the rest of my delivery, but it completely changed the dish.  While broccoli, peas, or asparagus go with the lemon flavor, they add texture but don't do anything to add another level to the dish.  The edamame is slightly sweet so it looks the tart lemon right in the eyes and says "hey, you're not the boss of me."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

3 on Thursday

Last week was a bad week.  I'm pretty sure every opportunity for stress to enter both my personal and professional life was fully exploited.  Just breathe....
Somebody brought Funky Chunky into the office the other day.  There is a pretzel version with pecans, a popcorn version with almonds (I may have the nuts backwards), and one mother of a salty sweet snack that combines potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, caramel, and chocolate.  It's quite the hodge podge of ingredients, but if you like the salty sweety thing, this is a pretty safe bet (also an easy one to recreate at home I'm guessing).  Don't rip on potato chips drizzled with chocolate and caramel til you've tried them.

My renovations keep getting delayed, but at least there has been one silver lining of progress.  Last week, I noticed my name had been put on my front door and it instantly feels more homey.  Gotta love my sneaky super.

Summer produce!  I went through all these heirloom tomatoes and plumcots (I love all those plum variations) within 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Shout Her Lovely Name --> On Quarterlette!

You may recall I told you about my friends' venture, Quarterlette, a couple months ago.  Well, the site is doing great!  If you haven't checked it out yet, dear readers, today should be the day because it is my first day as a contributor.  The girls asked me to review a book, so instead of posting my review here [per usual], I'll direct you to its spot on their site for a little cross-promotion action.  Enjoy!

Northern Spy Food Co.

One restaurant that Lindsay and I both had on our list was Northern Spy Food Co.  For a menu full of local and seasonal ingredients, you would think the prices would be steep, but everything is about $15.  Everyone has been saying they have a killer brunch; and if everyone is saying it, it must be true.

I started with a bloody mary.  I am particular about these.  I like them spicy, but i don't like sucking a bunch of huge horseradish pieces up my straw (such a diva, know).  This one was wonderful.  I think the sake and piri piri juice gave it just the right flavor.  They also topped it with a pickled green been - much better than celery in my humble opinion.  It still doesn't top the bloodies at Prune (no one can), but it's dang good.

Lindsay and I split a side of the pork sticky rolls.  I had assumed this would be like a pork bun, but the waitress described it as a sticky bun (the cinnamon kind) except filled with pork instead of cinnamon.  In lieu of icing, it is topped with a dijon glaze.  If Cinnabon added this to their menu, I would have an excuse to go to the mall.

For my entree, I had the kale salad with parmesan and summer squash, topped with two baked eggs.  It was almost like a kale caesar salad.  Maybe I'm deceiving myself because it wasn't carb or bacon/sausage heavy, but it seemed healthy.  Could it be?  It tasted too good to really be healthy, but it wasn't a mound of french toast so I'll stick to the not-bad-for-you story.

And if it's not bad for you, I have an extra excuse to go back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Heirloom Tomato & Grilled Cheese Curd Panzanella

I was planning on taking something out of the freezer for dinner one night last week, but after seeing this recipe show up on my blog roll, I took a new approach.  Everyone keeps talking about how Summer is ending!  Summer is ending!  First of all, let's live in the present, shall we?  Stop worrying about it getting cold a couple months from now and just be happy to enjoy the season we're currently experiencing.  Filled with basil, heirloom tomatoes, and the grill, this dish embodies all that is good about Summertime eating.

I no longer have a grill and don't currently own a grill pan, so I had to make a couple tweaks to the recipe that didn't alter the final result whatsoever.  First, get some day old baguette and cube it.  I was furious when my grocery store was out of baguette (how dare they!), but I "settled" for some roasted garlic artisan bread that I figured would work since the recipe called for minced garlic.  Turns out it was way better this way.  I strongly suggest this adaptation: don't add minced garlic.  Instead, find the type of bread I used or [more likely] chop the top off a head of garlic, cover with olive oil, wrap in tin foil, and roast it in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  You'll still have garlic breath, but it's a little sweeter and has much more depth of flavor than regular garlic.  This panzanella is light and breezy so roasted garlic is a much better match than its harsher, raw mama.  Once your bread is cubed, drizzle it with olive oil and stick it in the oven til it crisps up a bit (you could do this part on the grill pre-cubing to get those gorgeous grill marks).  While the bread is in the oven, chop your rainbow colored, firm, sweet, heirloom tomatoes in large chunks.  I'm sorry, but normal tomatoes are just sad compared to these beauties.  It's Summertime and you've got a bowlful of tomatoes, so go ahead and throw in some basil while you're at it.  Now it's time to add your dressing ingredients: olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt.  No need to complicate things.

While your tomato mix is chillin on the counter and your bread is finishing up, it's time to prep the final ingredient.  I love heirloom tomatoes, but I see plenty of recipes for them this time of year.  What I'm not accustomed to seeing is a recipe that uses cheese curds.  I've never had a curd of any type and thought they existed only in the land of Lil Miss Muffett.  Or Wisconsin...same thing.  Is there anything in Wisconsin other than cheese curds and the Packers?  Who cares, now that I've tried cheese curds, I could move there.  It's just good, cheesy cheese.  It tasted of America ::sigh::.  The recipe called for the curds to be grilled, but in my case, this meant I used an oiled skillet.  Let them get melty on the bottom but still in tact on the top so they can be mixed into the salad as chunks.

I started by making myself a sensible portion of this salad...and then I ate the whole thing.  Meaning I ate what a family of four would normally consume.  Yup, sounds like me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lovers of Today

$2 isn't much, but can add up when you're talking about pricey drinks.  Most mixology-focused places charge $14 or $15 for a drink, but Lovers of Today sticks to $13.  Still not cheap, but every little bit helps.

Like many fancy drink places, this one is something of a speakeasy, located at 132 1/2 E. 7th Street.  But once you walk through the door that looks like it leads to an alley for garbage bags, you'll find a small, dimly lit den.  Along the bar you'll see a row of bottles with jewel toned, house-made syrups.  This bar may be small, but their attention to detail is big.  I was immediately struck by the smell of eucalyptus - a scent I love but don't come across often.  I can't remember the name of my drink (something with Hong Kong), but I do remember that it was made with spicy pepper infused gin, cucumber, and honey or some other sweetener.  

Somehow, Lovers of Today seemed a little less pretentious than other haute libation sanctuaries.  There's no odd set of rules and the bartenders don't dress like they just walked off the set of Boardwalk Empire.  It's just good quality drinks, plain and simple.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I had no idea how vegetarians survived until eating here.  Westville is not a vegetarian restaurant, but the long list of daily market sides is the best thing about this place.  Everything is so simple and fresh, and that is enough to draw long lines for this no-reservations spot.

Karina and I both started with a prosecco with mint and lemonade.  I didn't expect it to come in slushy form, but I was glad it did since I'm not a fan of sucking pieces of mint up a straw.  It wasn't very alcoholic, but I was looking more for something to break the humidity from a day that threatened but never delivered rain.

Although many of the dishes (like chicken or salmon) come with your choice of a couple sides, I couldn't narrow down the list so I ordered a plate of four sides for $14.  The goat cheese that came with my roasted beets was nice and herby and the tomato/mozzarella is a tried-and-true summer dish, but my two favorites were the snow peas with sesame and ginger and the honey dijon brussels sprouts.  I gobbled up everything but didn't feel bad about it because it was all relatively healthy.

At this place, seasonality is not something to be applied to one or two dishes, it's the whole restaurant concept.  I love going to the green market and whipping up a dish with whatever was fresh that day.  Well, that's what Westville does every day.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

3 on Thursday

I was so productive last weekend!  I ran all sorts of errands and even made it into the office to finish some work.  This week is pretty crazy, too.  I'm running my presentation by my boss as our client meeting nears, and on top of that I've had book club and birthdays after work.  Quite the mix of work and play going on.
I love how beautiful churches and temples can be.   It seems easier to worship when the house of worship itself is worthy of awe.  I passed Central Synagogue the other day and was floored by it's beauty.  I have never seen such design in the US so I looked it up and learned that those stunning blue-green towers are part of the Moorish Revival architecture style.  I don't belong to any temple, but I imagine it would be nice to pray in a place like this.
I am not at all a fashionista.  I favor the preppy classics, but while I was walking through Bloomingdales, picking up a shower gift, I was inspired by some of the hottest trends.  One look at the $198 price tag on the funky, patterned jeans was enough to push me out the door.  I still had the shopping bug so I popped into H&M across the street and wound up re-creating an entire Bloomies outfit for a fraction of the price.  I found a great pair of blue tie dye jeans and a silky pale blue mullet top (the front is normal length, the back is long) that looked very similar to what I saw on the department store mannequins.  I topped off the outfit with a pair of studded, beige, faux suede pumps.  I must admit, I surprised myself with how trendy this outfit was.  So not me, but I kinda loved it.  I never could have paid full price for a pair of jeans that I know won't be in style in a year, but I had no problem buying all three pieces for $95.  Yup, that's less than half of what the designer jeans alone cost.  Maybe I'm a frugal fashionista after all.

I've always had to head to Chinatown for good bubble tea, but on a recent walk home from work I found a misfit bubble tea shop that wandered up to midtown.  CoCo doesn't necessarily have the extensive menu as the places in Chinatown, but it has the basics.  I wasn't sure if that would be enough, but when I saw mostly Asians walking in and out, I figured it was probably legit.  The bubble gaga was on sale, but it happens to be what I would have ordered regardless.  It was passion fruit green tea with tapioca and coconut jellies.  The jellies tasted sweet but not overly coconut-y, which is fine because I wasn't looking for a pina colada.  After working up a sweat on a long walk in the humidity, it was the perfect refreshment.  I'm usually happy to head to Chinatown when I want a full dose of Chinese culture, but when all I want is a cooling bubble tea, it's nice to have a place close to home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review: Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is good from the get-go but around a quarter of the way in, it really starts picking up.  Right when you hit the halfway point, it hits "can't put it down" status.  That's exactly what happened to me so I stayed up til 2 AM on a Friday night to finish the second half.

When Amy Dunne goes missing the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary, the community sympathizes with her husband Nick until inconsistencies in his story and revealing diary entries from Amy make him seem too shady to trust.  But what if Amy is not the golden girl everyone adores?

People often say you never know what goes on behind closed doors, but the Dunne household is more screwed up than anybody can imagine.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Soho Park

Soho Park, on the corner of Prince and Lafayette, is the closest thing to a relaxing beer garden that you can get in the busy Soho area.  Though it might be a madhouse around Balthazar and topshop, it's nice and chill in this gazebo.  Most everything is under $10 and the portions are sizable.  I ordered the nicoise salad that was fresh, though it had been prepared in advance.  My dining companions each ordered huge sandwiches that looked much better than the food you normally eat at picnic tables.

The food is very good, but eating it as the sun peeks through the ivy is glorious.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Num Pang

No. 7 Subs, my favorite sandwich place of all time, has some competition.  Num Pang is a Cambodian sandwich place that I have heard about enough to become immune to it.  However, I never walked past it and always forgot to seek it out so it so I figured it just wouldn't end up making it into the rotation.  What could be so special, anyway?  Oh how wrong I was not to make it my business to try this place.

I always thought Num Pang was a downtown place - the food is just funky enough to make it a staple with the below 14th street crowd.  And it is.  The first location is around Union Square, but apparently they opened a second location near Grand Central on 41st between Lex and 3rd that's nice and close to my apartment.  I was running errands on Saturday and Grand Central was my subway station of choice.  On my way to the train I was struck by a pang of hunger just as I was passing Num Pang and thought it was the perfect time to finally try it.

Every sandwich on the menu looked unique and delicious.  Such interesting combinations of items you normally wouldn't find in tiny take-out sandwich places.  Unless you count McDonald's filet o'fish (and I don't), it's not normal to find seafood sandwiches in standing only spots, and certainly not local bluefish.  Though the fish looked good, as did the pork belly and even the vegetarian options, I decided to go with the seasonal special when the guy at the register told me it was good and only available for a few more weeks.

Like all the sandwiches, this one came on a baguette with pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and chili mayo.  That cilantro popped right out of the spicy mayo.  Cilantro is a strong flavor, but it's completely welcome in these sandwiches.  So that stuff comes on all the sandwiches, but the main ingredients were grilled peaches with hand-cut bacon, a guiness maple glaze, sauteed scallions, and jalapenos.  The peaches were super sweet and so summery.  Fruit is the new meat, people.  (Though it didn't hurt that there was some yummy bacon on there, too.)  You've probably tried peach salsa so you may have an idea how well this fruit can pair with spicy ingredients, but these items were much sweeter and far spicier than in your typical salsa.  Intensify the flavors, intensify the awesomeness.

It was rather spicy so I washed it down with a nice cup of their homemade blood orange lemonade.  I may have gone through a couple wet naps in the process, but I can't wait to go back and work my way through the whole menu.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ruay Thai

When you move into a new place in NYC, the first order of business is not getting the counters scrubbed or furniture arranged.  It's establishing your go-to take-out restaurants.  Like in high school, it's important to formulate your clique right away or you risk falling in with the wrong crowd.

One of my favorite take-out cuisines is Thai and I may have settled on Ruay Thai as my neighborhood fave.  My order is always pad see ew + some sort of appetizer.  Ruay has a nice list of apps, including crab rangoons, dumplings, and one I find particularly interesting, the summer roll.  The summer roll is rice paper filled with cucumber, carrots, scallion, basil, and avocado and comes with a spicy mayo dipping sauce.  It's becoming a favorite in the warm months and I like that it doesn't add extra weight to the heavy noodle and rice dishes that you'll order as a main course.

I've ordered from Ruay enough that I think I can officially commit to it as my Thai take-out restaurant.  Now I just need to pick my favorite delivery places for all the other cuisines and then I can get to all that other move-in stuff, like unpacking...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3 on Thursday

I bookended one very busy Saturday with two very lazy days and to me, that was the perfect weekend. The rest of my week was work work work, which is why having a perfect weekend was pretty important.
Jill came to NYC for a quick weekend visit and I met up with her and all her college friends for several hours of drinking at Blockheads.  They were already a couple drinks in by the time I arrived and instructed me to order a Bulldog, which is some sort of frozen alcoholic beverage + a Coronita.  I went with the Pink Bulldog: frozen pink lemonade with vodka and the Coronita.  I was leery of the combination, too, but this is a perfectly conceived drink.  The beer cuts the sweetness a bit and adds some carbonation.  Why have I not been doing this before?!  Thankfully, it's easy enough to re-create for Summer soirees.

This week I received a coupon for Love Is Art.  What a lovely sentiment.  Love is art.  In this case, however, love is apparently down and dirty sex.  Basically, this company mails you a kit that contains a plastic sheet to protect your floors, canvas, and paint.  You're supposed to pour the paint in the middle of the canvas and then do the nasty right there.  Your horizontal mambo will then produce a piece of art to grace your home and make one helluva conversation starter. 
Summer Streets is back!  For three Saturdays in August, Park Avenue shuts down to traffic between 7 AM and 1 PM so New Yorkers can run, walk, bike, or even dance right down the beautiful street.  It's just one of those great things the city does to keep its residents happy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chicken Pesto Flatbread

While I'm still dealing with a small, pre-renovated kitchen, easy 1-pan recipes are essential.  By using a lot of store-bought ingredients, I was able to assemble a full meal without dirtying a single pan.  Seriously.

I rolled out some puff pastry and put it on top of a foil lined cookie sheet.  When the meal is cooked, you toss the foil and the cookie sheet will have remained clean.  As long as you can prep the other ingredients without dirtying any mixing bowls, you're home free.  

Preheat the oven to 400 and prick the dough with a fork so it doesn't overpuff while cooking.  Spread a layer of pesto over the puff pastry and top with chopped chicken (I just peeled it from a rotisserie chicken) and fresh mozzarella.  Grate some fresh parm on top and bake for about 20 minutes.  Everything but the puff pastry is already cooked so just start looking for it to get the right shade of brown.

I think adding some fresh chopped tomato to the top lifts it up to something special.  Make sure to add them after you take it out of the oven so the tomato remains firm.  When the tomato is cold against the hot pizza, it heightens the senses and makes each ingredient stand out.  Who likes to blend in, anyway?  Chopping the tomato may dirty a dish, but I would still recommend the small bit of clean up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Low Carb Sub

The main identifying feature of a sub is the bread.  A perfect hoagie roll defines a how do you make it low carb?  I did it by using a cucumber instead of bread.  Simply hollow out the watery, seedy middle part and fill the cavity with whatever you like.  As long as you don't overstuff, it's an easy lunch to bring into the office.  I made mine with turkey and goat cheese and felt really good about my lunch choice.  I've got a couple bridesmaids dresses to squeeze into soon and if I keep eating like this, I'm pretty confident fit won't be a problem.  Some other ideas for this recipe:
  • Substitute the fillings with one of these options.  I recommend only putting 2 ingredients inside the cucumber.  One should be a meat and the other should be a spread or soft cheese to avoid having anything fall out: 
    • Ham and Brie
    • Curry Chicken Salad
    • Roast Beef and Olive Tapenade or Roast Beef and Blue Cheese
  • Once you make the subs, cut them up like sushi and serve as appetizers at a party
  • Wrap the whole thing in prosciutto (goes well with chopped tomato and mozzarella or roasted red pepper and feta).  This will help if you've got fillings in danger of falling out.  It also gives you an extra dose of meat.  Nothing wrong with that.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Saturday was nice and humid so we sat under umbrellas at a Mexican restaurant, eating tortilla chips and cooling ourselves with frozen drinks for several hours.  Margaritas can be nice and refreshing, but after a while we wanted something cool, sweet, and non-alcoholic so we headed to Kyotofu.  When I think of desserts, Asian cuisine absolutely never comes to mind so I was intrigued by an entire dessert bar and bakery devoted to Asian sweets.  I honestly did not think there were enough Japanese desserts to sustain an entire menu.

Pretty much all the desserts incorporate tofu and you would be surprised at how versatile the soy curd can be.  We were just doing take-out so our options were limited.  After viewing the full menu, I deem a second trip is in order so I can try some of the more intricate desserts and even some of the savory items like the chilled edamame soup.  The to-go menu was smaller but still offered enough variety for me to try several items.  I tried the vanilla sweet tofu with black sugar syrup and a mini macha green tea cupcake.  The cupcake was more like a muffin and by that I mean no icing and not overly sweet (the cake wasn't overly dense, either).  Considering I don't like icing or overly sweet desserts, this was right up my alley.  This and the chocolate souffle cupcake earned Kyotofu NY Mag's honor of Best Cupcake in 2007.  It may be healthier, but it's also just plain good.  The tofu was silky, not spongy, and the black sugar provides the sweetness.  It is almost like a far less intense honey broth.  Since it's not cavity sweet, it felt ok to indulge in the middle of the day.

If you're dealing with some dietary restrictions, this is a great place to keep in mind.  Many desserts (most, perhaps) are gluten free and some are vegan, too.  If you're looking for a very traditional dessert, Kyotofu probably won't satisfy you; however, they do have a nice selection of funkier sweets that will work for you whether you're craving chocolate or yuzu.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lobster Slaw Sandwich

I decided to pick up some lobster meat on the way home because I was getting home late and was sick of takeout so I needed something quick and easy.  Who am I kidding?  I was just looking for an excuse to make something with lobster.  I thought I was in luck and the lobster was on sale...unfortunately, I didn't realize until the cashier rung me up that I read the sign wrong and my lobster was actually quite pricey.  Too late!  Once I spent more than I originally bargained for, I needed to think of a way to stretch the meal and make the most of my expensive purchase.

To make the lobster go further, I kept it in large chunks and mixed it with broccoli slaw, a little mayo, lemon, salt, pepper, and a little Asian chili oil.  Served just like that as a salad is great, but I piled it into a hamburger bun and found it made a great sandwich.  The picture is a little deceiving - it really was more lobster than slaw.  It's not supposed to be a lobster roll but if it was, it would be a pretty good version.  Plus, a lobster roll will run you about $14 each, but this works out to about $10 per sandwich so I can feel better about splurging on the expensive meat.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

3 on Thursday

My busy season at work has begun so I've been getting to work extra early, leaving little time for fun.  It's times like this that it's most important to pick out those few things to take the days from gray to golden.
This is a view of the inside of my apartment.  If it looks like those boxes reach the ceiling, it's because they do.  Believe it or not, a day after I took this picture 5 more huge boxes were delivered.  There is a slender path that leads from my front door to my bed to keep me from getting swallowed up by the forest of cardboard.  It's a little crazy, but I love the sight of all these packages.  It means renovations are about to begin and my furniture is arriving so the decorating can get underway as well.  

This week, Yahoo came to the office to talk about all the fun new stuff they've got going on (my personal favorite being the Bachelor spoof "Burning Love").  It may have been a business presentation, but Yahoo set up a few fun booths in the adjacent room to perk up the afternoon.  I made a beeline for the People's Pops stand, but while I was waiting for my watermelon shaved ice I was drawn to the oxygen bar.  Oxygen bars were très chic several years ago but as I'm sure you can guess, the trend didn't make it to Savannah, GA.  I tried several different "flavors" of air through a little nose plug (don't worry, we each got our own disposable one) like eucalyptus, lavendar, and lemongrass.  Each is supposed to have their own effect ranging from appetite suppressant to memory aide.  I'm not sure whether or not I was any more invigorated after sniffing through a straw, but I'm positive I looked ridiculous.     
Some clever gal has been finding books their bathing suit soul mates on Matchbook.  Some of the pairings are really quite perfect and it makes reading seem even more fashionable.  As someone who will never be seen laying out without a good book to keep me entertained, I should probably start matching my bikini to my reading material.  Just one more excuse to go shopping... 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spice Market

Last Thursday we celebrated Erica's birthday - 30, Flirty, and Fun!  Yes, that's a quote from "13 Going on 30", but it also became our theme for the evening.  I may have been the only single gal, but the other four married/engaged girls were flirty enough to make our waiter blush and after several cucumber martinis and ginger margaritas, we were all fun.

Spice Market hit it's peak just before I moved to the city, but even though the lines have died down, it took me five years to try it.  It is the quintessential Meatpacking restaurant, and by that I mean theme-y.  It is the Disney World version of Southeast Asia with pagodas, jewel tones, and kurta-clad waiters.  It was a tad overly dramatic, but drama is the reason you go to the Meatpacking District in the first place.

We ordered chicken skewers and edamame for the table - two items I expected to be overpriced, generic versions of every Asian restaurant's menu staples.  However, I was pleased to find (as the name would imply) they really knew their way around a spice cabinet.  Instead of simple coarse salt, the edamame was tossed with several spices I could not place.  Whatever it was made it far more addictive.

For my entree, I ordered two appetizers.  Unfortunately, after the waiter talked up the tuna ribbons with chili tapioca and Asian pear, he informed me they had sold out.  At that point the rest of the meal had been brought to the table and I didn't want to hold everyone up so I stuck with just app #2: spicy Thai slaw with Asian pear and crispy shallots.  It was larger than I expected and had a much stronger kick than I anticipated.  It was very good, but I needed to cool my palate every few bites with the vegetable rice we ordered as a side dish for the table.  Once again, the rice was filled with a delicious spice mixture I could not identify but absolutely loved.  I didn't expect it, but it was my favorite dish of the evening.

It's been a long time since I've visited Disney World, but I don't remember eating like this while I was there.  The decor may have been a little over the top, but a 30th birthday is not worth celebrating if it's not an over the top affair.


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