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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2 Ingredient Cake

I'll attribute my sudden desire to bake a cake to some sort of nesting syndrome related to moving into a new apartment.  Typically, all those precise measurements trip me up so when I saw this too-good-to-be-true trick on Pinterest, I had to give it a try.  With Matt and Karina coming over for a wedding/birthday celebration last week, I had my excuse to make it.

Mix together one box of angel food cake mix (dry) and one 20- or 22-oz can of fruit pie filling (I went with blueberry).  That's it!  Bake it in a 9x13 pan at 350 for 30-40 minutes and it will puff up (it's sticky so I recommend a disposable pan).  I recommend topping it with fresh raspberries and caramel sauce or powdered sugar.  It tasted like a gooey, sweet, blueberry muffin.  This is FOOLPROOF.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Home Sweet Apartment

Since it would be the only time my grandmothers would come to New York and a bunch of out of town friends were coming for a visit, Matt's wedding weekend was the perfect time to unveil my apartment to all my friends and family.  I had put so much time, effort, and money into this apartment so I wanted it to be absolutely perfect before anyone came over.  That's a big secret to keep for 4.5 months!  It all paid off because although it wasn't perfect (this is real life, after all), it was pretty dang close.  I know everyone's facebook feeds are overcrowded with engagement and pregnancy announcements, but this apartment is the closest thing I have to a child and I was touched so many people came to help me celebrate my major life moment, even if it doesn't involve a diamond ring.

Unlike previous apartments, I took the time to plan out how I wanted to decorate before doing anything.  In the past, I would buy something like a curtain and find myself locked into a color scheme that wasn't my particular aesthetic.  This time, I did some serious pre-planning.  I scoured the internet, magazines, stores, and flea markets for inspiration and then searched and searched til I found the pieces that I truly wanted.  I will show pics of individual rooms and elements in subsequent posts (3 on Thursday, most likely), but for now, these are two items in my apartment that are indicative of both my style and decorating forethought:
I am preppy through and through and love monograms so I put a huge one on the inside of my door (left).  It's just very me and in my first grown up apartment, I don't have to be anything but the truest version of myself.  I'm no Martha Stewart, but I like getting crafty every once in a while as a creative outlet.  I knew I wanted to incorporate a couple DIY elements in my apartment because it would both save money and make my space unique.  I bought white nightstands from Ikea (so cheap and so easy to put together), sanded them, painted them (yellow with a gray gingham design on top), and added new hardware (adorable squirrels).  They came out exactly how I envisioned them!  
Now, onto the party itself!  When I sent my email invitation, I included a logo that I created (pictured below).  It was just a little hint of the party's theme, the iconic I Heart NY design.  I bought an apartment in this city so I better "heart" it!  I found this great print on Etsy (also pictured below) that was a play on the traditional logo stamped on a vintage NY map, and I taped it to the door so people would know they were in the right place.  In case they forgot about the logo in the email, this served as a little reminder of the theme to come.

All the food and drink was New York themed.  I made "I Heart NY" labels for everything just to hammer it home.  I even covered the wine bottles with new labels I made that said "New York State of Wine'd".  Other than the wine, the menu was as follows:

  • Little Italy Antipasti Platter (prosciutto, olives, fennel salami, and mozzarella)
  • Bagels and Lox (a dip made with cream cheese, sour cream, dill, lemon, and smoked salmon, served with bagel chips)
  • Lower East Side Pickles
  • Big Apple Brie (a wheel of brie, warmed in the oven, topped with chopped Granny Smith apples and honey)
  • Black and White Cookies (a New York specialty, served in mini Yankees hats they use for ice cream at baseball games - I found mine on Amazon)
  • New York State of Wine'd
  • Concrete Jungle Juice (pre-mixed drink of your choice)

The party was a hit!  I learned a few things in planning it.  First and foremost, I learned that you don't have to slave away in the kitchen all day or buy all pre-made food to create something special and thematic.  I didn't have the luxury of spending all day prepping for the party.  My family and friends were in town, and I wasn't about to relinquish precious time with them to set out paper plates.  Here are my tips:

  1. Pick one item that can be made several hours [or even the night] before the event.  For me, this dish was the lox dip.  Slow cooker dishes and baked goods are great for this, too.
  2. Pick one item that is homemade but takes zero time to make.  In my case this was the brie.  There are plenty of things you can top brie with (pecans and brown sugar are a great combo) so you can basically do different versions of the same thing at each party.  Puff pastry tarts are also great, just give yourself time to let the pastry thaw.
  3. Have one item that's "assembled".  Antipasti plates and cheese platters are life savers.  You may not be cooking anything, but you're picking each item out individually and using artisinal products (it makes a difference, trust me) so there's a personal touch.
  4. Serving pieces make a difference.  Does it take extra time to put out the fancy red and white paper straws vs. plastic ones?  Nope.  It just took some advance thought.  The straws matched the I Heart NY color scheme and made people feel less like they were at a frat party.  I'm a huge proponent of disposable serving pieces because no one has time to do dishes for 50, but not all plasticware is created equal.  I ordered plastic wine glasses from Amazon so people didn't have to drink wine from Solo cups.  It doesn't cost much, and it will make your grown up guests feel like they're at a soiree instead of a hoedown.  Labels really tie everything together.  Invest in placecard holders (cheap on Amazon) - you'll use them over and over again.  
  5. Offer wine, beer, and a signature cocktail.  This cuts down on the liquor/mixer bill and gives you the opportunity to stretch your theme.  I promise, people won't even miss the other liquor.  My Concrete Jungle Juice was cucumber vodka mixed with Simply Lemonade.  I don't even like vodka that much and thought this was delicious.  Garnish with cucumber slices for extra flair.  Huge thank you to my brother for working as bartender.   
  6. Finally, set the stage with music and a movie.  I made a playlist of songs about New York and Home to set the mood (including "Empire State of Mind," "Nolita Fairytale," "Hometown Glory," and "Take Me Home Tonight").  I planned to play an iconic NYC movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's on mute in the background but, unfortunately, my DVR was broken.  Best laid plans...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kale Salad and Pesto Lasagna

At Matt and Karina's wedding, the Rabbi said that since they are postponing their honeymoon til December, it is the duty of their friends and family to host them for dinner and drinks during the two weeks following the wedding.  I think of Rabbis like black cats: it's unlucky to cross them; so I threw my name in the ring to have Matt and Karina over for dinner.

Since it was a weeknight (last night, to be exact), it all had to be easy.  I wanted to be calm and relaxed when they arrived so that I could properly celebrate their recent nuptials and Matt's 28th bday (this past Wednesday).  Celebration is downplayed when you're harried and running around so it was my goal to keep it simple.

Lasagna was the first thing that came to mind because I knew I could prepare it in the morning before work and just stick it in the fridge until it was time to bake it off just before dinner.  Instead of the typical red sauce lasagna, I decided to mix things up a bit.  One reason for this was so I could test out a new recipe, pesto lasagna.  I layered storebought pesto, lasagna noodles, ricotta that had been mixed with fresh basil and pine nuts, and shredded mozzarella.  After a couple rounds of that, I covered the top with a mix of shredded mozzarella and panko bread crumbs.  I used no-boil lasagna noodles for the first time because the store was out of normal ones.  Lo and behold!  They worked and saved me a cooking step and a pot to wash.  The whole thing takes about 45 minutes to cook at 350.  Perfect, because that's exactly how much time I needed to roast my brussels sprouts so I could do it all at once.  You may be cheating a little by using storebought pesto, but the fresh basil and pine nuts bring this recipe right back to home-cooked territory.  Don't be so hard on yourself about the storebought part.  Cooking, just like the marriage we were celebrating, is all about compromise.  Unfortunately, I got wrapped up in Matt and Karina's interesting conversation and forgot about the lasagna so it got a little overcooked but the flavor was still great so it's one I'll make again (when I'll be sure to set a timer).

While the lasagna was bubbling away, I took the time to prepare my salad.  After recent success with kale salad, I decided it was time to try another version.  This time, I laid off the cheese since the main course was already cheese-heavy.  Once again I used Trader Joe's pre-chopped and washed kale.  I tossed it with Granny Smith apples, sunflower seed, and bacon and then dressed it, again, with Trader Joe's champagne vinaigrette. (Sorry, I forgot to take a pic.)  Fish takes about as long to cook as it does to eat a salad, so I decided to make that for my simple protein.  Again, I took some help from the store by covering it with Trader Joe's bruschetta topping and baking it.  I figured if it tasted good enough slathered on a piece of bread, it was bound to be fine on fish.  I figured correctly.  It's always great to make your own marinade or toppings, but when you're pressed for time, re-purpose dips or salad dressing.  You won't even have to get your hands dirty.

We rounded out the meal with celebratory champagne.  If there was ever a reason to break out the good stuff, this was it.  I made Karina open it because it is a skill I have not mastered (though I consider a cork popping to be one of the most beautiful sounds).  There was also dessert, but I'm saving that for a later post, which means you'll just have to visit my lil blog again next week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

3 on Thursday

I thrive in a busy environment, but after a month of living inside the belly of a whale of busy, I am ready for things to slow down a bit.  Things have become blissfully normal.
After I posted a picture on Twitter of me sipping my coffee (not the one pictured above), the coffeecupview tumblr asked if they could use my photo for their site.  Wary that this was a porn scheme, I checked out the site to make sure I wasn't getting myself into something I would regret.  Not only did I determine the site was legit, I got lost scrolling through the peaceful images of coffee cups all over the world.  I guess an addiction to caffeine is universal.  

A new favorite site is Design Taxi.  It aggregates news within the creative and design world and the breadth of topics covered is wide.  On Tuesday, for instance, top stories included designers' versions of Disney princess dresses, Jack Daniels' white whiskey, and a graphic designer's resignation letter.

I became a fan of Jennifer Westfeldt's movie writing skills when I first saw "Kissing Jessica Stein" in high school.  She's done it again with "Friends with Kids," this time taking on the additional role of director.  It's an unconventional love story between two platonic friends who decide raising a baby together is the best way to avoid the disintegration of fun and love they've seen happen within the marriages of their friends with children.  It is a funny and touching story that hits on the realities of family life both in general and in Manhattan.  Rent it.       

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spinach Tofu Quesadilla

Over the Summer, I was at Blockheads when a friend ordered a spinach and tofu quesadilla.  This friend wasn't a vegetarian but after a taste, I understood how she was satisfied with the meat-free lunch.  This weekend, I was looking for an excuse to try out my brand new grill pan, and the spinach tofu quesadilla was just the ticket.

I couldn't have made it easier on myself.  I covered a tortilla with mozarella cheese, tofu, fresh spinach, and Asian chili sauce.  Slap one more tortilla on top and you're good to go.

What a sneaky (read: amazing) contraption that grill pan is!  Though I gained a gorgeous roof deck when I moved, I lost my huge private patio.  All in all, this was step up in the outdoor space department, considering  my old patio got zero sun and tanning space is at a premium in New York.  However, the one thing I miss about the former patio is my huge [not so legal] grill.  Grilling is verboten on my new roof deck so I have had to settle for using it only for sun exposure and non-flame broiled food.  Poor me.  

My Mom suggested a grill pan might ease the pain and - like always - my Mom was right.  The pan got hot right away and even made those perfect grill marks which are a huge part of why I like grilling in the first place.  As long as you have a vent in your kitchen, invest in one of these.  Why oh why would you ever use a George Foreman?  Those things require you to pour out the fat when we all know that's where the flavor comes from.  This is the much smarter choice for your urban grilling needs. 

And by the way, my quesadilla was great.  I may make some adjustments next time by grilling the tofu separately first for additional flavor and by using a mix of mozzarella and goat cheese instead of just mozz.  Tofu...who knew?! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shrimp Burgers with Orange Aioli

Now that weddings have come and gone and my apartment is finally in order, it's time for life to return to normal.  A normal life for me means cooking well-rounded meals - no more takeout.  When I found huge, gorgeous shrimp on sale, I decided the recipe to mark the return to normalcy would be a shrimp burger.

I chopped up some boiled shrimp and mixed them with mayo, panko bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.  If you have a little cream cheese, try mixing that in as well to help bind it and add a little flavor.  I didn't have any cream cheese, but I did have some shredded mozzarella.  Turns out that works as well.  Everything is cooked, so just pan fry it until it's firm and browned to your liking.  Don't flip it too soon - leave it alone.  Let it get nice and browned before you flip it; otherwise, it will fall apart.  I know this from experience.  I rectified the situation, but it was no longer a perfect patty.  While the shrimp burger was cooking, I mixed some mayo with garlic, orange zest, red pepper flakes, and a little fresh juice from the orange.  I spread that on a toasted bun ant then topped it with the shrimp burger.  We're talking about a 15 minute meal, including boiling the shrimp.

Not all citrus is created equal.  Lemon/garlic is great with seafood, but the orange is an unexpected twist.  Those shrimp were probably all "hey Orange, who are you and what have you done with our good friend Lemon?"  And then the orange was like "chill brotha, we're gonna get along just fine."  And they did.  Looks like we've got some new friends in the refrigerator.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Spotted Pig

Finally finally finally I got to try The Spotted Pig.  Like all little sisters, I live to impress my brother and the best way I see fit to do so is by choosing a stellar restaurant.  When he not-so-subtly hinted that he wanted to go to a gastropub, I thought this might be our chance to actually get into the Michelin starred, much lauded restaurant.  After all, the line couldn't be that long on a Friday afternoon when most of New York is at work, right?  I may have misjudged that part because we still had to wait about an hour, but an hour passes quickly when you're sipping one of their spicy bloody marys with pickled veggies.

While all the food is praised, chef April Bloomfield's signature dishes are the deviled eggs and the burger.  Naturally, we had to order both.  The deviled eggs were creamy with just enough chive and a hint of something tangy - vinegar, perhaps?  Though I pride myself on my own deviled eggs, Bloomfield may have me beat.  I tip my hat at you, Madame.  I have strong opinions on what the best burgers are in NYC and have made it my goal to try all the contenders.  Since I've heard more about The Spotted Pig's burger than just about any other, I had to have a taste in the name of research.  The burger itself was nice and charred on the outside but still pink on the inside.  The generous portion of roquefort cheese made it stand out.  Not sure if it's my absolute favorite in the city (Brindle Room is hard to top), but it most definitely cracked the top three.

We didn't stop at those specialties.  We also ordered the chicken liver toast which is basically chopped liver from a Jewish deli, only better.  Way better.  I tasted a bite of my Mom's grilled cheese and had to ask the waiter what cheese mix was in it so I could make it myself.  He told me it was a combo of taleggio, fontina, and goat cheese, but the real secret is the parmesan that's on the bread itself.  Mental note: taken.  Finally, I ordered the bath chap sandwich, which is basically a mix of different pig parts that have been brined for two days, breaded together and fried like a pork chop.  It's then placed on a toasted brioche bun with a lemon garlic aioli and an endive salad.  Oo baby I could tell this was going to be flavorful when I cut it in half and saw the fat just glistening back at me.  It takes a real Brit to make a sandwich like this.  I love her for it but also hate her for making it that much harder for me to squeeze into my bridesmaid dress.

Friday, October 19, 2012


The night my parents and grandmothers arrived I wanted to stay close to home for dinner so I picked Ethos for what I think is solid Greek food.  My father would call it more than solid.  He couldn't stop talking about how it reminded him of the tavernas he loved so much in Greece and told the waiter (his new best friend) as much.  We ended up ordering a bunch of appetizers to share around because those are some of our favorite dishes (and for my father, the most reminiscent of taverna fare).  All four spreads we tried were good, as was the shepherd's salad.  My La La slurped every bit of her avgolemono (chicken and lemon) soup and the dolmades were quickly snatched picked off the plate.  I wasn't crazy about my spanikopita triangles (a little too much phyllo), but they were redeemed by my plate of salty, tender grilled octopus.

The entrees may be a little pricier, but the appetizer portions are sizable and authentic.  Go with several of those and your bill will be just where you want it, as will your belly.  I'm not sure if it was my father's chat about Greece with the waiter or my stunning beauty (for my ego's sake, let's go with option B), but the server was nice enough to bring out baklava and galaktoboureko, on the house.  Both of those desserts can be hit or miss: galaktoboureko dough can get soggy or the nut/phyllo/honey ratio can be off in the baklava.  None of those common errors here.  Just as we were ready to pay the bill and still gushing about how nice it was to receive dessert courtesy of the restaurant, the waiter walked out with a round of dessert wine, also on the house.  That's how you secure a return customer, my friends.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

3 on Thursday

Depressed.  That's how I feel now that Matt and Karina's wedding weekend has come and gone.  It was pretty much the best weekend ever, and I want to repeat it in full every week.  I was surrounded by all my family and friends for four and a half days.  Add top shelf liquor, serious dancing, and gorgeous surroundings, and I challenge you to top it.  Enjoy this week's Manhattan wedding edition of 3 on Thursday!
Because the wedding was held in an very formal setting, Matt and Karina wanted the exact opposite for the rehearsal dinner.  They chose Hill Country for some down and dirty bbq that would appeal to the primarily Southern guests.  I have to hand it to Hill Country - they did a fabulous job.  The food and signature cocktails were great, the private room   was perfect, and the staff was a pleasure to work with.  I must give a special shoutout to head manager Seth who would stop at nothing to make sure my video worked when it seemed all was lost.  He went above and beyond so that I could properly roast Matt.  I also loved the centerpieces.  Sunflowers [and other flowers I don't know] lined the table in mason jars and beer bottles.  They were perfect for the space.

The wedding and reception was at Guastavino's, a breathtaking venue underneath the 59th Street bridge.  Yup, those pillars are holding the bridge up.

Matt and Karina's first dance was exactly how I want mine to be.   Instead of being all formal and counting their steps, they were entirely natural.  Full of dips and hip swishing, the dance was true to their personalities and kinda sexy.  I have never seen such wide smiles.  Congratulations!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Liz and I both had Monday off for Columbus day, but not everyone else was so lucky.  While Puckett went back to work and the other boys flew back to Atlanta, the two of us had our own little bestie day.  After touring the National Cathedral, we headed to Georgetown for lunch and a little window shopping.  Liz wanted to go to a favorite restaurant, Paolo's, and when we realized there was a Scoutmob coupon, it became a done deal.

Liz was set on a comforting pasta dish to offset the dreary day while I went the two appetizer route.  I ordered burrata (made especially good with the addition of pesto to the traditional caprese elements) and the sea scallops.  The scallops were cooked to perfection and the pistachio crust only made their meat seem that much more buttery.  The miso vinaigrette added a hint of salt to remind you that despite the earthy pistachios and cauliflower, these guys came straight from the ocean.  I wouldn't have expected it from a restaurant that claims their specialty to be pizza, but this may be one of my top scallop dishes.  So happy were we with our food that we lost track of time and my bus back to NYC was pulling away from the station when I arrived.  Thankfully, the kind folks at Megabus let me on anyway.  Had they not, I wasn't all that stressed...though that was probably my satisfied belly talking.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Smoke and Barrel

When three Southerners reunite, we can't help but to indulge our Southern stomachs, even if we've creeped up North.  After a day of heavy drinking, Sliz and Puckett took me to their favorite DC bbq and bourbon, Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan to cap off the evening.  Points right off the bat for the name.  I love a witty epithet.

I don't know much about bourbon except that I like it.  I typically mix mine with diet coke, but I know enough to know how embarrassing it would be to order the good stuff prepared that way.  However, I don't know much about the real deal so I deferred to Puckett who ordered me a couple fingers (two? three?...who's counting) of Four Roses.  The waiter was kind enough to bring me a glass of ice on the side when I voiced my fears about not being man enough to drink it neat.  Puckett, on the other hand, allowed me just one cube and told me to grow a pair.  I enjoyed my fancy drink and left the restaurant feeling a little manlier.

When it came to the food, they smoke some good bbq but also serve it in some interesting ways.  While Puckett went with the sandwich and sides, I got a salad topped with bacon, blue cheese, and pulled pork, and Liz got bbq tacos.  From classic to creative, all plates were cleaned.  Even without the sauce, the bbq was moist and tasted like it just came out of the smoker.  Knowing there's good bbq and whiskey means DC is allowed to be on my "places I'd be willing to live" list.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

3 on Thursday

The smart thing to do when you're in two major weddings that are two weeks apart would be to take the weekend in the middle to relax.  But that wouldn't be fun, would it?  Instead I went to DC to spend some time with my bestie and had a fabulous time.  Now it's a mad dash to get everything at the apartment ready before people start arriving in NYC tonight!
Though the majority of our time in DC was spent at the bars, Liz and I had a little bit of time before my bus to check out the National Cathedral, which happens to be in her neighborhood.  The cathedral is gorgeous and as grand as can be.  As beautiful as the nave is, it was also cool to walk around the 7th floor observatory, which provides perfect views of DC and its suburbs.  Liz and I thought we were back in France where we met - this could rival most of the European cathedrals we toured.  

Though I hate shopping for clothes, I will give Zara credit as one of the few stores I will tolerate.  It has become a go-to, so I'm sure you can believe how ecstatic I was that they launched their online home store (the one thing I don't mind shopping for) in the US on Tuesday!  There are already too many items in my shopping cart... 

After a couple years of hearing about how fabulous Soul Cycle is, I finally tried it last week.  Soul Cycle is an intense spin class that incorporates light weights and a stadium seating layout.  Two things make these classes so popular: the instructors who yell encouragement throughout the class (to get you through the on-bike pushups) and the great music selection (you pedal to the beat).  I loved my workout, but the price is a big downside.  It costs $32/class (with no frequency discounts) plus $3 for shoes (which have to be purchased each time).  I've heard competitor Flywheel is slightly cheaper, but that's a hefty price to pay for a class.  My gym offers spin classes with great instructors.  It may not be quite as fabulous as Soul Cycle (and isn't frequented by trendy Upper East Side ladies), but it'll just have to do...for now.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lindsay's Mac

I don't know how I got so lucky in the friend department, but even though Lindsay is doing me a huge favor by letting me butt in on her weeknight relaxation time to use her more high tech computer, she treated me with an amazing meal. I should be the one bringing her treats, but somehow I wound up with a bowl full of her homemade mac and cheese.

Lindsay's mac was some of the best I've had. While I can't provide recipe specifics since I wasn't the one in the kitchen, I can give you the rundown of the ingredients. This was a bechemel based mac made with four cheeses: gruyere, asiago, manchego, and (I think) Parmesan. The cheese mix was perfect. It got nice and bubbly and tightened up just enough to hold together while still remaining creamy. And why not throw in some truffle oil while we're at it, shall we?

This mac and cheese was better than most restaurant versions. Lindsay sent me home with a small Tupperware of it and it didn't even make it to the fridge.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dangerously Delicious

I'm much prefer pie over cake, and I don't discriminate when it comes to meat vs. sweet, which is why I was thrilled to discover Dangerously Delicious on a night out in DC this weekend.  It's open until 3:30 AM, making it the perfect place to fuel up late night before going dancing at Rock & Roll Hotel next door.

All pies are made from scratch with a butter laden crust that covers the various fillings like a loving hug.  They've got the usual suspects like chicken pot pie and lemon chess pie, but then they get creative.  We went with the hot rod with bacon, which is basically roasted potatoes, cream, cheeses, onion, and bacon.  I would do just about anything to have a piece of that sitting next to me right now.

Dangerously Delicious takes pies, the iconic Stepford Wife dish, and adds a bunch of tattoos.  Something that comforting with an edge?  We all know now girl can resist a bad boy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kale Salad

I've started noticing restaurants using kale instead of lettuce for salads.  I had assumed kale was too tough to eat raw but it doesn't just work, it's freakin awesome.  It's not all watery like other lettuce types (yea you, iceberg).  It's thick so you'll be crunching all over the place (which I think makes you feel fuller) and it's one of those superfoods packed with antioxidants.  I guess what I'm saying is, if you can figure out more ways to use so!

Trader Joe's had a bag already washed and chopped, but I gave it another run-through with the knife to make it a little more manageable on the ol chompers.  The rest is super simple but made for a truly fabulous salad: tomato, avocado, gorgonzola, and Trader Joe's light champagne vinaigrette.  You can mix it up when it comes to the dressing, but do what i did and pick something that's a little thicker than a normal vinaigrette so it breaks down the kale and keeps it from overpowering the salad.  Seriously, this salad was pretty close to perfect.  I could see edamame or some sort of bean also working but not necessary.  Make this.  Now.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cheesy Bread

The other day I really wanted some cheesy bread.  It was crave central.  I wasn't in the mood to do anything serious because that would take time and effort, which would only postpone cheesy bread eating time.

I started with some refrigerated crescent roll dough from Trader Joe's, but you could use Pillsbury's version.  If you're buying Pillsbury, might as well get the pizza dough, though I am positive the Pillsbury doughs for crescent rolls, pizza, and breadsticks are identical products with different labels.  Next, I melted some butter and mixed with garlic powder and dried oregano and painted it onto the dough.  (Chop real garlic?  please.  I was too hungry for that.)  I covered the whole thing with pre-shredded cheese (mozzarella), rolled that puppy up, and brushed the outside with more garlic/oregano butter.  I popped the whole thing in the oven for however long the crescent roll package told me to (about 15 min at 350) and stared at the clock impatiently as I waited for my bread to be ready.  I was not looking for quality Italian, I was looking for a quick fix and got just that.  It was exactly what I wanted.  The dough was a little sweet, but totally fine in a pinch.

If you're feelin frisky, you can mix some prosciutto or pepperoni inside with the cheese and/or dip it into marinara sauce.  Tip: leave an inch-wide border around the cheese; otherwise it'll ooze out and burn while cooking.  No one wants to explain the blaring smoke alarm to the neighbors.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

3 on Thursday

I still can't stop thinking about how wonderful Steph and Gav's wedding weekend was so today's 3 on Thursday is the Ricciardi/Kaufmann Wedding Edition.  Enjoy!
With 13 bridesmaids, Steph had to pick something that everyone could enjoy as her bridesmaid gift.  She picked out three patterns of a LeSportsac tote and each girl got the color that best suited her.  I think the blue stripe/green polka dot one I got is just perfect for me.  As if a really nice tote bag isn't enough (and it is), she also gave us each a bottle of prosecco and a navy bracelet (to match our dresses) with an infinity charm (because we'll be friends for infinity, get it?).  I don't need any sort of thank you for being in Steph's wedding.  For a friend like that, bridesmaid duties are an honor, not a chore...but that won't stop me from wearing my new tote proudly!

On our way to the wedding, Courtny and I stopped in Boston for lunch and a quick stop at the MAC store.  Courtny needed to pick up some eyeliner and I took the opportunity to get some eyeshadow and a tutorial on how to do a smoky eye.  Karina requested a smoky eye look for her wedding and I am completely lost when it comes to makeup.  I absolutely loved the final result and since my hair was in a bun at the time, I was pretty sure I looked like Black Swan.  Unfortunately, the makeup artist put some liner and makeup on the inside of my bottom eyelid which resulted in a film over my contacts and complete loss of vision.  Before I realized what was causing it, I was freaking out a bit and pulling out the phone book to call the doctor.  Of course, I paused the healthcare to take a picture of my gorgeous eyes so I could document how good I once looked because that's way more important than being able to see.  Now that I have photo evidence, I can re-create it for Matt and Karina's wedding...minus the impaired vision.  

Not the best picture, but I got falsies for the wedding (the eyelash kind, not the boob kind).  I am not obsessed.  My eyes were all...POW.  I felt just like a Kardashian.  Sooo worth the $20 to look that glam.  I might just have to do it again for Matt and Karina's wedding.  Anybody know of any good places to get this done in NYC...preferably in Murray Hill?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I recently stumbled upon Dainobu while I was walking home from work.  This Japanese grocery store and deli is packed with the kinds of products you usually need to go to Canal Street to find.  I finally made the time to go in but made the mistake of going on a Sunday evening when the prepared foods are not at there best.  From what was left in the deli case, I could tell there were once a lot of delicacies including stuffed squid, udon salad, mochi, and unidentified syrupy sweets.

I figured I would go back when I wasn't dealing with such picked-over goods, but still walked away with the chocolate filled cookies and aloe drink pictured below.  The drink was good but a little sweet for my taste, which means it would go over very well in America and makes me wonder why it's not a thing here.  I picked the cookies based solely on the picture on the box and hoped for the best.  I was wowed to see they were actually mini chocolate filled pastries.  The pastry was far flakier than you would expect from a pre-packaged snack.  If I didn't know better, I would have thought this was a French goodie instead of Japanese one.  I love my Oreos and Vitamin Water, but this was a nice way to mix up my snackies this week.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wedding Preview

Though most posts outside of "3 on Thursday" are food-centric, I have been a little too pre-occupied to test any new recipes or restaurants.  Today, I'll be sharing a sneak peek of Steph and Gav's wedding weekend instead of a meal since it's the reason I've been too busy to cook and too excited to care.

One of my favorite wedding moments was watching the bride and groom just before they saw each other for the first time.  It was nice to see Gav so excited and happy that he abandoned his usual jokester attitude.  The nervous energy visibly shifted back and forth between the two of them throughout the evening as they balanced each other out.  A perfect pair.


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