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Thursday, December 27, 2012

3 on Thursday

Today, the annual Konter family ski vacation comes to an end.  I'm sad to part with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law, but at least I have New Years festivities to look forward to!
I was so excited when Steph finally got back from her honeymoon.  Two weeks without that lil lady was too long for me.  I have since placed an interdiction on long vacations sans moi.  Anyway, once she returned, I immediately headed to Hoboken for a little playtime with her and Gav.  The PATH is still down due to complications from Hurricane Sandy, so I took the Ferry.  At $9 each way, it's a more expensive method of traveling, but it was nice to do something different.  Plus, I love standing on a dock, looking out at the water.

Excuse the non-manicured nails, but I wanted to show off my latest jewelry purchase.  When I received a gift card to Henri Bendel, the luxury accessory store, I went a little crazy.  My favorite of all my purchases, however, was probably this thumb ring.  I was inspired once again by Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere, who often wears a very thin gold band on her thumb.  I love how dainty it looks and as someone who doesn't wear a ton of jewelry, I feel like it instantly makes me feel put together.  Considering I've worn it almost every day since buying it, I'd say it was more than worth the $28 I spent.  It's also proof that you can find some great pieces at affordable prices at Benel's - don't just write it off as a too-expensive 5th Avenue store for the well-to-do!

On a recent 3 on Thursday post, I reported joining tumblr.  In addition to having another creative outlet, I've loved discovering fun new blogs.  One such new fave is Garfield Minus Garfield, which removes Garfield from the comics, leaving you with a lone John Arbuckle.  The blog exposes our favorite cat owner's existential tendencies as he comes closer and closer to a nervous breakdown.  How do people think of these things?!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mi Casa

After Allison broke her wrist on the first run of the ski trip, she got to pick the restaurant. A Train wanted Mexican so Mark whipped out the iPhone to compare the two Mexi restaurants on Yelp. Mi Casa won out as the best in Breck so off we went.

Mi Casa has all the usual Mexican dishes like quesadillas and tacos, but they've also added some Rocky Mountain touches like elk enchiladas (my father's choice) and buffalo fajitas. You know you're in Colorado when game is automatically added to the menu, regardless of cuisine.

We started with queso because, well, there was no way I would allow otherwise since it suspiciously doesn't exist in NYC. It was a great version with extra peppers to take it beyond the regular melted white cheese dip. My Mom and Allison shared the carnitas and cleared the plate. Mark got the shrimp diablo (pictured). It showed up murder-red so you knew it was going to be spicy. It packed some heat, but the polenta cake took your mind off of it a bit. I've never seen polenta in Mexican food, but I'm not going to kick it out of the club. I ordered the chorizo quesadillas and added mushrooms. I know there's not much to quesadillas, but I thought this was delicious. Perfect cheese to filling ratio with a nice drizzle of Serrano crema. This quesadilla didn't need mounds of sour cream, guac, and salsa to make it taste right. It was perfect as is.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that Mi Casa is Nuevo Latino, but they certainly gave traditional Mexican the mountain treatment. If I'm traveling all the way to Colorado, I want to infuse a little of the local pizazz into the food. It also gave Allison the opportunity to self medicate with margaritas and cervesas, which may be better than modern medicine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review: How To Be Black

I bought Baratunde Thurston's "How To Be Black" for my brother as a Chanukah present, from one super white person to another. The book, however, took a slight detour because while I was sitting in the airport on the way to meet my dear Bubba I read the back of the book and decided to read it myself. I read the whole thing cover to cover on the flight from NYC to Colorado and then gifted it to my brother, none the wiser.

Thurston uses humor to make the awkward topic of race the center of conversation. Not only does he share stories of growing up with a hippy mother and absent father in the midst of DC's crack era, he asks a well rounded panel of black and white men and women (plus one white guy for diversity's sake) deep reaching questions relating to their blackness. Finally, Thurston takes the role of teacher so that we can all learn how to be great black employees or even the second black president.

Maybe this book will get ya talking about race relations or other important things. Even if it doesn't, you'll enjoy it because it's plain funny.

Four out of five stars.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Breckinridge Brewery

My brother has the ability to sniff out a brewery the moment he steps into a new city. On our first night in Breckinridge, we happily yielded to his preference and had dinner and a couple of brewskies at Breckinridge Brewery. While my brother lived their double IPA, I was a big fan of the Agave Wheat. I don't know much about beer, but I know I likes that one.

Breckinridge Brewery is the kind of place where you make friends by the bar. After chatting it up with some ski bums who have decided to blow off the real world in favor of making the slopes their life, we headed to the table for some grub. The list of burgers, salads, and sandwiches is extensive, but my main recommendation is the beer cheese fries. Smothered with hoppy beer cheese, sweet applewood smoked bacon, and green onion, this is one serious plate of food. Even the most health conscious members of our group couldn't help but dig in.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Yesterday's post was canceled due to hangover and today is a travel day.  We'll be up and running again VERY soon so check back starting Monday for some fun new posts!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Prosciutto Arugula Bundles

I had mentioned in my Oyster Roast post that Allison made an appetizer that I had plans to steal and this week I did just that at book club.  I promised I would give Allison full credit and here I am, giving her a big pat on the back for sharing this recipe because it was a hit.

This is a great recipe for just about any occasion.  It's perfect when you're hosting a party because it only takes a minute to throw together, leaving you time to focus on other dishes, decorations, or mingling with guests.  It's also great for a potluck because it can be made in advance and then travels well, served at room temp.

Lay out strips of prosciutto, put a little mound of arugula in the middle, add some blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles, and roll up into a little bundle.  You won't even need toothpicks to secure them.  They look nice and pretty with the green poking out and arugula and prosciutto work together well as they are their own natural salt and pepper shakers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Brussels Sprout Gratin with Blue Cheese

Since my Sunday night meal, consisted primarily of healthy leftovers, I decided to splurge a little with the side dish.  I suppose when the side dish is a gratin, a dish known for it's cream and cheese, it's more than a small splurge.  Oh well, it was good and my tummy was happy.  I used this recipe for a Brussels sprout gratin with blue cheese and it came out better than expected.  I was concerned that the blue cheese would be a little strong for my taste, but the cream parmesan toned it down a bit.  The new flavor introduced by the mustard somehow brings your attention back to the Brussels sprouts and reminds you that you're not just eating a cheese dish.  

I bought enough Brussels sprouts to properly fit into the pan I was using, which I'm pretty sure was less than what the recipe calls for.  Because I was no longer using the same portions, I eyeballed the blue cheese and parmesan.  When it game time to pour the cream/milk/mustard mixture over the top, I mixed it in full amounts but then only poured til when I thought it looked right.  I'm pretty sure this is less than the recipe calls for even if I had taken everything down proportionately.  You may not need all the sauce it calls for - trust your gut.

This is a heavy dish, but when you're ready to indulge in the Wintertime, it's just right.  Go ahead and splurge - at this time of year you're covering up your belly with bulky sweaters anyway.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lasagna Rollups

I've seen people making lasagna rollups on the Food Network for years now but never thought it was for me.  What could be easier than regular lasagna?  Lasagna rollups, that's what.

While I cooked the lasagna noodles, I mixed up ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and fresh spinach (you could use frozen if you prefer but defrosting is a whole extra step and who needs that?).  I laid out each noodle, spread on some of the cheese mixture, added some rotisserie chicken, and then rolled up like a pinwheel.  I was able to perfectly fit six in a baking dish where I poured pink sauce (marinara mixed with cream) over the top (just enough to lightly cover it) and topped with some shredded parmesan.  Stick it in the oven at 375 til its warmed through and the parmesan is melted (about 15 minutes).

I learned quickly not to overstuff with the cheese (don't go all the way to the ruffly edges) and was soon making perfect mini lasagna logs.  As a whole, this probably uses less cheese and sauce so I suppose it's a little healthier in terms of ingredients.  The real reason this is healthier (healthier, let's not kid ourselves - it's not a diet meal) is because it's instant portion control.  Everyone loves getting their own personal little lasagna.  It's pretty adorable.

Cute is fine when it comes to toddlers, but when we're talking about lasagna, I want to know that it tastes good.  And this does.  Chicken is a nice change of pace from ground beef but the pink sauce on top keeps you from going full white lasagna (which is basically just rich alfredo).  It's a little of the familiar with some new flavors thrown in for good measure.  So basically you've got both cute and yummy working in your favor which leads me to believe that you'll win over friends with this one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review: Testimony

My building has a wonderful little library in the laundry room - just one more thing that makes me love living here.  While I was waiting for the dryer to buzz, I decided to peruse the shelves for a title that jumped out at me.  I stopped when I saw "Testimony" by Anita Shreve.  I hadn't heard of this particular title, but I know that people seem to love Shreve's books, "The Pilot's Wife," in particular.  After reading the back cover that described a sex scandal that tears through a Vermont boarding school, ruining the lives of many, I decided this book was coming upstairs with me.

From the lunch lady to the perpetrators, the story is told through so many perspectives, it's hard to keep track.  You figure out who everyone is soon enough and appreciate the different insights they bring to the table.  They each only get a few pages at a time, which keeps you rapt, eager to see how each person will be affected.

The story takes place in 2006 and 2008, making the themes of teenage sex and alcohol use very real.  As you're reading, you can tell it's not an exaggerated depiction of what is happening with high school kids.  Let's not ask if it's happening; we know it is, so how can we prevent it from spiraling into situations like this...or is an attempt at prevention futile?

The biggest question is who is at fault?  Is it the adults who had an affair?  The 18 year old boys who should have known better?  The parents who should have been more involved?  Or the 14 year old siren who more than consented?  The law says one thing, your head may say another.  My personal thought: that little Sienna is quite the bitch.

4 out of  5 stars.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

3 on Thursday

I've been eating more chocolate than usual.  I'm a sucker for the extra dark kind (I feel like that's the start of one of those "I like my chocolate like I like my men" jokes) and have found some great chocolatiers lately.  With that, I bring you the 3 on Thursday: Chocolate Edition.
While home for Thanksgiving, I found a new store on Broughton Street, our main downtown thoroughfare.  Chocolate by Adam Turoni produces the most delicate chocolate truffles.  I had a cognac fig one and a habanero caramel sea salt one.  Both were perfect.  At $2.50 for each tiny chocolate, it's not something you can get often, but it's wonderful for when you want to treat yourself.  A store like this will depend entirely on Savannah's tourist population so I figure it could be tough to keep afloat, but I really hope it makes it because Savannah could use something fancy like this.
If you don't feel like going high end with the chocolate shop mentioned above, look no further than Trader Joe's.  Anywhere else, a dark chocolate bar filled with caramel and sea salt would set you back about $4.  Here, however, it's about $1.87.  And not for nothing, the packaging is great.  I also fell in love with one of their seasonal treats dark chocolate covered marshmallows with caramel.  
Lauri showed up to my housewarming with a box of truffles from The Chocolate Room, a shop in her new Brooklyn neighborhood.   In terms of price, this one falls somewhere between Adam Turoni and Trader Joe.  With flavors like lemon verbena ganache, they've got the right tastes and based on their website, they have the right atmosphere, too.  It seems they have a nice lil cafe along with a whole slew of cakes and other desserts to satisfy any chocolate craving.  I'm a little upset to have learned about this place only to realize it's a little deep into Brooklyn for this Manhattan girl.  Oh well, a little subway ride never hurt anyone...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yunnan Kitchen

With a fussy 21 month old, you don't get the luxury of long dinners, but that doesn't make the food any less good.  Yunnan Kitchen is a relatively new trendy Chinese spot in the LES that has proven tough to get into during prime dining time.  The New York Times quickly learned of it's growing popularity and reviewed it, giving one star to it's "farmers' market approach" to Chinese.

I must admit, this is not like any Chinese I've ever had.  Perhaps that's because the Yunnan Province of China, which borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, pulls flavors from it's neighboring regions.  Whatever the reason, the pickled green papaya salad with warm chicken was crunchy, tart, and spicy - unlike anything I've ever been served in a Chinese restaurant.  We also tried the mushroom rice cakes (I love those gummy rice cakes but make sure you really like mushrooms - like I do - before ordering this) and the Chinese sausage fried rice (perfect sliced sausage with greens that made this different from typical fried rice) - both winners.  I was not a fan of the pork ribs, which were dry and didn't have any sort of sauce that would have allowed all the herbs to adhere to them.  That misstep was redeemed by a chicken dish (a special, I believe) that had the most unique spice I've ever had.  It didn't last like a hot pepper, nor did it clear out your sinuses like wasabi.  Instead, it made my entire tongue tingle.  I couldn't quite place it, but that "whatsit" is what will make Yunnan Kitchen stick out in my mind as a Chinese destination in NYC.
Chinese sausage fried rice

Papaya Salad

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


A new Thai place opened in my neighborhood and I thought I was going to get Rebekah to come to my side of town to try it.  When we stayed near her West Side apartment, I thought all was lost...until we walked by the restaurant on 9th Ave.  Apparently, my restaurant has a sister so I got to try it after all.

I have no idea if V{IV} is pronounced Viv (like the nickname for Vivienne) or 5-4.  It's not located on 54th so, really, it could be either and I'll probably switch up the name depending on my mood.  Whatever it's called, they make good food.  The waiter recommended the avocado massaman curry and the creamy potato and peanut sauce did not disappoint.  I was also happy to see real chicken in my bowl.  Usually, Thai restaurants have cut up the chicken in those thin slices in advance (just like in Chinese takeout).  It tastes fine, but it doesn't taste like home cooking.  This chicken seemed to have been simmering for hours and fell off the bone (which, if you're keeping up, means they actually served it on the bone instead of as those pre-cut slices).  At $12 it was right in line with typical Thai takeout prices but the quality was better.

Now, not only did I find a new Thai spot, I don't have to go Hell's Kitchen to eat it again.  I don't even have to get out of my pajamas since the East Side location is in convenient delivery distance.
Didn't get any pics of the food, but did capture the porthole on the bathroom door (that was next to some groovy, not-pictured tropical wallpaper) and a huge brass lady lamp that was sitting on a console table (also next to great wallpaper) right outside the bathroom.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: Wild

My latest book club read was a memoir that quickly topped the best seller list in 2012.  In "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Cheryl Strayed recounts her several month trek through California and Oregon.  I've hiked a [very] small piece of the Appalachian Trail so I know that sort of hiking is tough work, especially if you're doing it entirely alone.  Not only does Strayed complete something few attempt (much less accomplish), she finds herself in the process.

I'm pretty sure Strayed and I would not have been friends in real life.  Although I love getting outdoorsy, there's a difference between enjoying nature and being granola.  I have no problem hiking and camping for days without access to a shower, but I can't relate to the hippy culture - just not me.  Strayed and I come from completely different backgrounds.  After her mother packed up her and her siblings to leave an abusive marriage, the family bounced around apartments on the brink of poverty until settling with a stable husband and moving to the middle of nowhere to live off the land without many modern conveniences.  None of that sounds bearable to me but was normal for her.  I'm from the South so getting married young is typical but married at 19 (like Strayed) is pushing it.  I also can't identify with her bender on heroin and sex, which she goes on after her mother dies of cancer, prompting her divorce.  All this craziness leads her to take a journey so she can piece her life back together.  I can't relate to any of the events that led her to that point, but I can imagine (somewhat) what it must feel like to be there.  I think I'd want to center myself, too.

Cheryl Strayed and I may not have been friends, but I respect what she did - not just hiking the PCT but having the courage to recognize when your life is not exactly where you want it to be and doing something about it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bok Choy and Asparagus

I made bok choy for the first time the other night and have since decided to make it a regular fixture in my diet.  The super easy recipe came courtesy of my mom who bought the central ingredient on a lark and then found a recipe so it wouldn't go to waste.  When it panned out, she passed the recipe along to me because she's not one to keep good things to herself.

All you do is saute chopped bok choy and asparagus until it's nearly as tender as you like.  Then mix 1/4 cup chicken stock with one teaspoon corn starch and 1.5 teaspoons honey.  Pour the sauce over the vegetables and let it cook down until the liquid is mostly gone.  Add salt to taste and you're good to go. Serve over rice and [I prefer] alongside Asian glazed salmon.

When I'm in the mood for a quick and easy vegetable, I usually just roast some broccoli or cauliflower. This is a nice option that's just as healthy and not quite so monotonous.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

3 on Thursday

Between now and Christmas break, I think I have one weeknight to myself.  Maybe two.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
My Mom has always been good with brooches and bangles.  I, on the other hand, tend to stick to one or two jewelry pieces and wear them every day.  I am too afraid I'll get it wrong when mixing and stacking jewelry so I don't even try.  That sort of meek attitude won't get me anywhere in life!  It's time I amped up my jewelry collection and Bauble Bar is the perfect place for me to stock up on fun, trendy pieces.  Not only is everything very "now," the prices are great.  They get even better when they offer their deeply discounted buried baubles each week.  When I decided to put together a pleated skirt/turtlneck combo I knew It needed a chunky statement necklace to complete the look and this is the best place to get it.

I'M TUMBLING!  I always thought tumblr was basically another blog platform (like blogspot vs. wordpress) so I assumed I was good to go with the blog I've got.  After reading an article about the year's best tumblrs I realized a blog and a tumblr are two different beasts.  While blogs are all about writing, tumblrs use more mixed media and typically feature snack sized content.  tumblr is also a more social environment.  While blogs are destinations, they're not usually viewed in a stream.  tumblr is all about streaming so you can see what your friends or favorite writers post constantly.  Because posts are usually small, they lend themselves to sharing more than a typical blog.  I am in NO way abandoning this blog.  If anything, I am more committed to posting regularly.  However, as a media professional, I see the benefit using different social media avenues.  Plus, I think it's cool.  When it comes to social media, don't just be there to be there.  I can't tell you how many companies use Facebook or Twitter without thinking how to best leverage those platforms for their brand.  In some cases, doing social media poorly is worse than not doing it at all.  While I could talk about best business practices for a while, I won't bore you.  I will, however, mention one of my rules of thumb.  (::Free advice!::)  Don't repurpose content.  Instead, play up the assets of each space.  For me, that means using this blog for [by internet standards] longform content.  As I'm sure you've noticed, this is basically a food blog, with the exception of book reviews and "3 on Thursday" (which still features lots of food).  It will remain so.  My tumblr, She's Mad, She'll Get Glad  is based on one of my Mom's best pieces of advice.  When someone is acting pissy for no good reason, her motto is "If she's mad, she'll get glad."  Basically, it means the brat's gotta buck up and put a smile on her face and we need to not let her get us down.  An example: "Mom, I put so much effort into this huge dinner but Jane is upset because I'm serving pasta instead of rice.....Well, Tess, if she's mad she'll get glad.  You've put too much time into this to worry about one person."  I try not to walk around like a Negative Nancy and don't like having any of those around me so my tumblr is going to have regular posts meant only to put a smile on your face.  It's a lot easier to go from mad to glad after seeing this stuff.  I don't plan on repeating what I've already posted on Instagram or Twitter so this will be something totally new - follow me!
When scaffolding went up right in front of the new, upscale florist by my apartment, he used it to his advantage.  I didn't even notice the pile of trash on the sidewalk after through this Winter Wonderland.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I can't help but say the name of this restaurant, Arang, in anything but the voice of an old butler going "You raaaang, sir?"  It's not like that makes the food taste any better, but it elicits a giggle from me every time and giggles do seem to make a meal more enjoyable.

Matt and I stumbled into Arang after jumping ship from Kunjip when we saw how long the line was.  We were in the middle of K-town and starving.  Any restaurant was bound to be good at that point, especially one that was directly upstairs from where we were standing.  We walked upstairs and attacked the menu.

Matt picked out bulgogi jungol (beef and glass noodles in a sweet broth), while I chose the seafood pancake, and spicy calamari with pork.  The beef soup was definitely the kind of thing I would want to eat if I was sick.  It makes me wonder why people still eat chicken noodle.  The seafood pancake was tasty, but lacked the quantity of seafood we were expecting.  The calamari was by far our favorite.  It's a plate full of squid, pork, and a sweet and spicy sauce - no filler.  It's exactly what you want when you order this dish.  Next time I'll have to try the rice cake with cheese since we were told by the guys at the table next to us that it is the house specialty...and it did smell amazing.

My only complaint is that they clearly toned down the spice for us white kids.  I prefer not to have my tongue on fire but if I order something that is listed on the menu as spicy, I expect some heat.  When there are so many restaurants on the K-town block, I found this one slightly overpriced, but I enjoyed everything I ate.  It's definitely worth another go, especially if I can convince them that I can handle a little more spice.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crab Stuffed Portabellos

On Sunday night I made one of the easiest recipes I could think of that also happens to look pretty fancy.  Crab stuffed portabello mushrooms are basically a crab cake stuck in an oversized mushroom cap, but since you have the mushroom for support, you don't need to add so much of the pesky filler.  

After cleaning out the stem and gills, I rubbed a little olive oil on the top of the mushroom and placed it face-up on a foil lined baking sheet.  Then I filled it with my crab mixture, which was basically just crab meat, mayo, panko bread crumbs, lemon juice, old bay seasoning, and parsley.  I stuck it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 350 and that was it.  

Besides being super easy, it's healthy if you use low fat mayo like I did.  It's a pretty gorgeous item to serve at a small dinner party as a replacement to the soup course and takes far less time to prepare.  Your guests will thank you for the change of pace.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Caprese Chicken and Mushroom Orzo

I'm here to tell you some shocking news: healthy can be tasty.  I was dubious, but after the meal I cooked on Thursday, I'm a believer.

Lindsay came over for a laid back evening of dinner and Glee because it had been far too long since we'd caught up.  I didn't have it in me to prepare anything spectacular so easy was the most important thing.  Easy, however, is hard to come by when you want to be healthy.  My go-to for getting dinner on the table quickly is just to throw cheese and heavy cream on everything, but that won't help me lose the 5 lbs I gained when I couldn't work out for a few weeks thanks to a broken toe.  After doing some research, I found a couple recipes that not only came together in a hurry but were healthy and ::shock:: tasty.

The first recipe came courtesy of SkinnyTaste.  First, buy the boneless skinless chicken breasts that have already been cut thin.  This serves two purposes: 1) portion control and 2) quick cooking time.  Top the chicken with pesto and stick it in the oven for 15 minutes at 400.  Take it out, top with sliced tomato, sliced fresh mozzarella, and freshly grated parmesan.  Stick it back in the oven for about 5 minutes so the cheese can melt.  While you're cooking the chicken, saute mushrooms and onions in olive oil.  When they look like they're good to go (about 10 minutes), add 2 cups of chicken broth.  Once that starts boiling, add a cup of orzo, reduce the heat, and let it cook for about 15 minutes until the broth is absorbed.  When it's done, stir in fresh parsley and pine nuts.  The resulting pilaf is super flavorful.  Using chicken broth instead of water makes a huge difference (and it's low sodium - healthy high five!).

Using so many fresh ingredients gave the dishes tons of flavor with little fat.  We also started with a salad to make sure we filled our bellies first with healthy veggies.  I hid the fact that I had low expectations for this meal from Lindsay for fear of scaring her off.  I figured once we finished the meal we would be so proud we ate healthy that we wouldn't care the food was a little bland.  I was so happy the food was the opposite of bland while still being good for you.  Linds even got seconds of orzo!


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