Sunday, October 14, 2012

Good Morning Starshine

Well good morning! I can't tell you the last time I posted in the morning...maybe not ever? There's a first time for everything.

I've decided to make today a lazy day. Everyone's entitled to one, right? I woke up about an hour ago and I'm still in my pajamas. I don't even care.

I had a great week of cooking that I'd like to share though! Let's start with Tuesday. Er, before Tuesday. Last weekend I went upstate to visit Ryan and attend our friends' wedding. Starting the Friday before I left, I could feel myself getting sick. My head was feeling pressure, my throat felt weird, and I knew I had some post-nasal drip going on. Gross. All this being said, by about Sunday I was going through boxes of tissues and feeling a bit foggy. So even though I had Monday off from work, I took Tuesday off as well to get some extra rest. For the record, it was worth it because at this point, I'm pretty much over sickness, and normally it would take longer. Bazinga.

So after resting and getting a lot of work done on Tuesday, I made a trip to Trader Joe's. Good parts of this trip: It wasn't nearly as crowded as it usually is, I stayed under what I wanted to spend on groceries for the day, I found awesome pre-made soup for days when I don't want to cook. Bad parts of the trip: They started using paper bags, then switched to plastic bags giving me about 7 to take on the bus (even though I told them I needed to take them on the bus), I had to redistribute the groceries once I stepped out of the store to consolidate into paper bags, One of the bags broke open the minute I stepped off the bus. Needless to say, it was tiring for a sick kid.

Later that day, I decided to make homemade soup for lunch for the week. I opted for my mom's Three Mushroom Soup recipe....but only used two different kinds because that's all TJ's had to offer. I also replaced the shallots I couldn't find with another onion, which was probably a bad idea because the soup is really onion-y. I still eat it though.

To make the soup, you cook the onions in some butter (you're not supposed to brown them, but I did a little because of my love for caramelized onions), then add in some garlic. Next, you had two containers of baby bellas, and two containers of shitake mushrooms (make sure you take the stems off of these). You're also supposed to add oyster mushrooms. You let all of these cook down and then add two containers of vegetable stock. I added one and a half since I had less mushrooms. You're also supposed to add a bay leaf at this point, but I didn't have any so I added a bunch of Italian seasoning. Bad idea. The end result will have you picking twig like things out of your mouth. Don't. Do it.

After this cooked for about 20 minutes, I lowered the heat and used my immersion blender to make it a thicker soup. Then I added in a tiny bit of cream, which accounts for its somewhat gross color. I taste tested for salt and pepper and added some until it was just right. And then I actually said, "mmmm." I'm pretty sure that when you live alone, that's how you know it's good.

Wednesday night I cooked a Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry recipe that I found in Food Network magazine. It's quickly become one of my faves, especially since I rarely make Asian foods. I started by coating the pieces of chicken. You're supposed to mix one egg white with sherry and a little flour. I mixed one egg white with apple cider vinegar and a little natural peanut butter. I figured that might be a better thickening agent than flour...and I was totally right.

I cooked the broccoli by boiling it for a couple minutes, then draining it and running some cold water over it to keep it crisp. Then I sauteed the chicken pieces and placed them in the oven after just to keep them warm. I caramelized some onions, then added chopped garlic and bell peppers, then added back in the broccoli and chicken and a sauce I made with the vinegar peanut butter, and a touch of soy sauce. Oh! And some chopped raw almonds. After letting this all mesh together, I dumped it all on my plate.

It was way too much food. I was crazy full after eating like, half of this. But so delicious! I find that when I've tried to add peanut butter to stuff like this before, it just becomes a thick mess, but by mixing it with other things beforehand, it works really well. It was my decision to add the onions, and I'm glad I did because it added some much needed sweetness. The apple cider vinegar also gave it a nice tang, which might not be for everybody, but I totally dug it. I also think it's important to watch the veggies in a stir fry, because you want them to stay crisp. With stuff like broccoli, don't cook it too long and hit it with cold water. And with peppers, add those last and just get them steaming a bit. Other wise you're going to have a big plate of mush.

Also, I didn't add rice or any grain/carb to this, and I totally didn't need it because of how filling everything was!

Thursday night I met up with my friends for dinner. I scoped out some places on Urbanspoon and came across this little gem: Ippudo.

[image courtesy of]
It's a ramen restaurant, which I guess are kind of trendy right now, but I had never been to one. The only ramen I've ever had has come in a little plastic package with a packet of "flavoring" (aka salt). And I can safely say that I will never eat that store-bought ramen again. Ippudo has made that a certainty. Honestly, I don't really know what was in my ramen other than pork, but it was so melt-in-your-mouth delicious that I don't even care. We also started the meal with some edameme that came with citrus salt (shut the front door), and split a dessert of green tea creme brulee. I've never had creme brulee, and I'm mad at you all for not giving it to me sooner.

Lastly, Friday night I decided to just throw together a big salad with some sauteed chicken on top. And I made my own vinaigarette. I whisked together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. You seriously have to whisk this and a lot. You can't just take a fork and go at it like you're making scrambled eggs. No. You need a WHISK, and you need to go crazy on it. You end of with something that's thicker and creamier, but without the cream. I definitely got a big hit of that Dijon mustard, which is a taste I'm still getting used to. But the biggest thing making my own dressing taught me was how much sugar is in those pre-made dressings. I'm used to a really sweet and tangy balsamic vinaigarette, but this was tangy and slightly bitter. I really liked it, but I kind of wish I had some feta and craisins in my salad rather than just chicken, celery, carrots, tomatoes, olives, and parmesan. Next time.

Have you bored you enough with my food obsession? Probably. But I'll leave you with this: I've decided that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are NOT where it's at with fall drinks at Starbucks. Especially because most locations load up on the syrup. Non-fat Salted Caramel Mochas are the best. I promise.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Good Start to the Weekend

Tonight....I made something new....

That's right, I cooked something new for the first time in a while! I do cook a lot, but usually recycle old recipes or play "what's in the fridge!" and add it to some pasta. But not tonight.

See, I was given an awesome surprise yesterday when I received a package at work. I was not expecting anything, and I assumed it was the usual promo merch. But no. This package was from my mom, so I knew it would be full of things I love. And it was!!! She packed it with a new running shirt (it says "Run Happy" with a cupcake on it. Perfect. Wearing it tomorrow), a new plaid hat, a bag of Reese's peanut butter cups, a Bills tissue box, some Ghiradelli chocolates in a Halloween tin, and two packets of seasonings.

These seasonings gave me some inspiration to cook. The brand is McCormick Gourmet, and the one I chose tonight was Chicken Scalopine.

I've never made this on my own, and I don't think I've ever had it anywhere. I didn't really know what to expect, but I opened the little pack and it smelled good. And the recipe on the back included wine. Can't really go wrong with a wine sauce.

I started by mixing 2 tablespoons of the seasoning with 3 tablespoons of flour, and dredged the chicken in it. I had two chicken breasts that I butterflied, then used the meat tenderizer on them. I've had bad luck with trying to get chicken to cook on time because the piece was too thick, so a couple months back I bought a meat tenderizer. The package told me it tenderizes meat. Which I guess is a good thing...because, well...yeah. Anyhow, it worked great, and I was able to get all the chicken pieces about the same thickness.

After dredging the chicken, I cooked it in some oil on medium heat for about three minutes on each side.

This took two batches, and when they were done I placed them on a plate and kept them warm in the oven (at about 200 degrees).

Next, I added in some sliced mushrooms (8 oz. to be exact, which is an entire package. I love when I can use all the food before it goes bad). You let those brown for a couple minutes, then deglaze with 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of white wine. You also add in the rest of the seasoning. Just looking at the color of the sauce, I knew it would be awesome.

That came to a boil, then I added in some rice, covered the pan, and lowered the heat for 25 minutes. What you saw above is my biggest pan, and I don't have a lid for it. So I improvised with a plate, and nearly burned my fingers in the process. It was interesting...and I think I need to just buy a lid.

So I sat back and relaxed while this finished cooking and my apartment started to smell like comfort food. It almost smelled like scalloped potatoes. Oh hey, maybe it's kind of similar...

After time was up, I took the chicken out of the oven, scooped some rice, mushrooms and sauce over top, poured a glass of the wine I had cooked with, and sat down to enjoy.

Yeah I know, not the prettiest presentation. And I know it looks like there's a ring of oil around the outside, but this wasn't greasy at all. And really, who am I trying to impress? I live alone with my cat.

The chicken was cooked perfectly, didn't get dried out at all, and the seasoning/flour dredge held the sauce well. The mushrooms soaked of the sauce well too (obviously, it spent the most time with it), but the rice wasn't great. I bought jasmine rice from Trader Joe's, so it's all organic and whatnot, and probably something I'm not used too. The package also told me to rinse the rice well before using and I didn't, which could account for the crunchiness...

You really couldn't tell that I had used packaged seasoning. Julia Child certainly wouldn't approve, but Julia Child probably didn't experience the spice prices that I do at the store. I'll take a pre-packed seasoning for a fraction of the price of the spices I don't have any day.

Oh yeah, and I have leftovers for DAYS. Always good on weekends when I plan on being lazy.

Kind of lazy anyway. I'm going to go for a long run tomorrow even though I'm not training anymore. I bet I'll end up running it faster than in training because that's just how my body likes to do things.

As for other foods, I made another trip to S'mac with some friends and tried their Parisienne. It used brie, shitake mushrooms, and figs. FIGS! Delicious. I felt pretty fancy eating this decadent mac n cheese. If you're ever in the city on a weekday and want something that's not overrun with tourists, visit S'mac in the East Village (I recommend weekdays because the line is seriously out the door on weekends, and tables are pretty scarce).

That pretty much covers life right now. There's an interesting episode of SVU on that I surprisingly haven't seen where Hillary Duff guest stars and I'm completely distracted.

Enjoy some photos I didn't upload from Long Lake!

Monday, September 24, 2012


Have I kept you waiting long enough yet to hear about the end of our trip? Yeah I probably have.

I left off our story after grabbing some dinner with Rae. Delicious french fry-filled dinner. Our initial plan after that was to go to Providence, but we changed our minds after looking at the map. We would've driven an hour to get down there, and then would've had to come back exactly the same way to get home, so it wasn't really "on the way." Instead, we drove half that amount of time the the T station in Alewife, and spent the day in Boston.

So I've been to Boston four times now, and I've seen a different part of it each time. And it's always awesome. This time around we explored Newbury St. (an area I surprisingly haven't visited before).

Ignore the construction cones...

Sooooo nice! There were many stores that I only dream of being able to afford, but there was a Newbury Comics as well as bookstores and other places where I didn't feel too intimidated to venture in. I did go out on a limb to try a good olive oil place where it was over $20 for an 8 oz. (that olive oil better be magic if I'm going to spend that much. Maybe that's not really that much. But I live in NYC and any food in that amount over $20 is ridiculous to me) I decided I would try their Basil Olive Oil just to see what was in store. I tasted as the employee explained the flavor of it to me, and then began coughing almost uncontrollably as the oil hit my throat (Buffalo friends: think about the time a spice randomly exploded in my mouth, but I was in public and couldn't freak out). She THEN decided to add in that there were some "peppery notes" in the oil, which was what I was currently experiencing. I'm guessing she knew I wasn't going to buy anything and wanted to get some entertainment out of me.

We ate lunch at Boloco, which is known for their "inspired burritos." Most of the kinds they have there aren't your traditional burritos, unless you go for a make your own (and maybe they had a normal one?), but my attention went directly to the tikka masala burrito. If you like Indian food and haven't had tikka masala, you should probably try it right now.

As we were ordering we noticed they had nutella milkshakes. I haven't had a milkshake in years since I always try to eat my calories rather than drink them, but how can you not be intrigued by this?

We got one after we ate our food. I couldn't say no after someone on Foursquare claimed the milkshake took them to another world of, something like that. Soooo worth it.

After completing our loop around Newbury St., we hopped back on the T to go into Cambridge since it was on our way back to the car. It had been a few hours since the burrito and milkshake situation, so we went to (what I think is) one of Ryan's favorite places: Cambridge Brewing Company. I had the best pumpkin ale I've ever had, and Ryan tried this sour ale that was brewed with cherries (like, seriously mouth-puckering sour...but super good!) and their porter. This place brews a mean beer. Their food was also great. I had fish and chips and it was served to me on faux newspaper.

We spent one more night in the same hotel in Massachusetts, then drove back to Albany on Friday. Then Ryan picked up his copy of Borderlands 2, asked me to play it with him, and now I'm considering buying it myself. It's not anything like the games I usually play (which would be crazy adorable games like Little Big Planet and Katamari or something like the Sims), and by the end of the day (because we played for HOURS), I could almost say I was satisfactory at it. Basically my character was no longer running in circles wasting ammo.

I went back to the city on Saturday to give myself a buffer day before work started up again, and was greeted by a kitty who was very happy to see me.

He was treated to a meal of Fancy feast yesterday, and he actually picked up one of the turkey chunks with his claw and ate it off his paw. He's a smart lil guy.

And now, I'm back to eating at home, which is probably a good thing since I need to detox a bit from vacation food. And though I still write about food in here a lot, I haven't been experimenting all that much and tend to be writing more about my I think a blog name change is in order. Thoughts? Suggestions? Feelings?

That's all I've got for now. Perhaps I'll find the motivation for another update later in the week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

NASCAR and Nasty Weather

The journey continues!!!

Our story left off at a little motel in Burlington, VT where a dog greeted me in the office when I checked in and out. That alone totally rocked. Our last day in Vermont was a rainy one. Like, a really rainy one. In fact, it didn't stop POURING until we got to our next destination. Rain always makes driving the biggest chore ever. And for the record, flip flops are not the best thing to wear in such conditions....

The instagram filter certainly enhances the gloom

The day started with us meeting Erik for some bagels at the Burlington Bagel Cafe. I had a Cheddar Dill bagel with veggie cream cheese. I think that just about says it. I approved it as a resident of NYC. We said our good byes to Erik after we ate, then headed to Loew's to fix our one car obstacle the entire trip. Basically one of the screws on Ryan's license plate holder kept coming loose, and I have learned from experience that you don't want your back license plate to fall off. The cops WILL notice (even if the back of your '95 Ford Taurus is completely smashed because an SVU rear-ended you while speeding down Center St. to buy cigarettes on their lunch break), and they will write you a ticket. And you'll forget to start crying to weasel your way out of it.

Anyhow, Ryan ended up being able to fix it, and we headed on out to Waterbury, VT: home of Ben & Jerry's. I've wanted to visit the Ben & Jerry's Factory for quite some time now. Probably at least since my freshman year of college during which I was their best customer, buying pints of Chubby Hubby whenever I had a bad day and eating it while venting with my roommates. Did I mention I gained the Freshman 30 during that year?

We trudged through the rain from the parking lot up to the building, bought our tickets for a tour, then just kind of got out of the way of the other tourists. Our tour guide was great, super laid-back and pretty funny, probably not much older than me. She led us up the cow stairs, which were covered in paintings of cows, and had speakers playing "moos" along the way (those that couldn't/didn't want to take the stairs were directed toward the "Vanilla-vator"). We watched a short movie about the start of Ben & Jerry's and their company philosophy. It actually made me respect the company even more, even though I certainly don't need to be buying their product on a regular basis.

From there we went up to the mezzanine where we could see the production line. We couldn't take pictures, but you couldn't really see a ton of what was going on anyway. Ryan guessed correctly that they were making Peanut Butter Cup ice cream that day though. He didn't win anything. I also learned that one step of their process if pumping "Vermont air" into the ice cream. They call is "dairy air." Get it?

Next came the tasting room where they gave us samples of Stephen Colbert's Ameri-cone Dream. The samples were much bigger than expected! And the ice cream was delicious, I actually hadn't tried this kind before despite how much I like Stephen Colbert. A child asked for seconds. There were no seconds. And our tour guide told us that everyone that worked there could bring home three pints of ice cream a day. THREE! She was pretty skinny, so I had a hard time believing she took advantage of that often, but then she told us that you can barter ice cream for pretty much anything in Vermont. I mean, I would trade stuff if it meant getting ice cream in return, so I believed it.

We exited the tour at the gift shop where I bought a dog treat for my neighbor who's watching my cat (because she has a dog), and Ryan got a sweet mug. We then set out for Manchester, NH...basically because we could.

The drive was very rainy, and the highway was very boring, but we made it to Manchester in one piece, and very hungry. Other than breakfast, we had only had a sample of ice cream (we had planned on stopping at Cabot cheese to complete our dairy tour of Vermont, but it turned out to be pretty out of the way), so our priority was food.

I had made our hotel reservation from my phone during our drive, and had apparently booked a smoking room without knowing. As a New Yorker, I forget that smoking in enclosed places is kind of normal in other states, and I still find it unacceptable. We were able to switch to a non-smoking room, but not without being scolded by the man at the front desk first. He told us more than once that we were lucky we could even get a non-smoking room at this point because of the NASCAR race coming up this weekend, and all the rates are going up because of the NASCAR race, and every year the NASCAR race fills all the hotels, and the NASCAR race makes all the rates go up. And then he told me he's been in this business for 16 years and - because he was trying to help us for the future - you should always call the hotel after making a reservation online. Sorry buddy, but doesn't that defeat the purpose of me making it online? Isn't technology pretty much reliable at this point? He told me that in another situation like this, someone took a swing at him because they couldn't get the room they wanted. I was about to take a swing at him if he said NASCAR one more time....

We didn't feel like hanging out in the room all night, so we ventured over to a mall and ate at a Bertucci's. It's a chain Italian restaurant, but because we don't have them anywhere near where we live, we found it acceptable on vacation. And we were hungry. So we ordered sangria, an appetizer of this cheesey artichoke dip, a side salad each, and big plates of pasta...which we both pretty much finished. We had an awesome waitress who joked around with us a lot, and upon seeing our clean plates, she quoted Anchorman in saying: "I'm not even mad, I'm just impressed!"

And then we went back to the hotel and lazily lounged around in carbohydrate comas.

The hotel check-out was at 11 am this morning, so we headed out to the next destination: Shrewsbury, MA. It only took an hour and 15 minutes to get here, and I drove on highways for the first time in forever! Seriously, I even used cruise control. Cruise control is one of the best things ever invented. I only experienced a stereotypical angry Massachusetts driver as I got off the last exit and had to make a left turn onto a busy street where there wasn't a light, just a stop sign, and as he hemmed and hawed while I DIDN'T turn into oncoming traffic, I remembered reasons why I don't miss driving. It's all about the other drivers.

Before meeting up with my best friend since birth, Rae, we explored the area between Shrewsbury and Southborough, stopping at Newbury Comics, Target, and (wait for it) Wegman's.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I've missed Wegman's. You can keep your Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and whatever other "awesome" grocery stores you may claim you have, give me Wegman's and I will be in heaven. We got subs from there for lunch and I swear I heard the "Hallelujah Chorus" play as I took a bite. It was my 7 inch piece of home while on vacation. And thinking back, I didn't even check to see if they sold Bison dip, because I would've bought it in bulk and bought a cooler to bring it all back to the city with me. Seriously people, it's that good. And worth it.

We went to a little bar and grill with Rae where I got a mushroom and swiss burger with BBQ sauce, and everything was served with like, a pound of french fries. Delicious french fries. As we all sat there talking about how there were so many french fried, I agreed and continued to eat them ALL. And then I ate some of Ryan's. don't judge me, I ran 13.35 miles three days ago.

And now, we're once again lounging around in food comas. I love vacation. So. Much. Or maybe I just love food. Or the company. Or the food.

Until next time...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Running and Road Trips

I should probably think of a different name for this blog, because it's about to take a different turn, at least for this week. Because.....I'm on vacation!!! For those who know me/follow this, you know I've been training for a half marathon, and that's what kicked this whole thing off. Be prepared for a very long blog entry.

I got into Albany around my usual time Friday night and stayed with Ryan until he went to work on Saturday and my parents picked me up from his house. It was great to see them again! Then we went to get me all carbed up for my race at Pasta Pane in Clifton Park.

The meal started with fresh warm Italian bread, which I was able to eat tons of because, you know, I absolutely needed carbs. I chased that with a salad (with a spectacular balsamic dressing) and some pasta with sausage and eggplant in a crushed tomato sauce. Overall, we all thought it was awesome. I stayed with them that night so they could bring me up to Saratoga bright and early for my second half marathon.

It was the perfect day for running and the course was quite a challenge. Lets just say I was pretty happy I trained on hills. The start of the race was uphill, onto the Skidmore campus which was rolling hills, then came downhill through the middle of Saratoga. Then we went through the park (which is awesome), and I ran through SPAC and over a bridge to the 6 mile mark. I was feeling pretty good at this point though I had started out wayyy too fast, and as I was feeling tired, "Firework" by Katy Perry came on my iPod. Instant inspiration.

That was until the 7 mile mark where I practically got on my hands and knees to climb up a hill. I honestly wasn't expecting anything this steep, and I pretty much ruled out being able to beat my previous time after that. I was totally exhausted and my knee started to hurt, and the next water stop wasn't until after the 9 mile mark. I was angry, thirsty, and in pain. Bad combination. And every time we came upon another hill, I almost cried and I did actually say, "are you serious?"

I fought the urge to walk basically the rest of the time. Thank god a little old woman started running next to me around mile 10 to tell me to keep going. I ended up passing her, but I totally needed encouragement at that point. The rest is kind of a blur until after 12 miles where we came across a steep downhill, which believe it or not, is just as bad as a steep uphill. You have to control your body to 1) not barrel roll down the hill and 2) not blow out any muscles/joints/etc.

From going around curves and people, you always end up running more than the actual distance of the race, so when I looked down at my watch as I hit 13.1, I was at 02:02:09. I crossed the finish line having run 13.35 miles, and had a time of 02:04:21. I had a PR (personal record) either way, so I was sooooo happy. My parents and Ryan were there to cheer me on at the finish line :)

After cleaning myself up and feeling like a human again, Ryan and I hopped in the car for our first destination of the trip: Long Lake, NY. We stayed up at his grandma's summer home on Lake Eaton, which is absolutely beautiful. As if I hadn't had enough physical activity for one day, we took the kayaks out on the lake and paddled around, making friends with a female duck who followed us around. Even when she fell behind she flew to catch up with us.

We had Mexican lasagna for dinner, followed by berry cobbler and Stewarts' pumpkin pie ice cream for dessert (have I mentioned how much I love Stewart's ice cream yet? Because I do...), then had a campfire. I actually saw a boatload of stars in the sky, and I haven't seen any stars at all since moving to the city. I definitely miss stars.

Today began with a breakfast of bagels and bacon (win!) while overlooking the lake, then we headed into town with Ryan's mom. We hit up a few local stores, then saw Buttermilk Falls....

I loved it :)

Having just watched a ton of water, we were all pretty thirsty and headed to Stewarts. our cashier, Linda, may have been the worst/best Stewarts employee ever. First she scolded Ryan's mom for cutting in line (she actually didn't, a woman ordered a milkshake and walked away so we took her place), and then when Ryan returned to claim his winnings form his scratch off, she was making fun of another customer while talking to him. Apparently said customer pumped gas incorrectly, and Linda told Ryan just how much she hated when people did that. You go, Linda.

I got behind the wheel on the next leg of our journey. I must say, I also miss driving. I didn't really have to go on any highways, so I was pretty happy about that. Just a bunch of roads with beautiful fall foliage with a backdrop of mountains behind them. No big.

We headed up to Burlington, VT (my first time ever in VT) and made our first stop at the Magic Hat Brewery where our friend Erik works.

We sampled a bit and then went into Burlington to explore Church St. It's blocked off so cars can't go through it, and it's a really nice little promenade! Tons of shops and a few chain retailers (Urban Outfitters, Macy's, etc), and lots of restaurants. We went into a few, and I snagged a jar of Chocolate Maple Peanut Butter, made locally in Vermont.

For dinner we went to Manhattan Pizza (yes, I had to go to Vermont to get "Manhattan pizza") where they had half price wings. Two beers plus 12 wings each cost us a few cents over $20, my kind of place. I also give them the Buffalo stamp of approval. These wings were legit. Totally weren't breaded, fried to a crisp, and served with blue cheese and celery. I got the smokey BBQ ones that had a little bit of a zing to them. Ryan got the Hot Buffalo ones, and his mouth was on fire.

After that we hung out with Erik a bit more, and now we're in for the night! Stay tuned for more travels and adventures in food....

Monday, September 3, 2012

Laboring on Labor Day

Labor Day has never been anything special to me. I basically know that I have the day off and that my family is usually getting together and using the grill. You can't go wrong with that. So this is my first Labor Day on my own, others having been spent with my parents, others probably with college roommates watching reruns of The Hills....which may have also happened this year, just on my own.  Don't judge me....

I didn't have too many definite plans this weekend, but I certainly kept myself occupied. My plan for Saturday was to go bargain hunting around the Upper East Side seeing as I haven't bought new clothes in about...a year. It's strange when you move out and need to decide between a new pair of shoes and the electric bill. Obviously, the electric bill wins out.

So I set out with my list of places to go with a couple things in mind to buy. The first stop was Modell's (kind of like Dick's Sporting Goods for those not in the know) where I was hoping to find a cheap Mets shirt to wear to the Mets v. Braves game this weekend. Well, they only sold Mets stuff in little boys sizes at this store (thinking about it now, I probably should've hit up a Modell's in Queens where the Mets play...) and I wasn't about to waste money on that. I left empty-handed after about five minutes.

Next I went to Urban Outfitters, where everything on sale was not work appropriate, and everything regularly priced was not of interest to me or too expensive. I also felt a little intimidated by the hipsters in there.

I went to Gap after that where I finally tried something on, and found out that I'm in between pants sizes so I can either where ones that are too big (making me look bigger, and who wants that) or ones that are too small. Disappointing.

Jackrabbit Sports was the biggest success of the day where I stocked up on Stinger waffles and Gu energy gels for the last couple weeks before my half. Everyone there was super nice, asked me about my training, and wished me good luck. Runners are the best. Seriously.

Last, I tried H&M. I was completely overwhelmed by the messy store. I tried on a pair of pants in the size that was too big on me at Gap, and I couldn't even fit my calf in them. What the hell? So I was already peeved at this point. Next I tried on this short lace dress with long sleeves. It started out great as I put it on, totally fit everywhere...and then the dress ended way too soon. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't be able to walk up the subway stairs without being obscene in this dress.

Feeling defeated, I knew I wasn't going to do any shopping for the rest of the day and I was starving. So I made my first trip to Shake Shack.

This is the closest I'll get to an In-N-Out burger on the east coast, and it's such a close tie. I only rate Shake Shack slightly higher because I noticed it was less greasy than the burger at In-N-Out. And I think I like In-N-Out's fries better (though Shake Shack's still ruled), but I guess I'm just going to have to try them again next time I'm in California. Darn :)

Sunday I woke up early to take on a 12 mile run in Brooklyn. I used my same 10 mile route and continued into Brooklyn Bridge Park to tack on the extra two miles. My goal was to pace myself, which worked really well while in Prospect Park. The first lap was great, and by mile 4 I was really feeling the humidity. I pressed on, keeping my pace, and was getting really tired by mile 6.

So I head out of the park around that time, and by mile 8, I was exhausted. I didn't want to walk though, so I continued on, dragging myself for two more miles. The last two miles were the worst. Brooklyn Bridge Park still has some parts under construction and the path is quite gravely over there, so I had to change my stride to accommodate it. It's also a lot more difficult to run on that surface. It's like running on a beach. So I had to walk for about a tenth of a mile overall (not terrible), and I did stop at mile 11 to take this shot:

The walk back to the subway was a slow one for sure, and I was pretty sore the rest of the day. I still feel it today but not as bad. The half is now less than two weeks away, and I've made peace with the fact that I won't finish it in less than 2 hours. Hopefully it will be less than 2 hours 7 minutes and some change!

Today I slept in, watched I Love You, Man, and now am making snickerdoodles. These are my ultimate fall cookie, and my mind is fall-focused after Labor Day, so these will be coming into work with me tomorrow.

Seriously, my apartment smells amazing right now. I need some hot apple cider to make this perfect.

I think that covers everything for now. No ideas for what's to come in food this week, so stay tuned :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When People Stop Being Nice, and Start Being Real

I could sit here and tell you that things have been sooooo crazy lately, and it wouldn't necessarily be a lie, but I've certainly had time to blog...I've just been lazy. Regardless, there's much to discuss in the world of food and the world of Brianne.

[image courtesy of]
We left off on the 10 mile run that wasn't, and I can safely say I more than made up for it the next day. Two Sundays ago I discovered Prospect Park, and I think I'm in love. Seriously, this park is beautiful. I like it better than Central Park. Yes, I really do. It's a challenging park for running, but it doesn't rub salt in your wounds like my park in Queens.

I did two 3-mile loops around the park, then headed out and up Prospect Park West, then went out on Union up to Boerum Hill. The weather was perfect and I felt awesome. I then tried to repeat this same route this past Saturday, and because I didn't eat breakfast (I know, me skipping a meal is unheard of), I failed miserably and cut it short at 6 miles. You live and learn.

Going back to the good run day, I triumphantly rode the subway back to my apartment covered in sweat and salt and probably some dirt, not really caring what others thought of me, but taking enough care not to get too close to anyone, then took a long nap with my cat laying on my legs. I woke up about an hour later then prepped for my first trip to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Little did I know I was stepping into another world.

I wasn't getting ready to take a bus anywhere (my MegaBus days are OVER), but instead was waiting for one of my dearest college friends to arrive for a few days of fun! Poor Katie was stuck on the bus a good hour and a half longer than she expected, and I conducted an observational study of a night in the bus terminal.

Any time I heard someone talk about the Port Authority Bus Terminal, it was always, "whatever you do, don't let anyone convince you to stay the night there." Not a problem, I never have any intention of doing so. As I checked in there on foursquare, I read through the tips and none of them were wrong or exaggerated. There were plenty of homeless people offering to give people directions to their buses hoping for money in return, more screaming children than I could ever hope to encounter, and this overall feeling of dread and misery. That, my friends, is the bus terminal in a nutshell. It makes Penn Station look like paradise.

Katie got in late Sunday night and I took her to the diner for dinner because I take everyone there and it's awesome. I took Monday and Tuesday off so we set out the next morning for bagels and adventure. We took to train to Brooklyn hoping to get in some day drinking at the Brooklyn Brewery, and when we arrived we quickly learned that the tasting room is not open during the day Monday-Thursday. Huge bummer, particularly because I built up hype around the brewery cat, Monster.

Instead, we accidentally walked to the L at Bedford and went to Chelsea Market where we obtained gelato and proceeded to the highline. I've been on the highline a couple times now, and I still think it's one of the coolest things in the city.

We then headed back into Brooklyn where we caught a bus to Ikea. I had been to Ikea in Canada, but never one in my own country, and I have a fondness for cheap home furnishing. We had entirely too much fun and didn't buy anything. We explored each set up, tested chairs and couches, attempted to read Swedish, and saw that Statue of Liberty. Not bad for a Monday afternoon.

The bus ride back took us through Red Hook which reminded me of one of our favorite pastimes living in the dorms at college, and that was scheduling our night to watch Real World: Brooklyn - the greatest season of the Real World that was ever filmed. The house that the crew lived in was in Red Hook, and I was immediately struck with nostalgia and a need to own the season on DVD.

After dinner in Forest Hills at the wonderful Mint's Thai Kitchen (where I tried amazing Thai Iced Tea, calamari, and my standard chicken pad Thai), we walked back to my neighborhood and dug through Netflix and We totally found full episodes of Real World: Brooklyn...and watched a bunch of them.

[image courtesy of Wikipedia]
It still rocks.

The next day we met Katie's aunt in Bryant Park where we dined at the Bryant Par Grill, then came back for more Real World before I said goodbye. It was a lovely time with a lovely person who I missed very much!

Since then, I've cooked here and there, but haven't made anything mind-blowing. But can we talk about buying raw chicken fingers? Because this is a big issue.

For starters, I didn't realize I had bought chicken fingers rather than chicken breasts and the store, and considering I've worked with them rather miserably numerous times, I think this will be my last time. Looking at the package, you have no idea how many of them are in there. There are more than you think. And most are connected by this horrible thick, tough white....stringy thing that doesn't seem edible and that will destroy the chicken fingers when you try to pull it out of them. What the hell is this? Seriously! What is it! And why is it only in chicken fingers?

Anyhow, I made these recently, shook them in hot sauce, and realized I didn't have any ranch or bleu cheese to cool off my mouth. So I made my own...kind of. I mixed sour cream with an assortment of fresh herbs, added fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, then whisked in some softened goat cheese to thicken it up. If I had had dill, it would've been tops.

This past weekend was a good one for food. Ryan visited and we went to Forest Hills again and tried Bareburger. Everything there is organic, and they try to keep most products local, plus they have a pretty cool assortment of patties.

I got The Western, which included pepperjack cheese, maple bacon, fried onions, coleslaw, and steak sauce. I wanted to go with bison for the patty (and if you haven't had bison meat, I highly recommend it. It's like beef 2.0), but didn't want to pay extra and opted for the grass-fed beef. Ryan got The Ruby which included havarti, pastrami, maple bacon, fried pickles, apple smoked onions, and horseradish mayo. He got it with the wild boar patty. Yes, wild boar.

We split an order of fries (they don't come with the burger) which came with three different sauces. One was curry ketchup (quickly becoming one of my favorite things), one was a "special sauce" that reminded me a lot of In-N-Out's sauce, and the third definitely had horseradish...and I didn't like it. But hey, two outta three ain't bad!

Last night included an hunger-induced trip to Trader Joe's, meaning we got tons of food. Most of it was stuff I actually needed, like milk, cereal, and dark chocolate bars filled with speculoos. And then we got beer. And Trader Joe's strawberry licorice (good god it's amazing). And tortilla chips. And popcorn. We actually didn't eat most of that last night though, instead we made the frozen orange chicken and biryani that we bought. Sometimes, it's fun to just throw things on a tray, pop them in the oven, and have dinner.

I think that pretty much covers my exploits from the last two weeks. More good things coming your way in the next few days!