July Fourth 2015 At Solomen’s

I had an absolutely amazing Independence Day with my family down on the river.  It was a complete joy to catch up with my loved ones!  My cousins both brought a ton of their college friends down with them so we had a bustling, entertaining crowd.

I was way too busy to take good pictures, but my aunt and uncle are both fantastic cooks and we ate like Kings all weekend.  Think crab cakes, cheese plates, bourbon slushies, and key lime pie.  90% of what passed my lips was either crab, booze, or fresh-picked berries so you know I had a great time!

DSC08534

DSC08518

DSC08524

?

?

?

?

DSC08532

DSC08511

DSC08528

P.S. I was so freaking brave and I ate my first-ever soft-shell crab this weekend in Adam’s honor.

Start Of A Three-Day Weekend

My clinic is closed on Friday in celebration of Independence Day tomorrow so today is the start of a three-day weekend for me.  Woo-hoo!  Adam has to work, unfortunately, but I am hitting the road and heading to Solomons, Maryland to spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle at their cabin.  It’s been way too long since I last saw my cousins and I am very excited.  My aunt tipped me off that the “drink special” for the weekend is bourbon slushies so I’m pretty thrilled about that too.

Snacks and cafeteria lunches didn’t make it into this post so I’m skipping a good 45% of what I ate this week…

breakfast

Three things you need to know before we talk about breakfast:  1) I bought Rainer cherries and they have been sweet, delicious, and totally worth the $6 price tag.  2)  My coffee combo was solid this week – double-strength brewed Community Coffee Dark Roast with chocolate milk and fat-free half and half.

DSC08455

3) GoMacro sent me a sampler box of mini MacroBars in 11 fun flavors.  All MacroBars are USDA organic, non-GMO project verified, kosher, gluten-free and vegan certified.  I like that GoMacro company buys fair trade products and their boxes are biodegradable and made from 100% post-consumer corrugated waste.  All of the flavors I’ve tried thus far have been very homogenous in texture, smooth like a paste (but good and not gross like I’m making it sound here!) so they don’t crumble at all but they also don’t stick to your teeth or fingers which I deeply appreciate.

DSC08448

Please note – I was sent a box of mini bars free of charge to sample.  I was not provided further compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Chocolate coffee and peanut butter chocolate chip (protein pleasure).  My favorite flavor thus far, the base of this one is basically just like eating super thick peanut butter.

DSC08425

Cherries and cashew caramel (protein paradise).  This was my least favorite flavor, though it still was not bad, because it didn’t have much going on; when something calls itself caramel I’m looking for it to be pretty darn sweet.

DSC08452

Coffee, cherries, and sunflower butter + chocolate (protein purity).  I know the names are super cheesy but a full-size of this flavor does offer 10 grams of protein for 260 calories.

DSC08457

A big day, cherries, mozzarella stick, coffee, and almond butter + carob (wholehearted heaven).  Surprisingly, this was my favorite flavor, it had a nice sweetness to it.

DSC08492

Why yes, I did go through and pick out all of the “blank and chocolate” flavors first.

lunch

Maple mixture.  Maple Greek yogurt with KIND maple chia granola and fresh pomegranate.

DSC08420

The yogurt, from Green Mountain Creamery, was soooo smooth.  It’s just nonfat milk and maple syrup with live cultures.

On Wednesday, I prepped my lunch and left it on our butcher’s block in the kitchen while I went to get dressed.  Five minutes later, the dog had eaten my lunch.  He is a little monster but I still have absolutely no idea how he managed to get himself up on the block!  I kicked the dog (kidding!!) and rushed off without food.  The point of that long story?  I ate ice cream for lunch and it was fantastic.

DSC08467

DSC08470

Scoops is the new pop-up ice cream shop from Greene Grape.  My toasted green tea scoop (from Phin & Phebes) was extra fun with rainbow sprinkles.

Then it was back to yogurt.

DSC08485

Evolve Kefir‘s strawberry Greek yogurt was very pleasant with yellow plucot and KIND granola.

dinner

Pizza night.  We made four cheese pizza – low-fat mozzarella, fresh mini mozzarella balls, pepperjack, and sharp cheddar – on TJ’s whole-wheat crust and it was ridiculous.

DSC08437

DSC08432

Pizza.  But x2 because we ate the entire pie and we were so sick and it was so worth it.

DSC08442

Plus roasted veggies because we are healthy like that.

DSC08440

Kalettes (the kale + Brussels sprout hybrid which I’ve decided I don’t enjoy) and yummy zucchini.

Big salad(s) bonanza.

DSC08479

We tore up heads of TJ’s Smallish Gems Sweet Lettuce and topped them with champagne vinaigrette, sweet and spicy pecans, pomegranate, and cucumber.

DSC08475

Plus tuna salad on the side.

Casserole night was planned so Adam will have lots of leftovers while I’m away this weekend.

DSC08495

My Buffalo Chicken Baked Pasta that I snuck a bit more veggies into with the addition of sautéed onion and yellow and orange bell peppers.

DSC08499

Plus roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

DSC08496

Fun nutrition fact – there is a dose dependent inverse relationship between broccoli consumption and colon cancer.

real talk

I finished Bossypants and I laughed out loud on the train like a crazy person adored it.  The chapter where she responds to some of her internet critics had me in stitches.  Even the lines about feminism/gender politics in America/women in comedy that make you want to put your fist through a window if you think about it too much managed to be witty.  And now I really want to rewatch 30 Rock.

I bought this NY skyline bag from Fishs Eddy to store small items in my purse and it makes me happy every time I put on lipstick/grab a pen/check my cell phone, which is approximately 8 million times a day.

DSC08464

I finally started Orange is the New Black and I’m going to make my way through the season quickly but I’m kind of over it.  Is there going to be a season 4, because I feel like they need to wrap things up?  There are moments that are incredibly funny but in general this season is a bit too sad for me.  My kind of television sads come from the fact that Joss Whedon thinks all great romances have to end in a horrifying and sudden death, I’m not so keen on the children visiting a prison on Mother’s Day and being panicked by their parents dropping to the dirt during a lockdown.

Do you watch OITNB?  What are your thoughts on season 3?  <– no spoilers, please!

Random Ruminations

giveaway winner {congrats!}

And the cookbook giveaway winner is… Brittney.  Brittney, e-mail me with your mailing info so you can enjoy making your ice creams!

{yummy} weekend eats

Friday breakfast: Americano with milk, string cheese, and an Enzo Bar from Lola Granola.

DSC08342

DSC08339

The bar was amazing; honey, vanilla, and cinnamon oats.

Saturday was a similar deal: Clif dark chocolate peanut butter bar with a clover brew of Starbuck’s Italian roast.

DSC08362

DSC08367

Friday’s dinner – the only dinner I managed to photograph – was boring but good.

DSC08353

Spinach salad with pepitas and roasted green beans dressed with evoo, honey, and lavender salt.

DSC08356

Toasted sourdough turkey sandwich with pepperjack and strawberry jam.

DSC08359

Spicy and sweet always makes the best sandwich.

Stumptown cold brew and fresh cherries for an afternoon snack.

DSC08348

We spotted this Sour Patch slurpee and bought one immediately.  It was sour!  Neither of us wanted more than a few sips but it was fun to try.

DSC08349

We did a similar maneuver the next day with frozen yogurt.

DSC08382

DSC08386

The salted chocolate chip cookie dough was fantastic!  I topped mine with cookie dough (duh!), blondie, mochi, and Nutella.

We ventured into Astoria on Sunday; Sugar Freak for a Louisiana brunch.

DSC08376

That’s a “swamp juice” and it was exactly as disgusting as you’d expect.  Maybe even more so actually, you guys know how much I love things that are over the top sweet and even I couldn’t bring myself to take a third sip.

I got a grilled chicken Po’Boy to eat.  That, I could finish!

DSC08378

The side salad came with pecan vinaigrette that was the best part of the meal.

Afterwards we stopped by Kinship for coffees like we were just the coolest.

DSC08387

Two thumbs up for the cold brew, Stumptown again.

random facts {about me}

We were glad to have a low-key, boring weekend because 3 out of 4 in July include major plans (including my 30th birthday).

I am so excited about the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling.  I got all teary-eyed on the train reading the news.  This is definitely the proudest moment America has had so far this decade.

We only have a few old Criminal Minds left and we are pretty devastated about it.  But…

Rookie Blues is back!!! My Canadian cop show is the best thing on summer television.  I haven’t watched the first episode yet because I’m hoping if I save it for an elliptical session it will lure me back to the gym after a lazy week off.

I finally started reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants and it is just as hilarious and wonderful as I had expected.

I am obsessed with advice columns (Dear Prudence is my favorite!) so I read Dear Abby every morning but I think I need to stop because most of her advice is so terrible that it makes me huffy with anger on my way to work.

Sunday afternoon we went on a date to the Queens County Farm Museum and it was pretty much the best thing ever.

DSC08401

DSC08402

DSC08389

DSC08396

DSC08407

DSC08410

I got to pet the pigs!!!  Animals – mostly French Bulldogs and Dachshunds but sometimes pigs – seem to sense my intense, unhealthy love for them and give me lots of petting time.  The piggies laid up against the fence so I could really go to town patting their flanks and scratching behind their ears.

IMAG0213

IMAG0211

Yay!  So much fun.

Which farm animal do you most want to cuddle?

It’s The Weekend And I’m Not Crabby

That title is a play on words referencing a tasty casserole I made this week, but real talk – I was super cranky this week and I only have a few snippets to share…

breakfast

Coffee and a watermelon Greek yogurt.

20150622_080549

I was hoping that the cafeteria would have fresh watermelon on hand to pair with it but honestly that flavor is pretty delicious on its own.

Iced Americano with skim milk and a splash of half and half.

DSC08328

I asked for Americano with “light water” which seems to be my perfect order; mostly espresso without being just espresso.

Cherries and a cheese stick.

DSC08310

Yum!

lunch

Tropical chia pudding.

DSC08272

Chia seeds soaked in canned coconut milk with honey and vanilla bean paste with a smashed banana stirred in the next day.

Cafeteria sandwich.

20150623_121102

Tuna salad on multigrain with veggies and muenster.

Cafeteria Inception-style salad.

20150625_132057

Greens with oil and balsamic vinegar topped with shredded cheddar and cucumber and carrot salads.

snack

Self-explanatory…

DSC08276

DSC08280

Most of our snacks revolved around our homemade no-churn vanilla bean ice cream. <— have you commented on the cookbook giveaway post yet??

DSC08319

Topped with melted dulce de leche and Valencia peanut butter.

DSC08283

And whirled into ridiculous milk shakes with Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

dinner

Last night we went on a date to the mall to buy Adam sneakers and me bras and underwear because apparently we have a serious case of the olds.  We did keep things young and fresh by getting a fancy dinner at the food court.

DSC08330

That’s “Drunken Noodles” from the new Thai spot, I guess.  The veggies were tasty (there were amazing pieces of eggplant) but it was a pretty poor representation of the dish.

The rest of our nights centered around this Cheesy Crab Pasta Bake.

DSC08290

You see the creeper in that photo?  That’s how you know it’s good!

DSC08322

DSC08326

Cheesy Crab Pasta Bake; serves 6-8

  • 8 oz dry bow-tie pasta
  • 1 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1 heaping Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar
  • 4 oz shredded pepperjack
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 sliced green onions (green and white parts)
  • (2) 6 oz cans crab meat, drained and picked through if needed
  • 3 oz crab seasoned chips, crushed
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and prep an 8×8 inch casserole dish with baking spray.
  2. Cook al dente pasta according to manufacture’s instructions then rinse and set aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk flour into butter to form a roux and cook 1-2 more minutes until it has slightly darkened.  Whisk milk into roux and cook 3-4 more minutes until thickened, stirring out any lumps as needed.  Working in batches, stir cheeses into sauce.
  4. Reduce heat to low and stir Old Bay, fish sauce, lemon, and garlic into sauce.
  5. Remove pan from heat and stir in pasta, green onions, and crab, tossing until mixture is well-combined.  Pour into prepared casserole dish and top evenly with crushed chips.
  6. Bake 23 – 25 minutes.

DSC08293

Served with spinach salad with champagne vinaigrette, pepitas, and roasted broccoli.

DSC08308

DSC08304

Have a great weekend!

Ice, Ice, Baby {No-Churn Ice Cream Cookbook Giveaway}

Now that summer is finally here, who’s up for a frosty bowl of ice cream?

DSC08243

St. Martin’s Press recently sent me a copy of Leslie Bilderback’s newest cookbook: NO-CHURN ICE CREAM: Over 100 Simply Delicious No-Machine Frozen Treats.

DSC08225

Please note – this book was provided to me free of charge to review.  The publishing company is also providing a second book to give away to one of you guys.  I was not provided further compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own.

The book is full of recipes that use the concept of folding together whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk with the flavors and mix-ins of your choice to make yummy homemade ice creams that don’t require an ice cream machine.

DSC08240

Bilderback includes a variety of traditional and inventive ice cream flavors (Moon Pie or Honey-Kumquat, anyone?) as well as chapters on gelatos, sorbets, and sherbets.  Most of the recipes also include suggestions for additional flavor variations so you could go the whole summer without repeating a bowl.

I decided to go simple and traditional for my test recipe – vanilla ice cream.

DSC08252

Delicious!  That bowl was gussied up with dulce de leche and a healthy dose of sprinkles but the plain vanilla was quite enjoyable, creamy and rich.

I am giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader.  Simply leave a comment on this post before 2pm EST on Monday, June 29th and tell me your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Williamsburg To Washington Square Park

Oh my goodness, what a great weekend!  Adam and I have been making the most of the summer days, and then some.  This weekend we walked around Williamsburg, across the bridge, up to and around Washington Square Park, and back, to the tune of 10+ miles in one afternoon!

DSC08179

DSC08177

DSC08207

DSC08188

DSC08185

When we weren’t moving this weekend, we were eating.  Here are some of the highlights…

A fancy-schmancy yogurt bowl.  2% Plum Chobani with two varieties of pluot and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

DSC08232

The cream was part of a homemade ice cream undertaking (look for more details – and a giveaway! – on Wednesday).

Coffee at Sweetleaf, a Rocket Fuel.

DSC08212

Aka cold brew with milk, maple, and chicory.  Chicory blended iced coffees are definitely going to play a big role in my summer.

Espresso and macarons at Bakeshop by Woops.

DSC08170

DSC08163

Kids, this place was so freaking cute.  And our cookies were amazing, chocolate and lavender chocolate.

Honey sesame soy milk box.

DSC08200

Adam and I tried to split this but the minute I handed it over to him he guzzled the rest of it down!

Cherry Cola Tic-Tacs.

DSC08189

I am incapable of turning down a cherry cola flavored item.  Fun fact – the last two photos were not actually taken in front of the same wall, I just seek out brick whenever I have the option for a photo.

Rice bowls at Korilla.  Korilla is basically an Asian Chipotle, but it is at least fifteen times more fantastic.

DSC08206

My bowl had sticky rice, the most amazing gochujang marinated chicken, sweet corn and snap peas, cheese, tons of red kimchi, and spicy but sweet Korean BBQ sauce.  Adam’s rice had bacon and kimchi in it and we were both swooning.

We tried the new limited-time offerings at Ample Hills.

DSC08150

DSC08155

The pride month flavor was yummy but we had to throw out the sandwich.  I think that Ample Hills generally makes the best ice cream on Earth but those soggy cookies were truly inedible.

A cone from Sundaes and Cones.

DSC08197

Lavender and black sesame were both great; those are flavors that could be kind of overwhelming but they were sweet and light yet still identifiable.

A quick red curry at home.

DSC08214

Rice noodles on the bottom // sautéed bok choy, white mushrooms and straw mushrooms, sweet onion and green onion, and sweet red pepper // sprouted tofu cubes roasted with lime, sugar, Sriracha, and liquid smoke // and red curry sauce with lime, light coconut milk, fish sauce, and minced garlic and ginger.

DSC08221

We both typically say that we don’t like red curries but we loved this so we should give the real version another chance.

Sandwich night on my lonesome while Adam was at work.

DSC08262

I toasted sourdough slices in the oven with Smart Balance Light and pepperjack and sharp cheddar cheese then sandwiched them around canola oil mayo and Applegate Smoked Sliced Turkey.

DSC08268

With roasted green beans on the side.

DSC08265

How are green beans – roasted with cooking spray and salt – so flipping buttery?!

Dinner at The Smoke Joint, our new favorite bbq spot.

DSC08141

They have Mother’s Milk at the bar, which wins them points.  Adam’s strawberry vanilla bourbon limeade wasn’t bad either.

DSC08138

Their juicy, tender, chopped bbq chicken comes with a side of pickles and spicy cole slaw.

DSC08146

And their smoky collard greens are meatless, so I got to try real bbq collards for the first time in my life.

DSC08149

I loved them!

If this upcoming week is half as good as my weekend I’ll be all set :)

Peanut Butter Banana Pretzel Pie {Recipe Redux}

From the Redux team

Tucked in a crust, nothing says love from the oven like pie. Whether it’s a twist on the all-American apple pie or a traditional recipe from your home country, give a healthy makeover to your favorite savory or sweet pie recipe.

I am excited to see what the other posters come up with, but I actually tend not to love the idea of healthying up dessert products… if you are looking to eat less sugar I’d rather you ate great cookies less often rather than sugar-free “cookies” every day.  So for this post I decided to go with a recipe that just happens to be a bit healthier from the start.

My Peanut Butter and cinnamon Banana ice cream Pretzel Pie (whew!) borrows the much-loved vegan concept of putting frozen bananas in the food processor to make soft-serve.  Peanut butter was an obvious pairing, the cinnamon adds a little depth, and the salty crunch of the pretzel offsets the sweetness perfectly.

dsc04705

Peanut Butter Banana Pretzel Pie;  8 servings

Cook Time: 10 minutes; Hands-on Time: 20 minutes; Total Time: 1.5 hours

  • 2 cups pretzels
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter substitute
  • 4 medium bananas, frozen
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (if using a plain milk substitute just add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Place unwrapped butter in the center of a 9-inch pie pan and put in preheating oven until butter is fully melted.
  3. Place pretzels into the bowl of the food processor and process until mixture is homogenous, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add sugar to bowl and pulse a few times until combined.
  4. When butter has melted, pour the crushed pretzels into the center of the pie pan.  Mix the crumbs and melted butter, then use your fingertips to gently push onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  5. Bake crust 10 – 12 minutes until firm.  Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Wipe out food processor (it doesn’t matter if a few pretzel crumbs get in your filling) and place bananas and almond milk into the bowl.  Process 2 – 3 minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  7. Add peanut butter and cinnamon to bowl and process 20 – 40 seconds more until well-combined.
  8. Pour filling into cooled pretzel crust, using a spatula to spread it in an even layer.
  9. Place pie in the freezer to firm up for 1 hour.  You can make and freeze the pie a few days ahead of time if you like, just be sure to place in the fridge to thaw for 30 minutes before serving.

dsc04709

What type of berry do most want to stuff in a pie crust this summer?