Weekend Wrap-Up, Fun In Philly

My 29th birthday is tomorrow and the husband and I celebrated a weekend early with a trip to Philadelphia.


It was a quick visit, we drove in on Saturday and out on Sunday, but it ended up being one of the best weekends we’ve had in years!  It was great to have two full days to moon at each other.  We spent pretty much every second walking and/or eating <– our two favorite things!


I didn’t take many site-seeing photos, but I had to snap some pictures of the beautiful mosaics at the Magic Gardens.


We loved our last visit to Philly, so we repeated a lot of the same stops.  We even stayed at the same (perfectly located) hotel.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best luck with orders at our restaurant meals.  I actually had to make a second stop to eat after both dinner and lunch.  Thankfully, our fabulous bites in between meals more than made up for the less good dishes.  I’ll write this post from worst to best.

Supper was near the Magic Gardens and the menu looked good, so we went there for {Sunday brunch}.  I had a glass of sangria and was a little bit tipsy for the drive home!


Sangria Blanca - seasonal sangria made with sauvignon blanc, cantaloupe, honey dew, cucumber, lemon, limoncello, and honey mint simple syrup over ice topped with club soda.

We shared a deviled egg flight that was only so-so.


And my chicken salad sandwich sounded good in theory, but was totally flavorless.  “Pastrami” Chicken Salad Sandwich – toasted grain bread, 1000 island dressing, caraway slaw, pickles / served with duck fat fries.


Those were so not duck fat fries!  I ate a few bites, then got Whole Foods hot bar for the road.  Adam loved his red velvet pancakes though.

I was so excited to get the vegetarian cheese steak from Carmen’s in Reading Terminal for {lunch on Saturday}.


I’ve been dreaming about this sandwich ever since I had it back in 2011.


It was ok, but sadly not as good as I remembered.  The last time they charred the seitan more.

{Dinner} at FARMiCia has become a Philadelphia tradition for me.


I get the croquettes every time, but I just wasn’t a fan of this version.


Why would you serve corn and rice balls on top of more corn?!  Carb City.  The best thing about the fall version of dish is the buttery spinach bed.

The rest of the meal was wonderful though.  Adam and I split a cheese plate to start.


The salty sheep’s milk cheese went perfectly with the sweet apple chutney.

I had a very refreshing watermelon mojito.


And we finished with cream cheese ice cream that was mind-blowing.


Gah!  I could not stop swooning over that ice cream.  This restaurant would have been worth the stop for dessert alone.

We stopped in at an adorable bar near our hotel on the way to dinner to split a flight of beer.


And then stopped back afterwards for nightcaps.


Then I iced my knees and ate bar food in bed and all was right with the world.

Our yummiest tastes were the things we ate while we walked around.  Like the watermelon, spinach, and kale juice from Sip N Glo.


This was 80% fruit and normally I would be mad that it wasn’t more greens-based but you can’t complain about fresh watermelon juice.

A great iced cup from Old City Coffee.


And a Vietnamese coffee from The Last Drop.


Ending on a sweet note, a S’mores Bar from Flying Monkey Bakery.


S’mores with sprinkles!  This tasted like honey and was ridiculous good.  Adam and I both thought it was the best thing we ate all weekend.


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Last Week’s Late Wrap-Up

I’ve been pretty busy and I’m running a bit behind, but I ate some really yummy things last week so I didn’t want to skip the post.  Here are some faves from last Monday through Friday…

break the fast

A purple smoothie.


Frozen blueberries and strawberries with maple syrup and vanilla almond milk.

Bar/fruit/coffee day 1.


Dark Chocolate Coconut Balance Bar, a Pink Lady apple, and iced coffee from Starbucks.  I poured a splash of half and half into my coffee by accident last week and it ended up tasting so yummy that now it’s turned into a bad habit!

Day 2.


Caramel Almond & Sea Salt KIND Bar {former freebie}, a very juicy nectarine, and cafeteria coffee with skim milk and a splash of half and half.

ladies who lunch

Cafeteria meal.


Salad with broccoli, black-eyed peas, cheddar, balsamic, and a scoop of egg salad.  Plus fries dipped in honey mustard on the side.



Leftover bbq chicken on a Bagel Thin.  With bread and butter pickles, chips, and cherries.



Chobani 2% Pink Grapefruit Greek Yogurt with KIND Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds {former freebie} and cherries on the side.  The yogurt was a limited edition that needs to become part of the permanent line-up.  It was freaking incredible, sweet and tangy with little pieces of citrus spread throughout.  I must find the watermelon variety.

snack attack

Chocolate-covered pretzels from Wegman’s.


I brought Adam some back from my Buffalo trip and made the mistake of tasting “just one.”  Those things are addictive!  It’s a good thing I didn’t do a taste-test in the store or I would have brought home pounds of them.

Trader Joe’s makes the best turkey jerky I’ve ever tasted.


I don’t know how the keep the texture sooooo soft.

Chocolate covered strawberry floats!  Chocolate frozen yogurt in strawberry Crush.


We thought we were so clever with these.

Campfire milkshake from Ralph’s Ice.


It was insane how much this tasted like a toasted marshmallow.  It was pretty intense though, there is no way I could have finished more than half of this.

Baby spinach salad.


With sweet and spicy pecans, dried blueberries, shredded carrot, evoo, honey, and lavender salt.  My best salad combo to date.

dining on dinner

Salad atop salad.


The base was baby spinach with dried blueberries, sweet and spicy pecans, evoo, honey, and truffle salt.


Topped with pulled bbq chicken (and a pile of salt and vinegar chips in the back).  Just boneless, skinless breasts cooked in the crockpot, shredded, and tossed with TJ’s Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce.


The sauce was wonderful, very sweet and a little spicy.

Pasta that was simple but good.


Whole-wheat rotini with browned mushrooms, ground turkey (sautéed with tons of garlic and dried oregano), frozen spinach, low-fat sour cream, and a can of tomato sauce.


This was one of those meals that seemed like it would need more flavor but then you kept eating until you were furiously scraping the bottom of the bowl.

National Thai with a girlfriend.  I got spicy noodles with veggies.  They were super chewy, had a good variety of vegetables, and were actually spicy; I’m pretty sure National has become my favorite Thai spot in the city.


Afterwards we went out in search of mojitos.


We ended up finding passable mango mojitos at a tiny Mexican spot in Park Slope.  Their menu also mentioned watermelon daiquiris, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be going back again this Friday.

what’s happening

I was getting into such a great groove with my workouts, but then I got excited and upped the length of my runs too quickly.  My right knee was horrifically swollen and the husband told me to stay out of the gym until the inflammation went down.  Boo!!!  I took a week completely off from exercise (minus a few long walks this weekend) and popped anti-inflammatories and iced like crazy.  I’m going to start back in with short, easy workouts this week and continue to ice regularly.  I’m going a little stir-crazy so please cross your fingers for me!

On a more positive note, I just finished reading Fault Lines by Nancy Huston and I’m recommending it to pretty much everyone.


It’s a story about a family and each section of the book is told from the perspective of a different generation.  Huston did a great job of building the story in layers.  The parts of the story that were told through the lens of childhood were wonderfully done.

It is my 29th birthday this Thursday.  We can’t fit in any celebrating this week so Adam and I took a quick trip to Philadelphia this past weekend.  I gave that its own post because this one was getting too long, but we had a wonderful time.

Have you spotted the new Chobani varieties in your area yet?  Has anyone tasted watermelon??

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Weekend Wrap-Up; Driving Me Crazy

This weekend was a bit of a whirlwind; I had a orthodontic emergency that sent me back to Buffalo at the last-minute.  That trip ate up a fair amount of time – I spent more hours in the car roundtrip than I actually did in Buffalo! – so I don’t have a ton to share.  My time in Long Island was pretty low-key.

Here are some of the highlights…

I am a big fan of Lindt’s “Hello My Name Is” line and Adam and I both loved this salted caramel bar.


We got Chinese take-out for dinner that was only so-so.  My steamed broccoli with brown garlic sauce (and white rice) was delicious,


but the soup that was supposed to turn that into a full meal was basically dirty water with raw veggies floating in it.  You win some, you lose some.

A much more amazing meal came out of our own kitchen.


Sautéed cabbage and turnip greens.  I just cooked the veggies in some evoo and salt and they were delicious!


Plus onion-packed eggs.


Eggs scrambled with tons sautéed sweet onion and spring onions, sliced turkey, and cheese.

On Saturday we went into Brooklyn for Coney Island on Tap.


There weren’t a ton of beers I cared about (minus two watermelon brews!) so I mostly stuck with ciders.


Though I managed to drink just enough to later get into a hilariously intense fight with the husband over who would get to pee first!  Afterwards we had frozen yogurt,


and Bareburger for dinner.


I couldn’t get a very good picture but I had a turkey burger (no bun) with pepperjack, turkey bacon, sweet apple grilled onions, red piquante peppers, avocado, and smoked paprika mayo.  It’s my birthday next Thursday and I’ve already decided that I’m going to celebrate with Bareburger.

My road trip was a little ridiculous, like I said, I spent more time in the car than I did in Buffalo.  I basically mainlined candy and coffee for two days.


But my orthodontist hooked me up, and even with gas and tolls I saved more than $1,000 by making the trip.  And I got to stay with newlywed friends and see their gorgeous new house.

And we went to Thai Orchid, which I had been severely missing.  My girlfriend and I both started with the soup special, broth with noodles, bok choy, tons of crabmeat, and great shrimp wontons.


I went with my old favorite for dinner, Pad See Ew with extra veggies.


It was fantastic, totally worth the whirlwind visit! ;)

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Weekly Wrap-Up; Play It Again, Sam!

This week’s meals were so good that I went ahead and had most of them a 2nd time.  Always nice when you can make leftovers work in your favor.  And I even have a recipe to share.


Breakfasts came from this sweet package courtesy of Nonni’sBiscotti Bites.

DSC01115Please note – I was sent these products free of charge to sample.  I was not provided with additional compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own.

They recently introduced two new flavors: Double Chocolate Salted Caramel (salty and sweet, with the occasional extra-exciting pocket of caramel) and Very Berry Almond (sweet in an understated way; nice for breakfast).  All three flavors have ~40 calories per cookie.

I packaged them up for breakfasts at work.  With coffee, of course.

DSC01143DSC01166DSC01191These were not quite as good as the amazing Almond Thins, but I was still a fan.  Want to try some for yourself?  Nonni’s is hosting a giveaway -

To encourage fans to experience the fresh-baked greatness for themselves, Nonni’s Biscotti is hosting a series of giveaways on their social pages.  The “Who’s on top?” giveaway will begin July 14, where fans can help Nonni’s decide which of Nonni’s three Biscotti Bites flavors is the most favored, for a chance to win free products!

Nonni'sOn Tuesday, I mixed things up with a smoothie instead.

DSC01149Frozen blueberries and banana with vanilla almond milk, maple syrup, and lavender.  YUM!


Lunches were all about the (chicken)salad.  I made another Asian-inspired take on the classic.  This time, I borrowed the flavors from our favorite Vietnamese sandwich – the Bahn Mi.

DSC01105Bahn Mi Chicken Salad, Yields: 6 servings; Hands-on Time: 15 minutes

  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 16 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha
  1. In a large bowl, combine carrots, cucumber, sugar, vinegar, and salt.  Let sit, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Drain all of the liquid off of the vegetables.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss until well-combined.

On Monday, I brought a bigggg bowl of chicken salad, with a piece of baguette, and fresh cherries.

DSC01125Wednesday was chicken salad on a bagel thin with butter lettuce, plus cherries, and McClure’s Bloody Mary Chips.  <– the chips were spicy, but not as flavorful as I was hoping they would be

DSC01157I don’t have access to a fridge on Tuesdays, so I did regular green salad from the cafeteria.  With black-eyed peas, pickled jalopeños, shredded mozzarella, and Italian dressing on top.

20140708_115949For Thursday, I packed leftover salad and the last of the cherries.

DSC01174But then after a very quiet morning we were slammed all afternoon and I didn’t have time for lunch.  I ended up eating coffee and a KIND bar at my desk while I worked.

DSC01193At least I have a nice lunch waiting for me today!


Several slices of leftover pizza, which grew on me once it was cold.

DSC01171The leftover ice cream sandwiches were not bad either.

DSC01150Jelly Belly.

DSC01168This yogurt bowl was the best thing of the week.  Fage 2% Greek yogurt with a layer melted Cacao Bliss underneath!

DSC01187Coconut water to rehydrate after a trip to the gym.  This TJ’s kind was delicious.

DSC01146Speaking of the gym, I’ve been keeping up with it!  I realized that yesterday had been 20 days since I started getting activity back into my life; another ten days or so and hopefully a month of being consistent will help the habit stick!


I was tooting my own horn pretty loudly every evening this week; these dinners were all fantastic.  That said, I apparently don’t have pictures from Monday night and I cannot for the life of me remember what we ate!  Probably more chicken salad.

These bowls seem like a mishmosh of ingredients, but everything went together well.  Kath’s low and slow sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, and canned baked beans, topped with shredded cheese, pickled jalopeños, and plain Greek yogurt.

DSC01163Apparently Adam does not want baked beans with his sweet potato again any time soon, but I thought they was good.

Salad night.

DSC01183Butter lettuce and shredded cabbage topped with Hemp Hearts and Mahi Mahi – I baked the fish with lemon juice, coconut oil, and smoked paprika.  For our dressing, I mashed together tons of ripe avocado with lime juice, hot sauce, salt, fresh cilantro, and evoo.  Everything tossed together was ah-mazing.

We morphed our salad leftovers into tacos the next night.

DSC01196Soft tortilla with shredded carrots and cabbage, mahi mahi, avocado sauce, green Tabasco, and cheese.

DSC01200Plus pineapple hard cider from ACE.

DSC01202ACE’s website informs me that they sell a honey apple cider.  I’m going to need to find that immediately.

Does your family rely on leftovers or do you crave something new each night?

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Insta-Wrap-Up; VII

Some of what I’ve been up to on the internet when I’m not blogging your ear off here…

When my parents were here we had drinks with two of my friends from high school (my mom was our librarian) and had a fabulous time reminiscing.


My red, white, and blue for July 3rd.  The 4th got even more ridiculous.

red, white, and blue

The gorgeous view at the Mets game last Saturday.

ny metsny mets2

I did not like this Ingrid Michaelson CD anywhere near as much as I did Everybody.  “Snowfall,” from another album, is actually my favorite song of hers.  I embedded the video at the end of this post.

ingrid michaelson

This rather eclectic mix of music my father sent me is perfection though.  “Changing” by Airborne Toxic Event is currently my favorite song.

music mix

This Whisper confession is currently my favorite thing on the internet.

who doesn't want buffy

Jelly beans are currently my favorite work snack.  Arranged from least to most exciting, obviously.

jelly belly

I’m reading “Hungry,” Darlene Barnes’ memoir about her experience cooking for a frat house.  It’s wonderful, a good mix of funny and touching.  This excerpt – a letter her father sent her during her time at college – made me cry on the train.

an excerpt from Hungry

I always have to end these posts with my man men.


It’s a little off-season, but please do listen to “Snowfall.”  It is gorgeous.

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An American Recap

Beer, baseball, and the 4th of July!  I hope all of my US readers had a nice Independence Day.

I had a super fun three-day weekend.  I predict I will have had several coffees by the time this post goes live on Monday morning.

Some yummy moments…

On the Fourth, a friend and I drove up to the Hamptons to explore.  The hurricane limited our plans a bit and our free concert and fireworks were rained out, but we still managed to have a great time.  We went wine tasting at the gorgeous Wolffer Estate.


And had lobster rolls by the beach.


They came personal assembly style, huge hunks of lobster meat in a bowl of butter, and were more than worth the wade through the parking lot to get to them.

On Saturday, a high school friend came in from PA and took us to the Mets game.


NY lost, but we still had a ton of fun.  We went out for drinks on the Upper East Side afterwards and got home after our bedtime.

Sunday was all about recovery and catch-up sleep.  Also baking!  I was recently sent a book to review – Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches {Cool Recipes for Delicious Dairy-Free Ice Creams and Cookies by Kris Holechek Peters.


Please note – I received this book free of charge to review.  I was not provided with further compensation for this post.

Peters is a vegan baker, blogger, and cookbook author and I think she nailed it with this book.  It includes 60 recipes for vegan ice creams and cookies.  The instructions are clearly written and none of the recipes involve anything too complicated.  Most of the recipes do not require crazy ingredients, though you will need a thickening agent – arrowroot starch, tapioca starch, guar gum – for most of the ice creams.


The basics are all included – a variety of vanilla and chocolate cookies and ice creams – and there are some inventive ideas as well, like Pumpkin Snickerdoodle, Peach Rum Crumble, and Shirley Temple Sandwiches.  I chose to mix and match with two different recipes.


The cookies from the Happy Birthday Batter Sandwiches and the Orange Coconut Cream Ice Cream from the Orange Dreamsicle Sandwiches.  Delish.

We stuck with preparing dessert and got take-out for dinner.


Caesar salad and pizza from Luigi’s.


Eaten in front of “21 Jump Street” which had funny moments but was overall pretty terrible.  I Netflixed it thinking I would see the sequel some time this week but now I’m not so sure.

Did you see any fireworks this weekend?

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Three Day Week Wrap-Up

Today is the Fourth of July, and I took Monday off to play with my parents, so this work-week was only three days long for me; woot!  Only three days and it still took an embarrassing amount of coffee – with an even more embarrassing amount of sugar – to get me through.

I didn’t do the best job of documenting, but I do have photos of every single lunch and dinner.  And I won’t post details, but I do want to check in and mention that I’ve been consistent with my workouts ever since last week’s plea to hold me accountable.  Crossing my fingers that I keep my momentum going!

My lunches this week all included free samples from LÄRABAR.


Please note, the RENOLA was sent to me free of charge to review.  I was not provided with further compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own.


They sent me a box to introduce their new RENOLA – grain free granola made with non-GMO fruits, nuts, and seeds.

I think calling this “granola” may be a bit disingenuous, but it is a quite fabulous fruit, nut, and seed blend.  The texture is very pleasing; fantastically crunchy.  It did taste absolutely delicious on yogurt and in cereal though, so if you are turned off by your oats getting soggy in milk then this product would definitely be a good fit for you.  The pouches are nice and filling, thanks to 2 -3 grams of fiber and 5 – 8 grams of protein for 200 calories.

Tuesday, I had Cinnamon Nut with Cheerios and skim milk.

DSC01019cinnamon nut renola

Wednesday, I had Berry with Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt, Meyer lemon curd, and blueberries.


And Thursday, I had Cocoa Coconut with vanilla bean Greek yogurt, roasted coconut, and blueberries.

DSC01027cocoa coconut renola

The coconut-heavy bowl was my favorite lunch of the week.

Snacks worth noting were all in the chocolate family.  A Lindt Dark Chocolate Cookie Bar.


And a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.


I didn’t have the candy and the stout at the same time but I totally should have.  I could not believe how yummy the beer was; it is rare that I finish a whole beer but this one I happily slurped down.

I think four days straight of all meals out with my parents helped get me in the kitchen mood because I managed to make an actual meal every night this week.

Tuesday was more on the semi-homemade side, we ate gussied up bowls of my leftovers from Sunday.


I beefed up my leftover shredded Brussels sprouts with chopped baby spinach, dried blueberries, sweet and spicy pecans, and a dressing blend of evoo, honey, and truffle salt.


With a scoop of lobster mac and cheese on top.


Just so good.  And it’s a testament to the “dressing” that I enjoyed the salad bites even more than the lobster mac.

Wednesday we had very monochromatic pasta bowls.


Orecchiette with tons of artichokes – frozen from TJ’s that I sautéed in evoo with lemon juice – and lemon zest, browned butter, and toasted hazelnuts.


I snuck my green into my appetizer.


Nachos!  BBQ chips baked with chopped spinach and three cheese blend.

Last night I made a very loosely inspired version of chana masala.


Chickpeas cooked with chopped onion, diced green pepper, garlic, tomato paste, and super spicy tamarind chutney.


Served on brown rice with a scoop of plain Greek yogurt on top.  This meal was wicked good!  I went back for another bowl of just the veggie mixture because I couldn’t stop thinking about how tasty it was.  Go me.

P.S. Happy Independence Day to my American readers!

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