Working Weekend Wrap-Up

No traditional weekend for me, my only day off was Thursday.  I’m actually working straight through this Thursday – 7 days in a row – which means next weekend will be a three-day extravaganza!  It’s hard to complain about 7 days anyway, my last year at Buff State when I was doing school/internship/part-time job there were a few stretches where I went 30 days plus without a true day off.

The past 4 days in numbers –

  • glasses of iced coffee – 7
  • packed lunches – 0
  • product reviews* – 2
  • desserts – 10 billion
  • books read start to finish** – 1

notes: *the products were both sent to me free of charge and neither company gave me additional compensation for this post; **the book was a murder mystery that I actually hated but needed to know the ending to

Here are the highlights…

Key lime cookie from Schmackary’s.

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With white chocolate, pistachios, and cream cheese icing.  The middle is the best part.

Three new dark chocolate flavors of Nonni’s Almond THINaddictives* – Dark Chocolate Banana Almond, Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, and Double Dark Chocolate Almond.  FYI – hit up their Facebook page for a new flavors giveaway.

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They are 70-80 calories per pack (2 thins) and crisp but not too crumbly.  I though the double chocolate flavor was a bit plain but the cherry and banana had great notes of tart and sweet.  This week I paired them with my coffee but I’m also looking forward to crumbling them into yogurts.

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That combo is killer, Grady’s is thick and sweet and it makes my heart sing.

Traditional breakfast.

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Potatoes, scrambled eggs, and (turkey) bacon.  Covered in ketchup because I grew up in St. Thomas and we put ketchup on everything.  <– real talk, I didn’t know that ketchup wasn’t an automatic pairing for chicken wings until I went to college; now I mostly use other condiments but scrambled eggs always get ketchup

The cafeteria is pretty grim over the weekend but Friday I did eat this seafood feast.

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Fried shrimp, potato wedges, and vinegar-based cole slaw.  We had leftover ice cream from our birthday party and I taught my coworkers about Australian iced coffees.

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They loved it!

Since I didn’t have my yogurt lunches I got my probiotics in the form of Health-Ade Kombucha*.

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Their small-batch (2.5 gallons) fizz is organic, vegan, kosher, and gluten-free.  They do their fermenting in glass containers only and the bottles are fantastic and just begging to house a handful of wildflowers.  Health-Ade generously sent me a case of Ginger Lemon.

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I have to confess here that I actually kind of hate ginger.  Nonetheless, I found the kombucha to be very enjoyable.  The flavor behind the spice was very “clean” and just sweet enough.  I still wouldn’t buy this flavor once I finish my samples but I will damn sure scoop up Pink Lady Apple or California Grape the minute I spot them.  P.S. I brought a bottle to a ginger loving friend and she said it was hands down the best kombucha she’s ever tasted.

Date night in Hell’s Kitchen.  My NCIS obsession finally paid off for Adam – I took us to Donna Bella Bake Shop because it’s co-owned by Pauley Perrette (aka lab tech Abby).  We had a dreamy lemon bar and this delectable brownie with a cookie crust and ganache on top.

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We walked past Room Service and decided to do Thai for dinner.

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That guava mojito was terrible and weak.  But the crispy duck salad wasn’t half bad.

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I ordered the Pad Noh Mai for dinner, shrimps, minced chicken, fresh basils, Thai chili, and bamboo shoots with herbs chili paste garlic sauce.

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The menu promised spice and it delivered.  I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant though, Hell’s Kitchen is a bastion of excellent, authentic Thai restaurants and you can do better.

I cooked!  A real dinner, a stew, made of vegetables no less.  I put the crock pot to work for me, filled to its brim.  Onion / garlic / carrot / kale / red bell pepper / white beans / red lentils / diced tomato / veggie broth.

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I didn’t bother to season or brown anything so the end result was a little bland, but topped with melted cheese it was hearty and satisfying.

Three down, four to go.

This Weekend’s Best…

…breakfast –

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A blueberry cheesecake smoothie!  Frozen berries with chocolate milk and low-fat cream cheese.  Adam and I both loved it.

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Plus the new cold brew from Dunkin.  Delicious with the Heath Bar syrup and some skim milk.

…brunch

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Colonie.  I got the duck hash again, because it makes the top five list for best dishes I’ve ever eaten.

…lunch –

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Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries and the last of the cookies crumbled on top.

…brinner –

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Eggs with swiss cheese, a simple salad, and a towering stack of buttered toast.

…dinner

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Sandwich night with roasted broccoli.

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Toasted french bread / mayo with Sriracha, fish sauce, and dark brown sugar / baked extra-firm tofu / quick pickled cucumber and shallot / crispy garlic.

…book –

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Autumn Balloons, a memoir by Kenny Porpora.  It had me laughing and crying, both at an embarrassing volume, on the train.  Easily one of the most captivating memoirs I’ve ever read.

Destination City

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this week I loved…

Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm.  It took me forever to find a balm with both tint and spf but this one fits the bill perfectly!

A blog book review.  Dawn Lerman’s My Fat Dad was sent to me free of charge to try/read for the blog.  Her chapter on moving to New York City walked the reader through the different cultural food neighborhoods in a way that made my mouth water.

Living in a destination city.  I had two different sets of friends visiting NYC for work trips this week.  It was fantastic to get to catch up with them!  However, I went out after work for dinner and/or drinks multiple times and I am flipping exhausted.

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P.S.  My favorite bar (Pork Slope in Park Slope) now has $1 jello shots, clearly I backed the right horse!

this week I ate…

Vietnamese-ish iced coffee.

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A killer smoothie – with banana, blueberry, and avocado.  So creamy.

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Poppy seed bagel with olive cream cheese.

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Oatmeal bowl.  With cookie butter and a pixie tangerine.

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Greek yogurt bowl with Cheerios and plums.  I also crumbled a brownie in there (see below) and it was pretty fantastic.

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Taboule salad from the cafeteria.

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Whole Foods hot bar.  Lots of veggies, rice with black beans and cheddar, and broccoli mac and cheese.

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I needed a 2nd coffee snack more than once.

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Turkey jerky.

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Best ever brownies.  Just this recipe without the fluff.

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Baby carrots with great feta dip.

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I had Thai food in Williamsburg with Adam and a girlfriend.  Drunken noodles with mock duck that were as spicy as they were delicious.

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We cooled our mouths down with soft-serve from Milk Bar.  Fruity pebble soft-serve(!!) with fudge sauce and sprinkles.

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Indian at the Grand Central food court.  And yes, I realize that is a lame spot to take an out-of-towner.

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Starbucks sandwich for a quick dinner on the train and then I went straight to bed!

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I did make dinner at home one night!  Whole-wheat vermicelli noodles with ginger and garlic chicken, shredded cabbage, bell pepper, and a tahini lime sauce.  With cashews on top plus tons of Sriracha after the picture.

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We snacked on a servings’ worth of cashews and sliced bell pepper while we cooked.

Good friends, good eats, it was a good week!

Goodbye, 2015

It’s been a good year but I’m ready for 2016!

I still tend to think in terms of school years rather than calendar years, so I don’t usually set new year’s resolutions (though in 2015 I did lose a few pounds and make a major career move, woo-hoo!).  However, for the past 5 years I have made it my mission to read at least 25 books a year.  I’m pretty proud of the 35 I read this year so I included the list at the bottom of this post.

I’m heading to a NYE party tonight and then I’m up early for work on the 1st, so without further adieu, here’s the final wrap-up of the year…

breakfast

A final eggnog iced coffee while I set up my planner for 2016!!

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Otherwise this was the coffee combo for the week –

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With wonderful fruit options, a cocktail grapefruit.

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And a piñata apple.

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Plus tea at work.

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Caramel was yummy, and it smelled delicious.

lunch

I had Monday off – the end of a fabulous four-day weekend – so I got to have a yogurt bowl at home.

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Plain Fage with maple syrup, blackberries, chia seeds, and praline pecan granola.

Oatmeal from home, at work.

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With vanilla almond butter.

Cafeteria salad bar.

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I made myself a Greek salad with romaine with balsamic, marinated cucumber salad, tzatziki , tabbouleh , and falafel.

dinner

Monday was our 8-year wedding anniversary (we got married on our 5th dating anniversary so it was also our 13th year as a couple)!!  I consider myself the luckiest person alive that I get to spend my life with Adam.  We celebrated with food, of course.  We headed into the city early and got our favorite coffee {Brooklyn Roasting Company},

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and our favorite ice cream {Morganstern’s}.

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We split a scoop of American egg with sweetened condensed milk and chocolate sprinkles.

Then we enjoyed our favorite dinner of the year (maybe my favorite dinner of our marriage!) at Bowery Meat Company.  It was a truly epic meal of several courses whose highlights included roasted cauliflower, foie gras, Spanish wine, and an entire casserole of duck lasagna.  We held hands, and giggled, and were generally disgusting, and I didn’t take a single picture*.  *Other than instagramming the duck lasagna, because how could I not?

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The nights at home, appetizers included delicious leftover buffalo chicken pizza and carrots with hummus.

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I’ve determined that pretty much no matter what I eat for lunch I am frantic with hunger by the time I get home from work so I usually eat something before I try to make dinner.

Tuesday’s dinner didn’t require much time or effort though, because we brought home leftover duck lasagna.  swoon.

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I consider myself a fairly good cook and it is safe to say that I’ve never made a dish that tasted as good as these microwaved leftovers!

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With salads on the side.

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Spinach / lavender salt, lavender honey, evoo / sweet and spicy pecans / golden raisins.

And Wednesday I designed a quick dinner around this (former freebie) Bertolli Asiago Cheese and Artichoke sauce.

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We tossed the sauce with sautéed mushrooms, artichokes, shredded chicken, and orecchiette pasta.  It obviously couldn’t compete with the duck but was still good.

2015’s reading list

They’re listed in chronological order.  F = fiction, NH = nonfiction, and M = memoir.  I bolded the year’s top ten favorites.

  1. Bones Never Lie – Kathy Reichs (f)
  2. I Forget to Remember, A Memoir of Amnesia – Su Meck (m)
  3. The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, And Other Small Acts of Liberation – Elizabeth Berg (f)
  4. The Next Queen of Heaven – Gregory Maguire (f)
  5. Fairyland, a Memoir of my Father – Alysia Abbott (m)
  6. Yes, Please – Amy Poehler  (m)
  7. Stiff, The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach (nf)
  8. Born Round, A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite – Fran Bruni (m)
  9. Flesh and Blood – Patricia Cornwell (f)
  10. With or Without You – Domenica Ruta (m)
  11. The Story Sisters – Alice Hoffman (f)
  12. Tender at the Bone – Ruth Reichl (m)
  13. Comfort Me with Apples – Ruth Reichl (m)
  14. Garlic and Saphires – Ruth Reichl (m)
  15. Crash and Burn – Lisa Gardner (f)
  16. Delancey – Molly Wizenberg (m)
  17. Someone is Watching – Joy Fielding (f)
  18. If Only You People Could Follow Directions – Jessica Henry Nelson (m)
  19. Working Stiff – Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner – Judy Melinek M.D. (m)
  20. The Removers – Andrew Meredith (m)
  21. Let the Tornado Come – Rita Zoey Chin (m)
  22. Bossypants – Tina Fey (m)
  23. Unorthodox, The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots – Deborah Feldman (m)
  24. The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery (f)
  25. Delicious – Ruth Feichl (f)
  26. Head Cases, Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath – Michael Paul Mason (nf/m)
  27. Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood – Leah Vincent (m)
  28. Speaking in Bones – Kathy Reichs (f)
  29. My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places – Mary Roach (m)
  30. Cooked, A Natural History of Transformation – Michael Pollan (nf)
  31. Burn Down the Ground – Kambri Crews (m)
  32. Thinking in Pictures, My Life with Autism – Temple Grandin (m/nf)
  33. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (f) {reread}
  34. Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee (f)
  35. Gulp, Adventures on the Alimentary Canal – Mary Roach (nf)

Do you set new year’s resolutions?

Turkey Week Eats

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I hope that all of my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We didn’t do anything fancy to celebrate, but I sure was thankful for the four-day workweek!  My million-point list of things I’m thankful for also includes this gorgeous city…

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Random Thoughts

I made the toffee candy for a work birthday party, this time following the original recipe.

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I think my version with graham crackers and pretzels is better, the saltines got a bit soggy.

I reread To Kill a Mockingbird this week in anticipation of starting Go Catch a Watchman and cried on the train at least ten times.

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TKM is one of my favorite books but I had forgotten what a fabulous writer Harper Lee is in the few years since I had last reread it.  Atticus is my all-time favorite character.  I love him even more than Ghosh from Cutting for Stone.

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

Daytime Eats

This week’s tea – Adagio’s Pumpkin Spice (former freebie).

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With treats from the birthday party… including pie made with fresh coconut

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Or with pumpkin applesauce and biscotti.

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This week’s coffee – Community Coffee’s Breakfast Blend with skim milk and sugar.

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Cafeteria lunch salads. Romaine, blue cheese dressing, carrot, cucumber, tomato, olive, pickle, black eyed peas, and pasta salad.

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Romaine, ranch, carrot, cucumber, tomato, olive, pickle, corn salsa, cheddar, and chickpeas.

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Romaine, blue cheese dressing, carrot, olive, tomato, cucumber, corn, cheddar, and cole slaw.

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And home on Turkey Day I was thankful for yogurt bowls.

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Plain Greek yogurt topped with cranberry sauce, pomegranate, chia seeds, and praline pecan maple granola.  Best bowl of the year.

Nighttime Eats

I met up with girlfriends for drinks early in the week.  Pork Slope never disappoints.  They had Sorachi Ace, Adam’s favorite beer which is now my favorite beer.  It just goes down so easily!

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I also had a ridiculous fall shandy – gin, maple bitters, simple syrup, lemon juice, and cider.

Dinners were all about the bird!  We cooked turkey breasts in the crock pot on Sunday and then shredded them into meals all week.

Turkey tossed with TJ’s whole-wheat butternut squash goyza on top of sautéed shredded Brussels sprouts with pecans.

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Topped with gruyere cheese and cranberry sauce.

Turkey tossed with bbq sauce on a brioche bun (toasted with Smart Balance) with cranberry sauce and goat’s milk brie.

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With roasted green beans on the side.  Year’s best sandwich!

For Thanksgiving dinner we decided to go super traditional – nachos.  TJ’s stuffing flavored kettle chips topped with turkey, gruyere, smoked paprika, and cranberry sauce.

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With hericot verts roasted with shallots.  So much better than the usual meal!  Plus pumpkin pie,

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aka Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch Ale.

Friday night, once the turkey celebration was over, Adam and I went on a dinner date in the Lower East Side.  Coffee while we walked around Chinatown.

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Ice cream at Ice & Vice.  Milk Money = toasted milk, sea salt, and chocolate ganache and Shade = smoked dark chocolate with caramelized white chocolate ganache.  I’m usually not one for chocolate ice cream but this was fantastic.

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Then dinner at Mission Chinese Food.  With complimentary dumplings to start.

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I ordered the Tea Ceremony – matcha, melon, and fizzy wine.

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We shared the green papaya salad with smoked chicken, green tomato, peanuts, and pickled tea leaves.

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And I ordered the spicy peanut noodles, with cucumber, mint, and numbing oil.

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They were chewy, savory, and beyond tingly; numbing oil is good but intense!  The mint was really wonderful with the spice.  All in all a good meal, though not as epic as the thousand-plus articles I’d read about the restaurant would have had me believe.

Left My Heart In Montana

I’m missing a lot of photos this week but the meals I do have to share were off the charts good.

lunch

Mostly I did lunches from the cafeteria this week, like a tasty broccoli and cheese baked potato whose cell-phone photo was an absolute horror.  Packed lunches featured a great fruit salad – Cara Cara Orange, strawberries, and 3 varieties of pluot.

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With plain yogurt and Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes.

notable snacks

Fresh mint in sparkling water is my jam.  This “mojito” rocked our socks off.

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We’ve kept the dessert every day thing going.  One morning Adam took me to work and we tried the doughnuts at Elsie’s Parlor.  I got the Confettura Di Fichi – filled with fig jam and topped with mascarpone and toasted almonds.

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I loved the idea of this, especially because the fig jam and mascarpone were delicious, but the texture was terrible, way too dense.  If I thought of it was a muffin it was great, but as a doughnut I ate half and we moved on to a tried and true.

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Now that’s a doughnut!  My peaches and crème doughseed had just the right balance of fluff and chew.  Plus it was perfectly tangy and sweet.

Vegan ice cream from Sky Ice.

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Thai iced coffee and Thai young coconut went great together.

Ice cream from Oddfellows.

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S’mores with amazing caramelized white chocolate with toasted almond.

Guava-cheese empanadas.

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Enjoyed with Ruth Reichl’s novel, which I read in a day and a half and enjoyed even more than her memoir.  She is such a good story-teller and her food writing makes your mouth water.

dinner

Leftover Korilla knock-off bowls were still yummy.

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I stir-fried mine with eggs to make up for the missing one on top.

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Also I kind of burnt the life out of it, but this was still good.

It was fitting that I put this dinner on my heart plate because I loved-loved-loved it.

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A tiny roasted pile of every single okra I could find at the stores this weekend.

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Plus I snacked on this for extra veggies.

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Toasted ciabatta sandwich with turkey, turkey bacon, Colby jack, and Smart Balance.

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The cheese was extra-thin sliced and it melted to perfection.

We checked out Bushwick’s Montana’s Trail House and our best meal of the week ended up being the best meal of the year!

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Adorable décor, amazing service, and freshly made food – most of it local – with well-balanced flavors.

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Captain Stormalong – Standard Heartcut White Whiskey, Campari, Demerara & Topped with Downeast Cider.

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Riff Randell – Vodka, Krupnikas Honey Liqueur, Contratto Aperitif, Luxardo Maraschino, Acid Phosphate, Sparkling Wine.  This was the best drink we’ve ever had.  It was like drinking pure honey but in an amazing way.  Similar to a great honey meade I had in SF.

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We started with the charred green beans – which were topped with browned garlic and soft-cooked eggs and served on top of housemade ricotta.  This was the best dish of the year, the lemony ricotta was fantastic with the drippy eggs and charred greens.

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Then we shared the dinosaur kale salad – with feta, roasted carrots, and kale that was grown in the restaurant’s rooftop garden!

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And the fried chicken with honey butter and housemade hot sauce.  Best fried chicken ever; super juicy and every bite had a whiff of honey.

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Dessert – aka the course I saw on Instagram that made me move this restaurant to my “must-eat” list – was banana bread s’mores.  <– squee!

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Also they brought us complimentary shots with our bill because we’d been raving about every bite we took.  Love.  NYC people – get yourself to Bushwick, you won’t regret it!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Plus roasted veggies because we are healthy like that.

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

Big salad(s) bonanza.

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

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Plus tuna salad on the side.

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

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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.

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Plus roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

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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.

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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!