New Orleans Vacation 2016

New Orleans was our best travel experience of 2016.  We stayed at a cute hotel in the French Quarter and had enough time to really get to know the area.  It was a great way to finish up the year.

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This was my first trip to Louisiana and I think we managed to pack a lot in.  We visited three local breweries, walked around Loyola and Tulane, explored the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, went to the World War II Museum….

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We also tasted tons of local (or at least Southern) flavors – pralines, divinity, snowballs, beignets, pimento cheese, etouffe, grits, chicory coffee, milk punch, and hurricanes.

Here were some of our best bites…

♥Pralines.  They were everywhere and the smell was amazing.

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♥Hurricanes.  We went to Pat O’Brien’s (<– yuck!) and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop.

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♥Frozen daiquiris, this one was eggnog!

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♥This pecan pie soda was actually horribly disgusting, but it was fun to try!

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♥Snowballs.  NOLA served me the best snow-cones of my life, I had one every day.  This was wedding cake (a blend of vanilla and almond) and egg custard topped with sweetened condensed milk.

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♥Breakfast at Café Du Monde.  This was a must-stop for us, it was actually the only activity I had planned when I booked our tickets.  The beignets did not disappoint and neither did the chicory coffee café au lait (served on crushed ice).

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♥Breakfast at District Doughnut.  We got a Nutella doughnut and a biscuit with pimento cheese.

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Plus yummy Vietnamese coffee and an iced coffee with cola and chocolate milk (<– delicious and infinitely better than it sounds).

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♥Brunch at Willa Jean.

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I had the shrimp and grits – gulf shrimp, etouffee gravy, grits, and slow poached eggs with cheddar biscuits on the side.

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Cookies and milk for dessert.  With a beater of dough and vanilla-infused milk.

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♥Flights at Abita.  <– one of our very favorite breweries  They had our old favorites and some fantastic limited edition flavors including vanilla Turbo Dog and a key lime gose.  We had beers, Zapps chips, and a root beer on draught and were in absolute heaven.

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♥Lunch at Cochon.  They had house-made eggnog.

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We split a variety of small plates – a roasted carrot special with mint, Louisiana blue crab rice, and whole fried shrimp with pickled mustard seed hot sauce.  The fried herbs were aromatic and wonderful and the best bites were a mix of everything at once.

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♥Dinner at Brennan’s.

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Insanely creamy Caribbean milk punch with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Mt Gay black barrel rum, cream, and vanilla bean.

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Ridiculous foie gras “sweet potato casserole,” with sweet potato puree and candied pecans.

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I had the cheddar risotto for dinner.  With Cherokee Rose cheddar, smoked maitake mushrooms, collard green puree, and a brown butter sauce.

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♥Dinner at SHAYA.  <– best meal of the trip and also best meal of the year

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That’s a halvah cappuccino.  I also had a Pearl Diver – vodka, labneh, vanilla, and lavender bitters.

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We shared a trio of appetizers – Moroccan carrots with chermoula and mint / baba ganoush with green garlic / tershi = a creamy pumpkin spread with crispy garlic and chili oil.  All with fantasmic pita bread and herbed olive oil.

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Also foie gras with rose tahini and carob molasses on challah toast (omg).

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I had the matzoh ball soup for my entrée.  With slowed cooked duck, dill, charred leaks, lemon oil, and a cinnamon-scented broth.  Best matzoh balls of my life!  Adam had slow cooked lamb and the bites I stole were truly the best thing I’ve ever tasted (fyi I don’t typically eat mammals but I’ll have a taste occasionally if I know the meat is humanely-sourced and Adam says the flavor is worth it).

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Dessert(s).  We basically rolled away from the table!  Chocolate babka with halva ice cream and labneh cheese cake with burnt honey ice cream.

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It was a wonderful trip!

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P.S. No post coming from this weekend, it was the husband’s birthday and I was in celebration-mode versus blogger-mode.  And now we’re both back at work.. womp wah.  Have a great week!

This Week’s Top Five

December is here!  The last themed-food month of the year (also the last month of the year, holy crap)!

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Here were the top five from this week…

{1} Christmas-flavored coffees

Eggnog iced lattes have been rocking my face off, and I was also really into the holiday-spiced sweet cream cold brews this week.

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{2} Triple Draft Latte from La Colombe

Delish!  I enjoyed this can more than the store-made lattes I’ve gotten from this company.  I never did eat that pomelo though, it’s been a busy week at work.

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{3} Eggnog overnight oats

TJ’s low-fat eggnog / rolled oats / chia seeds / cinnamon and nutmeg / sliced banana.

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{4} Quesadillas

I ate one every day this week!  The hospital cafeteria kept having them and the one day I ate a different lunch I met up with a girlfriend for dinner and tequila after work.  Pictured is a jerk chicken quesadilla with corn, bell pepper, and cheddar and pepperjack.

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{5} Thanksgiving leftovers pasta

With turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, gruyere, and cranberry sauce.

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Now I’m looking forward to a month of mulled spices, eggnog, gingerbread, and peppermint.

Tastes Like Thanksgiving

I hope all my American readers stuffed themselves silly yesterday (all of my readers really!) and made good memories with family and/or friends.  Adam and I both had to work, so no festivities here, but thankfully I spent time with 3/4 of my family in St. Thomas last weekend.  P.S. No post from last weekend, I didn’t take many pictures, but I did eat johnny cake with cheese and day drink almost daily.

In spite of being kind of lame on Turkey Day, I did manage to pack my week with holiday flavors – cranberry, green beans, turkey, pumpkin, and egg nog.  Plus, apparently I’ve decided that chips are an on-theme holiday flavor!

Winter Cheer Stumptown with a cranberry clementine seltzer and a giant pomelo.

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Cranberry turkey Wilde bar with a snap dragon apple and a cranberry cider seltzer.  <– are we appreciating the cranberry seltzers I squirreled away for this week?!

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Holiday spiced sweet cream cold brew.

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Thursday felt like an appropriate time to get my eggnog goodies going.

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Veggies with pita chips for scooping from the cafeteria for lunch.  Tomato, green bell pepper, corn, cheddar, and beans.

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Oats in a jar.  I dumped hot oats with chia seeds and pepitas into the last of the chocolate tahini.  Plus an ambrosia apple.

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With more chocolate for dessert, I snacked on a cookie dough bar and a latte.

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The cafeteria made a special Thanksgiving lunch.  I had veggie lasagna, stuffing, and green beans.

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Tuesday night – aka the first time Adam and I laid eyes on each other since last Wednesday! – we went out for dinner before making an overdue grocery run.  I got a chopped salad with green chili lime vinaigrette, roasted corn, cucumber, jicama, and tons of avocado plus blue tortilla nachos with black beans, serrano salsa fresca, and Oaxaca queso sauce.

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Post-dinner coffee to get me through Trader Joe’s.  The aged Sumatra is tasty.

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And the next morning I was able to get dinner going in the crock pot – cranberry bbq chicken that knocked our freaking socks off.  In a slow cooker on low for 8 hours / chicken breast / maple whiskey bbq sauce / fresh cranberries tossed with minced garlic and a bit of sugar.  I topped my bowl with some shredded cheese.

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Served with roasted green beans and pumpkin beers.

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I was the only RD at work on Thanksgiving and the day ended up being pretty exhausting.  Thankfully I already had planned the ultimate lazy dinner – nachos.  I kept things on theme though!  TJ’s turkey and stuffing kettle chips / cheddar, swiss, and gruyere / turkey breast / cranberry sauce.  With green beans in thyme honey balsamic vinaigrette.

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Served with – just under the wire – the last pumpkin beer of the season.

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Plus a nauseating amount of baking nibbles for dessert, we are doing a belated Thanksgiving with my in-laws this weekend and I’m bringing cookies.

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What’s your favorite traditional Thanksgiving dish?  I won’t judge you if you say nachos.

Stick To Your Ribs Dinners

Thank you, to all those who have served.

The weather is starting to cool down a bit more – I can no longer comfortably wear my sandals* – and our dinner choices have shifted towards steamy, stick to your ribs meals.  *Note – I’m still wearing the sandals, I’m just not comfortable any more.

This was also election week and it’s safe to say that I ate my feelings in the form of booze, caffeine, and sugar.  I am a woman, but I’m also cis/straight, white, sans disability or preexisting health conditions, and unlikely to get an abortion, so I know my feelings of disillusionment and heartbreak really pale in comparison to many others’.

On a happy note, here were some of the yummy things I ate this week…

This week’s coffee blend was soooo roasty and good.

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I doubled up with train coffee and post-train coffee a few days, but I’ll note that this quad was enjoyed on a day I skipped the 1st coffee.

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Starbuck’s holiday spiced sweet cream cold brew is good!  It tasted like good tidings and cheer!

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Did KIND bar read my blog?  Limited edition caramel apple pumpkin spice is right up my alley.  With a sweet Ambrosia apple.

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I also love LARA’s hazelnut, hemp, cacao option.  The crunchy nibs are great.

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I was too busy at work for lunch one day and ate this turkey and stuffing sandwich on the way home in literally less than 3 minutes.

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Plain Siggi’s with chocolate tahini and grapes with pumpernickel pretzels on the side.  Yes, I put the grapes in the yogurt.

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Elderflower yogurt (very floral) with persimmons and pumpkin spice Cheerios.

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Strawberry cottage cheese plus grapes and pumpkin spice pepitas and granola.  I didn’t enjoy this seltzer as much as I expected to.

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Stress eating candies of choice –

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Leftover turkey bolognaise that continued to knock our socks off.  Thanks to turkey bacon, mirepoix, and 2+ hours on the stove, this sauce was packed with flavor.

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With wine kombucha.  Blueberry Mint was sweet and drinkable.

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Leftover black eyed pea cakes.  Topped with cheddar, fire-roasted corn, salsa, and a sunny side up egg with smoked paprika.

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We’ve loved this chili from Iowa Girl Eats for years.  This year I stepped it up a bit with lemon-pepper chicken, carrots and celery added to the base, and an additional hour of cooking time to concentrate the tomato before I added the beans.

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Pumpkin beers to keep me company while I cooked.  <– Adam and I both thought these two were some of the best of the season.

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I topped my bowls with shredded cheese, pickled jalapeño, and plain Greek yogurt.  Plus cucumber slices and Trader Joe’s pumpkin soup crackers on the side.

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Chili, meat sauce, baked potatoes… what’s your favorite hearty, stick to your ribs food for winter?

Biscuit Brunches

Did everyone have a good weekend?  I had two days off with the husband so mine was fantabulous.  We had two great brunches, cooked two tasty dinners, accomplished all of our to-dos… the weather even held out for us.

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Have you registered your Starbucks card yet?  This was free.

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This coffee – a triple shot maple iced latte from Bittersweet -was better though, probably because we bought it with a giant chocolate chunk cookie that was both doughy and crispy.

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Brunch 1 was at The General Greene in Fort Greene.  Adam went there a few weeks ago and has been raving about the biscuits.  I thought mine tasted like cornbread.

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I drank a Middleton – whiskey, mezcal, lime, luxardo cherry, and earl grey syrup.

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And ordered the Huevos Salvadorenos.  Sunny side up eggs on bean and cheese pupusas with salsas, crema, and curtido (a fermented cabbage relish).  Plus yucca fries.

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Brunch 2 was bbq at Blue Smoke in Flatiron.  FYI – that’s a cold brew coffee with bourbon maple cream.

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I also had a mind-blowingly good Milk Punch.  It tasted like melted egg nog ice cream!

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And a bright eyed sandwich, aka the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever eaten.  Fried egg, pimento cheese, and spicy fried chicken on a biscuit doughnut.  Runny egg and pimento cheese might be the best thing ever and the person who decided to make a biscuit doughnut is obviously a genius.

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We checked out the new Smorgasburg location at Skylight One Hansen on opening day.

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The space was gorgeous but way too hot and with too many opportunities for bottlenecks to form.  Worth it though, for this scoop of toasted nutmeg ice cream from Malai.  It was scrumptious.

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Sunday’s afternoon treat was winter melon bubble tea with boba and grass jelly.

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I was excited about two new recipes and actually cooked us a real dinner both nights.  Prep-work sustenance was pumpernickel pretzels and pumpkin beers.

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Cooking Light’s black eyed pea cakes.  Topped with a relish of sautéed red and yellow bell peppers and turkey bacon.  Plus broccoli.

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Sunday’s dinner was even better though, and I didn’t even follow a recipe.  I spent three hours cooking up this turkey bolognaise and the time commitment was worth it!  Best sauce we’ve ever had.  Served on orecchiette pasta with roasted zucchini on the side.

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Have a great week!

Top Ten Last Week

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{1} Kobrick Coffee

I stepped up my espresso game with their housemade chocolate milk.  Adam and I were both swooning after every sip.

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{2} Pumpkin yogurt bowls

2% Fage with pumpkin puree and pumpkin butter, cinnamon, slivered almonds, and pumpkin spice granola.  With an Asian pear.

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Plain Siggi’s with pumpkin x2, pumpkin spice cheerios and frosted mini wheats, and a few candy corns.  With a gingergold apple.

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Pumpkin Chobani with cereals and another apple.

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{3} Bobwhite Counter

Fried chicken sandwich with pickles and pimento cheese.

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{4} Pumpkin Smoothie

We make at least one every October.  Pumpkin puree, plain Greek yogurt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and vanilla almond milk.

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{5} Xzibit “Pimp My Ride” style Reese’s

Reese’s stuffed with Reese’s Pieces.  My peanut butter cup obsession usually does not extend beyond Justin’s minis but I am bewitched by these; the bit of crunch takes the cups to a whole new level.

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{6} Molly’s Cupcakes

They have a whole slew of gooey stuffed cupcakes.

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Cake better was perfection!

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{7}  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Unsurprisingly, Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess)’s 1st memoir did not disappoint.  I added her 2nd book to my Christmas list less than halfway through.

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{8} Nachos

I turned my copycat Chipotle bowl leftovers into nachos.  Nachos > salad bowls.  Tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, black beans, corn, sautéed onions and peppers, and shredded chipotle honey lime chicken.

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{9} C’est Cheese

Adam and I had a weekday off together and we spent several hours of it on the phone dealing with our retirement accounts.  We desperately needed booze and cheese afterwards so we headed to Port Jefferson for lunch.  Baked brie with raspberry jam.

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Beer flight – Post Road Pumpkin / Telekinesis sour / Framboise / Imperial Biscotti Break stout.

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Plus a Spanish salad with mandarin oranges, Manchego, olives, and a honey tarragon vinaigrette.

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{10}  David Pumpkins

Bless you, SNL, this is my new favorite thing.

{Bonus}  Be sure to check out SaveTheDay.Vote, Joss Whedon’s super PAC that produces short PSAs about the importance of voting (for Hillary).  The subject matter is sobering but somehow the videos are all still laugh out loud hilarious.  Whedon is already my role model, and I am so impressed with all of the celebrities to chose to participate.

P.S. Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Yogurt — Froyo — Beer

This weekend was low-key but exactly what we needed.  Inclement weather killed our Saturday plans (instead we ran some errands and caught up on tv) and Sunday I was scheduled to work.  I’ve got Wednesday off in exchange for yesterday so my workweek will be two mini 2 day blocks <– nice!

Here were the weekend’s top eats…

We made a quick trip down to Rockville Center to check out Kookaburra Coffee.  They had toasted marshmallow coffee syrup!!  Fan-freaking-tastic in my triple shot iced latte.

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Spooky yogurt bowl.  Plain Fage with pumpkin butter stirred in, topped with chia seeds, salted peanuts, cocoa nibs, and a few candy corn.

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I put a lemon cream popsicle in seltzer water with some whiskey.  Creamy, fizzy, and boozy, the trifecta.

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Pumpkin pie froyo, topped with pretty much all of the dessert-y toppings.

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Cheese plate dinner.  With dates, apple, and sautéed green beans with almonds.

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The highlights were this paprika cheese from TJ’s,

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and these Malbranche Mura Cha Cha matcha tea biscuits I was sent to review.  The cookies are gluten-free and vegan and absolutely bursting with matcha flavor.  Be forewarned – if you don’t like the tea you won’t like the cookie, Adam loves both.

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Copycat Chipotle salad bowls.  Romaine // spicy salsa // shredded cheese // chipotle honey lime chicken // sautéed onion and orange and yellow bell pepper // black beans // fire-roasted corn.

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I sipped pumpkin beer while I sautéed my chicken.  Both were delicious, 8-9/10.

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I’ve got three different pumpkin iterations packed for tomorrow’s lunch!