Monday, January 31, 2011

I Eat My Feelings

Ugh. Sometimes I eat my feelings...must hide the evidence...or share it with the Internet.

This was my "dessert" after lunch, some veggie chips, a snickers bar, and a diet pepsi. I just couldn't help myself. It's one of those days.

I need a vacation.

P.S. Was anyone really shocked by this? I know I wasn't. Anyone going to see NKOTB in concert btw?

Sunday Funday

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program for a public service announcement. Below is the reason why you do not want to bring your boyfriend/husband grocery shopping with you. I mentioned before why I don't bring him with me, but this seals the deal.

Little Debbie "Cloud Cakes" are the poor man's twinkies. He actually only bought these beceause they had a $0.55 coupon attached. I wish I was kidding. And I wish I could tell you that I didn't try one, but I did. At least bringing him with me resulted in him volunteering to make pot roast for dinner. You mean I don't have to cook?? Damn right! This was my plate.

This was his. He promptly informed me that the pot roasted needed salt and gravy and that everything is better with salt, gravy, or butter (notice the heaping pats of butter on his green beans).

Another find at the supermarket was IBC Diet Root Beer. Sometimes I randomly crave root beer, and it's even better out of a glass bottle for some reason. I ended up drinking a bottle with dinner and a bottle after dinner. Oh and do you spy those pink packages behind the rootbeer? Strawberry Valentine's Day peeps. Otherwise known as nature's perfect food. The boy and I split a package for dessert. And by split, I mean there are 9 peeps per package and I had 5....that's a fair split as far as I am concerned.

Before dinner, I had a little help folding the laundry. By help, I mean she sandwiched herself in between the two stacks to take full advantage of warm clothes right out of the dryer. I secretly think she does this because she knows the clothes are clean but won't be once she gets her hair all over them. She's the devil I tell you.

Tonight is my monthly book club meeting where we will be discussing Room by Emma Donohue. If you have not read it already, I do recommend it. It was not excellent, but it certainly was creative and different. I have been spending an obscene amount of time with my Kindle lately. Any good book recommendations (besides the Help which I've already read)? What is your favorite Valentine's Day candy?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Going to the Store Before a Storm IS Important

Now I know why people go to the grocery store in droves as though the apocalypse is coming before a snow storm. The fear of having no food.

Yes, my refrigerator is practically empty. Don't be fooled, it's mostly condiments, beer, and random hodgepodge things in there. I can't really live on olives, mozzarella, and cream cheese. I let the boy take my car to work Wednesday and he got home late, so at that point the roads were too bad for me to brave the storm to go to the supermarket to obtain supplies for my snow day yesterday.

I managed to make a good breakfast...I had oatmeal with my favorite thing ever, Trader Joe's pumpkin butter. I also added walnuts and some protein powder as well.

Yes, I stockpile the pumpkin butter when it pops up on shelves in the fall because I need enough to last me a whole year. It is a seasonal item after all. A seasonal item that I can't live without in the dead of summer.

Lunch was another was actually eaten in bits and pieces. Basically because bits and pieces was all I had. So I ate some of this...

And some of these...

And a chunk of this...

A bunch of veggie chips and a red bell pepper were also involved. I would've made a sandwich with that turkey but I didn't have any bread. I didn't even have any cans of soup floating around in the cabinet. How is that even possible? I go to the grocery store practically every other day.

On the bright side, I got a special delivery today courtesy of Rachel over at The Avid Appetite!

Now Eat This! by Rocco DiSpirito. The book didn't come with all of those colorful stickers in it, I put those on the recipes I want to make. I know what you're, she's super organized! No I'm really not. This is really the extent of my organizational skills. I am excited to try to make a few of my favorite foods in a healthier way. I will be sure to feature them for you guys if they come out good!

After lunch and pouring over my new cookbook for a good half hour, I settled in to get a little work done and catch up on my DVR. That's when I noticed Creepy McCreeperson.

I swear I don't know why she's so weird. She stares a lot, like she's trying to win a contest. I tell her all the time she creeps me out. But I love her anyway. The boy told me that cats can see ghosts and maybe that's what she's looking at all the time. If that were true there was a ghost in my lap yesterday because she is clearly staring at ME.

Since we had no food in the house, the boy was nice enough to grab dinner on the way home in the form of mexican takeout. I went with chicken quesadillas from our go to place in Waltham, Tango Mango. If you are ever in the area, check it out, they have amazing homemade chips served still warm. Their prices also can't be beat.

Back to work this morning. Rumors of another snow storm next week are circulating (kill me now).

What do you do when you have no food in the house? Do you keep an emergency stash of soups/frozen items on hand? Do you always go to the store before a storm?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kettlebell Review

Hey everybody! Happy snow day!

So as I mentioned in this post, I recently bought a GoFit 10 pound kettlebell. The kettlebell comes with an instructional DVD that has a 25 minute workout on it in addition to the kettlebell itself.

I went to the store and experimented with different weights as I didn't want to buy anything that was too heavy because I wouldn't end up using it and I didn't want to get one that wouldn't challenge me. Yes, I did kettlebell swings IN the store. I was that girl. Luckily it was just the boy in the aisle with me, not that that would have deterred me from doing it anyway even if there were other people around.

The workout itself is fairly basic, but a great starting point. It is done in circuits, with five circuits total not including a 3 minute warmup and 3 minute cool down. The first two circuits are actually pretty tough and got my heart pumping. For a 25 minute strength workout, I worked up a pretty good sweat.

I plan on making this one of my strength workouts once a week because it's so convenient and quick to do at home. Once the 10 pounds starts to feel easy, I will invest in a 15 pound one and so on. Also, there are a ton of other workouts available on YouTube that you can download if you want something different or more advanced than what is on the DVD. Here is one I found that combines bootcamp style moves with the kettlebell. I tried it once and am embarassed to say I just could NOT hang, but I plan on working on is TOUGH.

For people that don't have a gym membership or who are like me and just want something they can do at home, I highly recommend investing in a kettlebell. I can't speak for the other brands out there, but the GoFit comes with a DVD and the handle is wide and slightly rounded so that it's comfortable to hold and easy to switch hands during the moves. Some of the other brands I tried in the store weren't as comfortable. I would recommend going to the store though to test out different weights and models to find what is right for you.

Have you tried kettlebells? What do you do for strength workout ideas?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gadget Freak

I know I don't usually post twice in one day, but on some occasions, I just have to share my excitement...guess what came the other day?? My Kindle!

Of course the second I got home I plugged it in to try it out. I was actually so prematurely excited about it's arrival that I went a little crazy and bought a bunch of books before it even came. I also bought a fancy red case for it so it doesn't get banged up in my purse. Pretty isn't it? I can't wait to read my first book on it! For those of you who don't know me in real life, I love gadgets (I have four ipods, that must tell you something). I'm actually surprised it took me so long to hop on this bandwagon, as I have every other gadget there is practically.

In other news, I figure it's been a while since I've done a whole day of food for you guys, so here goes! Yesterday's breakfast was a yogurt bowl, with a banana, a squirt of honey, chobani vanilla yogurt, and banana granola. This is one of my favorite breakfasts. It doesn't hold me over that long though, so I usually wait until I get to work to eat it since there is only a few hours until lunch.

No, I did not eat that entire Chobani container in one sitting. It was only 1/3 full when I added the banana and granola. Just don't want you guys thinking I'm a pig, even though I'm sure you already do. For lunch is one of my new favorites, a greek wrap. Since I can't seem to find thick wrap bread anywhere, I used naan. In the naan is chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and greek dressing. I also usually add kalamata olives when I have them, but I was out of them yesterday. It was still amazing. If you make this, I highly recommend heating both the naan and the chicken. It's just like what you would get at a real Greek sandwich shop.

Dinner was a new recipe that ended up being a success, so I promise to recreate it and post it for you guys. It was seasoned chicken with a mustard sauce glaze. The glaze was awesome. I actually ended up having extra glaze, so I plan on either using it as a salad dressing or a sandwich spread later in the week or this weekend. On the side I had some steamed broccoli. The boy had twice as much chicken and broccoli as well as rice on the side (he can EAT). Plus I make him eat a lot more just so I don't look like a huge pig for eating what I can only guess is about 9 ounces of chicken (what can I say, the sauce was REALLY good).

As dinner was winding down, the smell of chicken could no longer be ignored, and this little scavenger jumped up on the dining room table to see if she could sneak a bite. I'm a sucker so of course I gave her one. For whatever reason she has always been a little skinny so I try to feed her what she likes in hopes that she will put on a few pounds. So far no luck, but at least the chicken makes her happy. You would think I starve her (I don't).

For dessert, the boy picked up a strawberry shortcake from Peaches and Cream in Chelsea during his travels in the ambulance yesterday. It was divine. Strawberry shortcake is his favorite and is one of mine also and this certainly was worth every. single. calorie. Oh my yum.

The Boston area is due for yet ANOTHER snow storm tonight, but luckily I already got the green light to work from home if conditions were bad, so I will most certainly be staying home. Either way I will still have to shovel out the damn car and I am dreading it. I am so over winter at this point, as I'm sure all of my fellow New Englanders are. But at least the weather will give me an excuse to curl up on the couch with my kittens and my Kindle :)

Do you own a Kindle or a Nook? If not, do you want one?

Ten Signs of a Bad Restaurant

I am a self proclaimed restaurant snob. I know good service and good food when I see it and I have certain expectations (some say impossible, I say stringent). I also do my research before trying a new restaurant. Every single one of these signs of a bad restaurant, have happened to me in the past month alone. Chains, take note, these are the reasons you can't charge higher prices.

1. There is no bread basket. Or the bread basket you do get is old. Olive Garden you are the biggest offender for serving day old bread. Don't think I can't tell that your breadsticks were baked yesterday and then just reheated right before being shoved in the basket.

2. There is no oil or dip for your bread, there is only butter. In little individual packets that have been frozen. I understand the need to refrigerate butter, but does it really have to be so hard I have to warm it in my hands to keep from tearing my bread?

3. The waitress writes her name on the drink napkin or on the paper tablecloth. Yes, they really do this. Why? I don't know. Just in case your memory is so bad you can't remember the name "Amy" when you want a refill on your soda.

4. The dessert menu contains three items and one of them is gelato. I judge a restaurant solely based on dessert. Even if I did not like my entree, if the dessert is good enough, I'm going to come back. And by the way, no one ever orders the gelato anyway so why bother having it on the menu?

5. The "vegetable of the day" is zucchini and summer squash. In January. This one actually happened at a restaurant that I adore 99% of the time. So disappointing. Where did they get that summer squash? Guatemala?

6. Dirty flatware or water glasses. This is just disgusting, but is actually fairly common. I would estimate this happens to me about 1 out of every 5 times I dine out.

7. Paper napkins. Nothing says cheap like trying to wipe your hands on a paper napkin. Spring for the cloth, it ups the swankiness of your restaurant 100 times over.

8. The restroom doors say anything on them other than "Men/Boys" and "Women/Girls." You guys know what I'm talking about here. If the establishment has "Hens" and "Cocks" on the restroom door, don't expect a quality meal.

9. They don't take reservations. Who wants to actually wait 90 minutes for a restaurant? This would require going to dinner BEFORE you are actually hungry. Who has this kind of time?

10. Bringing the check over as I set my dinner fork down on the table without asking if I would like dessert or coffee, or even if I'm ready for the check. I always order dessert, and despise not being asked if there is anything else I would like. Even if the dessert menu sucks, I am probably still going to want coffee.

What do you hate about some restaurants? Any bad experiences recently?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Restaurant review time! Friday night date night the boy and I got all gussied up (yes, I even put on a DRESS) and decided to use one of my recent Living Social purchases, a $15 or a $30 coupon for Tasca Restaurant in Brighton.

I hadn't heard of this restaurant before, but after getting a peek at their extensive tapas menu (34 items), I knew the boy and I had to try it out. Normally I get overwhelmed when faced with a lot of choices, but luckily tapas are the kind of things you can showcase your gluttony with. The more you order, the better.

While it was nice to get all dressed up for a change, it was definitely not necessary at Tasca. The atmosphere is pretty casual. The dining area is well lit (which is great for dinner with friends, but not so much for Friday night date night). We had a reservation for 6:30pm and the restaurant was about 3/4 full when we arrived. By the time we left however, it was completely full and extremely loud.

A bad omen came when we first sat down and the table was wobbly. I don't mean a little wobbly, I mean if either the boy or myself put our elbows on the table, our drinks would go flying. Luckily the boy showed off his handiness by jacking it up with a napkin, but really, we couldn't be the first people to notice that table was on it's last leg...literally.

After getting settled in with the wobbly table, we perused the drink menu. Naturally we started our evening with a pitcher of sangria. The sangria was actually quite good and relatively cheap for a pitcher ($19). Rather than the usual citrus fruit garnishes, the sangria had mostly apples. While apples are good, they don't quite soak up the alcohol like citrus fruits do. Still, the sangria is worth ordering.

I know I don't feature pictures of myself much on the blog, but I am making it a goal to change that. Here is a cameo of me enjoying the sangria ;)

Rather than order a few tapas and then full entrees, the boy and I decided to just order six tapas to share. The first one we chose was albondigas: homemade tenderloin meatballs in a green peppercorn sauce. The meatballs were juicy, but not all that flavorful. Also, this is the second time in two weeks that I have been randomly served potato sticks. I wasn't aware potato sticks were a gourmet food.

Next we chose the Brie a la plancha: Grilled imported brie cheese with a homemade savory apple and raisin chutney served with a grilled baguette. Amazing. Truly. This was by far the best thing that we ordered. The brie was smoky and almost melted. The baguette was grilled with butter and garlic. Oh my yum.

Just to keep things fancy, we ordered the Solomillo: Petit filet mignon (3 oz) served in a red wine sauce with mushrooms. The meat was dry. And I don't know why I thought ordering anything with mushrooms was going to be a good idea. This did not remind me of filet at all, which is sad, because it's one of the most expensive tapas they have. On the bright side, it does come with french fries.

Next we ordered the Croquetas de pollo y jamon: Chicken and ham croquettes served with Romesco sauce (contains almonds). Yes, they do look like mozzarella sticks. No, they don't taste like them. These were just ok. The ham and almonds are negligible, all you can taste is the chicken and cheese.

We also ordered the Pincho de pollo y chorizo: Grilled chicken and chorizo skewer with peppers and onion in a spicy chili sauce. This tapas was the second best of what we ordered. The chicken definitely had a little kick, but not too much. The chicken was juicy and the vegetables still a little crisp.

Per the boy's request, we ordered the Patatas Bravas: Fried cubed potatoes in a piquant tomato sauce and garlic aioli. These were extremely spicy (as far as I was concerned anyway) and the potatoes were dry and overcooked. The garlic aioli looked like it came out of a Hellman's squeeze jar. These we didn't even finish, so that goes to show how much we liked them.

For dessert we got the Pastel Vasco: Layered dessert of a homemade oreo cookie base with milk toffee, bananas and whipped cream. Sounded so much better than it actually was. The oreo cookie base did taste exactly like oreo cookies, but it was really hard and too crumbly. The bananas definitely helped the dryness of the cookie crust, but it still was not great.

In addition, I had wanted to get a double espresso with dessert but was informed by the waitress (not very pleasantly) that the machine was broken and there was no coffee. I like espresso after dinner so they lost major points for that. Service was adequate, although our waitress forgot to bring us a few things we asked for and was not quite as quick as she could have been, but certainly nothing worth complaining about.

All in all, it was nice to visit a tapas restaurant with the boy (he had never been) but I would probably never go back. It was pricey even with a coupon, and was definitely not worth the price we paid.

Do you like tapas restaurants? What are your favorites?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Peppermint Bark

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good. Friday night is the new official "date night" for the boy and me, so we will be hitting up a new restaurant every Friday that I will review it for you guys. This past Friday we went to Tasca in Brighton...the review for that coming up later this week.

Saturday was the boy's birthday celebration (his birthday isn't until next Saturday but not knowing what our schedules would be like, we opted to go this past weekend instead). We left Foxwoods short a bunch. Let's just say that the boy is not as good of a poker player as he thinks he is (sorry baby, you're just not). On the bright side, I did take some pretty cool pictures of the waterfall.

Yesterday was spent cooking and cleaning the whole day. Typical Sunday. Oh and watching football of course. Who are you rooting for in the Superbowl? I am a Packers girl all the way! Well, what I mean is, if I cared even a little bit about football (which I don't) then I would be rooting for the Packers. I am going to a Superbowl party, but let's be honest, I'm only going for the booze and food.

Speaking of food, one of the recipes that I made yesterday is actually a little past the season, but it was a special request from the boy that I decided to give a whirl and it came out pretty good so I'm sharing it with you!

Peppermint bark is made a couple of different ways, but the two main ingredients are chocolate and candy canes. I chose to use a mixture of semisweet chocolate and white chocolate.


10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
12 oz white chocolate chips
1 tsp peppermint extract
3 crushed candy canes

First, line a 3x9 pan with aluminum foil and grease.

Then, in a small pan, melt the semi sweet chips.

Once they are melted, spread evenly on the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Once the chocolate has completely hardened, melt the white chocolate chips, adding the peppermint extract near the end of the melting process.

Very quickly spread the melted white chocolate on top of the semi sweet and add the crushed candy canes. Press the candy canes into the top with a spoon. Refrigerate again for another half hour, until chocolate has hardened.

Using a very sharp knife, cut into 8 pieces.

As I mentioned, any combination of chocolates can be used, or just one if you prefer. This is a very simple and easy seasonal dessert.

Do you gamble? What's your game? Will you be watching the Superbowl? I'm going to a party of course. Again, go Packers!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Good to Be a Food Blogger

Last day until the weekend...not that I've been looking forward to it all week or anything...

This week marked a momentus occasion for me as a food first product to try out! Chobani generously offered to send me a sampler pack of Chobani to taste and experiment with (forgot to snap my own picture of it this morning).

Not that I haven't tried Chobani before (it's usually the staple in my yogurt bowls and I literally live for the pineapple flavor) but I was excited to get the sampler box to try out all of the flavors.

This past Saturday night was another milestone for me as a first blogger meetup! I met Melissa, Di, Rhea, and Emily at the Whole Foods in Dedham for some yummy food and good conversation. It was so nice to finally meet these ladies in person. In the blog world, you read about people's daily lives so much that you feel like you know them already, which was exactly how I felt Saturday night. We talked and laughed like we had been friends for years!

One of the greatest things about having dinner with other bloggers is that they don't get uncomfortable when you start taking 100 photos of your food. Here is Di posing with her camera with me right next to her trying to get a good shot of my plate. I was probably on photo # 4 at this point.

For dinner I rolled with a simple salad with romaine, red and yellow peppers, cucumbers, and cranberries with a berry vinegrette. I also had a few bites of the Mac N' Cheese (it looked way too good to resist) and a chicken samosa. The salad and the Mac N' Cheese were delicious, but the chicken samosa not so much. I believe what I said at the time was that it tasted like ground up cat food. Not that I know what that tastes like.

After dinner we decided to head over to Met Bar, which was of course PACKED. If you have never been to Legacy Place in Dedham, let me assure you that the entire plaza is always crazy no matter what time of day or night and there is always a wait at every restaurant there. Prior to getting to Met Bar, we had some photo fun!

Of course we found no seating or even standing room at Met, so we tried Legal C instead. No luck there either. Finally we ended up at my very favorite place, Yardhouse. You guys know I talk about this place incessantly and practically live here, so I was excited. I ordered my usual Anderson Ale seasonal (AKA Christmas in a glass) and we had a great time just enjoying each other's company in the 100 degree bar (I really have no idea WHY it was so hot in there, but I literally sweated through my shirt being in there. Yeah, I'm a sweaty beast).

I know everyone else says it too, but it really is true, that the best part of this little hobby of ours is the community that comes along with it. I had such a great time with these lovely ladies and I hope we get to do it again soon!

Have you met any of your favorite bloggers in real life?

Have you tried Whole Foods hot bar and salad bar? Do you like it?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let's Try This Racing Thing Again

It's official! I am registered to run Boston's Run to Remember half marathon on May 29th.

I have run this race twice before, but in the 5 mile portion.

I based my training plan on Hal Higdon's novice 12 week training plan. I made a few key changes to my training plan, however. First, I extended my plan to 14 weeks just because I want my long run to be 12 miles instead of 10. The novice plan also does not reference speedwork at all, but I'm planning on making either Tuesday or Wednesday a speed training day. Most likely Wednesday because that is the lowest mileage day and I don't want to do anything too crazy to get myself injured before this race. I do feel that some speedwork is important for me though. I have posted my training plan on the refrigerator to remind myself every day what my workout for the day is and to motivate me. Please excuse my non-PC refrigerator magnets.

I know I haven't talked about my workouts or running all that much on the blog lately, and to be honest it's either because I've skipped them or because they are too boring to talk about. With training for the half though, I am going to be talking a lot more about how my training is going than I have been talking about my workouts.

Saturday I decided to go get some new sneakers. I am going to rotate between two pairs for the first month or so of training just because I know my old shoes are about on their last leg and I want to break in these new ones before using them full time. Plus, I went with a different kind of shoes this time and I want to make sure they aren't going to give me any problems.

Pretty snazzy aren't they? Here's hoping they treat my feet well!

I also went out and purchased a 10 pound kettlebell so that I have no excuses to skip a strength workout if I don't feel like going to the gym. I will do a full review for you guys next week to let you know how I like it.

So far my training has been going really well. Monday I was sick yet AGAIN so I skipped my strength workout that I had scheduled, but Tuesday I was right back into the swing of things. Tuesday was 3 miles easy on the treadmill at the gym. It was a really tough run for some reason, and it was not made easier by the guy next to me. While I was plugging along at 5.2 on the treadmill, Joe Runner was running at 6.0 BACKWARDS. Thanks for making me look bad buddy. I would've laughed if he had fallen on his face. Not that I'm bitter or jealous that he can do that or anything.

Do you have any races coming up? Is anyone else running Boston's Run to Remember half marathon? Have you ever tried running backwards?