Tuesday, August 28, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

this past weekend i headed out to colorado to see two dear friends - one who lives in boulder and one who lives in north carolina (and who you've met before!) we always said we had to go out to colorado and visit, so we finally made it happen and did just that. i still believe one of the best ways to travel is through visiting friends, and this time proved no different. we stayed up late talking, ate delicious food, enjoyed the scenery of the west and laid by the pool. pretty perfect if i do say so myself.

Friday, August 24, 2012

on redecorating corners.

to continue the real estate theme, let's talk about the biggest thing i've ever done with any space i've ever lived in:
i took on a design project, that i saw in magazine, and i made it happen (with brian's manpower).
don't mind the dirt i'm brushing off my shoulders.
but here in new york we don't redecorate rooms - nope. here we redecorate corners. and that in itself is a big enough change. so without further ado, here's what it used to look like:
as you can see, it wasn't the best. i moved here from grad school and used the desk to store my books and computer, but really i just used my computer on my couch. i rarely, if ever, sat at my desk. and my textbooks are boring city. they just didn't need to be on full display, ya know? and the slanted floor in the corner also made it a death trap for any guests who sat in my rolling chair and slowly rolled off the staircase.
sidenote: people would be like - WHAT IF A BABY WAS HERE?!
ew, guests. a baby is not coming into my studio apartment.
do i like the type of person who is friends with babies?
and also, when was the last time a baby sat in an office chair?
riddle me that.
and then, it happened. i got inspired (thanks lucky magazine!). and the shoe museum was born.
closet space is precious here in nyc - so i decided to make more. that's right - a cabinet dedicated to my shoes. what did my desk display? old textbooks and the ten pens i owned. it's not interesting, or thoughtful, or aesthetically pleasing. why keep our shoes locked away in our closets but put our textbooks out on display? riddle me that for real people. so when i saw this idea in the magazine, and fell for it hard, i decided to do something i had never done before with an apartment - try.
the tutorial in the magazine suggested painting the back of the cabinet before assembling it  - unfortunately painting isn't really an option in my tiny apartment due to safety/space (seriously, it would take weeks to air out those toxic fumes). so i did something else i've been dying to try - adhesive wallpaper. i shopped around online for a few weeks until i found the best deal. there are some great patterns out there but they cost an arm and a leg for a little square. i went with blancho wallpaper, and also found that tempaper was a great, albeit more expensive, option. either way, i'm in love with self-adhesive wallpaper - it's easy to peel on and off, and if you mess up it's easy to take off and redo. perfect for the first-time and highly nervous interior designer.
to tie the space together i put in a light and a chair, thanks to target's buy one, get one 50% home sale.
the anal retentive fashionista within is beyond pleased that the maroon chair, maroon in the wallpaper, and the maroon blanket and pillows on my couch tie it all together.
if you've got a design idea on the brain - i say go for it. shop around. use self-adhesive wallpaper. and put your favorite pair of shoes in a bell jar and display them proudly in your house, shoe cabinet or not.
lucky magazine tutorial
bell jar

Thursday, August 23, 2012

on saying yes.

weirdo alert.
i know it's been a little quiet around these parts, but i'm just enjoying the end of summer, where the whole world seems to slow down a bit. last night i found myself behind the bar, instead of sidled up to it, pouring pints and perfecting my martini. that's right - i was a bartender for the night. a bar my co-workers frequent has a guest bartending series in the summer and they asked if i would want to do it - and the answer to that was yes. i've found that saying yes to the oddest opportunities can usually make for a good time. so for one night i was a bartender in manhattan - i poured perfect pints of guinness, made my first martini and perfected the gin gimlet i love so much. i can't wait to do it again next summer - they asked if i wanted them to hold me a spot and i, of course, said yes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

oh this weekend. we laughed, we cried, we laughed some more. we ate some chocolate. all in the name of the great 2012 new york city apartment search. that's right folks, brian is moving to nyc and we need to find him an apartment. good riddance long distance relationship! (although i will miss the sunsets along the hudson on the train ride up there). we focused mainly on brooklyn and i'm happy to say we have a number one choice and a great fallback option. a successful weekend indeed. the agony of what an apartment search in new york brings was quelled by chocolate, red wine, pasta, pasta, and more pasta (including this recipe i tried, which was awesome), along with a visit with a local fire station dog. while i can't say i'm looking forward to the moving process, i can say i'm looking forward to living by my boyfriend for the first time in almost three-and-a-half years. yes, i can definitely say i'm looking forward to that. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

on classic italian american.

while it's well known around these parts that i don't have an affinity for cheese, my mother's italian heritage softened my outlook on it. if you're fed lasagna enough as a kid and told to eat it no matter what, that'll happen. so mozzarella, ricotta, parm - i can do. but show me a piece of brie and i'll run for my life.
when it comes to classic italian american cuisine, i'm quite happy to indulge, particularly with all the wonderful memories it brings back from my childhood. for a few years i've been making this version of baked ziti, and i really like it (the salad that goes along with it is also really good). it's easy to make, tasty, and makes for great leftovers. you know a recipe is good when the leftovers taste as good as when it comes out of the oven. 
to make my baked ziti a little healthier, i use whole wheat penne, skim mozzarella and fat-free ricotta. i also think it's better to use a chunkier tomato sauce - like marinara - as it helps the dish from becoming too watery. and, if you wanted to make it heartier, i think sautéing some crumbled italian sausage and adding it to the filling would be quite easy.
start by turning your oven to 450 F, and boil some water. while the penne is cooking in the water, mix together all the cheeses, beaten egg, and a little salt and pepper. it's important to cook the penne for a little less time than you normally would - say about seven minutes - since you'll be baking it in the oven. if you overcook through boiling and baking your baked ziti will be soggy, which is never good.
drain your noodles, then assemble the baked ziti in a pan.
first - tomato sauce.
second - cooked penne.
third - ricotta mixture.
fourth - more tomato sauce.
fifth - sprinkle the rest of the parm and mozzarella on the top.
bake for 20 to 25 minutes depending on your oven and viola - baked ziti is born!
the evolution of baked ziti.
let the baked ziti sit for about five minutes before cutting a slice. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

to say that my weekend in nashville was low-key would be an understatement. a lot of times my weekends out of town consist of lots of activities due to weddings, bachelorette parties or simply being a tourist in a new place. but since i lived in nashville and was staying with old friends, it was anything but that. we went to our favorite places and watched the olympics and took naps. it was a perfect way to relax in one of my favorite places in the world. if you're ever in town, i recommend...
the breakfast burrito at bongo java in belmont
the best fried pickles at sportsman's
a run in centennial park
a life-changing cupcake at dulce desserts
buffalo-chicken pizza at mellow mushroom
the country music hall of fame, even if you don't like country music
pancakes at pancake pantry
brunch at margot
outlet shopping at opry mills
an innovative meal at the catbird seat, prepared right in front of you
followed by a drink at patterson house
and a little honky tonk dancing at the stage
before ending the night with a little karaoke at lonnie's

Thursday, August 9, 2012

on a taste of the south.

it's only fitting that on the day i travel back to nashville i share this good old southern recipe with you. i love bbq but have struggled with how to make it at home, particularly in my wee, little apartment. i often turn to this classic for pulled pork, and now i have a new one to add to the repitoire:
they're a bit different than the traditional ribs you'd get from a smoker at a bbq restaurant, but that's only because they're so tender they practically fall off the bone. the taste is the same, and i was truly impressed with my little oven (that could). with a six hour cook time they're a perfect approach to a lazy dinner on a weekend. the only work you need to do is make a simple  rub for the ribs.
mix the correct proportions according to the recipe and then rub all over your ribs. i found a pound of ribs to be enough for two people.
wrap the racks in tightly sealed foil packets and place atop wire racks on a cookie sheet. i just used the same racks i use to cool my freshly baked cookies. i also lined the cookie sheet with foil, which i recommend as some juices came out of the packets (so much for tightly sealed).
cook at 200 F for four hours before lowering the oven temperature to 175 F and cooking for another two hours. when you take them out of the oven carefully lift the ribs out of the packet and drain the juice out of each packet into a small saucepan to make a sauce. then carefully, again since they're so tender, put the ribs back in their packets and seal once again. one packet had a lot of juices in it and one had a little (methinks the one that wasn't so tightly sealed). either way, just one was more than enough. you're supposed to boil the juices until reduced by half, add in some smoked paprika, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. i didn't reduce mine by enough, but it still tasted good! additionally, you can always use store-bought sauce or no sauce - we didn't need the sauce as the ribs were incredibly flavorful but it's a good option.
sauce or no, in the summertime we found that fresh corn on the cob was a must for this awesome taste of the south.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

on pie.

making pies and cobblers are my favorite things to make in the kitchen. they're not always my favorite dessert, but if i had to choose a treat to bake - it would be one of those. yet in all the time i've been making pies, i've never made my own crust. i really wanted to try my hand at it after grad school, but unfortunately i moved to nyc and my countertop space is about 8"x11". one of these days i'm going to learn how to make a great crust - until then i swear by trader joe's frozen crust (for those of you with no interest in making your own crust, i highly recommend them.)
what i don't ever buy from a store, though, is the fruit filling. making a filling for a pie or cobbler is the easiest thing in the world. now some of you may disagree - slicing peaches, quartering strawberries, peeling apples. but even that little bit of work is worth the taste superiority of a fresh fruit filling vs. a canned filling. if you still insist you don't have the time, i present - the blackberry pie.
mix your blackberries (no need to slice or quarter or peel!) with lemon juice, sugar and flour, then put into your pie crust. dot the top of filling with a few cubes of butter before topping with a crust.
i folded the overhang of my top crust into the pie before crimping the edges. i know everyone says crust can be fickle, but when something contains that much butter i find it's pretty easy to manipulate and put back together if it falls apart or doesn't look correct.
kind of looks like an oyster.
after crimping the edges, slice four slits in the top of the pie and put into the oven for an hour and fifteen minutes.
when it's done, let the pie sit for a few hours before slicing yourself a piece.
then, enjoy the fruits of your labor (get it?!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

if last weekend was all about relaxing, this weekend was all about good eating. it started off when i got home from work in friday and made a blackberry pie, and ended with an attempt at slow-roasting ribs in the oven (it worked!). in between all that we caught up with a friend and caught some more episodes of friday night lights and found a new favorite restaurant in brooklyn. if you live in the city and despair over not being able to grill out, i would check this place out - they grill everything, even the tomatoes. i hope your weekend was as delicious as mine!

Friday, August 3, 2012

on having a guy.

in new york, everyone's got a guy. i didn't hear it in philly, or nashville, or virginia - but in nyc, yeah. everyone's got a guy.
need a diamond ring? i gotta guy.
need your pants hemmed? i gotta guy.
need your dog walked? i gotta guy.
need your teeth cleaned? i gotta guy.
we don't have jewelers, and tailors, and dog-walkers and dentists. we got guys.
and the thing is - like finding your favorite bagel place - you want to find those guys. you want to be the one who helps someone out by saying - i gotta guy.
so it is with immense pride that i can say, (and my devoted readers will know what this means), that when it comes to hot dogs - i gotta guy.
55th and 6th. grills, doesn't boil his hot dogs. a buck fifty. you gotta see him. i do every thursday.
need a good nyc hot dog? no problem. i gotta guy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

on a favorite summer flavor combination.

last summer was the first time i tried watermelon and mint together, at one time, in one bite. and since then i've been hooked, looking at all sorts of recipes to make to keep the magic alive. and this one is a favorite: watermelon lemon mint cooler.
you'll need:
3 mint leaves
1/2 a lemon
1/2 a banana
1 cup of cubed watermelon
1/2 cup of coconut water
3 ice cubes
if you have a blender i recommend using that over a food processor - mine didn't quite chop up the ice. oh well. it was still freakin' delicious and took less than a minute to make.
it's also an easy recipe to amend - use lime and basil instead of lemon and mint, use greek yogurt instead of coconut water to make it a smoothie, throw in some protein powder to get more protein, add in some gin or vodka for a little kick. i don't know. i'm just spitballin' here. what i do know is that it's august, and i'll be drinking these on the regular until labor day to enjoy the last month of summer.
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