Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Comfort Food Chronicles: Spaghetti

You know, there are certain foods that just make me feel warm, fuzzy and just plain ol' comfortable. I mean, that's what comfort foods are, right? I realize not everyone likes the same comfort foods but I feel like mine are pretty common:

mac & cheese
mashed potatoes

Pretty much anything starchy, I'm in.  Growing up, my parents made spaghetti often but honestly, my favorite part was eating the leftovers.  Not sure why, but I loved to warm it up and eat it the next day.  To this day, spaghetti is a comfort food that I make pretty often.  I keep it pretty simple when I do make it and I go back and forth between jarred sauce and homemade sauce.  Occasionally, I try and jazz it up a bit with different herbs, spices and veggies.

How do you enhance a simple bowl of spaghetti?

Monday, August 18, 2014

The [extended] Weekend

Good grief - what a whirlwind of a weekend.  

First, thanks to my uber cool friend ModernSauce for taking the above photo, which pretty much sums up my weekend.  It started Thursday (which was also my birthday) and it was my best weekend/birthday yet.  I met a few friends at Alleia - one of my favorite restaurants here.  I was initially drawn to Alleia simply because of their flourless chocolate cake; it's seriously the best thing I've ever eaten and it's served with cinnamon ice cream.  There's no picture of it in my weekend recap because I ate it too fast. At any rate, we had a blast and the cake was nothing less than perfect.

Friday morning John and I hit the road for Florida...Fort Walton Beach/Destin to be exact and it was beautiful and the perfect way to wrap up a birthday weekend.  Oh and, yes, we got engaged! Totally shocked (obviously) but it was a beautiful surprise and I wouldn't have imagined it any other way.  I'm excited about entering a new age but also starting a new phase of my life with John! Cheers to an exciting year!

I promise I won't turn this into a wedding blog. Yes, I'll share wedding stuff but a girl has to eat so I'll still be eating, drinking and as usual.

birthday shoes!
Loving this book I received from my friend Natalie. I'm pretty much obsessed with it already.

haha! Remnants from our beach excursion. 

My weakness.  On our way back home, we stopped at Chipotle for dinner. 

I'll be posting a brief weekend guide to Fort Walton/Destin soon! Stay tuned.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sparkling Lavender Lemonade

I never want summer to end.  Sure it's hot and sometimes it's unbearable but for me, summer is beautiful, sunny and time to relax.  I make cocktails on my blog year-round but for some reason, I'm more inspired during the summer months.  There's all sorts of fruits and herbs to play with and it's the perfect time to add something sparkling to your drinks just for fun.  What's more summery than lemonade and lavender?  

A few months ago I made lavender lemonade but this was during the time when I temporarily gave up alcohol. Today's recipe is a little bit more fun.  I took the easy way out with this one and chose not to make my own lemonade this time around but used store-bought (eeek!) and it was just as delicious and took half the time. This cocktail is light, crisp and perfect for sipping by the beach.

What you'll need:
1oz vodka
2oz lemonade
champagne (or prosecco)
lavender for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, I combined the vodka, lemonade and a little mint sprig over ice and started shaking.

Add the vodka mixture to a glass, top with champagne and garnish with lavender.  

Rosemary would also be good.

Thanks to my friend Tracy for constantly supplying me with the beautiful lavender!

This is my last blog post for the week - heading to the beach to celebrate the birthday. I shall return on Monday with a fun weekend recap...I hope.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Weekend


Good grief.  What an fun but exhausting weekend.  I need just one more day to rest and recover from being on the run constantly this weekend.  Where do I even start? Friday night, I had a pre-birthday party with a friend of mine, Monica - who's the cutest person ever.  She and I have birthdays just a couple of days apart but we'll both be out of town next weekend to celebrate.  So what do you do? Have a birthday party a week before - duh.  

Saturday we hung out with friends and watched random YouTube videos and Sunday we celebrated John's dad's birthday. Yes, this month is full of birthdays - it's pretty crazy. We went bowling, ate way too much junk food and now I'm paying for it.  Hopefully, I can eat "healthy" between now and my birthday on Thursday...we'll see.

Great weekend and I'm hoping this week will be even better! Now if I could only shake this tiredness...

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Green Tea Gin & Tonic

I love infusing random things in liquors and seeing if they work and what mixers they work with.  Most ideas work while some just need a little tweaking on the length of time it needs to be infused.  Recently, I infused chai tea with bourbon and found it to be one of my favorite infusions.  Since I had some tea lying around my place, I thought, why not keep up with the tea + liquor infusion and try something different.  And so it happened, a light bulb went off: let's infuse gin and green tea.

Sounds just crazy enough just to work. I didn't infuse a ton of alcohol just enough to try it out and have some left over for experimenting.  I used roughly 3/4 cup of gin, added 2 bags of green tea and poured it into a Mason jar. The key is to let the tea steep for just a few hours - just like the chai infused bourbon, if you leave the tea in too long it becomes very bitter.  Don't worry if it becomes too bitter, just add a splash of simple syrup and that should make it better. 

Just like my coffee, I don't want my cocktails to get diluted and so I made green tea ice cubes. 

2 oz. gin
3 oz. tonic water
simple syrup, if needed

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Prepping for the Beach

Soon, I'll be taking a couple of days to chill by the beach...and I can't wait.  I love the beach; it always relaxes me and makes me feel calm.  Next week is the birthday so, I made a simple request to John a while ago that: I just want to be on a beach.  And just like that, dreams come true.

Though the beach is super-relaxing for me, I like to prepare for it. I always make sure I have my sunscreen (gotta protect the skin), a cute swimsuit, a hat (for photo props...or to protect from the sun) and some cool reads.  I also like to make sure I have water, snacks and preferably some cocktails that are served beach-side. If I can't do beach-side, fine, I'll make do but that always makes the beach experience top notch but not necessary.  I also like music. While laying on the beach the perfect beach playlist is absolutely necessary. What will I be listening to on the beach?

Magic! - Rude

Coldplay - Magic

Kendrick Lamar - Poetic Justice

Drake - Started from the Bottom

Ellie Goulding - Burn

How do you prep for the beach?

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Weekend

It feels like this weekend was a whirlwind and went by way to quickly.  We were on the run this weekend from my failed attempt at shopping, birthday parties, a hot dog party (yes, hot dog), errands and a birthday planning brunch.  So, my friend Monica and I have birthdays that are only 2 days apart. Even though we'll both be out of down for the actual birthday, we thought we would have an early celebration this Friday!  Nothing like having a birthday party a week before your actual birthday - only a Leo can get away with that. This week will probably go by really fast simply because it'll be crazy busy. I think it's a good and a bad thing.  I just hope I'm able to get some sleep and get organized this week...while not getting stressed at my growing to do list. 

That crazy hot dog you see, is the hot dog of our friend Walter. I think he wins the award for the most hot dog toppings at the hot dog party we went to.  I ate too much unhealthy foods this weekend but that's not different than any other weekend.  I need to chill and get ready for the beach soon! Yay!

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 1, 2014

48 Hours in Boston

Last weekend John and I jetted off to Boston for just a couple of days to attend the wedding of my college roommate.  The weather was gorgeous from the time we landed to the time we left.  I love summer mornings - the air is cool and crisp and there's a peace about the day. That's exactly what it was like in Boston - just warm enough to frolic, cool enough to not break a sweat. I wish we were able to stay in Boston just a little longer than the time we were there but hopefully we'll be able to go back soon. I especially would love to go back and take a little getaway to Martha's Vineyard. With just a limited amount of time, you can only fit in so much but we did what we could and here's my guide to 48 hours in Boston.

*this post is a little longer than most*

Getting around: use Uber.
The app is super easy to navigate and a breeze to use.  It made our lives much easier.  If you'll be traveling soon and would like to sign up for Uber, you're in luck!  Click here to sign up AND use my promo code to get $30 off your first ride.  

Where to stay:  Cambridge

photo via Marriott Cambridge
Because of the wedding, we stayed in the same hotel in Cambridge. This hotel was in a great location; walking distance to quite a few sites and if it wasn't walking distance it was a very short cab/Uber drive away.  

Note: Cambridge is home to two of the nation's best universities: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.  If you stay in Cambridge, be sure to visit.

Friday night:

The first night we were in Boston, the soon-to-be-married couple arranged for out of town guests to socialize for a bit at a nearby restaurant/bar - walking distance from our hotel.  More on this in a second because John and I went back there the next day!  

But after we left the restaurant, the night was still young so we decided to frolic to a nearby bar: West Bridge. 

From the moment I walked into this place, I was in love.  The music was just loud enough for it to make an impact and I got high-fived by a random dude because we were both wearing polka dots.  So, we stayed.

The drinks were fantastic and beautifully crafted.

If you're there: try the Radar Gun - gin, chocchi Americano, bonal and asparagus bitters. Weird but delicious. John had a strawberry cobbler - strawberry infused vodka, mint and lime.  I made a drink similar to this not too long ago but with bourbon.

We didn't try any food but the man sitting beside us at the bar had the duck and it looked amazing.  

If you go:
1 Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02139
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We got up early Saturday morning to take a tour of Fenway Park.  Now, I'm not a big baseball fan but I really enjoyed this tour.  The weather was perfect and the tour was really interesting.  If you're in Boston, I suggest you take a little time and take the tour - great activity for kids too.


We even got a chance to go on the field!

The end of the tour, they brought out the big guns: the rings.  The photo is a little blurry - sorry!

If you go:
Fenway Park Tours
4 Yawkey Way
Boston, MA 02215
Adult tickets are $17 each.

Saturday Afternoon:

After Fenway, we met friends for brunch at ArtBar. I read about ArtBar and thought it would be cool to try. If you sit outside, the view is amazing.  Fun fact about Massachusetts: there are no bottomless mimosas like we're used to and no happy hours due to Massachusetts law.  

My girlfriend and I started with brunch cocktails:

I tried a pineapple habanero caipirinha.  Tasty but not as much heat as I thought it would have.  I can't remember what my friend sipped on but it looked refreshing.

Now, I'm in Boston and though we don't have time to really frolic to some of the "best" places for an authentic lobster roll, ArtBar has one on their menu and so I thought I would try.

I don't want to lead you astray here so I say this with the nicest intentions: this was not a delicious lobster roll.  The lobster was tasteless and very chewy. Such a disappointment. Now, I still think you should stop by ArtBar, everyone else liked their meals, just don't get the lobster roll.  The view from this place is worth the visit.

If you go:
ArtBar - located in the Royal Sonesta Hotel
40 Edwin Lane Blvd.
Cambridge, MA 02142
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Saturday afternoon (before the wedding):

We decided to have a midday cocktail and split a little bite to eat.

Meadhall is the restaurant we visited when we went to hangout with wedding guests, it's also our stop for a midday snack.  Meadhall features hundreds of beers and an even better cocktail list (according to me, the non-beer drinker).  The bartender made it known that there's no "regular" liquor there: no Jack Daniels, no Jameson but they have alcohols that are comparable to mainstream alcohols.  

Well, I had to try one of these comparable liquors so I ordered the Broadway & Ames: 

Knockabout gin, yellow chartreuse, simple syrup, lemon and orange juice.  Loved it.

John opted for the not pictured, Kendall T Party, which featured Deep Eddy's sweet tea vodka, lemon, ginger beer and rosemary - also delicious.

Just from the few snacks we had, I'm positive that if you order anything off of the menu, you'll be happy.

If you go:
4 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, MA 02142

Saturday Night:

The wedding took place at 808 Gallery, which is a gallery associated with Boston University's fine arts program.  Even if you're not attending a wedding here, you can still add it to your list of places to visit.

photo via 808 Gallery

If you go:
808 Gallery
808 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Friday 2-5pm.

Places we didn't visit but are high on my list for the next time:

Freedom Trail - See all of the historic sites Boston has to offer. You can go with a tour guide or do your down self-guided tour.

Tatte Bakery - This place was recommended to me but didn't get a chance to visit. When we drove by, it definitely looked pretty popular.

Hungry Mother - Another recommendation but unfortunately they were closed for vacation when we were in town. Sad face.

Good times.

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