Three years ago I could barely boil water. Determined to be a kick ass wife who not only watched football, but who could make a mean meal anytime, I taught myself how to cook. Now I write recipes, sample local eats & blog about it all!

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The Pantry

Wednesday
Jul232014

Weekend

{carnitas amazingness @ 6th Borough Market}

I know it's Wednesday and I already have my sight set on the weekend ahead, but we had a lot of fun this past weekend and so I'm going to write about it now.

On Saturday, we kicked off the day with a big omelet to share:

I cooked a few slices of ham in a skillet, then poured on an egg mixture that I made using 3 eggs, skim milk, parsley, salt & pepper. I let the bottom set, then flipped it and added some fat free cheese on top. I folded it over for just long enough to melt the cheese and voila! A simple, Dukan-friendly omelet for two!

After a bit of work around the house, we packed up and headed out to my aunt's house in western Jersey for a barbecue and picnic. I love going there. It feels like I'm transported into another place entirely since they live on a huge plot of land with a horse farm to boot. It always feels secluded and peaceful and it makes me think for about 30 seconds what my life would be like if I didn't live in a city, didn't commute into Manhattan for work, didn't work long hours. Dare to dream. 

 

Penelope couldn't get enough of the animals. She chased around the dogs and made BFF with Jake, my aunt's French bulldog. She also had no fear around the horses, just wanted to pet them. I see riding lessons from her cousin Alyson in her future.

She also loves the beanbag/cornhole game. Now if I can only keep her from climbing onto the board...

There are 5 birthdays in the month of July on that side of the family and so my aunt kindly got this amazing cake, with a nod to the hilarious misspelling of my dad's name (Hirb instead of Herb) which mimics the birthday cake we got for him in Aruba.

Since I don't even know who I am anymore and don't bake for parties in my current life (which really makes me sad. Future post on that to come...), Shaun and I brought this amazing Ube Overload cake to the party. We found this gorgeously purple cake from a local Philippine bakery near us in Jersey City called Red Ribbon. The cake is made from ube, purple yams, which give the cake its amazing color and moistness. Covered with their signature whipped cream frosting...well let's just say that I thought I'd share a slice with Penelope, but she devoured almost the entire thing on her own. 

On Sunday, we hit the splash park with Penelope. I think it brings me just as much, if not more, joy than it does her. She had a blast running back and forth between the splash zone, the swings, the slide and the little ride-on springy horse.

After P was truly worn out, we stopped by the 6th Borough Market. It was a small market made up of local vendors and we loved it. I taste tested earl grey lavender syrup, purchased a few goodies and we hit The Taco Truck for some A-mazing carnitas. So so good. And as luck would have it, Milk Sugar Love was also there with an ice cream cart!

We had the blueberry sour cream, and while that is not a flavor I would typically choose, it was unreal. The blueberries were so sweet and balanced out the tang of the sour cream flavor beautifully. I can't wait to get to the actual shop in Jersey City!

We ended the night with some relaxing on the terrace. Penelope played with her water table and after she went to sleep (early!), Shaun and I enjoyed a cool breeze, some barbecue, some veg and a glass of wine al fresco. Nothing better, really.

How was your weekend?

Monday
Jul212014

Basic Brownies

How was your weekend?

Ours was low key and, as usual, flew by in such a flash. I'm feeling not-so-rested today, but am home with P tomorrow so I plan on lots of relaxing and snuggling!

 

Somehow we are also into the latter half of July (seriously...whaaat?) and so today is Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day!

Though last month I tried to find a recipe that I could make Dukan-friendly, sometimes a girl just needs a brownie. Like a real brownie. One that doesn't have oat bran or Splenda or applesauce instead of butter. And on this occasion, I needed the real deal. When I saw the basic brownie recipe from Tea and Scones, I knew it was the one! There are so many great recipes to choose from on this blog, from the sweet to the savory. But the brownies.

Sigh.

These were super easy. Though the recipe calls for blending or food processing the ingredients together, I was cooking after Penelope went to sleep and since we have a small apartment, using such a device post bedtime was no bueno. It's ok, though. I simply followed the instructions and mixed the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until all moistened and incorporated. Worked fine and made a basic one bowl brownie!

 

Basic Brownies

Adapted from Tea and Scones

8 oz melted butter

1 1/3 all-purpose flour

3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder

2 C sugar

4 eggs

1/4 tsp baking powder

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8x8" pan. In a bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Add the sugar and baking powder and whisk together. Add the eggs and drizzle in the melted (and slightly cooled) butter. Mix together with a whisk, rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Spread into pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. I like mine a little fudgy, so I don't wait until it's completely clean. Cool and serve, preferably with a big dollop of whipped cream!

I really liked this recipe. It couldn't be easier or faster. Though the brownies came out a bit cakey side, they still tasted great. Next time, i would lessen the cooking time or bake them lower and slower for a fudgier texture.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday
Jul172014

What Are Your Favorite Apps? Here are 5 Apps I'm Loving Lately

Sometimes I feel really old.

Some of my favorite co-worker friends are young people, just a couple of years out of college. We have summer interns who are just barely 21. I am 32, which doesn't seem so old to me but when they start talking about darties and Bonnaroo and all of the technology that I had never even heard of...well I feel old.

But!

While I may feel out of the loop, I'm happy to have daily access to such people who can clue me in on FoMO (though, as a long-time sufferer, I actually already knew about that one), why I should be using Dropbox for my entire life and what the newest and coolest apps are these days.

I adore my iPhone but I don't really use many apps. The standard social media and music apps, and basic camera function are about it. But lately I've been trying to up my game with some other things.

 



DD Perks
As you know I get my Dunkin Donuts coffee fix daily and the app is fun because it makes payment simpler as you accrue coupons and rewards points. Oh and a free beverage just for registering didn't hurt either.

 

Venmo
This is almost like a simplified PayPal situation. You can connect your bank account and transfer money to friends, receive money from friends, and cash out directly into your bank account. We've found this to be especially helpful in the office when ordering lunch and everyone is scrambling to get cash or to have exact change. Just Venmo it on over!

 

Spotify

I'm sure you already use this one, and to use on your mobile, it's $9.99/month. Not a drop in the bucket, in my opinion and I'm not sure that I even use it enough to warrant keeping it. It's great for the car, but when I find that I haven't driven in quite some time, then I'm not sure it's really worth it. 

 

Dropbox

At the behest of my friend and colleague, Jen, I began using Dropbox and never looked back. I usually plug my phone into my computer and it automatically updates any new photos, etc., from there, however, you can also use the app to upload your stuff right from your phone, or - even better - access photos and/or data that is no longer stored on your phone. I have severe phone storage problems and have anxiety deleting anything, so this is super comforting to know that I can still access any photo via my Dropbox app.

 

What's App

Ok so I haven't actually used this yet, but I have it downloaded and set up. This app allows you to text from anywhere to other What's App users, even internationally...for FREE! I don't have a pulse check on this yet, but I loved having it in Aruba just in case there was a work emergency (hey I'm not saving lives or anything at my job, but you never know...).

 

So those are the apps I'm digging as of late, and I'm on the hunt for some new ones!

What are your favorite apps? Anything new and cool, or just plain convenient, that I should be using?