A Perfect Little Sunday

This past Sunday, still high from my bridesmaid dress shopping win, the fiancé and I set out to make our guestbook for the wedding. I had seen on The Broke Ass Bride, the idea to use a picture calendar (made on Shutterfly) as a guestbook instead of the traditional plain page books. That got my creative juices flowing, and after receiving a coupon code from David’s Bridal for a free 8×8 20 page hard covered picture book, I knew exactly what we were going to do! So after combing through a bunch of pictures we put everything together and ordered it! I’m so excited to see the final product.

We then only spent $50 at the grocery store for the week (win #2), and decided to celebrate with a trip to Chipotle. Well, the trip had already been planned, but we felt a lot less guilty about spending the money on dinner, especially since we had a coupon for buy one get one free thanks to the new show America’s Next Great Restaurant! As you can see, this whole wedding planning and saving money idea has really been rubbing off on me – I’m hell-bent on finding the best deals for everything. I’m pretty sure the fiancé and my wallet are thanking me! And the burrito I devoured could barely be rolled and wrapped shut… YUM!

Baking was done, as well. I made a batch of Kalyn’s Kitchen’s Sugar-Free and Flourless Chocolate and Oatmeal Cookie Clusters. They were SO good! I added 2 Tbsp of coconut oil to give it some extra flavor, and they were really great. They’re so easy, and you probably have all of the ingredients already. Go make them!

I came home to an e-mail to find out I had won RunAddict’s Zensah giveway was a sweet addition to the already positive weekend, too! It ended peacefully watching The Oscars, with dreamboats James Franco and Anne Hathaway (yes, they are BOTH dreamboats).


I hope everyone else had a successful and enjoyable weekend – I know I needed it! Now on to tackle the week… at least it’s above 35 degrees!

Mind Your Pea’s and Queue’s

Even though it was a whopping 60 degrees last Friday, I awoke to a light dusting of snow on Monday morning. With such a quick change in temperature, I was ready to have something warm for dinner; enter Vegetarian Times’ Smoky Split Pea Soup! I’ve never had split pea soup, so I didn’t have much to compare it to. But as soon as I saw that there were Chipotle chiles, sweet potatoes, and onions involved, I was game.

The recipe called for split peas, since it was split pea soup after all. I however had a bunch of canned peas from Shoprite’s Can-Can Sale, so I decided to use them instead. Due to this change up, the recipe took about half the amount of time it was intended to, which I was more than okay with. I also didn’t have a can of diced tomatoes, so I threw in a can of stewed tomatoes instead. I think it worked nicely, since tomatoes tend to get soft and plump in soups anyway. Other than that, I followed the recipe. So because I didn’t need to really cook my peas, rather just heat them up, I only left the soup on the stove top for about 20 minutes to make sure it was heated through. Oh, and to kick up the heat (because I never learn my lesson), I added a habanero.

And, if you’re totally confused as to why I decided to name this post with queue, that’s just my nerdy side coming out. After telling people all day about things “being in the queue” I giggled to myself when thinking up a name for this post, and had the opportunity to use the word. I mean really, how often can one use the word queue outside of the computer realm?!

Smoky Split Pea Soup via Vegetarian Times
– Serves 6 –

1 cup green split peas
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (3 cups)
2 medium onions, diced (3 cups)
3 ribs celery, diced (1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes

1. Soak split peas in large bowl of cold water overnight. *
2. Heat oil in 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add paprika and chipotle, and stir. Add sweet potato, onions, and celery, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes.
3. Drain split peas, and add to pot with 6 cups water. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour. Add tomatoes, and cook 30 minutes more, or until split peas are tender. *
*Like I said, you could probably cut the time down to about 20-30 minutes of cooking time if you use canned peas. You’ll just want to make sure it’s heated through, and the sweet potato chunks are tender.

Leftovers: Crunchy Turkey Quesadilla

With the massive amounts of turkey left over (three Tupperware containers full, to be exact), I knew getting creative was necessary. Originally I was planning to make a simple turkey and cheese quesadilla on Sunday night, but decided to take it a step further. For anyone that’s ever been to Taco Bell, you know about the “Crunch Wrap Supreme,” which is folded over into itself in the middle, and has a nice crunch in addition to your typical quesadilla/burrito ingredients. I actually came across the original recipe from Hungry Girl awhile back, and decided to make it my own this time around.

In addition to the turkey and shredded pepper jack cheese (yum!) I sautéed some yellow onion with a chipotle in adobo. Once the onion was sautéed and the turkey was warm enough, I piled it into the middle of the tortilla, topping it with cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and a few pieces of corn tortilla chips. You then have to get your fold-on, folding from the outside in, making about 4-5 folds. You then just throw it on a pan (that you’ve already sprayed, of course) so the tortilla becomes golden brown, and each of the sides you’ve folded stick to one another. The entire meal took about 15 minutes to prepare, and when paired with a salad was perfect for dinner!

Prior to our lovely Sunday night dinner, after our 8 mile run, fiancé and I each devoured an ice cream float. During the entire second half of the run, all I could think about was food. Jamba Juice, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milkshakes, etc. So on the very last leg of our run I announced my plan (albeit out of breath) – “I’m making an ice cream float!” to which my fiancé loudly responded “Oh $*%! Yes!” and immediately followed it with a “That was kind of loud… SORRY!” to anyone listening. As soon as we got inside I scooped some leftover ice cream into plastic cups, and topped it off with some soda left over from Thanksgiving. Oh it was heaven. My stomach didn’t appreciate it much later, and would have rather enjoyed a piece of bread and water, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Maybe next Saturday’s 10 miler will be followed up similarly.

Crunchy Turkey Quesadilla
– Serves 1 –
[Adapted from HungryGirl]

1 flour tortilla (warmed about 10 seconds in the microwave)
½ cup shredded cheese
½ cup shredded cooked turkey
¼ onion
¼ cup shredded lettuce (iceberg works nicely for crunch)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 chipotle in adobo
1 Tbsp sour cream
2-3 corn tortilla chips

1. Sautee onion in oil until almost translucent, add chipotle and turkey when almost done just to warm.
2. Once cooked, add onion and turkey mixture to middle of tortilla, topping with cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
3. Fold tortilla inwards towards the middle, in about 4-5 sections.
4. Spray and re-heat skillet on medium heat, and add the quesadilla folded side down, cooking until slightly golden brown (about 2 minutes), flip and cook other side until also golden brown. Serve immediately.

A Failed Attempt at Cupcake Camp NYC Still Ended Sweetly

This past Friday was the second annual Cupcake Camp NYC. You may find yourself asking, “What is this camping cupcake nonsense?” Well, yes, there are cupcakes, but no, there isn’t any camping. It’s basically an ad-hoc gathering for cupcake lovers alike. From bakers to writers and bloggers, and everyone in between, it’s an event to get together and mingle with other cupcake nerds. And Cupcake Camp happens all over the WORLD!

Having heard about the event awhile ago, I was pumped and ready to go. When the tickets were finally made available in March, I made sure to get myself and my fiancé a pair. Since they were free, I was more than ecstatic at the mere thought getting to see (let alone eat) some awesome cupcakes, and potentially brush shoulders with some seriously important cupcake people. You know, like my favorite blog Cupcakes Take the Cake. Or the owner of Buttercup Bake Shop! So once the day rolled around, my fiancé and I made sure to leave work 45 minutes early to get into the city as soon as possible.

Cupcake Camp was held at Happy Ending on Broome Street on the lower east side. When we were approaching our destination, my heart sunk. The event started at 7pm, and it was only about 7:10. The line was not only out the door, but down the street, and around the corner. I mean, I knew it was going to be crowded – everyone loves cupcakes. I couldn’t help but think to myself; “I got my tickets a month early! I love cupcakes way more than these people! I’m even wearing my cupcake necklace! My fiancé and I have mushy gushy cupcake love! THIS ISN’T FAIR!”

The dreaded line
The dreaded line

After whining in my head till the end of the line, we got in line, and waited. We waited and waited, and we didn’t actually get in until just a bit after 8pm. On the way in, we heard a few people echoing “There aren’t any cupcakes left!” while they walked out with boxes of leftover goodies. I sincerely hoped they were lying, but my hopes were dashed once I finally got inside. Any cupcakes that were left were already spoken for by others. There were a few authors selling their cupcake books, and everyone was just mingling and enjoying one another’s company. The bar was so packed, it was nearly impossible to move. After making our rounds, my fiancé and I left, a little disappointed, and very hungry.

I am utterly shocked at how many people were there! It was truly impressive. I mean, I know cupcakes are the “it” trend right now, but man! I suppose the word “free” might have played it’s part as well. I’m definitely going to make an attempt at next year’s gathering. But I think some camping might be involved this time. Forget about leaving work 45 minutes early – I’m going to need to take the whole day!

After that fail, we decided to head over to Dos Toros Taqueria, a place I had read about on SeriousEats. They compared it a lot to Chipotle, so as a burrito fanatic, I was in. When we got there, though, we faced our second fail of the evening. It’s an extremely small place – only one window bench with about 4 seats. And, the line was out the door. Since it was a bit chilly and windy, we decided to save that deliciousness for a day we could really enjoy it. We settled on the Thai restaurant Spice. We passed one of their other locations en route to Dos Toros and had already perused the menu, so we figured that would suffice. I really think Friday was the night of the foodies. We walked past Momofuku‘s Milk Bar and that line was even more outrageous! [I still need to get in on that chicken dinner!]

When we got to Spice, we were told we’d have about a 20 minute wait, which isn’t so bad for 9pm on a Friday in the city. Thankfully, we only wound up waiting about 10 minutes, and we were brought upstairs to our table. We decided to get an order of the spicy calamari to share. It wasn’t spicy so much as it had a nice crisp black pepper taste. The dipping sauce was sweet, tangy, and peanuty with a little kick all at the same time. I really enjoyed it.

Spicy Crispy Calamari with Sriracha honey chili sauce

For our entrees, I went with the Drunken Man Noodles, and my fiancé went for his go-to Pad Thai. The Drunken Man Noodles were broad rice noodles (my favorite!) with chicken, shrimp and squid along with chili, egg, and green beans.

Drunk Man Noodle

Our food came quickly, and it was actually really good. Being the spicy lovers that we are, we asked for extra spice. Surprisingly, despite the restaurant’s name, the food wasn’t spicy. That would be my only gripe about the place. The service was friendly, but they didn’t check-up on us once. It worked out since everything was fine, but if it hadn’t been, I wonder if we would have had trouble flagging someone down. At any rate, for a $30 dinner in the city, I really can’t complain.

To end our night on an even higher note, we headed over to 16 Handles. My fiancé and I actually went here on our fourth date, after dining at the Telephone Bar which is sadly now closed. 16 Handles really is as great as it sounds. There are 16 different flavors of frozen yogurt that you get to choose from yourself, followed by a plethora of toppings. It’s all done buffet style, so you get to pick your cup size, yogurt and topping choices, and then pay by weight. They have everything from sweet to tart flavors, non-dairy and low fat options, and both fruity and candy-like toppings. Being the sweets junkie that I am, I went for red velvet, cookies & cream, New York cheesecake and peanut butter yogurt (just a dollop of each!). I then topped it off with some cookie dough bites, brownie bites, crushed graham crackers, crushed Oreo, and mashed Reese’s peanut butter cups. Oh. Yes. Take a look at the masterpiece!:

16 Handles of deliciousness

So all in all, despite not getting a cupcake, I think I had a successful foodie evening. And I made up for the lack of cupcakes by getting a Crumbs cappuccino and half baked cupcake Saturday. Plus, I’m on Sunday I was able to whip up some peanut butter cupcakes from my 500 Cupcakes recipe book! Maybe next year I’ll be adventurous and bake my OWN cupcakes for the event! We’ll see 🙂

Valentine’s Spice

For Valentine’s day, my fiance and I decided to go low key; maybe just a card, and then we’d get some Thai food for dinner. So, I thought it’d be nice to at least make something to go along with my card. I scoured the internet for some spicy cupcake recipes, and surprisingly didn’t find much. I did, however, happen upon a recipe from Vanilla Garlic.

I was overly excited to make this recipe for two reasons; 1. it started off with boxed cake mix (cheating, I know. But so easy!) and 2. it had chipotles in adobo sauce in it – one of my favorites!

So, after going to the gym and running 6-7 miles each for our half marathon training, we somehow mustered up enough energy to go out for Thai food. When it comes to spice, neither of us skimp. The particular place we went to, Thai Kitchen, offers spice in their dishes on a level of elephants from one through five. When I first started going there I went small; only a level two. By now, though, I’m up to five and loving it. We like to joke that if you aren’t sweating when eating Thai food, you’re doing it wrong. I also find that you eat less when it’s spicy, and I’ll never complain about that!

Enough rambling about my favorite Thai restaurant, back to the cupcakes! These were super easy; I only needed one actual chipotle pepper and some of the adobo sauce. I now need to search for some chipotle friendly (and quick and easy) recipes so I can make one for dinner this week. Other than that, they were just plain chocolate cupcakes. They didn’t use any frosting, though. Instead, I combined cinnamon and powdered sugar, and coated the tops with that. For my man, I used some decoration frosting and wrote I ❤ You on 5 of the cupcakes.

They were surprisingly good! I was actually a bit nervous, since I’d never combined spice and chocolate. I know it’s a big thing, and those Aztecs knew what was up, but I just wasn’t sure if my palate would appreciate it. Well, it did! The spice was a nice note in the background; the adobo sauce gave it a little bit of a smoky flavor, and then there was just a little bit of a kick at points as well. I also added chocolate chips into the batter, which was a nice melty gooey surprise as well.

While my family was skeptical about the spice and chocolate combination, I’m glad I went through with it and made them. Both my fiance and I loved them, and I’m looking forward to devouring the rest!

You can find the recipe below… happy spicy nomzing!

Chipotle Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes

1 Box of Dark Chocolate cake mix
Whatever the box tells you you’ll need. Probably eggs, water, and oil
1-2 tablespoon pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (base on your heat tolerance)
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, plus some extra
powdered sugar

1. Mix the cake mix as the box says.
2. Place the chipotle peppers in a food processor and puree. Add two tablespoons to the mix. Add the cinnamon.
3. Scoop into cupcake papers. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
4. Let cool. Combine the powdered sugar and some cinnamon to taste in a bowl, and scoop out, or sift on top of cupcakes.


burritoI once had a friend ask me if I was Mexican. Confused, since I look as Irish as they come, I asked why she was inquiring. She proceeded to explain it was due to my eating habits. When given the chance, I’ll always choose something spicy, and in most cases of the Spanish persuasion.

That brings me to burritos. They have easily and increasingly become a staple in my diet. I can have one for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I’ve sampled authentic, as well as generic, and I really don’t think I’ve found dissapointment yet.

I have important qualifiers that make a burrito note worthy; it needs to be stuffed to the gills with deliciousness, while still managing to stay fully intact. I’ve come to learn the key to that phenomenon is steaming of the tortilla prior to stuffing it. I learned that the hard way while in college; every time the I got a burrito from the “Mexican Station,” it crumbled right in front of me. I’m glad, however, the proprietors of places such as Qdoba, Moe’s, and Chipotle learned it early on.

Burritos seem to be the one thing that can be filled with anything. I’ve had with eggs and potatoes, your typical chicken, beef, or pork, or if you’re feeling daring, even tofu. That’s right, it sounds weird, but it is delicious. Moe’s happens to offer the option for the meat weary – and let me tell you, even if you’re the biggest carnivore out there, you should give it a shot. It’s perfectly seasoned and picks up all the right flavors once combined with the rice and beans. It truly is surprising at how delicious it is.

I can honestly say I’ve only ever met one person in my life that hasn’t shared my love for burritos. I currently work in an office where everyone LOVES them. If one person mentions it for lunch, it’s a guarantee that 80% of the office will be on-board for one as well. I guess that’s what happens when you work around the corner from a Moe’s Southwest Grill.

I’m a lover of all types of food – Spanish, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, German, Italian, French, American, and fusions of all of the aforementioned types. I’m sure I’m even leaving some out (not on purpose, of course). There’s just something special about Spanish food, though. I really can’t put my finger on what it is, aside from deliciousness.

I think I’ve successfully recreated the burrito many times in all it’s glory. I know I’ll never get sick of it, and I’ll probably continue to have it at least once a week, preferably more if at all possible.

As I write this, I’m being bombarded with inter-office Skype messages about Moe’s for lunch. Clearly we are all going to give in. There really is no way to say “no” to a burrito.