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Diet faux pas and a few things I’m thankful for

Quick hello before I start my evening baking project(s)!  Blog readers, I have to confess.  I broke the cardinal rule of healthy eating this morning:


I know this is shocking; how could possibly I skip the most important meal of the day?? (dun, dun, DUNNN!)  Well, there were three reasons: coffee, laziness, and I generally wasn’t hungry.  As for the first reason, I like my coffee very light — about a 2:1 ratio of coffee to milk — and when you start the day with three giant mugs of coffee like I do, that’s a pretty solid 1 1/2 cups of filling, protein-rich skim milk right there.  When you add cold, overcast weather to the picture and a Clif bar as a very late-night snack the night before, breakfast becomes a low priority.  Unsurprisingly, I had quite a substantial lunch! 🙂  But more on that later.

I have about a million things to be thankful for, on Thanksgiving Day and every day of my life.  I have a wonderful, stable job at a great institution that fulfills my passion, makes me excited to get up every morning, and, on top of everything else, pays the bills.  I live my life in the greatest city in the world, surrounded by my wonderful and supportive family and friends.  I have a strong, healthy body that carries me everywhere I want to go, and it is getting stronger and healthier by the day.

I have the most amazing, kind and supportive dad in the world:

I have a hilarious dog that fills my life with unconditional love:

And I have the most wonderful husband a girl could possibly ask for.

Every day with Matt is better than the last, and I still can’t believe my luck that I get to spend the rest of my life with the love of my life and my best friend in the whole world.

What are you thankful for this year?


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

…in our apartment, at least!  I fell in love with almost everything in this year’s Crate and Barrel holiday catalogue, and decided to take a trip there today after work.  A few hours later a few dollars later, I came home with two very full bags of Christmas decorating goodness! 😀

I absolutely love Christmas decorations; when I was a kid, it wasn’t really the holidays until we put up the tree and brought out all of the ornaments and decorations.  I think my favorite thing about holiday decorating is all the history associated with Christmas ornaments.  No one ever buys a complete set of ornaments that they use every year; ornaments are accumulated like memories over the course of a lifetime, and each one has its own unique story behind it.

Helping my dad decorate the tree was one of my favorite chores growing up, and over the years I got to hear the stories behind all of the ornaments in my mom and dad’s collection (aside from the ones lost in the great garbage bag debacle of the ’70s — I’m sure you can imagine what happened).  I always loved the fact that they had ornaments older than I was!

Since we can’t have a tree in our current place (fire hazard and Barkley hazard!), Matt and I don’t have much of an ornament collection yet.  Hopefully we’ll accumulate an impressive one over the next few years 🙂

Now, let’s talk food!!  Breakfast was instant Irish oatmeal with a bit of brown sugar:

I added a little bit less water to get a thicker oatmeal, but it still doesn’t have the awesome oaty consistency the Starbucks oatmeal has.  Maybe I should try making overnight oats or slow cooker oatmeal with the non-instant stuff?  What do you find has the best consistency?

My unpictured lunch was pretty boring, but tasty — an Amy’s organic mac and cheese.  Have I mentioned how much I love Amy’s?  All of their products are vegetarian and made with whole foods, aka the stuff you can recognize and pronounce!  They are also trans-fat free and Kosher.

I snacked on a bunch of fruit at work: two unpictured mandarin orange cups, an orange (my first of the fall/winter — delicious!) and some raspberries:

I think I’m getting a little better at food photography!  Maybe I just had really delicious-looking subjects 😉

Dinner was something I had been craving for a while: a Chipotle steak salad with fajita veggies, mild salsa, corn salsa and cheese.  I also got some tortilla chips on the side.  All in all, the PERFECT meal:

So darn tasty!  Even better is Chipotle’s commitment to “Food With Integrity“.  As they explain on their site:

It’s a philosophy that we can always do better in terms of the food we buy. And when we say better, we mean better in every sense of the word- better tasting, coming from better sources, better for the environment, better for the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals and grow the produce.

The hallmarks of Food With Integrity include things like unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic, and artisanal. And, since embracing this philosophy, it’s had tremendous impact on how we run our restaurants and our business. It’s led us to serve more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the country, to push for more sustainable practices in produce farming, and to work with dairy suppliers to eliminate the use of added hormones from their operations.

Now, who can’t get behind that? 😀

Belated birthday

Hello!  Quick post tonight because I’m exhausted after a LONG day, but here are today’s eats:

For breakfast, Matt was kind enough to get me a latte and oatmeal from Starbucks, my go-to weekday meal.  In return, I made him pancakes!  There was only one egg left in the carton after making the pancake mix, so I decided to fry it up in some olive oil and make a little sandwich.  Nearly empty egg cartons drive me nuts for some reason!  I had the egg on a sandwich thin with a slice of cheese:


I used to think sandwich thins were a scary frankenfood with lots of artificial junk and HFCS, but I looked at the ingredients again the other day and realized they are actually pretty good!  I’m trying my best not to eat highly processed food anymore, so I pay close attention to ingredient lists and focus on things I recognize and can pronounce.

After my gigantic 2-part breakfast (I don’t know why I am so hungry on weekend mornings!), I wasn’t really hungry for lunch at all.  We spent part of the afternoon cleaning up around the apartment but had a bit of a kitchen sink incident (leaky pipe) that messed up our plans.  After an unsuccessful attempt to find our super to fix the leak, I hopped in the shower and went to the gym, and ran 2.6 miles in about 30 minutes.

I bolted out of my workout clothes and into some nice duds, hopped on the subway and met Matt at Penn Station to take the train out to Long Island for a belated birthday dinner.  I snacked on a post-workout Clif bar on the train, along with a medium pumpkin spice coffee from Tim Horton’s.  I also chugged a bottle of water so I wouldn’t be dehydrated again like I was on Friday!

Since my dad’s birthday and my birthday are about two weeks apart (late September and mid-October), we tend to have at least one celebration together, but this year our birthday dinner was postponed until November.  My dad and his girlfriend picked us up at the train station, and we met up with my godmother and our family friend at the restaurant.

We’ve been going to the same place for years now — this little Italian place in my hometown — and everyone there has known me since I was a kid.  It is so strange to come in with my husband and order wine; that’s what grownups do!  Am I really a grownup? 😉

I started with a delicious chopped salad:


…but what I really wanted was pasta.  This place is known for their paglia e fieno (I think that’s how it is spelled) — green and white pasta in a light, creamy sauce with ham and peas.  Thankfully, my wonderful husband ordered it to start, so I had a forkful:


SO good!!  I decided against having a plate of this myself because the last few times I had this as an appetizer, I was beyond stuffed when dinner came and didn’t enjoy my main meal.  The salad plus a taste of pasta was the perfect amount of food!

*Side note: when I pulled out my camera to take a picture of my salad, my dad decided he needed to take a picture of his food, along with taking a picture of me taking a picture of my salad.  I’ll post those pics tomorrow! 🙂 *

I ordered the fish special for dinner: scallops and shrimp stuffed with crabmeat on a bed of spinach with tomatoes and onions in a lobster sauce.  I could not believe how much food was on the plate:


…but I made a pretty good dent in it, I think:


There must’ve been a dozen scallops on that plate — I didn’t have a chance!  I think I ate most of the shrimp and most of the spinach, but the scallops were way too much.  I would’ve brought this home, but I’ve always had bad luck re-heating seafood leftovers.

Since we were celebrating birthdays, there had to be cake!  They brought us two pieces — lemon ricotta cheesecake and caramel flan:



I was pretty stuffed, so I only tried one small bite of each.  The flan was AWESOME, but I wasn’t such a fan of the cheesecake.  I love lemon, but hate lemon in dessert-y things, for whatever reason.

After coffee and some more chatting, we got a ride back to the train station and headed home.  All in all, a really lovely night with some of my favorite people in the entire world!  And another birthday celebration — who doesn’t like that? 🙂

Time for some much-needed rest!  Have a great night!

Food memories

Remember that movie “Ratatouille” that came out a few years ago?  I was reading an interview with Anthony Bourdain and he said that Ratatouille was one of the best food movies ever made, because it emphasized the idea (in the scene where Anton Ego, the food critic, eats Remy’s ratatouille) that the best meals can transport you to a memory or different time in your life.  Do you associate certain foods/tastes/smells with specific memories from your life?

It is impossible for me to eat white toast with butter and strawberry jelly and not think about my mom.  It was one of her favorite breakfast foods, and that combination of sweet, savory, salty and crunchy always makes me think of spending time with her on lazy Saturday mornings when I was a kid.

I started to get hungry a few hours after my chicken sandwich last night and decided to toast up a sandwich thin, and the memories flooded back:


It hit the spot perfectly!  Not too heavy right before bed, but filling enough that I was hungry again.

So, a little more about my mom.  She suffered from some serious health problems for most of my life and when she passed away almost four years ago, it was incredibly bittersweet.  She was in chronic pain for years and years and while I was glad that she was no longer suffering so much, it crushed me that she never got to see me really grow up.

She was alive for my college graduation (but missed it because she couldn’t make it through the ceremony), but never saw me get my first real job, finish graduate school, get engaged or get married.  She’ll never be around when I have kids, and I’ll have to explain death to our kids far too early when they ask why their mom doesn’t have a mom too.  Sometimes it really gets me down.  I’m really lucky that she had four years to get to know Matt; she loved him as much as I do and knew that we were going to spend our lives together.

My mom had a really precarious relationship with food, and I think I picked up a bunch of bad habits from her.  For one, she was a big fan of using food (specifically, sweets or a giant hearty meal like steak and potatoes) as a reward for everything: a bad day, a good day, a skinned knee, doing well on a test, etc. etc.  She also thought that one of the only ways to lose weight in the short-term was to not eat at all. Not so good.  :-/

On the plus side, my mom was an amazing cook and taught me almost everything I know about cooking and entertaining.  We would spend HOURS watching the Food Network together when I was a teenager, and she would interject her own words of wisdom and cooking tips during the shows.  Side note: she was a huge Emeril fan but couldn’t stand Bobby Flay (apparently, he seemed like a “womanizer”) or Rachael Ray (I think she called her a geek?).

Here’s one of my favorite pics of my mom and I, making cookies:

iron chef kara

I was such a cute little pudge!  I wish I had more pictures of the two of us, but my mom was self-conscious about her weight and hated getting her picture taken.  Funny how this stuff gets passed down… 😦

Alright, time to do some chores around the house before a very belated birthday dinner on Long Island. Back later!

I have to give a HUGE thank you to my wonderful husband for spending an hour in Photoshop this morning designing my new custom blog header.  You’re the best, Matt!!