Right Here, Right Now: My Night

I’m Thinking About

How I’m going to fit ~10 girls and a four course meal in my closet-sized apartment. It’s a pretty awesome problem to have in the grand scheme of things. There’s nothing I love more than quality time with friends and of course, food in general.

I’m Trying

A clothing subscription box for the first time. I’ve subscribed to beauty boxes in the past until I found the right products for me, and the reason I enjoyed that relatively longer period of trial and error versus just going into a store is because a) it was something to look forward to every month and b) I was able to try things for myself without the chaos of lines, crowds, and pushy sales people. With clothing, it’s not so much trial and error until I find what works best for me; It’s that I absolutely LOATHE in-store shopping, especially in the city, and because of that, often find myself wearing the same old thing. For $60 per month, I can receive anywhere from 5 to 20 items with the guarantee that I’ll never have to walk into a store, and I’ll never have to wear the same thing twice. Now, please enjoy this ridiculous photo of me admiring the black interior detail of this bell sleeve dress in a mirror. (Link to try it for yourself!)

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I’m Eating

Southwest mini tacos. This recipe was originally supposed to be Southwest Egg Rolls, however there was absolutely no grocery store around that carried egg roll wrappers. So, I bought a package of mini tortillas and called it a day. The recipe is as simple as: diced red bell pepper, jalapeño, baby spinach, green onion, black beans, corn, avocado, shredded chicken, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and monterey jack, all rolled up into mini tortillas and baked for 15 minutes. I’m toying around with a Raspberry Jalapeño dipping sauce to go with these, so stay tuned for that!

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I’m Listening To

I am the type of person who can’t just listen to a new song once; I have to listen to it over and over and over again until I find another new favorite and it’s repeat cycle from there. This week, I am all about Kygo’s edit of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing.

I’m Looking At

Aside from this very screen, I recently came across a Love Map of NYC, sourced together by The Cut. What it is is 482 different stories and locations submitted by New Yorkers of where in this big but little island they’ve either found love, left love, hooked up, etc. Absolutely fascinating if you have about 10 minutes to kill.

Five Tips: For Breaking Out of Your Weekly Routine

I was having drinks (over FaceTime, but it still counts) with my best friend, talking about where we were 10 years ago and what we wanted our lives to be like 10 years later. We realized that we’ve each achieved one major goal or another, starting first and foremost with successfully leaving Oompa-Loompa-esque spray tans in 2007, and second, landing our dream careers. What was most surprising about the conversation however, was a mutual, reflective feeling of, “hmph” about a year into each of those dream roles.

I remember the “hmph” period all too clearly as it wasn’t that long ago that I first experienced it. I did what I set out to do. I had it in my hands. I molded it into something I was genuinely proud of. Why the sudden feeling of insipidity?

After talking about it some more, I realized it was because I had hit my goal and had no goal of comparable scale to work toward thereafter. I was coasting. I mastered my every day, and I was simply existing as a major component of what became a well-oiled machine, both in the context of my job and my newly acquired routine since moving to New York. Get up, go to work, get home late, make dinner, watch re-runs of Real Housewives, go to bed, repeat cycle.

What was lacking, aside from excitement, was my next “dream job.” I needed something beyond what I became so used to doing both during the day and at night. I dug deep. I thought, I want to feel challenged in a way that I’d always get better, but never quite master, because what a restrictive scenario it must be to be the “best at” or the “most of” anything. So, I got back into Soccer.

Soccer and I parted ways when I got more heavily into Cheerleading and Martial Arts, but it was something I had always wished I had stuck with. Getting back into it, and doing so in a group of 30+ year old men is and will always be a challenge, but it’s something I look forward to every Thursday night. I’ve tried bougie workout after bougie workout, and while I’ve truly enjoyed some of them, there’s no greater feeling than nutmegging a big, burly dude who could probably kill me otherwise. Running for 90 minutes in the cold on a pier overlooking the Statue of Liberty might be the goal I never knew I had, and while I’m doing it every week, each time brings a new team, a new challenge, and yet a familiarity I’m elated to have reencountered.

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For a little resurgence of your own for when things start to feel just a little too routine:

  1. Join a Group With Similar Interests: When I moved to Charlotte, Meetup.com was my go-to for finding groups of either people within my industry or just people who loved wine. Being around similar-minded people who may be exactly at your level or even a bit beyond can really help not only in furthering your career but in opening new doors. It also makes a mundane Tuesday feel like a Friday.
  2. Get back into a childhood interest or hobby: Have a hobby you used to love as a child but haven’t done in years? In the words of Shia Labeouf and/or Nike, just do it.
  3. Look up Volunteering Opportunities: Because volunteering a) puts things into perspective, b) is the single, most feel-good thing you can possibly do with your time and c) refer to a and b.
  4. Take skill-based classes: Whether looking to develop a professional skill or even for that one skill that’s totally irrelevant to your job but totally relevant to your out of work interests, sites like Coursehorse are a great resource. I’ve attended a class here and there for HTML and CSS coding and while I might have been the only non e-mail marketer in the class, I can say that it was well worth it.
  5. Explore fitness classes: I think just about anyone in New York has at least taken up the free trial of Classpass, which is a really amazing (though expensive) service that allows you give any kind of fitness class a try or three within the area. Classes range from rowing (seriously) to cycling to bootcamp (also, seriously). Through Classpass, I found and fell in love with a couple of different classes that were equal parts challenging and fun.

Recipe: Thanksgiving Pies

My family is pretty spread out across the East Coast, with only a handful of cousins in the tri-state area. So before we all head to wherever it is we need to celebrate Thanksgiving, we make time in early November to get together for our very own “cousinsgiving” potluck. Cooking is something that’s always come natural to me (thank you, Nonna!) but when it comes to baking, I swear I could screw up a box cake with the simplest of instructions. Cooking is my abstract safe zone, with room to experiment and play. Baking is more a calculated chemistry that leaves no space for what I like to call, “delicious mistakes.”

Despite having a tumultuous history as a baker, I’ve been volunteering myself as resident baker for Cousinsgiving each year in an effort to improve. While each design has taken me entirely too long to create, I’m pretty proud of how each turned out these last couple years. I’m even more proud that people now trust me with arguably one of the most important parts of a Thanksgiving feast. (Thank you, Pinterest.)

Because these desserts were so easy and enjoyable to make (hello, I put them together) and because I’m really good at sharing (Thanks, Kindergarten), I wanted to make sure I passed each recipe along.

2017: Turkey Face Pumpkin Pie 

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2016: Rose Petal Apple Pie

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Recipe: My “Syracuse” Stir Fry

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This might sound crazy, but there are days I legitimately miss the food from my college dining hall. One dish in particular, was the stir fry noodles which were made to order.

Four years later and about 300 miles away, I am craving those noodles like nothing else. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t figure out a way to A) get to Syracuse by 9pm or B) figure out a way to convince the staff that it’s totally kosher to just let me in and feed me.

So, I went with plan B: make it my damn self. I’ve been toying with a copy-cat recipe for these four, stir fry noodle-less years, and can confidently say that I’ve finally perfected it. Behold:

You’ll Need

1 package of udon noodles

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce

1/4 cup of brown sugar

3 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon of stir fry oil

2 tablespoons of honey

1 whole onion

2 cups of broccoli

1 cup of snowpeas

What To Do

  1. Boil water and prepare noodles
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water.
  3. In a small saucepan, add soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, honey and 1 cup of water.  Slowly stir in cornstarch mixture for about two minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and chicken and mix to marinate for one hour. After an hour, drain.
  5. Heat stir fry oil (or olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in chopped onion, broccoli and snowpeas. Once cooked to softness, set aside, leaving oil in the skillet.
  6. Add chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown.
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through, add veggie mixture to the chicken.
  8. Stir in Udon noodles and 1/4 cup reserved soy sauce mixture until well combined.
  9. Serve! (Sesame seeds make a great garnish, but I didn’t have any around -_-)

Recipe: Blueberry Margaritas

It’s not too often you’ll find me with a glass of anything in my hand other than wine, but after a solid hour of blueberry picking with friends in the Finger Lakes, I opted for something a little different. Just one day short of #NationalTequilaDay, we made a fresh batch of Blueberry margaritas to go with the taco night I requested for my birthday. (Major shoutout to my best friend for making this birthday dream of mine come true 😂!)

Anyway, this margarita is ridiculously easy to make, and it tastes AMAZING. Check out the recipe below and try it for yourself!

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One batch | Serves 4

1 cup fresh blueberries

Juice of 1 Lime

1 and 1/4 cup tequila

6 tablespoons agave nectar

Optional: dash of orange bitters

Mint leaves

Ice

Directions: Rub the rim of the glasses with a lime wedge before flipping over to coat in sea salt. Add ice. In a cocktail mixer, muddle together the blueberries and lime juice until the blueberries are all crushed and the juice turns a dark purple color. Next, add the tequila, agave nectar and bitters (optional). Once that’s done, give everything a good few shakes and pour into the glasses. Last but not least, add a few sprigs of mint to the top and serve.

Recipe: Portobello, Pesto and Mozzarella Pizza

I don’t always veer off the timeless, trusted path of cheese and pepperoni, but when I do, I make some pesto, wash some baby portobello mushrooms, and (sometimes) grab a pre-made dough from the grocery store because even I can be lazy.Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 6.09.29 PMOh! I forgot to mention that you’ll need wine. You won’t need it for the pizza, but I typically like to cook with a glass of a bold red in my hand/on my stovetop. Feel free to skip this step if you’re a bore. While you’re at it, spread your pesto sauce across the dough.

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Next, add the mushrooms.

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If there is someone standing next to you, telling you that you’ve sprinkled on too much mozzarella, tell them to step away. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Once you’ve created distance, put your pizza in the oven (375 degrees) for 15 minutes, or until the cheese turns a brownish color. I then like to let my pizza sit in the oven on broil for two minutes, so that the cheese becomes bubbly and golden.

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Enjoy!

My Favorite NYC Restaurants to Take Out-Of-Town Guests

There’s a plethora of restaurants that exist on this big (but actually little) island of ours, and half the joy of living here is never having to go to the same place twice, unless you really want to…and unless you have guests in town looking for a place you’re 100% sure about. With that said, here’s a list of some of my favorite spots in Manhattan (and a little Brooklyn). Keep checking back, because I update this list regularly.

The Smith

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Photo Credit: @r32dbp

What I really appreciate about The Smith is that their menu is expansive enough that your guests are guaranteed to find something they like. My favorite meals here have been the flounder as a main, brussel sprouts as a side, skillet macaroni and cheese as an app (the best I’ve ever had next to my dad’s homemade) and any and all of their spicy tequila drinks. You can’t go wrong with anything I’ve listed above, promise!

Bar Primi

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Don’t tell my Nonna, but it’s not too often you’ll find me eating a dish of pasta these days. Growing up, pasta was really all we ate, along with maybe a salad and some kind of meat (in that order). So in those far and few between moments that I am craving a taste of home, Bar Primi is one of my go-tos. Stay tuned, because I have a few of these places to list!

Felice Wine Bar & Ristorante

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Photo Credit: @coffeeandchampagne

I took my mom, aunts and cousin to Felice on Gold Street over a recent ladies weekend.  I hadn’t been there before, but it was located relatively close to the area of the financial district we spent the majority of the cold afternoon touring our way through. Inside we were welcomed by thick Italian accents and a warm, romantic ambiance incomparable to any other place I’ve been to in FiDi.

EATS on Lex

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I have taken every single person that has ever visited me in the city to EATS on Lex, a neighborhood spot I discovered while exceptionally hungover the morning after my birthday party. What I love about EATS, aside from it being close to my apartment, are the drink specials for Sunday brunch, delicious Eggs Florentine (my absolute favorite breakfast), and I can’t forget what they’re known for, their oysters.

JG Melon

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All I have to say is that this is the best burger I have ever eaten at. Your guests will overlook the smaller interior and semi-noisy space because the food is just. that. good.

Brook-Vin

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Photo Credit: @rachelschwartzmann

When any wine lovers come to town for a visit (I know a lot of these), the first place I take them is Brook-Vin. Located in picturesque Park Slope, this cute spot is home to the best selection of wines (of course) and small plates. Also perfect for a first date, if you ask me 🙂