Crock Pot Mexican Quinoa


A new year.

So far this year, I have said goodbye to my husband yet again as he starts his last semester of Grad School in DC, broke another laptop, and am trying to get through a week without snacking on all the free unhealthy food at the office.

My “resolution” this year was to make more time to post. I miss my frequent ramblings and sharing my kitchen disasters/successes. I had it all planned when my laptop suddenly went kaput. It’s currently with Geek Squad. I look forward to the prognosis. Fingers crossed it’s a cheap fix.

So, what’s new with me? Hmm.

Well, my crock pot has become my best friend. I work in a very busy firm and now that B is away in school, coming home to cook after 7pm is as desirable as getting a root canal. I’m tired. I’m hungry and I just want dinner… or take out. My wallet doesn’t really approve on all the take out and the quality of food in my neighborhood has plummeted. The only good thing (and I say good very loosely) is sushi.

I have drawn much inspiration and saved a TON of money with the helpful listicles featured on BuzzFeed Food. On grocery days, I prepare several meals, place them in freezer bags with a note on whats inside and plop it in the crock pot when I’m ready to cook it.


Recently, I pulled a Mexican quinoa dish out of my stash. I was super skeptical but I didn’t really feel I had anything to lose.

It wasn’t the prettiest thing but it certainly was a nice change of pace from chilis and stews. The quinoa fluffed up so nicely. The spices gave it a nice kick. And all the beans, corn, and veg kept this dish satisfying!


I had leftovers for days!

20151110_192004And even better, got to heat them up in my brand new Lunch Crock. Probably the most overlooked item in the gadget aisle. This baby stays at work. I put my food in there in the morning and by lunch time my food is piping hot. There’s no wait for the microwave and the vessel locks in food smells until you open it! I feel like I’m winning all day! Great gift from Santa!

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

Taking advantage of B being away, my plan of action for feeding myself involved stuffed vegetables. My husband has liked all but 2 things I have ever made for him: Stuffed Peppers and Stuffed Zucchini. I can’t fault him for knowing what he likes (and doesn’t like).

I dedicated a Sunday to making a big batch of my grandmother’s sauce, freezing it in smaller batches for rainy days. With a portion of the sauce, I added some crumbled sausage and veggies to stuff into hollowed out zucchini.


I took 4 large zucchini, split them down the middle length-wise, scooped out their middles (adding the pulp to the sausage mixture), filled them with sausage and sauce then covered them with mozzarella. I covered them with foil and baked according to Gina from Skinny Taste’s website.


They were perfect. I devoured 2 boats with delight as I packed the rest away for dinner for the rest of the week. Things always taste better the next day!20151004_155136

The following day, I went about my day as usual. Got ready for work. Walked the dog. Took the train to work… and then it happened.

With my feet sore from the plantar fasciitis, I had a slight limp in my right foot to alleviate the discomfort as I walked. While entering the train station, I heard my train coming and decided to pick up the pace. I turned onto my right foot and felt a “POP” in my right foot followed by an immediate white hot sensation in my foot. It happened so quickly. I didn’t know what just happened but I immediately started to sweat as my foot was stinging in pain.

I hopped along… miraculously making the train and feeling so much panic. My family was away on vacation in California and my husband was in DC. I didn’t know what to do.

Luckily, my podiatrist is 2 blocks away from my office. I limped over to his office and that’s when he told me the crappy news: I tore the fascia. For anyone the is curious, don’t tear your fascia. Its now MONTHS after the fact and I am still not back to normal.

After the lovely zucchini boats ran out, my crock pot came to the rescue. Stay tuned for those!

Hot Date at Otto

Shortly after B moved to DC, my mom surprised me with a 90 minute Swedish massage at my favorite spa. My massage was so relaxing a rejuvenating that, as I left the spa on a gorgeous fall day, I did not want to rush home.

So, as I stood outside of the spa, I turned to my left and just walked. I was in search of lunch. I let my feet decide. I walked through SoHo with Balthazar Bakery on my mind when I suddenly realized I wasn’t that far from Otto. One of my favorite places to enjoy a solo meal at a bar.

Otto it was.

At noon on a beautiful Saturday, I parked myself at the only available seat at the bar. I ordered a sparkling wine and sipped it with slowly.


The couples nearby were all ordering the anti pasto dishes on the menu. When in Rome. I ordered an old favorite. Eggplant caponatina. Sweet succulent chunks of tomatoes, eggplant, pine nuts and whatever else they sneak in there.


I inhaled that magnificent appetizer realizing it would be a challenge to fit my main course… but my thoughts were if I walked home I would be okay, maybe.


For my main course, I had another glass of sparkling wine with a plate of fusili con sausage and escarole; topped with lots of freshly grated parmesan. The al dente pasta. The spicy sausage and the bitter escarole made this a balanced dish and one I did not struggle to finish.

I enjoyed eavesdropping on the conversations around me and even made small talk with my bartender who tried, unsuccessfully, to get me to order dessert. I did want dessert but I needed to walk more to make room.

And as I left Otto, I craved a creamy vanilla soft serve with a rich shot of espresso poured on top.

Chickalicious Dessert Club. An east village gem! The cozy little shop with but 4 stools to sit on has a very creative menu ranging from a chocolate éclair ice cream cone to their take on the Cronut (The Doughssant). I love practically everything there and I love how it still feels like a well kept secret.


I ordered their affogato. Freshly made vanilla soft serve ice cream, complete with specks of vanilla bean, chocolate candies and a shot of espresso poured over. Since I was there, I grabbed a snack for later: the Crème Brulee Doughssant. For those that do not know, these doughssants taste better than any cronut I have ever had. So if you want to experience the cronut the way I think it was meant to be enjoyed, head over to Chickalicious and enjoy!

It was an amazing day! Unfortunately, this day of walking really aggravated my plantar fasciitis. The following day, while walking on sore feet, I split my fascia in half and have been stuck in a walking cast ever since.

No regrets. 

Shake Shack Brooklyn: The Chicken Shack



I talk some big talk.

When B and I were preparing to say our goodbye, I didn’t think it would be so difficult. On our last day in DC together, we checked out of our hotel and I went with him to his airBnB- where he would stay until his official move in day at his new apartment. His temporary digs were so warm and cozy that upon walking through the door, a huge lump developed in my throat.

I would be going home. Alone.

I watched as the minutes ticked by. I took deep breaths hoping to be strong.

I wasn’t strong.

My mom sent me a text asking if I said goodbye yet and I burst into the heaviest sobs as I thought about leaving DC without my husband. Sure, its short term. Of course he will get to come home for long weekends. But this was the most difficult moment to get through.

After some deep breaths, I was able to calm down enough to stop crying. He and I both thought it was best to let me go to the train station on my own. I ordered an uber. Kissed my husband goodbye and took the longest ride of my life home. The entire ride home, I was keeping myself busy trying not to think of the tears stinging my eyes, threatening to fall.

For the most part, I held it together.

The moment I waked through the door, I was greeted by a very happy Mickey who spent the long weekend with my parents and the heavy sobs began again. This time, I didn’t try to stop myself. I cried it out.

You’re probably wondering why this post is named for Shake Shack and I have yet to mention it…. the point is coming. I promise.

Once upon a time, I was awesome at being on my own. As soon as I had the moment to, I forced myself to go out and enjoy myself- alone.

The sun was shining. The weather was just right. And it was lunch time. I hopped on the train and ended up in Downtown Brooklyn. Shake Shack was calling my name. More specifically, the chicken shack. 20150822_174729

A soft and pillowy potato bun filled with a crisply fried chicken breast, mayo, lettuce and pickle made for sandwich perfection. Add a side of crinkle cut fries and a cup of root beer, you not only have a delicious calorie fest, but you also have a reason to walk home.


I sat in the sun soaked pavilion near Shake Shack, people watching and completely basking in the moment. I missed my husband terribly but I felt so incredibly at peace and so sure that time was going to fly by.

Until that day comes, lets all head over the Brooklyn Shake Shack for some chicken shacks and Shack-cago dogs.

Das Ethiopian in DC



On our first day in DC together, my husband and I hopped in an uber and made small talk with our driver. We talked about where we were from and yada, yada, yada and the cab driver said “New York does everything right in terms of food. But DC has a leg up on their Ethiopian food- we have the best Ethiopian food, hands down… you just have to be open to trying new things”
And that we are!
So on our last night in DC together, we found Das Ethiopian a nice walk away from our hotel room. It was a Saturday evening. We did not have reservations but it was early enough into dinner service where finding a table was not challenging.
The restaurant is cozy but not so that it feels too crowded. It seems like the dining room of an actual house is the dining area of the restaurant which i thought was a nice touch. Felt really homey. 20150815_192448
We looked around to see what others were eating and it seemed a lot of diners were sharing sampling platters. It seemed like the best bang for our buck to try several things at once. We split an appetizer that looked like a samosa but had a spring roll texture to it. It was filled with lentils which are a personal favorite of ours.
We got our first taste of Injera. A spongy flat bread that is used to sop up delicious bites of food in addition to acting as a plate. It took a few bites to get used to but before we knew it, they were bringing us more rolls of injera. 20150815_193527
For our entree, we shared the Das Combination Chicken & Beef Entrée Sampler For Two which included chicken doro watt, beef kaey watt, beef alicha and beef cubes segana gomen. While different than any meal we have ever had, we recognized familiar flavors. It was pretty good!
We filled up quickly and politely declined dessert.
This is a nice place. The staff were very friendly and patient with us as we asked a lot of questions about the cuisine. We would definitely go back…maybe when I visit hubby!

Blue Duck Tavern in Georgetown


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During B and I’s last weekend in DC, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice brunch. Right across the street from our hotel; the Blue Duck Cafe.

It was a very balmy and hot day but the promise of a sorbet sangria seemed refreshing and perfect.


We both sipped cocktails in the shade of an umbrella in the scenic backyard. Blue Duck Café has a perimeter of green surrounding their outdoor dining area. Upon close inspection, we were pleasantly surprised to see this green was actually herbs and vegetables. Occasionally, someone would come from the kitchen to snip herbs for whatever they were preparing.


Since the occasion was “Treat [our]self” we decided to start our brunch with an appetizer. One of our favorite things in Bone Marrow. Gross to some, this delicacy is rich and delicious but definitely not for every enjoyment.

This particular bone marrow came with crisp baguette slices as the vehicle to smear the marrow all over with a honkin bulb of caramelized garlic. The marrow was seasoned with everything- like an everything bagel.

We devoured this. It was absolutely amazing and quite possibly the best bone marrow we have ever had. Our waiter came by to check on us and agreed the marrow was their most popular dish; even said some well-known chefs come to Blue Duck Café JUST to have some of their bone marrow.

Strong words.


For B’s entrée he went with the short rib hash. A huge and rib sticking portion of short ribs, potatoes, and caramelized onions topped with a perfectly fried egg. As Brent was diggin’ in, our waiter came to recommend B dip his bread into the hash. And then B’s life changed.

I’m definitely over-selling the moment but the combination was very good! However, having annihilated a plate of Bone Marrow, we were feeling a little full.


I, on the other hand, enjoyed the Blue Duck’s take on shrimp and grits. The portion was smaller than B’s hash but after indulging on all that marrow, I had just enough room to enjoy my entrée…


…before our waiter convinced us to get dessert. It was the strangest, most delicious combination for dessert. Popcorn. Marshmallows. Panna Cotta. Caramel. I cannot explain this concept at all but it played on sweet/salty and creamy/crunchy combos. It was great.


The sun was moving and our beloved shade had shifted, leaving us to bake in the hot sun. We got some cold brew iced coffee to go with our dessert.


…and before we knew it, it was over.

We were STUFFED.

It was a fantastic brunch! We will definitely be back [for that bone marrow]!

Room Service at the Westin


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After our exhausting first day in DC we went back to the room with every intention of going back out to peep the scene. One of our Uber drivers told us that DC was THE place to try Ethiopian food and since we love to try new things we put it on our list… but after our 2nd nap after walking all over DC on a 98 Degree day with 100 percent humidity.


The heat exhausts me.

We were a short walk away from a Trader Joes so we stocked up on snacks (booze) to keep in the hotel room.


After coming back into the cool air conditioning we plopped on our huge bed and said what the hell, let’s order room service!

If you have ever ordered room service, its quite nice if you like to pay 3x the price of what things should cost (I’m talking about YOU $15 bagel!). But it was our 6 month wedding anniversary (aww) so why the heck not.

With our $4 bottle of sparkling wine from Trader Joes we toasted a great mini getaway and a great 6 months of marriage while eating room service in front of the hotel tv.


Brent got a burger with a side of calamari. I got a french onion soup and a short rib over parsnip puree.

The french onion soup was the biggest disappointment while my main course was absolutely perfect. I was stuffed halfway through but with no way to reheat leftovers, no way to store said leftovers and paying gouged prices for it, I persevered.

We also bought some chocolate covered almonds for dessert.

It was a nice experience!

(We stayed at the Westin Georgetown)

Nando’s Peri Peri


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And we’re off!

To help Brent look for an apartment and to have one last hurrah before school started, I went with Brent to DC. We booked an early morning Amtrak from NY to DC and planned our weekend.

B and I have both been to DC before but never together so this was an experience.  Our hotel room was ready when we arrived which was fantabulous. Not really knowing the lay of the land meant lots of Ubers. Our first Uber ride from WAS to the hotel was quite memorable as our driver exited her mini-van in her bathrobe, slippers, and rollers to remove the car seat from the back seat- she was super friendly and her car smelled like candy. But having a driver in her pjs was def a first.

After a quick siesta in the hotel room (traveling is exhausting) we needed some Grub. B knew of a place that he visited as a kid and since I had never been before, our first DC experience together was Nando’s Peri Peri.

Nando’s specialty is Chicken. Flame grilled chicken. Flame grilled delicious chicken.

When you walk into Nando’s you are greeted by a host or hostess who escort you to the ordering line. The Brazilian music playing throughout the restaurant is interesting and even catchy.


Once you make your way to the counter you order your meal. They do have other options aside from Chicken but when in Rome… I ordered my size chicken (half), and selected my spice level (mild), then I ordered my two sides (roasted corn and Rice)

You receive a ticket and depending if you are dining here or to go you get a number. We picked a spot and brought our number with us. They serve alcohol so I ordered a sangria (meh).


The chicken was tender and delicious. They offer hot sauces on the side if you want to challenge your palette. I toyed with the medium and realized that level of spicy was out of my league. Gimme sriracha any day!

It is highly recommended you clean your teeth after this meal. I had char in my teeth for a while and i was wishing i had a pocket toothbrush.

We took our time enjoying our chicken at Nando’s and decided to see a movie after. With it being so humid in DC we took a long slow walk to the movie theatre and saw Inside Out which was adorable beyond words.


After the movie we walked around some more and watched some kids feeding the ducks overlooking the Potomac.


It was really starting to sink in that this will be the most difficult trip I have ever taken.

Benoit NYC


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During our countdown to Brent’s departure, we set out for dinner in honor of our 6 month wedding anniversary and restaurant week! I let B take the lead on dinner reservations and he totally outdid himself. We went to the very charming and very old school Benoit in Midtown.

Nothing says romance like French cuisine, though, when I think of French cuisine I am reminded of the episode of Sex and the City where Harry and Charlotte have a romantic night out at a French restaurant. They overindulged and spent the entire evening taking turns in the bathroom.

Thankfully that wasn’t the case for us but I can see how Charlotte and Harry did themselves in. French food is RICH and should be enjoyed in moderation.

We had every intention of being modest by ordering off the pre fixe menu but B thought we were selling ourselves short and suggested we go for the glory and get whatever we wanted.

So we did.

First things first. Bubbles. Not just because of the 6 month anniversary but when we dine out (which has significantly decreased in frequency) we treat ourselves to a sparkling wine or champagne. It goes down easier and we usually have zero negative effects in the AM.


For B’s starter, he went with the pate of foie gras and I went with the escargot. The last time I tried escargot was when B and I took our first vacation together; this time was much more positive and much more delicious. I shared with my mother that I had escargot and she was genuinely curious about what it tasted like. Upon first glance, it looks like green moss. But after a whiff, it’s very garlicky in a beautiful way. Once you scoop it into your mouth it tastes like a stuffed mushroom- so if you like stuffed mushrooms, there is a good chance you will like escargot.20150731_184122

There are two main dishes that I can never say no to: Beouf Bourguignon and Cassoulet. Very heavy and hearty dishes. The latter was available so I went in. Brent ordered the roasted chicken which was delicious.

The Cassoulet, which is essentially a white bean stew with sausage and duck confit was rich and totally did me after 5 bites. No matter though. I packed up the leftovers and enjoyed them the following morning with a poached egg- my fave way to enjoy leftovers.


When the dessert menu rolled around I was beyond stuffed but was somehow convinced to order profiteroles. Delightfully airy cream puffs with a rich chocolate sauce for dipping. And washed it down with a creamy cappuccino and some ice cream.20150731_195829

Talk about Indulgence! The great thing about NYC is the ability to WALK after heavy meal and our train was several long blocks away.

Benoit was a great choice. We got to enjoy a wonderful meal and check another great NY restaurant off the list.