I Can Cook, Too

In preparation for Snatched [WHICH STARTS A WEEK FROM TODAY! OMG!!], I ordered some groceries from Fresh Direct and have started doing some cooking.

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(The only negative points for Fresh Direct come from their excessive cardboard use. There has to be a greener way! I broke it down and recycled it all, though, so I feel good about that.)

First of all, I always thought that Fresh Direct was for rich people.

That is not true.

When you are a first time customer, you get $50 off an order of $125! WHAT!? That means you pay $75 for $125 worth of groceries! [You’re welcome, those of you who struggle with math.] You guys! That’s a crazy good deal. Because I knew that I was going to be saving so much dinero, I ordered ALL EVERYTHING ORGANIC. It made me feel good to know that my eggs were coming from free range chickens who eat organic raspberries for lunch [or something like that].

Second, I like to buy Fage yogurt. In Manhattan, that shit is like $1.79-1.99 EACH and it is NEVER ON SALE. EVER! And if it IS on sale, it is $1.29. Ya’ll. I think that is A LOT for yogurt. But. I would just pay it anyway. Cause… I like that yogurt better than the highly processed crap with aspartame that is going to kill me. On Fresh Direct, Fage is $1 EACH!!!! For people who are major yogurt eaters on this Isle of Joy, you KNOW that is a bargain.

Also, if you’ve never used Fresh Direct, you can use this link here, find a $50 off code [they’re all over the interwebz], and then we are both winners. YAY!

Ok. So. The cooking.

In the mornings, I’ve been experimenting with eggs. The first morning, I overcooked my eggs, burnt my spatula, and set off my smoke detector. Luckily, it all tasted pretty good. As the days have gone by, I think I’ve figured out my groove a little bit and… well… cooking takes a lot of time! I don’t know how I’m ever going to be able to get all of my protein and calories in because the whole process is just so darn time consuming! For instance, today I still have over 1/3 of my calories left [for dinner] and, the thought of cooking for a third time is just exhausting. I need to figure out how best to cook ahead/freeze/etc.

Also, I made these turkey lettuce wraps [a la PF Changs, minus all of those hidden calories and MSGCrack], and THEY. ARE. SO. DELICIOUS. Like, I CRAVE them.

Anyway, the turkey lettuce wraps are giving me newfound hope that I CAN actually cook. I think I just get in my own way. When I’m baking, I’m VERY precise about following a recipe. In my mind, though, being a good cook is always just about “throwing some things together!” And, well. That’s just not true. At least, not if you’re an inexperienced cook. So, for the time being, I’m sticking to recipes.

Also, not at ALL in line with preparing for Snatched, last night for Cinco de Mayo, I made these Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache. [I know they’re NOT Mexican AT ALL, but… no one complained]. Whenever I make them, I think that they would be DELICIOUS with some Girl Scout Thin Mints smashed and sprinkled on top [or perhaps one in the very bottom at the base of the cupcake?], but then I think to myself “Yo. That’s using a $5 box of cookies as a garnish. That’s too rich for my blood.” HOWEVER. If you have a box of Thin Mints laying around, and you think to yourself, “I don’t know how I’ll ever eat this ENTIRE box of Thin Mints before next cookie season!” this is your solution.

So here’s the cupcake recipe if you are so inclined [So simple! So easy to make!]:

CUPCAKES:

2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp peppermint extract

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp coffee grounds
1 tsp salt

3/4 cup strong black coffee
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line cupcake pan. [It’s best if you have fancy houndstooth-patterned cupcake liners, courtesy of a lovely friend.]
2. Cream sugar, butter, eggs with hand mixer until fluffy (3-5 minutes); add sour cream and peppermint extract.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, coffee grounds, salt.
4. In a measuring cup, combine coffee and vanilla.
5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the coffee mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
6. FIll the cupcake liners. Bake ~20 minutes. Makes around 24 cupcakes.

GANACHE:

8 oz (or more – based on thickness preference) dark chocolate
3/4 cup whipping cream/heavy cream

1. Boil whipping cream.
2. Pour over chocolate.
3. Stir.
4. Let cool.
5. Resist the urge to just eat out of bowl. You must frost your cupcakes!

[I like to use more chocolate here because I like my ganache to be sorta thick… It’s easier to manage then. And yes, I’m still talking about ganache here.]

IF YOU ARE FLOSSY/FLY/FANCY:

Crumble up some Girl Scout Thin Mints and sprinkle on top of your cupcakes.

Image(Recipe adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella)

And just for kicks, a picture of my very clean kitchen before the festivities began. Nothing makes me happier than a clean apartment!

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Spring Has Sprung

Today, Mother Nature has decided that it is Spring [in case you believed Punxsutawney Phil had a say in this scenario: you were wrong]. This has been confirmed by the fact that my apartment windows have been dive-bombed by pigeons twice this morning. What can I say? Even the flying rats are deliriously happy that the cold is peacing out. 

This glorious day has me dreaming of warm weather activities on the horizon. Even though I haven’t lived in California for a long-ass time, the seasons are still something of a novelty to me.

A few things that I am anxiously anticipating with the arrival of Spring and Summer:

Dining outside
Taking a trip to Lake Tahoe for my cousin’s bachelorette party
Finding the perfect white purse*
Strolling in Central Park; bemoaning the fact that you can’t swim in the boating pond (is that just me?)
Planning summer beach trips
Sipping margaritas at Blockheads
Wearing maxi dresses, sun dresses, and leather sandals
Acquiring tan lines that somehow force their way upon my body (despite my rigorous application of SPF 70)
Putting fresh flowers in vases in my apartment
Puppies!**
Dreaming of tropical vacations
Taking a road trip to Delaware with some of the loveliest people I know
Gazing at stars from Brooklyn rooftops
Drinking beers cause they are the only thing that beat the heat
Eating hotdogs at Yankee Stadium (or Shake Shack at Citi Field)
Lamenting the humidity (Oh wait. I’m not actually looking forward to that.)
Yellow, pink, bright green
Long hours of sunlight
Avocados
Loving New York City again (it’s hard to do in the Winter!)
Anticipating awesomeness 

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*I once had the perfect white purse. Sadly, it was defective and I had to send it back to Kate Spade. Unfortunately for me, LOTS of other people also thought it was the perfect purse and it was completely sold out. I think about that purse, and miss it, much more than I should. 

**My mom is getting TWO PUPPIES! I CAN’T WAIT!!! I told her that she should name them Babs and Judy. 

Her: I don’t like those names for dogs. I like DOG names. 
Me: Ok. Well… Maybe when you get them, I’ll just CALL them Babs and Judy. 
Her: If you do that, I’m not getting any dogs!

[Stay tuned for pictures of two dogs that I will NOT be calling Babs and Judy… even though I want to!]

What are you looking forward to?

OkCupid: They Sell Filters At The Hardware Store, Right?

Ya’ll. You read my blog. By now you know there aren’t many things that I’m not willing to share. [And honestly, if we were having this conversation in real life, instead of over the interwebs, that list would grow even shorter.]

I would go so far as to say that I sometimes lack a filter.

What can I say? We all have our crosses to bear.

Two Saturdays ago, I went on a date with a gentleman from OkCupid. I was a little tentative to agree to a Saturday night date because:

1. Even though I’ve jumped into the online dating scene (mostly) whole-hog, I feel like I should be able to find something [ANYTHING] else to do on a Saturday night, with people that I actually know. Saturdays are sort of sacred, I like to believe.

2. I was still in the midst of training for my half-marathon, and Sundays were my long run days [not to mention the fact that this particular Saturday/Sunday happened to be the evening of the time change, so sleep was going to be a fleeting mistress no matter what.]

I met this Suitor at 9:00 [let’s be honest, I was running late. 9:15] on Saturday evening at an amazing shoe-box of a bar in the East Village. On my journey to the bar [wherein I was hit on by a Skateboarding-Iron-Worker-Employed-By-The-Freedom-Towers-Project], I promised myself that I would spend no more than two hours and two drinks with this man. I had a lot to get done on Sunday [and had already spent all day Saturday recovering from Friday night’s debauchery… we’ll leave that story in the “things I won’t be sharing on this blog” category].

Once we got past the first awkward 30 minutes [such is the initial OkCupid date], we started to have a really nice time. The conversation never faltered. We laughed. There was some good-hearted ribbing. Two drinks and two hours quickly arrived.

“Do you want to go somewhere else?” my Suitor asked.

“Um…. Sure! Why not?” I answered. [Any dreams I had of conquering the next day’s long run were immediately dashed.]

We headed to another bar, where I enjoyed too many cocktails.

Confession: It’s really, REALLY hard for me to say “no” to free alcohol. [Can I get an “amen”?]

The events that next transpired are a bit hazy. They went something like this: I was having such a wonderful evening that I decided it was time for me to become Facebook friends with this gentleman I had known for all of 3 hours. The Facebook friend request/accept happened IN THE BAR. But, OH SHIT! I’ve already mentioned this guy on my blog, which is plastered ALL OVER my Facebook page, so now I have to TELL him about my blog. So I did.

In the moment, this all seemed like a normal, natural course of events.

The next morning, my head pounding with rage and my stomach triple-dog-daring me to even TRY to run, the preceding evening came back to me in a horrific flash.

I opened my laptop to seek out my new friend, attempt to do some sort of damage control. There was nary a trace of him. There wasn’t even a pending friend request. One of the following things must have happened:

1. When I got home at 2:30 [which was actually 3:30] the night before, I realized the folly of my ways and immediately unfriended him; or
2. This guy was truly a gentleman and knew that becoming Facebook friends on our first OkCupid date was a stupid idea and he did me the courtesy of unfriending me; or
3. I imagined the whole scenario.

There is a HUGE learning curve with online dating (and some of us are quicker than others *ahem*). Personally, I prefer to make my mistakes in the most grandiose way possible so that I am sure to learn from them. They are as follows:

1. When you set a drink and/or time limit for yourself before a date, you should probably stick to it. Sober-self is much wiser than drunk-self. [EVEN IF THE DRINKS ARE FREE AND SO, SO DELICIOUS!]

2. NEVER, under ANY circumstances become Facebook friends with someone you are on a first date with. [You guys. I know. I am SO DUMB. This is like, social-media/online-dating 101. You live and you learn.]

3. Don’t talk about your dating blog on your OkCupid dates.

4. Unfriend is the unsung-hero feature of Facebook.