Tuesday, March 30, 2010

maple syrup nerds

Oh hello :). Let's get to explaining that title... back to Sunday. C graduated from Syracuse last spring and Dani has visited multiple times before so I wanted this weekend visit to be special and unique. In doing so, I stumbled upon this fantastic little farm in Cazenovia, a Maple Syrup farm that hosts all-you-can-eat weekend brunches. 
We decided that it would most likely beat any iHop breakfast and made the 20-minute ride over to the Critz Farms rural quaintness. Now when I say "we" I'm including K and other friends from our freshman year floor in the Honors dorm. Yes, I really am as cool as I seem ;).
There are positives to not living in the middle of somewhere, this I can assure you.
I bought one 2 oz. bottle of maple syrup and raspberry preserves to bring home. I was this close to buying pumpkin butter too... but then decided that I was feeling ready for spring, not fall.
And then we found breakfast: an array of home-cooked blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs,
roasted potatoes, ham, cinnamon french toast,
and lots of the most delicious butter and syrup I have ever had in my entire life.
For not being a big maple syrup fan, I was won over completely, and then some. It was unlike any natural sweetener I had ever tasted! And the butter, ah, the butter... there aren't even words :). I will be back soon to that little farm. By the way, how do you pronounce that word, syrup? I go the see-rup route, but I have friends that say srrrup. So weird, they are.
Afterwards, I dropped everyone off at their respective work locations and continued downtown with C and Dani. 
We went to the M.O.S.T. otherwise known as the museum of science and technology. The Sunday afternoon crowd was mostly made up of young families, but care we did not, we had a Chem teacher in tow! Not to mention that it was ridiculously fun, haha. Especially when we flew in a small airplane via the motion simulator. There is no better way to be sometimes than young at heart.
It was also where we learned all about the "ancient" uses of meat juice with their exhibit on vintage pharmaceutical equipment. Yuck!
Afterwards, despite our big breakfasts and the mildly gross sights, I felt the need for a pick-me-up. And so I joined C's sorority sister reunion coffee date at Freedom of Espresso. The weather was dismal and the company was anything but.
And there you have it! I said goodbye to my favorite Queens pair soon after and went home for dinner and, the gym. Props to Kate for suggesting it, I'd wanted to run earlier. Having endurance made me enjoy the treadmill more but I still prefer the good ol' outdoors. Especially in nice weather. Speaking of, looks like quite a lot of it is coming my way, as is a best friend from home. Stay tuned as "Chrissie meets Syracuse." I know you're just about as excited as I am! ;)

Q: What makes special things can you only see/do where you live?

Monday, March 29, 2010

one (million) hit wonders

Hola PEEPS! And I mean that in the sense of the candy that my friends are currently eating :) hope you have a wonderful weekend! I don't know about you but I'm feeling the Monday Blues like none other: I hardly slept last night, was running all day (figuratively and literally at some point), and now, although I'm buzzed off beer (from class), I have a to-do list the size of my frizzy hair in the current rainy weather. Can we return to this weekend already?
I spent my Friday night with Strasbourg friends. Lindsey was visiting from Colorado so we threw a party in our honor, and even with  very little alcohol consumption, we went crazy ;).
Perhaps our enthusiasm was a result of the playlist, a genius mix of one-hit-wonders. Oh, the hyper storms of dancing were glorious. What a time of L.F.O. (laughter & fun overall, although "Lyte Funky Ones" may be appropriate too)! These are only two of many, many photos.
I sprang up the next morning feeling refreshed and excited for another pending reunion. Before I got there though, there was work to be done. I sat at Barnes & Noble being studious, as per usual (or at least most of the time), from about noon to five thirty. I was quite productive, efficient, and more excitingly, received an unexpected yet flattering proposal that afternoon as well. 
Later on, I picked up my forever-roommate C, her girl friend, and the rest of the freshman year crew who were available for a downtown dinner. K and I planned on being creative but in the end, our Pastabilities won. We could not resist their magical spicy tomato oil which is served with their coveted stretch bread at every meal. This may not be a beautiful picture, but I wanted to capture the candle light ambiance. So romantic for a couple of best friends ;).
Next, I enjoyed a smaller version of their house salad that came with my meal. I tried to indulge the spontaneity bug by not ordering the standard pasta entrée like the others:
I'm probably not giving them enough credit though, each of their dishes looked amazing in it's own unique way and tasted even better--Just look at that baked spinach and feta manicotti, 
or perhaps the pesto on that penne.--Despite my immense commencement with my own meal, there was no way I could have avoided having at least four "outside bites."
What was it that I, the Pastabilities revolutionary, ordered then? Their Hot Eggplant and Pesto Sandwich. Holy YUM! Please, by all means, take a gander at the description: "Crispy eggplant, marinated tomatoes, fresh mozzarella & basil pesto on our fresh bakery foccacia with side of house tomato sauce for dipping. Served with house fries or tossed green salad." Exactly. Paired with a glass of wine, it was one of the best choices I've ever made.
That is all for now, but be forewarned, this is all just the beginning of the fantastical events that continued into Sunday! And with that, I think I'm ready to focus now, nighttime soy latte time. I told you it was one of the Mondays... have a good one!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

real strength

Hello! Um, where did this weekend go?! I feel like it came and went oh so quickly. Then again, I did a whole lot; it may actually take a whole three days to recap. Here's a preview:
Yeah, I know. Feel free to comment as you will :) see you tomorrow, my sweets!

Friday, March 26, 2010

happy hours

Despite our best hopes and efforts, sometimes things just don't work out. Take last night's game between Syracuse and Butler, for example. Although the second part of my first sentence is arguable, my friends and I congregated at Chuck's last night (along with a couple of random Cornell/Kentucky fans) to support our team in all of it's Orange glory. And then, we lost :(.
"The Sweet 16 turned sour for the Syracuse Orange." Okay, that's the last we'll speak of that. Nonetheless, I don't believe that we should be any more hopeful for bigger and better things in our future, both on and off of the court. I have only fifty days left until graduation (scary? exciting?) and I'm going to try to all that I can to make each one of those 1,200 hours, happy.
Ah, breakfast, a no-fail happy time. Strawberry and banana is my all time favorite combination and paired with a scoop of the delectable Marantha No-Stir Almond Butter it was a perfectly wonderful start to my day. By the way, this is my first time trying a Marantha nut butter, and I have to say that it blows my mind! I don't understand what took me so long to buy it either, it was the cheapest on the shelf. Anyway :) yesterday, I filled myself with other feel-good things too...
I enjoyed both of my classes, ate yummy things, called my Mom, had a great run as planned, cleaned my room, made further progress in the job search, and I spent time with friends. Not to mention that I recently discovered three things to be proud of, a sure-fire smile enhancer:
And last but not least, if all else fails, some tips from a Women's Health self-help happiness article, How to Be Happier.

Find your good side -> " Finding ways to use your character strengths on a daily basis will directly lead to feeling better about yourself and your life in general... Doing good makes you feel good." 

Fuel your resilience -> "The more skillful you become at bouncing back, the less any kind of adversity will be able to shake your inner sense of well-being...'Shit happens, but that doesn't mean I have to stand in it.'" 

Engage in Mind-Bending Behavior -> "Studies now show that changes in behavior can also have positive effects on your brain chemistry... Those who completed the study [in meditation] showed increased activity in their brain's pleasure center and reported feeling more positive and at ease... [And] you won't be surprised to hear that exercise has also been found to change your brain — and disposition — for the better." 

Know that some things matter little... -> Not wealth, an advanced degree, youth, a warm weather environment, or having a family were proven to have any effect on overall happiness. 

And that some things matter big -> "[In a] survey of 909 women, the activity enjoyed above all others was socializing with friends... people enjoy themselves most when they're so fully engaged in what they're doing that they lose all sense of place, time, and even self."

"You have to make yourself happy." I'd don't personally find the term self-help to be all happiness-inducing but I do agree that it's in our best interest to actively work towards our own well-being. 

Q: What is it that you think or do simply to make yourself happy?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

croquette as i go

Hey! YOU! Yes, you!... you're incredible :). I cannot thank each of you enough for all of your kind comments on yesterday's post. You sure know how to make a girl feel loved! 

Now, let's travel back to my home kitchen. I spent last Thursday afternoon preparing my tapas for the Bloggie Potluck at Leslie's apartment later that night; I was immediately inspired by Veganomicon's Broccoli-Millet Croquettes, and so I got to work chopping, mixing, cooking, and baking, while also passing the time with a lunch bowl of random vegetable and hummus goodness.
The original Veganomicon recipe calls for 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cloves  garlic, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, several pinches of freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth,
4 cups of broccoli, tops and stalks, chopped very finely into pea-size or smaller pieces,
and 1 cup of millet (of which I replaced with quinoa). The ingredient list was simple enough.

The procedure, however, was quite tiresome with nearly 2 hours of cooking time. So, I changed it all together, beginning with substituting quinoa for the millet. It didn't take me any less time but the results were pretty and yummy :) and here it is:

Danielle's Broccoli & Quinoa Bites (or Croquettes)
  1. Rinse the quinoa and cook it alone, for at least 15 minutes, with one cup of vegetable broth and one cup of water. Make sure to first bring it to a boil before letting it simmer.
  2. Leaving the quinoa on the stove, chop up about four stalks of broccoli into tiny pieces. 
  3. Turn off the quinoa pot and place another large pot on the stove. Withn it, sauté the minced garlic in olive oil for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the spices, mix, and then add the pre-cooked quinoa. Stir it consistently and allow it to toast for about 3 minutes.
  5. Now add the remaining one and a half cups of vegetable broth, cover, and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Mix in the chopped broccoli, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes. Next, uncover, and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Turn off the heat but leave the pot covered on the stove to cook for another 10-15 minutes. After this time all of the liquid should be absorbed, making the quinoa mushy. If it is not, leave longer; "You are looking for a polenta-like consistency."
  8. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool on the counter for about 10 minutes before placing it in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and spray two baking trays with a small amount of oil while you wait.
  10. Following the cooling period, tightly mold the quinoa into small balls, brush each with olive oil, and place on the baking trays and into the oven.
  11. Allow to bake for about 30 minutes, making sure to check every 4-5 minutes following the 20 minute mark to see if they are ready. They will be golden brown with a crispy exterior and soft inside when fully-cooked.
13. Serve immediately and enjoy alongside: Katie’s peanut hummus from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan paired with Mary's Crackers, Leslie's coconut sweet potato dip and white bean pesto surrounded by asparagus and roasted peppers, Jenny’s savory spinach balls, Sofia's lentil & roasted tomato bruschetta from Spices of Life, and one to two to three glasses of red (or white) wine.14 . And finally, end your feast with a dessert of Megan's chocolate peanut butter cups.
Okay, so maybe the last two steps aren't exactly mandatory, but they are highly suggested! I had such a wonderful time getting to know the five other NYC bloggettes over health-foodie-approved dishes and the necessary end-of-the-week wine. Much love to Leslie for hosting it and to all the other attendees for making it such a satisfying success in every which way :).

Q: What's the last recipe that you adventurously made your own?

Monday, March 22, 2010

fitbloggin' 2010

¡Hola chickadees! There are already countless FitBloggin' recaps and photos posted around the blogosphere... so what took me so long? Truth is, I felt a bit blogged out, but now, after a good night's sleep, I feel refreshed and more excited than ever... FitBloggin' the video. I hope you enjoy the glimpse into our wonderful weekend of blogalicious learning fun:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

lordy baltimore

Good morning sugar pies! How is everyone?! I just had one of the most invigorating yet exhausting bloggie weekends ever. So rather than recap all the fun and learning that was Saturday at FitBloggin' (I am so thankful to Roni, her volunteers, the speakers, and the sponsors for the opportunity btw), I'd like to give you a photographic tour of Baltimore:
Beginning with Friday's breakfast in Manhattan,
which fueled me right through through a train ride from the NY Penn to the B'more Penn...
[Exploring Mt. Vernon]
[A Hummus & Vegetable bagel from Red Emma's Bookstore eaten in the park for lunch]
[The hill of the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner]
[Remember Liz? The girl that I studied abroad with? She's a B'more native! and a great tour guide]
[A stroll through the outside exhibits at the American Visionary Museum]
[One of the many inner harbors]
[A quick ride through suburbia to see Liz's hometown and surroundings]

And there you have it :). It was such a gorgeous day for a walking through and exploring this beautiful city. Now, I've got to check out of the hotel and head over to the B'more Penn Station; it's back to the Big Apple, home, and then Syracuse for this fitblogger. I've got to say, for my last spring break, it was a pretty darn amazing one. See you tomorrow :) GO 'CUSE!