Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Holiday Party! (on a budget)

Saturday night, Jenelle and I threw a Christmas party in our apartment for some of our closest friends. Of course, it wasn't anything too fancy, but we'd like to think that it turned out pretty well!

First things first, we had to decorate. If you're in need of holiday decorations, I highly recommend Walmart. You can buy a bin of 35 ornaments (like these) for only $15! They also have super cheap strings of lights for the walls and the tree. Here's a pic of our tree! Sorry for the poor quality, hopefully Santa will be bringing me a new camera this Christmas :)

Next came the menu. Again, we bought most of our groceries at Walmart since the produce is affordable. Here's what we whipped up:

Santa Hat Brownies - Photo Courtesy of Blog Daisy's World
The food ended up costing us around $150 total... not too shabby for feeding 20 people. If you're looking to spend less, I'd probably sub out the mac n' cheese. The cheese (especially Gruyere) can get a little pricey.  Although I thought it was sooooo worth it. 

Hope everyone has a lovely holiday season and enjoys time with family and friends!

Anthony and I in our ridiculous Christmas outfits :) 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Apologies for the lack of posting over the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, my mom, dad, sisters and I lost two very important members of our family within a day of each other last month: My grandfather (known to my sisters and me as 'Papa') and our English Springer Spaniel, Nina.

Fortunately, they both lived long, happy lives and we're all a bit luckier for having felt their warmth and love in our home.

(from left to right) Me, Papa, Mary and Claire circa 1994

Nina and me
Although their gone and very much missed, they'll always have a special place in my heart. Love you both <3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Confetti Rice & Bean Salad

Last night I needed a quick and easy dinner that would leave me with enough leftovers for tonight.  A friend had sent me this recipe off the blog Mel's Kitchen Cafe for 'Confetti Rice and Bean Salad.' Rather than using regular rice, I opted for quinoa (a little healthier) which tasted great. The salad is perfect alongside a veggie burger or some marinated grilled chicken!

I even ended up with enough to freeze!

Photo courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Confetti Rice and Bean Salad

* Serves 6 *
3 cups cooked rice, cooled to room temperature (see note)
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed (or same amount fresh corn kernels)
4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 red pepper, seeded, cored and diced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients and toss. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss to coat. Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving to let the flavors blend.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Another Lovely Fall Weekend

This weekend we had some beautiful weather in Hoboken, so I thought I'd share a couple of pictures that I took with my iPhone along the way. If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend downloading the Camera + ap... it has some really neat editing features: 

The sunset over Washington Street

Anthony taking in the view during a quick break on our Saturday run

And finally, on Sunday, I met my parents in the city for a little shopping date. My mom introduced me to Mariebelle, a delicious chocolate shop in SoHo. We each got two squares of chocolate: I went with hazelnut and toffee, and mom chose ginger and hazelnut. Although the pieces were a little pricey ($2.50 a piece) they were wonderfully rich and also had adorable, unique prints on top. I'd say it was worth the dough! 

Chocolate from Mariebelle

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beautiful NYC Morning

The Empire State Building looked so pretty today on my walk to work that I just had to take a picture and share it!

View from the corner of 33rd Street and 6th Avenue

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nutella Ripple Cheesecake

Before I went home this past weekend to visit my parents, I sent my mom this recipe for Nutella Ripple Cheesecake from the blog Cream Puffs in Venice with the hopes that we could make it together on Friday night (we both LOVE Nutella)... My mom, being the wonderful mother that she is, prepared the cake herself before I even arrived and it was WAY better then I imagined! 

My mom had a few suggested tweaks to the recipe. First, since she didn't have any Frangelico in the house she used Amaretto - the almond flavor was a great compliment and added a little diversity to the hazelnut in the Nutella.  Second, she used Nabisco's Famous Chocolate Wafers which, I think, worked better than Oreos since they don't have the cream. Third, my mom mentioned that the instructions in step six were a little tricky. When she went to pour the second half of the cheesecake batter on top of the Nutella, the Nutella seperated and all moved towards the outside of the cake. She suggested spooning the second half of the batter rather than pouring. 

And finally, mom had a great tip for preventing the cheesecake from cracking while its being refrigerated. She said that once you take the cheesecake out of the oven, take a knife and run it around the edge of the cake, separating the cake from the pan. This way the pan wont pull the cake outwards as it cools!

Needless to say, I had two (and a half) pieces within the 24 hour period that I was home. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Photo compliments of Cream Puffs in Venice

Nutella Ripple Cheesecake
Based on Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake.

Note: You’ll need a 9-inch cheesecake pan for this recipe. You’ll also need some heavy duty aluminum foil to wrap the pan in. Because the cheesecake is baked in a water bath, you don’t want any of the water to seep into the bottom of your cheesecake. Wrapping the pan in foil prevents that. You will also need a larger pan that you can fit the cheesecake pan into for the water bath.

For the Crust:
2 cups chocolate crumbs (you can use Oreo crumbs or chocolate wafer crumbs)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. sugar

For the Filling:
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3 tbsps. Frangelico
1/2 cup Nutella (the Nutella has to be fairly liquidy so I recommend warming it in a double boiler so you can drizzle it easily)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a kettle full of water to boil for the water bath.

2. Combine all the crust ingredients and pour into your cheesecake pan. Press the crumbs firmly so that they cover the entire bottom of the pan (no need to push crumbs up the side of the pan).

3. In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. There should be no cream cheese lumps.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.

5. Add the vanilla extract, the heavy cream and the Frangelico and mix until smooth. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

6. Pour half the cheesecake batter over the prepared crust. Drizzle the Nutella over the batter and then top with the remaining cheesecake batter. Fit the pan into a larger pan and pour in the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Be careful not to spill any water in your cheesecake.

7. Carefully transfer the cheesecake to the oven. Bake for at least 45 minutes. The cheesecake should be set around the edges but still fairly wobbly in the middle. If not, continue baking for another 5 minutes and check again.

8. When the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in there for an hour to set up.

9. After an hour, remove the cheesecake from the water bath and discard the foil. Place the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

10. Once the cheesecake is cool, place in the refrigerator until it is very cold (at least 6 hours). If you can leave it in overnight, that’s even better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Paula Deen's Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps

I've been a vegetarian for four years now and this recipe even looked appetizing to me! My roommate Jenelle and I made Paula Deen's Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps for some guests that we had over for a little couple's dinner party. These wraps were an easy, fun (and not that expensive!) appetizer that were a perfect preamble to the penne alla vodka that we served for the main course. 

They'll definitely be on the menu for our Christmas party! 

Courtesy of
Serves 12


  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. 2
    Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes.
  3. 3
    Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with bacon and secure with a wooden pick inserted on the diagonal starting where bacon seam overlaps.
  4. 4
    Stir together brown sugar and chili powder. Dredge wrapped chicken in mixture.
  5. 5
    Coat a rack and broiler pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken on rack in broiler pan.
  6. 6
    Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bacon is crisp.

Paula's recipe can be found here :) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Possibly My New Favorite Cookie...

... and of course it contains PUMPKIN! My friend Caitlin sent me this recipe from the blog My Life as a Mrs.

I made these treats last week to bring to work on Friday and they were a hit! They've got the perfect amount of pumpkin (which can sometimes be a little overwhelming in dessert) and a delicious blend of cinnamon and spices. I'd recommend eating them warm with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream and dash of cinnamon on top :)

Courtesy of My Life as a Mrs.
Courtesy of My Life as a Mrs.

Enjoy! And stay tuned for a recipe for my most recent creation - spicy broccoli and baked potato quiche - coming later this week!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baltimore Half Marathon

When Anthony and I went to the Baltimore Health and Fitness Expo on Friday afternoon to pick up our race bibs we saw a great quote: "I run the half marathon because I'm only half crazy."

Looking back on our run Saturday I now agree that you have to have some bit of crazy somewhere in you to do a marathon.

But all in all, it was a great experience. There's something about running alongside thousands of other people all working towards the same goal that is inspiring. And although everyone runs together, it seems like each individual has their own reason for acting on their 'crazy' desire to participate. I did it for me - because I wanted to conquer a challenge that I never thought I could take on. Others did it for a cause - a friend with cancer, in memory of a loved one. Regardless of your reason for being there, we all had the same goal: own 13.1 miles.

Interestingly enough, even after living in Baltimore for 4 years, I had no idea the city has so many hills. Anthony and I had trained along the Hoboken/weehawken waterfront which is very flat, so the inclines got to be a bit tricky after a while. Luckily we 'ran' into a few friends from Loyola on the way (which was a good distraction) and before we knew it we had reached the last mile. Thanks to some awesome strangers standing on the sidelines cheering us on, we trucked through to the finish line with a time of two hours and 24 minutes, right around our set goal.

So for now, I'll be taking a nice break from training, but I think I've caught marathon fever and will be signing up for the Long Branch Half Marathon in May! Who's on board?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holey Cream

Tonight Ant and I landed at a dessert joint in Hell's Kitchen called Holey Cream, located on 9th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd.  While they sell many tasty treats - cookies, cupcakes, homemade ice cream, etc. - their signature item is the 'Famous Original Donut Ice Cream Sandwich' (a.k.a. definitely something I SHOULD NOT be eating 3 days before the half marathon... oh well).

Here's a picture:

Step one: slice the donut

Step two: pick your three scoops of ice cream (we went with birthday cake, cookies and cream and moose tracks)

Step three: pick your icing to go on top of the donut (chocolate of course)

Step four: pick your topping (our choice was a sprinkling of graham cracker)

Put them all together and VOILA! You have one HUGE dessert!

I'd definitely recommend stopping by if you're in the area... only thing I'd suggest is that they serve the donut warm (perhaps even fresh) rather than room temperature, but it was still so worth it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Only four days until Anthony and I run the Carefirst Bluecross Blueshield Half Marathon in Baltimore! On Sunday we completed a 10.5 mile run and today we received our registration numbers in the mail (hence the 51241 title of today's post), so I guess we're all ready to go!

Stay tuned for an update on Saturday after the race to see how we did!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Favorite: Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

My family and friends will all testify to the fact that I'm OBSESSED with anything and everything pumpkin.  I've tried it all... pumpkin desserts, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin candles (you get the idea... the only thing I've tried and didn't like was pumpkin ravioli).

Anyway, one of my favorite seasonal pumpkin treasures is a Pumpkin Ale from The Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine.  To make sure I wasn't just bias to its Maine roots, I've tried many other pumpkin ales - including Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale, and Southhampton Pumpkin Ale - and I'm sticking to my guns on this one: Shipyard's Pumpkinhead Ale is the best.  Here's a little background info:

Personally, I often find that pumpkin ales have too much spice and not enough pumpkin.  Pumpkinhead has the perfect balance of both and makes for the perfect brew (or few) on a crisp, fall night.

It only comes around once a year, so enjoy it while you still can!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This month Anthony and I took a trip to Chicago to visit some friends, do some sightseeing and take a nice vacation to re-charge after a hectic summer.  The Windy City had so much to see, but to give you a taste of some of our favorite stops (and some ideas if you get the chance to go) I've typed up a Travels, Tastings and Tales Top Ten, 'Chicago Edition':

10.   Roof on theWit: A swanky, scenic bar atop the Loop's 'theWit' hotel.  Great after dinner spot to meet up with some friends!

Molly and I enjoying ourselves at Roof on theWit

9.  Buddy Guy's Legends: Renowned blues club known not only in Chicago, but across the nation... Awesome music, interesting history and delicious jambalaya!

8.  The Magnificent Mile: Of course this would be one of my favorites... It's a mile-long stretch of some of my favorite stores (Bloomies, a ginormous Anthropologie, etc.)  If you do get the chance to visit, make a pit stop at The Purple Pig for some appetizers and vino. 

26-foot statue of Marilyn Monroe on the Magnificent Mile

7.  Wrigley Field: One of Anthony's personal favorites, we made a stop at the famous Wrigley Field for a little Cubs vs. Pirates action. 

Ant and our wonderful host, Boyle, outside of Wrigley field

6.  Table Fifty-Two: Definitely too classy a place to be snapping any pictures of my food. So, instead, you can take my word for it... Table Fifty-Two was excellent! Anthony and I were fortunate enough to hear about this spot from one of his coworkers who lives in Chicago.  Located a bit off the beaten path, the restaurant dishes out creations by Oprah's former chef who serves up some delectable organic dishes.  I highly recommend the side of macaroni and cheese (of course) and the twelve layer chocolate cake! 

5. Shedd Aquarium:  With its special 'Jellies' exhibit and magical aquatic show, the Shedd Aquarium made for a perfect last stop on our trip.  Included in our Chicago CityPass (a perfect way to explore the city on a budget), it's a great place to get lost for a few hours.

Some of the jellies 
My favorite part... penguins!

4.  The Bean: Apparently its real name is 'Cloud Gate.' The public art display by British artist Anish Kapoor offers a unique perspective on the city and a fun opportunity to take some wacky self portraits.

The Bean
Say cheese!

3.  Navy Pier:  We made it to Chicago just in time for Navy Pier's final fireworks show of the summer.  The 3,300 foot pier juts out into lake Michigan and features a bier garten, a wide variety of eateries and a 150-foot tall ferris wheel.

An aerial shot of Navy Pier from the top of #2...

2.  John Hancock Observatory: Having visited both the Skydeck on the 103rd floor of Willis tower and the John Hancock Observatory, I'd have to say that John Hancock offered a better view of the city.  It just happens to be in a more prime, uptown location which allows for a complete birds-eye view of Chicago.  (Plus if you use your CityPass, you get a free coffee in the observatory's cafe - yum! - and a multimedia Sky Tour narrated by David Scwimmer!)

View looking north from the observatory

View looking south from the observatory

1.  Lou Malnatti's Pizzeria: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreaming about trying Chicago-style deep dish pizza since we booked this trip back in May.  After an (embarrassingly) extensive amount of research, we landed at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria , a local, family-owned pizzeria that has been serving up deep dish pies since 1971… And now I know why it’s been around so damn long.

Anthony and I started with breaded and fried cheddar cubes as an appitizer, served alongside Lou’s homemade marinara sauce for dipping:

Now cue the star of the show:

Small cheese with 'buttercrust'
Ta-da! We ordered a small plain to share and an individual 'Malnati Chicago Classic' for Anthony.  It was love at first bite.  What truly made the pizza over the top (in my opinion) was Lou Malnati’s signature ‘buttercrust.’  It gave the crust a flaky, buttery texture that was a perfect compliment to the creamy mozzarella and homemade sauce melted together in the middle.  Needless to say, it was everything I dreamed of (and more)!

Click here for more pictures of our adventure.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hello Blogging World!

A brief introduction to this blog and myself:  I'm a twenty-four year old living in the beautiful city of Hoboken working full-time at a public relations agency in Manhattan.  On the side, I can usually be found caught up in some sort of adventure involving my loving family, my wonderful boyfriend, and/or my hysterical group of friends.

So, in an effort to document these epic years (and mostly due to the fact that I don't have the best memory), I created this blog, "Travels, Tastings and Tales of My Twenties."

You can expect quite a smorgasbord of life, food and travel-related posts (and photos) to come!