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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

thirty acres "catering"

....more like take-out for ten.

recently, thirty acres was named one of the top 10 new restaurants in new jersey, and i'll be the first to raise my hand in agreement!  to top it off, they just added "catering" to their repertoire.  take that word lightly, though, because you only need 10 people to put in an order.  that's just an evening with friends, not exactly "catering".

so, last sunday we did just that.  we ordered thirty acres to-go for 12 people, and FEASTED on what seemed like a 10 course meal.  brisket and vegetable cavatelli were the mains, with spicy blue cheese carrots, greens, beets with chicken sausage, fingerling potatoes, mushrooms (a few extra sides than normal for an unexpected last minute 2 more people), and, of course, lemon bars.  each main and side came in a big roasting pan, and just about each main and side also had a "topping" sent in an extra container (helllloooo maple hazelnut sauce for the brisket!) seriously, when do you get that for take-out?? (besides when you BEG the Vietnamese guy to give you all the pho toppings)

anticipating needing a knife for the brisket, i was pleasantly surprised when i stabbed it with my fork and it all fell apart! talk about melt-in-your-mouth kind of good. even some of us who normally don't like "cooked carrots" enjoyed the new twist on the spicy blue cheese carrots.  it seems that normally carrots are served with something sweet to accentuate the natural sweetness they get while cooking, but the blue cheese definitely cut out the sweet side, and made it a savory dish.

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unsure of the size of the portions, we ordered WAY too much food! i said we "feasted", and we surely did just that!  but hey, everyone had leftovers for lunch the next day, so we weren't complaining.

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...this definitely won't be the last time we do this. a stress-free, gourmet meal for a bunch of friends at our own house? who can resist? all you need is 72 hours notice and you've got your little party planned for you!  thirty acres catering.  do it.

(it wasn't our house this time. thanks, lenny, for hosting!  next will be ours, because there WILL be a "next time"!)

cheers, friends.
jenn

p.s. nobody could keep their hands out of the campbell's caramel-cheddar popcorn we picked up from west side market a few weekends ago in cleveland... it's so addicting!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

sunny saturday in jersey city

for a while i was getting up early to walk in the mornings, just as the sun was rising, just long enough to get the blood flowing but not so much i was dripping sweat right before work.  i never went with a wallet, just me and my phone.  many days i would venture into the paulus hook neighborhood of jersey city, just so i could get a fun look at all the houses down there.  it's not that they are anything different from hamilton park/harismus cove, it's just that it's rare that i had a reason to be over there.

one morning i walked down morris street and spotted a new coffee shop, the smell of freshly brewed coffee flowing all the way to the end of the street.  WHY didn't i ever bring money with me!? that was at least a month ago, and i've been talking about how i want to go ever since.

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saturday was finally the day!
mr p and i woke up early feeling well-rested, so we decided to head over to sam a. m. right away before any "rush" came in (because we all know weekend brunch is awesome around here, so awesome that there's often a wait...)  the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and it was just nice to get up and out, walking arm in arm on such a beautiful fall morning!! (to get all mushy on ya)

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we walked in, being welcomed by most of the workers, and found a 2-person table with our name on it (not really, but you know what i mean).  the entire sun-filled room smelled of smoked bacon, not even coffee.  my mouth was instantly watering!  we both ordered coffee, i chose a sammich with dates, caramelized onions, lettuce, and herby goat cheese, and mr p ordered the weekender, a classic breakfast of pan-fried potatoes, extra runny eggs, smoked bacon, and sourdough toast.

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that bacon is seriously the best i've ever tasted.  it was like eating a delicious campfire in my mouth... i'll be back just to place an order of bacon.. just bacon.  my sammich was just the right amount of sweet and savory, and the stumptown coffee was so smooth.  our waiter was so laid back and polite, and made us feel cozy and at home (as if the vintage-y, warm, sun-filled place isn't home-y enough)

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...and for only $24 for breakfast for two, we will definitely be back.  we might just order coffee and bacon though.  maybe.

cheers!
jenn


p.s. we went to our friend's house on sunday for our first time trying thirty acres catering...  it was insane, and i'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Friday, October 25, 2013

it's like chipotle, but indian

instead of cilantro-y rice, it has basmati or quinoa
instead of salsas, it has chutneys
instead of guac and sour cream, it has yogurt sauce
instead of fajita veggies for vegetarian, it has paneer
instead of giant flour tortilla wraps, it has giant spinach or wheat roti

....now, don't get me wrong, i love me some good chipotle (mexican food is my favorite type of food, whether it's very authentic or taco bell, i love it all and anything in between)

...but this place is just a nice change from your standard mexican fare.  it's cheap, its' quick, it's delicious, it's full of flavor (well, duh jenn, it's indian food), it's spicy, and best of all: it's healthy   (health-IER than other take-out/dine-out options)

greene chutney grill

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i was actually the only one of the 4 of us who ordered a "rice" bowl, though, because there are so many other great things on the menu.  in it i ordered quinoa, grilled chicken, ALL the veggies, spinach sauce, and tamarind sauce.  for $10, it was enough for 2 meals... except... we sat in the restaurant sipping on mango yogurt shakes and chai masala teas with friends afterwards, just enough time for me to keep picking at it so much there were just a few bites left.  oops!  normally the bowls are just $8, but because i wanted quinoa instead of basmati rice, they added $2, and i was ok with it, it says it on their menu.

greene chutney is located near the corner of greene st and montgomery st in the paulus hook neighborhood of jersey city.  if you're close, make this a staple take-out place.  if you're not so close, take advantage of it being SO close to exchange place and enjoy the views of manhattan's financial district on the water!  we surely did....

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look at those cuties...  wish them luck running the NYC Marathon a week from sunday! these two awesome people trained for over 2 years, due to hurricane sandy ruining their plans for running in the marathon last year :(

make greene chutney your next lazy day take-out, or turn it into a cheap date by taking a stroll by the water afterwards, either way, you're gonna love it.

cheers!
jenn

Thursday, October 24, 2013

getting to know jersey city

in an effort to become more knowledgeable of this amazing city, i did a quick google search of "jersey city blogs".  sadly, i must not be marketing mine in the right way, it didn't come up at all...

however, i DID find out about some others that will quickly make their way into my daily reads that i thought you should know about:

Downtown Natch

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when people hear that i live in "jersey" they think of guidos, fake bakes, big hair, and that "gross" place "outside" of new york city.  though i can't vouch for other areas of new jersey, I CAN say that jersey city is quite different.  downtown natch focuses on jersey city's "street style", as well as other local events and outings, and emphasizes the fashion and artistic scene we've got going on.  maybe one day i'll be lucky enough to be featured.  i mean, I DO occasionally go out with plastic glasses, red lips, and combat boots with a pixie cut... i think i fit the bill, right?


its jersey city

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a new company/website/blog, but so far i'm impressed! they have some awesome jersey city t-shirts, and have interviews with the chefs of come of the best restaurants in town.  the photos of sam a. m. make me want some breakfast sammiches with a coffee and cool vibes so bad right now!


jersey city eats

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wanna know where to go to dinner? jersey city eats has got your back.  although yelp is a good place to start, jersey city eats gives a more in depth review of those sometimes tucked away, hidden local gems that you really want to know about (because come on people, the best places are the ones you CAN'T see at the top of the PATH train escalator)


seen in jersey city

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your one-stop-shop for all things jersey city.  this website provides things to do this weekend, tips for apartment-hunting (because we all know it's a whole different ball game over here!), heads up for Living Social deals, restaurant reviews, and so much more.

as always, you can find out about things going on from JC Downtown, JC Independent, and, of course, Beyond The Stoop (i had to throw that one in there :P)

so, what do you think? isn't jersey city just a cool place!?  and to think that manhattan is just a 7-minute train ride away, it's no wonder this side of the river is called the "sixth borough" ;)

cheers.
jenn

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

feeling like a crazy person

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it's finally clicked. (i think)

a few weeks ago i weighed the most i have ever weighed.  i'm not telling you how much, because i'm not brave enough yet.  when i get to a confident weight, i'll tell you the highest number.  i successfully avoided jeans all summer by wearing skirts, dresses, or my favorite uniqlo leggings pants (aka fat pants)  ....but when this amazing fall weather started to settle in, it hit me.

"jenn, you're bulging out of your double-digit jeans. GET. IT. TOGETHER."

you see, there's nothing wrong with "double-digit jeans" if:
....you feel great
....you know you're healthy
....you know you're doing the best you can
....you know that's what's right for your body
(the proportions are different on a 5'-0" girl than a 6'-0" girl)

for me, it's not ok.
i FEEL overweight.
my BMI says i'm overweight.
my jeans are tight.
my arms don't fit into clothes that otherwise fit the rest of my body.
my calves don't fit into ANY (and i mean ANY) riding boots (i'm on my second year of searching)
the kicker: in an honest effort for mr p to calm me and to make me feel ok with my looks, he says "hey babe, you know who your body reminds me of?"   "....who"    "lena dunham"

(jenn bows her head in sorrow... you know, lena dunham can be praised for practically everything she does, even showing off her 'bod' on girls, but, ya know, that bod is not exactly something to strive for...)

he's totally right. round-but-not-SO-round waist, average height, small boobs.

mission STARTED!

(what does that mean, don't you already go to kickboxing multiple times  a week?)

well, yes, yes i do.  but it's not enough for this foodie mcfood-loving girl. you see, i have an amazing cook of a boyfriend who cooks amazing food (so does his mom) that i just can't turn down! seconds, you ask? no problem.  i'm great at eating my kale smoothies for breakfast and chowing on a healthy salad for lunch.  but when it comes to the weekend, i can't say no! if i'm going to go out to eat, i'm going to ENJOY that $30 meal!! who wants to spend $18 on a salad when they can spend $25 on a leg of lamb and actually enjoy it? who wants to sit at a late night ramen spot with no food while everyone else chows on the best ramen in NYC? not this girl!

that, my friends, is why I've decided to join gym #2.   gym #1 has kickboxing classes once a night.  that's it.  though i love it, it's a defined, limited workout, and it's obviously not enough.  i joined another $10/month, standard gym, with guidos grunting and all.  it's not ideal, but it's perfect for what i want: treadmills, ellipticals, and the occasional machine weights.

...but 2 gym memberships means 2 workouts a day. yikes! remember when i said it's all about "finding the time" to workout?  well now i've found myself waking up just 15 minutes earlier to get to the gym for a 30-40 minute workout (apparently i can get ready super fast when i'm in a hot humid locker room!) or filling that extra hour before kickboxing with a 2-3 mile run. 

i'm in it to win it this time... 5 pounds down so far. let's DO this!

cheers.
jenn

Monday, October 21, 2013

full bellies and big smiles

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weekends in ohio can be summed up into those 5 words... full bellies and big smiles.

mr p and i drove 8 hours back to his hometown of cleveland.  yes, the drive usually sucks, but it's always worth it.  we always get to relax a bit, eat a lot, give lots of hugs... it's always a "feel good" weekend, and this weekend didn't let us down.

we explored antique stores on lorain (including the lorain furniture gallery and century antiques) stuffed our bellies at west side market, ate mr p's mom's always-delicious cooking, and spent a few hours at the temple for a heartbreaking death in the family.

16 hours on the road for just over 24 hours in cleveland.

...and we're gladly doing it again in a few weeks!!

we might be crazy, but it's ok.  as long as we're happy that's all that matters, right?

cheers!
jenn

Friday, October 18, 2013

how i know he's a keeper

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do you recognize what this is?

this is a container of de-seeded grapes (and cantaloupe).
(as in grapes with seeds, but the seed have been removed)

mr p accidentally bought seeded grapes.
i complained that i couldn't eat them easily.
the taste was being ruined by the bitter, tart, flavor of the seeds.
....because i always accidentally bit into the seeds.

mr p felt bad, even though he got them for himself and not me, really.
monday night after he got back from a dentist appointment,
...after he missed kickboxing, while I had time to run AND go to kickboxing,
he cut each one in half AND de-seeded each one, on his own, without me asking.

THAT'S how I know he's a keeper.

cheers.
jenn

Thursday, October 17, 2013

dumplings

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(or dumprings, as mr p likes to call them)
(he's Asian, so he can get away with putting on a fake Asian accent without sounding TOO racist)

i told you guys earlier this week that we made dumplings on sunday after our little day date in Brooklyn.  the truth is... we ALSO made dumplings the night before.
we also woke up Saturday morning at 11:30am
we also never got out of our pj's the entire day.
we also never showered.
and it was GLORIOUS.

for some people, the "hassle" of making dumplings at home is not worth the return.  ....especially when everyone around here seems to know about "that place on mosco street that has 5-for-$1 dumplings" in Chinatown manhattan. mosco street is only 1 block long, people, so we all KNOW we go to the same place.

but for mr p and i, it's just fun.  who wouldn't want to spend a day getting messy in the kitchen in your pj's? I bet if I said we were making cookies everyone would understand (even though we all know there are awesome cookies at practically any bakery or grocery store)  "to each their own," I say, and for us last Saturday, it was dumprings dumplings.

let me just point out that this experience was pretty darn awesome, mostly because we had no timeline, and no people to please but ourselves.  the last time we made dumplings we used wonton wrappers (totally not as good) and started making them mere hours before people arrived. oh and we made 200. we were nuts.

dumplings are pretty simple though... the dough is just water, flour, and salt, and requires no kitchen aid mixer, just your own 2 hands.  the filling can be whatever you want (my mind was going crazy thinking about the different dumplings we could make, more on that later, hopefully when we've actually tried my  crazy-brain idea of putting truffled mac-n-cheese with bacon and sage inside)

we made 2 very similar fillings using ground pork, onions, ginger, LOTS of fresh cilantro, and chili peppers.  the recipe we loosely followed was this one from eCurry (it was featured on thekitchn.com).  the only difference is we added a pinch or two of salt to the dough, and mixed the chutney with a vinegar/soy sauce mixture (TO DIE FOR!!) one of the fillings had cabbage for an extra crunch, and we made 2 different shapes to distinguish between the two fillings.

the key to making good dumplings is to get the dough right.  i'm not talking about texture (though that's important too), i'm talking about thickness and shape.  that's the part that takes practice. anyone can follow the recipe from eCurry and "make" dumplings. but it's when you KNOW you've got the dough thickness down and the shape right that it will actually be fun...  that's the part that takes practice.

the first day we got the dough thickness right, but the shapes all wrong (until we started youtubing how to wrap dumplings)

the second day when we got the shaping technique down, the thickness was WAY too thin so they were difficult to shape.

the good thing is they tasted pretty darn amazing both days, AND we have probably 100 more in the freezer to pull out whenever we're not in the mood to cook (and too cheap to order take-out).

stay tuned for our net adventure in dumpling-making... perhaps the mac-n-cheese version I mentioned earlier, or maybe we'll "go big or go home" with SOUP dumplings!

cheers.
jenn

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

october date

it seems that lately mr p and I rarely get truly alone time, except for those few minutes of the day we're snuggling before bed, oogling over things we see on houzz.com.  we know how to make great, cheap food at home, so often times it seems hard to justify spending even just $50 for a dinner date when we could make the exact same thing at home for $10.

but every time we DO go on a date, we wonder why we don't do it more often. there's something different about going "out".  you get all dressed up and get that "look good, feel good" feeling, and there's instant romance.

a few weeks ago i told mr p that we need to go on more dates, and we should try to be more conscious about it.  if we don't plan ahead, next thing we know we will have spend 3 or 4 months of spending every weekend night with family or friends and not 1 with just each other.  now we're going to start off with dedicating 1 day or night a month going on a date.  it can be going to a restaurant, it can be going for a picnic, it can be taking the circle line or a tour bus, going to a museum, taking a cooking class, going to a concert, it doesn't matter... as long as it's something we do just the two of us.

i started off the "initiative" with a brunch date at talde in park slope brooklyn on sunday. i heard about this place recently because this article on the jersey journal mentioned that anthony carrino and john colanari of the kitchen cousins and cousins unvercover on hgtv will be collaborating with the head chef at talde Brooklyn to open another talde location very close to our house.  the menu in Brooklyn is American/Asian fusion, and the one in jersey city will be Asian/ITALIAN fusion! i'm pretty excited to see how they mix "noodles" and "pasta" on the new menu, haha.

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when we got off the train in park slope, i was instantly in love.  the homes look JUST like the homes in our neighborhood, but the neighborhood is much more developed with more stores, more people... i can just imagine that our neighborhood will look like this in 5 or 10 years :) 

when we got to talde, we got seated right away (a big plus for brunch in Brooklyn at 12:30pm on a sunday!!) we ordered tater tots with siracha ketchup, lobster bao, and Korean fried chicken wings with waffles and coconut browned butter sauce.  lobster bao was meh, the tater tots were the crunchiest I've EVER had (score!), and if it wasn't for me wearing red lipstick and mr p sweating buckets with any bit of spice we could have eaten 4 orders of the wings and waffles! lets just say i feel sorry for the person who has to wash the white linen napkins all full of red lipstick and sweat :P

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we walked around the sunny neighborhood a bit, we were on a mission to find a mini rolling pin for rolling out dumpling dough (as soon as i think we have EVERYTHING for the kitchen, there's always something else :P) when we didn't find it at the kitchen store nearby, we trekked to Chinatown where there are kitchen stores galore.  with intentions of googling one when we popped out of the train, we saw one right in front of us, as if it had rays of light beaming from it with sounds of "ahhhhhhhhhhh" like in the movies. mr p and i both got a good chuckle out of it.  we walked into the store, which looked like it was someone's messy garage. we asked for a tiny rolling pin for dumplings, the girl behind the counter took us down a very narrow isle, fumbled through a basket of stuff on the floor, and finally pulled out a half-opened mini rolling pin, exactly what we wanted!! when we asked for 2 of them, she sighed, went searching again, and thankfully found another. "four dolla each".  SCORE!!!

after achieving all we wanted for the day, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and walk to the world trade center train.  again, our internal NYC senses won over google, and we made our way back by just following the big tower!  it's amazing how tall the freedom tower is, and how well you can get a sense of direction by landmarks. its sort of like when you're in midtown, where you can tell where you're at by looking for the empire state building (except this one is MUCH taller!)

finishing off the day by making over 100 dumplings rounded out a perfect sunday :)

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date day deemed a success.  now it's mr p's turn for our November date, he's got a month to find a place and pick a day!

cheers!
jenn

Monday, October 14, 2013

secret late night ramen

sometimes when it's 1:00am, it's hard to find quality food to eat before going home and crashing.

(sometimes it's not, sometimes that food truck you vowed never to eat at while sober spits out "five-star food" at 1:00am after a few drinks)

just because new york city is "the city that never sleeps", it doesn't mean that it's because the bars stay open til 4:00am and everyone that stays awake til sunrise is wasted.

it really... doesn't... sleep...  and friday night was one of those nights i truly remembered why it gets its nickname.

meet ushiwakamaru.  if you're yelping to find good ramen, you won't find this place.  that's because their yelp doesn't list this place under ramen, their website doesn't list ramen, you might only know that they have ramen because you read the reviews or maybe caught it in some timeout new york article.  it's sort of a secret, and its' only served from midnight-4:00am.  that's right, quality food that's ONLY served in the late night hours.  high five, friends!

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i got the tonkotsu ramen, and thought "omg, best ramen ever".  it was rich, almost buttery, and not overly salty (AND it was cheaper than ippudo).

THEN i tried mr p's shoyu ramen. that lucky duck ALWAYS orders the better dish. always. next time, because there WILL be a next time, i'm getting shoyu....

considering a late night gyro from a random cart on the street can be $8, $12 for a fantastic bowl of ramen is pretty awesome.

this went down after a naked and famous concert at terminal 5, which was opened by the colourist (this is their single from their newly released EP). if you haven't heard of the colourist, check them out now!

have a great Monday, my friends!
cheers.
jenn

Friday, October 11, 2013

i pinch myself

life can sometimes be a big ball of emotions... happy, sad, frustrated, comforting, all in the same day.
 
at least now it's friday, and the weekend is near.  when i feel like an emotional basket case, i just need to pinch myself and remind myself that life is awesome, even though it's frustrating sometimes.
 
this weekend i am able to say that i'm "going to a concert on the upper west side and celebrating an engagement on the lower east side" and that our plan is to "get late night ramen and take the train home".  
 
really? i feel like a mix of carrie bradshaw, rachel green, and hannah Horvath, and that's just 1 night on the town. 

bring it on, manhattan, this girl's ready to go OUT!
that's what my 20's are for, right?
 
 

 
can't wait to see these kids live tonight!
 
cheers to the weekend.
jenn

Thursday, October 10, 2013

recheck your adult tastebuds.

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(if you follow me on instagram, you might have already seen this)

that, my friends, might be the best thing mr p has made this year. 
that, my friends, is tuna noodle casserole.

(jenn, are you crazy? i feared that stuff as a child and vowed never to eat it again)

if that's what you think, i think you need to recheck your adult tastebuds.  i know most of you who "hate" tuna noodle casserole, have memories of your parents making you sit at the table until you ate it, or maybe you dumped ketchup all over it to hide the taste, or drank a big gulp of milk with every bite to wash it down without actually tasting it... i, too, was once a victim of food fear from my childhood tastebuds ....until i actually tried these things i used to hate.  i didn't actually "hate" tuna noodle casserole (at least i don't think so? i actually liked all the hamburger helper and tuna helper we used to eat all the time) that's because the mushrooms were hidden with no slimy chunks.

i used to “hate” mushrooms, leafy greens, and all fish that didn’t come in perfectly frozen rectangles covered in breadcrumbs.  now i love mushrooms, put leafy greens in all things that i can (we’ve recently been going through a family-sized containers of arugula and kale from BJ’s each week), and i’ll eat almost any fish (i’ll even eat it raw!)
 
after i saw this article on thekitchn.com, mr p sent me the link for the “grown-up  tuna noodle casserole” and we both couldn’t wait to get home to make it.  i bought the ingredients we needed, and went for a run while mr p made the dish.
 
he followed the recipe exactly, with the following healthier exceptions:
 
- he tripled the amount of kale (why not? we might even add more next time)
- he used 2% milk instead of whole milk (because that's what we had)
- he used 4 cans of tuna instead of 2 (more extra lean protein!)
- he used non-fat, plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream (and added more for more tanginess!)

go ahead and try out this recipe on your adult tastebuds... they might actually surprise you!

cheers.
jenn

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

finding time

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it's funny how if you really try, you can find those extra few minutes a day to burn an extra few calories.  when i'm not in the mood to work out, I "conveniently" don't have the time to work out.  it used to be that on days I couldn't go to kickboxing, I couldn't work out at all (then I would proceed to eat bagels at work, starting that slippery slope to bad eating first thing in the morning). 

recently I've been walking in the morning. even though it's "just walking" and I burn so few calories per hour compared to a normal run or kickboxing session, it's better than nothing. but it's not just about the calories, it's about setting my mood for the day.  getting my heart rate up first thing in the morning puts me in a good mood, makes me WANT to pack that salad for lunch, makes me WANT to find an extra 10 or 20 minutes later in the day to get in a walk or run, makes me WANT to refill my water bottle 8 times a day...

last night I found an extra hour before kickboxing that I would normally spend sitting on the sofa watching before-primetime tv (syndicated how I met your mother or entertainment tonight, both equally addicting time-wasters). instead of wasting time on the sofa, last night I went for a run down by the water BEFORE kickboxing, and man was I glad to get outside.  the weather was beautiful, the skies were beautiful, and I just felt awesome afterwards.

a new pair of compression pants, neon workout wear, and guaranteed beautiful views of the manhattan skyline help the motivation too ;)

what's your workout motivation? do you ever take advantage of those extra 10 or 20 minutes in the day?

cheers!
jenn

Monday, October 7, 2013

90-degrees in october

no, i'm not talking about florida...

i'm talking about DC! my bags were first packed with leggings and jackets, but after mr p checked the weather I decided I could wear my skirts and dresses leggings-less and jacket-less.... and still be sweating. who would have thought!? 

mr p and I took the Acela train down there from Newark Penn Station Friday after work.  we have driven there before, usually taking between 4 and 5 hours to get there by the time we make our way through rush hour.  this train took us 2.5 hours! I was so impressed.  the driving time from jersey city to DC, and from jersey city to boston are about the same, but the train to DC was an hour quicker (totally worth it!!)  after taking the train to boston each week for months on end earlier this year, I had so many rewards points built up that we didn't have to pay a dime to go there.

I took my fancy camera with me expecting to document the entire weekend (hey, I don't get to see these friends often!) but I guess I was caught up in the moment and didn't take it out of our friend's apartment the whole time we were there.  we danced the night away at dodge city, grabbed late night pizza at & pizza, made breakfast from farmer's market goodies, bbq'ed in a park for a birthday, ate tapas for dinner at bodega, ate brunch at bus boys and poets, and furniture-shopped at miss pixie's vintage and room and board

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...and the only decent picture I have from the weekend is from the metro station. (in case you missed the picture, it's also posted here) 90-degree weather in October will do that do you.  at least we got to see our friends in far places, it's the real memories that count :)

cheers.
jenn

Friday, October 4, 2013

happy weekend.

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friends & food.
shopping & sipping.
trains & travel.

i'm a 'tiny' bit anxious for this weekend.  with all of the traveling i have done for work and for family this year, you would think i would be 'over' going away for the weekend.  but when you have great friends who make you feel at home, want to do exactly the same things that you do, and don't care that you crash on their couch for the weekend, it makes it easy to pack up and just go.  the fact that it's going to be 90-degrees in dc might help! another summer-like weather never hurt anyone.

good friends, good weather... it's the perfect recipe for vintage furniture shopping, right? right.  we could stand to replace our particle-board-based Ikea tv stand for a mid-century modern credenza, or find a double drop-leaf table that could double as a sofa table AND dining table. i'm not sure Amtrak will let us bring either of those on the train home though, so i guess we'll have to plan a trip back if we find any goods we just can't live without.

oops? another weekend in dc just to pick up furniture? you don't have to twist MY arm ;)

what are your plans?  please tell me it's something outside!!

cheers to the weekend!!
jenn




Thursday, October 3, 2013

the perfect pork loin

over the past few weeks i told mr p we were not allowed to buy any more meat until we used up ALL of it that's in the freezer.  it's like we were collecting it or something, because we ate freezer meat for WEEKS! yikes! ok ok well the last week we were practically vegetarians, as i noticed mr p was buying big blocks of cheese and making fancy grilled cheese sammiches in his panini press in lieu of eating the last pieces of meat in the freezer. 

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two weekends ago we found a longer-than-arms-length long pork loin at BJ's for $1.50/lb.... SO cheap we couldn't pass it up.  so i caved, the pork loin was cheap, lean, and it's so versatile i knew we wouldn't get sick of eating the same thing for a week straight. but how many times have you made dry pork loin? how many times have you ordered pork loin at a restaurant (even fancy ones!) and received a dry chunk of cardboard?

mr p has a 2-step solution for you:

1. brine the meat
2. use a meat thermometer (this isn't the first time i'm telling you this!)


this is what we did with our longer-than-arms-length pork loin:

step 1: mr p cut it in half and brined the whole thing using a recent recipe from bon appetit using apple cider (hellloooo apple season!)  you basically just mix the ingredients in a pan over heat long enough to dissolve the sugar, let it cool, put it into a container with the pork so that it 100% covers the pork, and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

** after brining, we sliced one half of the pork loin into 1.5" slices and froze for a quick and easy dinner later! but because it is already brined, it already has flavor and juiciness.  when we defrost it later we just have to cook it on the stove and it's done!  we cut it thick enough that it's enough meat for 1 meal for 2 people**

step 2: remove the pork, pat dry, and add the dry-rub to the pork on all sides. we used the dry-rub mix from the bon appetit recipe i mentioned, but we added some brown sugar to give it a little extra sweetness.

step 3: put a digital thermometer into the meat, making sure the tip of the thermometer is as close to the center as possible, and bake at 425-degrees until the thermometer reaches 140 degrees (this temp should be used for all pork!).  we have a digital thermometer (similar to this one) that goes off like a timer when it reaches a particular temperature. it's SO nice and stress-free since you won't need to keep checking the thermometer. pork is perfectly "done" at 140-degrees, and will continue to cook even when you take it out of the oven.  once you get good with the timing, you can remove it from the oven a few degrees before your thermometer reaches 140 and you will end up hitting that sweet spot of being perfectly done

step4: let it rest! it needs to cool down a bit before you slice right into it, otherwise it will lose all the yummy goodness that makes it juicy! we let ours sit for about 15 minutes.

step 5: slice it and eat!  we sliced ours in about 1-inch slices for the first meal. then after dinner, or after the pork had a chance to fully cool down, mr p sliced the rest of it in VERY thin slices so he could eat it like deli meat for sammiches!

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i never used to buy big cuts of meat like this, because it looks so intimidating in the grocery store!! well i'm here to tell you it's the way to go, even for households of just 2 people, like us.  if you use a meat thermometer, you take out all of the stress of "is it done, i don't know, maybe i should cut into it, oh no i cut into it and now it's dry, crap how do i save it now, let's just get take-out".  if you are creative with the ways you serve it, you can cut your prep time in half, and still have a different meal each night.  this recipe alone is good for eating just sliced with collard greens or roasted veggies, thinly sliced for deli meat in sammiches, cubed and tossed onto salads, julienned and put on tacos.... and all this can be made with leftovers AFTER you cook the meat!

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(this was a thawed-and-pan-cooked, 1.5" slice, sliced again into smaller slices after cooking, served on top of sautéed collard greens. the BBQ sauce on the side was intended for the pork, but it already had enough flavor that i ended up using the BBQ sauce on the greens instead!)

now got for it, tackle your fears of the big cuts of meat! ...and impress your eaters too.

cheers!
jenn

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

if i had a million dollars, part 1

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if i had a million dollars....

(maybe 2 for this one)

....i'd buy this house.  i walk past it probably once a week. and every time i do, i tell the person i'm with that THIS is my favorite house in jersey city.  it has everything a person could want in a city like this: a beautiful stoop, a driveway, a GARAGE!, an additional ground-level entrance, a beautiful bay window, unique curb appeal that sets it apart from the rest on the block, direct views of the park, on a tree-lined street, it probably has a gorgeous back yard.... i can only imagine what it looks like on the inside. 

one day i will have that. one day...

cheers!
jenn
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