pescatarian

Second Winter Break

Last week was my spring break – hard to believe it considering the crazy weather we’ve been experiencing across the US! I spent my vacation in New York and NJ visiting family before heading down to University of Maryland to visit a friend. Unfortunately, the icepocalypse in Nashville followed me back up north and it snowed for a majority of my trip. Luckily though I was still able to squeeze in some quality time with my friends and family, which of course included some amazing food and drinks *disclaimer it’s pretty much all terrible for you, with the exception of Hu Kitchen, but hey it’s ok to indulge every so often 🙂

Hu Kitchen

So the first day I arrived in NY, I had the whole afternoon to kill before my cousins got off of work so I had grandiose plans of meandering the city streets and doing lots of exploring since I hadn’t been since the summer. But those plans were thwarted when my best friend Stacey told me I just had to try Hu Kitchen. By now many of you may have caught on to the fact that we love cooking together and are pretty much kindred spirits when it comes to food so the bar was set high for this place. Hu Kitchen beyond exceeded expectations! It was a combination cafe, market, and coffee shop with a juice/smoothie bar and tons of “grab-n-go” snack items. Their motto is to “get back to human” so all of their foods are made from whole food non-GMO ingredients with no added sugar, preservatives, chemicals, fillers, etc. Honestly, I was in foodie heaven. I spent a solid 15-20 minutes debating what to order before deciding on their stuffed acorn squash, chili lime broccoli, curried sweet potatoes, and of course a coconut cinnamon macaroon for dessert. It was a great place to hangout as well and a friend of mine from my Israel trip met me for coffee and we got to catch up! I even tried their on tap kombucha tea, which was one of the best I’ve ever had. Between seeing her and working on meal plans for my clients, I ended up spending over 4 hours there! Before I headed out I purchased some snacks for the road – chia snap crackers, dried broccoli nuggets, and my personal favorite sweet kale chips. It’s a blessing and a curse there isn’t a location in Nashville because I’m pretty sure if there was I’d have to direct deposit my paychecks there 🙂

20150227-IMG_935220150227-IMG_9364 20150227-IMG_9369

Ovelia’s

Later that evening, we went to a Greek restaurant in Astoria near my cousin’s apartment. We split the tzatziki sauce as an appetizer, which is one my favorite Greek delicacies. For my entrée, I opted for the Soutzoukakia, which was essentially greek style falafel over cauliflower rice and a tomato based sauce. Perfect start to our evening out.

20150227-IMG_937320150227-IMG_9374

Bamboo 52

The next night we went to Bamboo 52 in Hell’s Kitchen because we were all craving sushi. I had some of the most unique rolls there. My roommate and I split the Fantasy Roll which had banana topped with spicy tuna and the American Dream roll filled with scallop, lobster, jalapeño, and a honey wasabi sauce. Banana sounds so strange in a sushi roll, but trust me it worked!

20150228-IMG_9465

Barcelona Bar

This was a shots only bar in NYC that has over 100 shots to choose from. Some shots even come with music and props to wear while taking them. My roommate and I had the “Leggo My Eggo” one. They wouldn’t tell us what was in it but it tasted like coffee and maple syrup 🙂

The Park

The Park is a favorite spot of my cousins’ so we decided to head there Saturday night. I had only been there for brunch before (where I had the world’s best Bellini), but at night they have a great upstairs area to dance. Definitely could see why my cousins love it so much, and I’m sure it’s even better in the summer when they have outdoor areas as well.

20150301-IMG_9489

Amy’s Bread

This tiny cafe is famous for their hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows and since it was snowing when we were in NYC, I knew I had to take Alison here. Of course, being the weird chocolate hater that I am, I opted for a coffee instead but I couldn’t resist getting a marshmallow and I plopped it right into my drink!

20150301-IMG_9511

Dylan’s Candy Bar

What you are about to read will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Dylan’s Candy Bar serves candy-themed alcoholic drinks upstairs in the NYC location. Take a minute to imagine that. Yup, it’s even better than anything you could have possibly imagined. When we went, we were the only ones at the bar (granted it was 3pm on a snowy Sunday…) so the bartender had us try some new concoctions of hers. My roommate got a gummy peach ring infused whiskey drink and I got a coffee cake martini, which mostly had espresso and caramel vodkas. It was a beyond delicious way to get a little drunk sweater going before heading to Central Park to take some pictures in the snow.

20150301-IMG_951520150301-IMG_9518

 

Lombardi’s

No trip to NYC would be complete without authentic NY pizza. So what better place to take my Atlanta-native roommate than the first pizzeria in NYC. It was one of my uncle’s favorite spots growing up and it’s become one of mine as well. Whenever I have a friend visit NYC with me, I always without a doubt take them here. They specialize in margherita pizza, and to try to describe it here would never do it justice, so I’ll just leave your mouth-watering with this picture.IMG_3317

Turning Point

For the middle part of our “spring” break, my roommate and I went to my hometown in NJ. So naturally I had to take her to one of my all-time favorite restaurants at my favorite beach, Pier Village (no not that’s not the one from Jersey Shore, in fact my roommate referred to it was “quaint” so there!). Turning Point is an all-day everyday brunch place (yes, you heard me right, you can brunch here every single day). You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu from their Crunchy Monkey pancakes, Hawaiian Style belgium waffle, and pesto egg skillets to a wide array of salads, sandwiches and soups. We started with their fruit bruschetta appetizer, which has chopped strawberries and mango with mint served with house made cinnamon pita. For the main event we each got benedicts – mine with lobster and avocado and hers with sautéed peppers and sausage on cornbread. Absolutely scrumptious!

20150302-IMG_9538

that’s sand on the snow!

20150302-IMG_9534

#yolkporn

20150302-IMG_9527

Bagel Talk

I couldn’t let her leave NJ without having a bagel from my favorite bagel shop near my house. The south just can’t seem to get it right when it comes to bagels, sorry Panera doesn’t quite cut it. I mean take a look at this baby.

20150303-IMG_9556

Panda House

So Nashville has GREAT sushi places, amazing Thai, but absolutely no decent chinese food. Zero. Slich. Nada. It’s probably for the best because it forces me to come up with my own much healthier recipes, but when I’m home you better believe I’m eating chinese takeout. Two of my favorite dishes are sesame shrimp and chow mein (basically lo mein with really fat noodles). But I will say, that even growing up we always ordered the steamed dishes and got the sauce on the side because it truly doesn’t need to be swimming in the thick sugary, sodium filled sauce – just a little bit goes a lonnnng way. And of course, egg drop soup is a must have starter!

20150302-IMG_9545 20150302-IMG_9546 20150302-IMG_9548

Clydz

One evening, we met my cousin Hannah for happy hour at Clydz in New Brunswick. The drink menu actually reminded me a lot of Patterson House with their unique combination of ingredients, liquors, and bitters. I got the Fig Gin Jam (made with real fig preserves), Hannah got the Cucumber Gimlet (cucumber, lime, mint and gin) and Alison got the Decadence (essentially a chocolate martini). Great place to catch up and enjoy a nice cocktail!

20150303-IMG_9562

L.P. Steamers

Later that week, I made it to Maryland, despite the snow’s best efforts to stop me. We took a day trip from UMD to Baltimore to go to the National Aquarium. We spent almost 4 hours in there – it was HUGE! From a gigantic 400lb sea turtle to finding nemo, a hot and humid rainforest exhibit, and being waaaay too close for comfort to a shark, this aquarium had it all. Afterwards we headed to L.P. Steamers because what better way to end a day at the aquarium than eating crab. We ordered a dozen crabs to share, which took us 2 hours to eat! Well worth the work (and everlasting old bay spice smell) though – by far the best crab meat I’d ever had and it’s off season!

20150310-IMG_9679

That about wraps it up! I’ll leave you with some more pictures from my trip and be sure to look out for new recipes coming your way soon!

so glad I got to see this girl after almost 2 years!

so glad I got to see this girl after almost 2 years!

this mushball is Elmo, the dog I grew up with

this mushball is Elmo, the dog I grew up with

my cousin's bf's dog - what a cutie!

my cousin’s bf’s dog – what a cutie!

delicious homemade brunch cooked by my cousin and me

delicious homemade brunch cooked by my cousin and me – whole wheat blueberry pancakes and broccoli basil egg white scramble

frozen inner harbor Baltimore

frozen inner harbor Baltimore

Aquarium Pictures

The Land of Breakfast Tacos

This past weekend I ventured into the territory formally currently known by the locals as “The Republic of Texas.” My esteemed tour guide, Ilana, gave me the complete historical, cultural, and culinary Texas experience filled with tacos, hot sauce, tequila, guns, and of course, lots of Texas spirit.

Texas State History Museum

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to head over to the Texas State History Museum. I learned a lot about the Republic of Texas and about how much charming Texas spirit its inhabitants have. We even ended our tour with an inspirational video urging us to reach our full potential as the “Lone Star leaders of tomorrow.”

IMG_5687

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema/Esther’s Follies/6th Street

Friday night we went to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to see the “Bangerz and Sass” Sing-along. What’s Bangerz and Sass you might ask? Well, I was wondering the same thing, so here’s a snippet of the show’s description straight from their website: “Well for starters, after going to Miley’s Bangerz tour this year we immediately knew we wanted to have a special night of Miley Cyrus amazing at the Alamo. But as great as she is, we knew that we wouldn’t be satisfied if we only played her hits and didn’t hear from any of the other leading pop princesses of today. So we went through all of our Katy Perry collection and fell in love with everything there. Then we wanted to hear some Taylor Swift, because we were starting to feel 22 and we felt like she belonged with us…Our DJs are taking all of that and mixing it together into the hottest party of July, featuring plenty of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks,” a total “Party in the USA,” and soooo much more.” It was a great prelude to a night out on 6th Street, which was essentially one big street party until 3am. And this happens EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Everything really is bigger in Texas.

Esther’s Follies is a musical comedy show downtown. A lot of the jokes centered around making fun of Texas and politics. Most of them were hilarious even with my limited knowledge of the state, and any others were easily explained by my friend and just as entertaining! There was also a magician who performed several acts, and I was honestly so impressed because I have absolutely no idea how he was able to do all of his tricks. He even used an adorable little white puppy as part of his act so that certainly didn’t hurt 🙂 Esther’s Follies is right on 6th street, which made for easy access to downtown after the show. One of the show’s jokes was about the people you’d meet on 6th, and I have to say it was HIGHLY accurate. According to the comedians, 6th street has “hicks, ganstas, UT frat stars, and cougars.” We certainly encountered many of those real life characters, which made for some very interesting stories… Finally, the award for the world’s greatest brother goes to Ilana’s brother, Ben, for driving out to come get us downtown and for stopping me from consuming too much ice cream under the influence. Thanks, bud 🙂

Red’s Indoor Shooting Range

Now for the most Texas/terrifying thing I’ve ever done… shooting. Definitely nothing like I was expecting, but I’m really glad that I could check this one off the bucket list! And I actually hit the target a lot!

Austin Food Tour

Ok so now time for easily my favorite part of the trip – the food. Friday night we dined at Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. We were given hush puppies instead of your typical bread basket to start and as an appetizer shared a gazpacho with crab meat as well as an order of the wood grilled brussels sprouts. For my entrée, I enjoyed the fish and shrimp ceviche and sipped on an amazing cocktail with coconut rum with puréed strawberries and mint.

Saturday brunch was at Kerby Lane. I ordered an omelet with mushrooms and pesto and Ilana and I split a cinnamon roll and lemon poppy seed pancake. The cinnamon roll pancake was easily the most delicious pancake I have ever eaten in my entire life! Saturday afternoon we stopped at Juiceland for a midday snack, and if you know me at all my order will not surprise you in the least (it’s a variation of the Ninja Bachelor Party juice): pineapple, spinach, kale, mint, and jalapeño. Ugh, Nashville really needs an elaborate juice bar like Juiceland. Dinner on Saturday was at Torchy’s, which had extremely unique and tasty tacos. I had one with fried avocado and the other with ahi tuna. We also split guacamole as an appetizer…obviously. Amy’s ice cream was our late night snack. It is seriously the smoothest, creamiest ice cream. And like Jeni’s, they carry some pretty interesting flavors. For example, Cop Stop was coffee ice cream with donut pieces – YUM!

On Sunday morning I was finally able to try the long anticipated “breakfast taco.” After 3 years of having Ilana talk about the wonders of this glorious yet mysterious food, it was my turn to have a taste. Did it live up to the expectations you ask? Absolutely!! Last, but certainly not least, we were able to squeeze in a visit to Hopdoddy before my flight Sunday evening. The place was very reminiscent of Burger Up, but certainly more elaborate. I had the ahi tuna burger which was topped with wasabi and teriyaki sauces, fried seaweed, pickled ginger, cucumber, and avocado. Extremely messy and difficult to eat, a fairly long wait given the time of day we went, pretty pricey, and probably a full day’s calories, but sooooo worth it. Now excuse me while I recover from the weekend’s food coma…

Thanks again, Ilana!

Salmon Farfalle with White Wine Sauce

Fun fact of the day, did you know that farfalle (or better known as bow tie pasta), actually means “butterfly” in Italian? Well now that you had your little Jeopardy-ready lesson, time for the real fun to begin. While I rarely eat pasta, Barilla Plus is a great option because it’s packed with protein, fiber, and omega 3s. And hey, everything tastes better in cute shapes, am I right? (exhibit a: dino nuggets?! #tbt)

I was feeling kind of adventurous the other night, so I decided to experiment cooking with white wine. After much trial and error, I ended up with a lemon dill sauce with a white wine base. OBSESSED. Plus it was tons of fun to experiment adding different ingredients, so if dill isn’t your thing, try garlic, shallots, basil, or any other spice combo of your choice with the wine. And don’t forget to treat yourself with a glass of the good stuff afterwards (…or during – hey, it may help the creative juices flow!).

IMG_5420

Salmon Farfalle with White Wine Sauce

Ingredients
1 6oz salmon fillet
1 cup pasta cooked
1/2 cup peas
2-3 cups spinach
8-10 asparagus spears

sauce:
1/4 cup white wine
1-2 tsp vegan butter, melted
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 lemon(s)
spices: dill, pepper, salt

Directions
1. Combine all sauce ingredients and adjust to your taste preferences
2. Season salmon fillet with sauce spices and wrap in a foil pouch with half of the sauce and extra lemon slices if desired.
3. Broil on high for about 10-12 minutes or until cooked to your preference.
4. Heat vegetables on a skillet with remaining half of the sauce until slightly wilted.
5. Add pasta and salmon (with the sauce) to the skillet and stir until well combined.
6. Bon Appétit!

IMG_5421

Baked Coconut Cornflake Tofu

Growing up, I’d always look forward to when my mom would make Cornflake Chicken. Since leaving for college and becoming a pescatarian, I haven’t had the dish in over two years, so I decided to use the same recipe but with tofu instead. Also, because of my love affair with all things coconut, I decided to add in coconut flakes to cornflake crumbs. It works great with shrimp, as well. In fact, I made the shrimp over winter break for my mom and got her seal of approval!

coconut shrimp

Baked Coconut Cornflake Tofu

Ingredients
1 block firm tofu
1/4 cup coconut flakes (I used reduced fat, unsweetened ones from Whole Foods)
1/4 cup cornflake crumbs (or your choice bread crumbs)
1-2 egg whites

Directions
1. Drain and press tofu for 10-15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Cut tofu into small squares.
4. Place egg whites in one bowl and combine the coconut and cornflake crumbs in another.
5. Grab a handful of tofu cubes and place in egg bowl and then roll in crumb mix.
5. Lay out breaded cubes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure to flip them halfway for an even crisp!

Goes great with the tropical dressing as a dipping sauce!

coconut tofu prebake

IMG_4503

Cinco de Mayo Weekend Adventures and Fajita Recipe!

This weekend marked the official start to Summer Break 2014. Since this was the first time my roommate and I were staying in Nashville for the summer, she said that we had to do something big to signify the transition to summer. Well, she will be gallivanting around Europe for the next month, but I think I did a pretty decent job of celebrating right here in Nashville!

After finals ended on Thursday, I went out for drinks with a few friends at the Music City Tippler. Not quite on par with Patterson House but I certainly enjoyed my drinks. I was shocked to see Jell-O shots on the menu at such a classy bar but these definitely were not your run of the mill red, orange, yellow, green ones at college parties. I’d have to say my favorite was their special Jell-O shot of the day, which was Hibiscus Cosmo flavored. We continued the night exploring some fun new bars (even spotted some of the cast of Nashville, including Chris Carmackswoon).

Tippler Jell-O Shot

Sunday, Saint Anejo had a margarita festival, which was such a blast! It was a huge street party on the M Street restaurant block in the gulch. They had a photo area, live music, Mexican street food, and tequila tasting. The food and drink highlights were the crab guacamole and the Milagro Añejo tequila from the tasting. I swear the shot did not burn at all it was incredible. Apparently it’s because it’s been aged in oak barrels for 18 months. I had never heard about aging tequila before so it was a nice lesson for my newly 21 year old self.

Crab Guacamole

Crab Guacamole

Having fun at the photo booth

Having fun at the photo booth

Making new friends

Making new friends

the best souvenir

Posing with the best souvenir

For actual Cinco de Mayo, a friend of mine came over and we made shrimp and veggie fajitas that were out of this world. After having the best veggie fajitas of my life at Rosepepper Cantina last month, I was determined to perfect my own, and the recipe is below. We used shrimp, portobello mushrooms, shallots, peppers, black beans and tomatoes, but you easily substitute your favorite proteins and veggies.

IMG_3277

Shrimp and Veggie Fajitas

Ingredients
TJ
Frozen Wild Argentinean Shrimp (my absolute favorite!)
Assorted sliced veggies: portobello mushrooms, mixed bell peppers, onions/shallots, tomatoes
1 cup black beans
Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice (see recipe below)
Assorted spices: Medium Chili Powder (from Savory Spice in Franklin, but can be substituted for cayenne pepper, paprika, and Mexican oregano), cumin, and cilantro
1-2 tbsp lime juice
TJ Reduced Carb Whole Wheat Tortillas
Optional: guacamole and salsa for topping

Directions
1. Defrost shrimp by soaking in cold water for about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat veggies on a skillet with cooking spray and spices on medium heat until soft and translucent.
3. Combine defrosted shrimp, cilantro, lime juice, and cayenne pepper or chili powder in a small bowl.
4. Transfer to a separate skillet and cook until pink.
5. Add cooked shrimp and black beans to the veggie skillet. Stir and add additional spices and lime juice if necessary.
6. Heat tortillas on a small skillet with cooking spray on each side for about 30 seconds to a minute.
7. Serve with cauliflower rice, guacamole, and salsa.

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients
2-3 cups of cauliflower florets
2-4 tbsp lime juice
1-2 tbsp fresh cilantro

Directions
1. Pulse the florets 1 cup at a time on a low setting in a food processor (I used Variable 4 on my Vitamix) or alternatively I’ve heard that you grate them with a cheese grater.
2. Add the cauliflower “rice” to a pan with lime juice and cilantro
3. Cook for 5-10 minutes on medium/medium-high heat

**This works as a great substitute for rice anywhere and you can make a ton of variations. So far I’ve substituted olive oil and rosemary for a more traditional, savory rice, and used sesame oil, coconut aminos (or soy sauce), and ginger for the base of an Asian “fried” rice. Please let me know if you use it another fun way!

IMG_3278

 

Cheers to a great Cinco de Mayo and the start to a fantastic summer!

Commodore Cruising

Last Tuesday, my KD little sister and I won tickets to see Wicked through a program at Vanderbilt called “Commodore Cruise.” Until this point, I had not met a single person who has ever won one of these elaborate prizes before, and considering I received the good news on April Fools Day, I had a hard time actually believing it until we physically got on the bus.

The evening started off at City Fire, a restaurant in the Gulch that has undergone three management changes in the three years I’ve lived in Nashville. This was my first time visiting under the newest ownership. Upon arriving, we were given a pre-set menu, so unfortunately I didn’t get to try the tuna tartare (a personal favorite), but nevertheless there was quite the spread to enjoy.

Let me preface this next part by saying that our table was having fun bringing out our inner food critics (think Chopped on the Food Network). So while City Fire was certainly not one that I’ll rush back to anytime soon, it was still an overall enjoyable meal (and it was free so even better, right?).

Each table got a different appetizer and luckily ours was guacamole – probably the highlight of the meal to be honest. But then again, for an avid avocado enthusiast like myself, you can’t really mess up guacamole.IMG_2779

Next course was the salad. At first it seemed promising: mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, oranges (oh wait, everyone else got those except for me) and then much to my dismay it was COVERED in bacon – to the point where it overpowered the otherwise light, refreshing dish.

IMG_2780

Time for the main course. I ordered the salmon, again another favorites of mine and since the fish is so great on its own I figured it was a safe bet. It was cooked to perfection, but unfortunately it was extremely greasy and oily. The side of spinach was also drenched in oil and onions.IMG_2776 Last, but not least, dessert. We chose the sweet potato pie and the marshmallow creme brûlée. From my earlier post, you know my love affair with sweet potatoes, but this one did not measure up. As my friend put it “they did a poor job transforming the sweet potato.” In other words, it tasted like a dried out baked sweet potato with a thin pastry covering. The raspberry and caramel sauces were its only saving graces. As for the creme brûlée, it is a rare treat for me but one of my absolute favorites. I’m still not sure what made this one “marshmallow” because it tasted like an average vanilla creme brûlée. Still tasty, but confusing.

IMG_2777

IMG_2778

After that interesting dinner, we headed to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see Wicked. Although I am slightly obsessed with the Wizard of Oz (#tbt to my bat mitzvah theme: Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Danielle’s Bat Mitzvah), I had never seen this show. I had high expectations, but it definitely did not disappoint. Wow. I can’t get over the fact how the entire storyline ties perfectly into the Wizard of Oz. As the plot progresses it gets more and more linked to the movie and watching it all unfold on stage was nothing short of magical. As soon as the curtains closed I immediately wanted to watch it again, but for now, I’ll settle for listening to the soundtrack 24/7.

hanging out with the Australian flying monkey from the show

hanging out with the flying monkey from the show – turns out he’s Australian!