Chicago Eats: Taco Joint

Wise words by my buddy and hostess for the weekend, Caitlin:

Just so you know, you won’t lose weight in Chicago.

Wise words, indeed.  I tried caviar for the first time, enjoyed a deep dish pizza (albeit a 6″ one), and had a duck confit taco!

Chicago was a delicious city. Eamonn and Caitlin certainly kept me well fed, and I was able to enjoy some fantastic meals while on the trip.  Some of my favorites?

A delicious taco joint called…. TACO JOINT!

Tres Guacamole!

Accompanied by some of Cait and Eam’s local buddies, we hit up the aptly named Taco Joint for some tasty eats.  Little did we know we were in for such a treat!  This modestly priced spot was POPPIN’ and the line was out the door.  Apparently, this is the case with nearly all downtown Chicago restaurants so, for future reference, make a reservation!

Even with one, we had a little bit of a wait, but that was enjoyed with a few margaritas.  For me, a Zocalo margarita with Lunazul Blanco Tequila, triple sec, and fresh lime juice; served up on the rocks with a salt rim.  They also had a spicy margarita with a bite to it, which was also a crowd favorite.  After getting a round of guac for the table (including a roja guacamole: Avocado with roasted tomatoes, roasted onion and roasted red jalapeno salsa) served with tortilla chips and plantain chips, we ogled the taco menu.

So very many options!!

I decided on three:

  • Carnitas – Crispy duck confit garnished with cilantro & onion and ancho chile salsa
  • Fajita – Marinated grilled steak with onion, green & red bell peppers and “ranchera” salsa
  • My Favorite! Cochinita – Yucatan style pulled pork garnished with pickled red onions and spicy habanero salsa

Marvelous Mouthwatering sight

This trio of tacos could not have delighted my senses more.  Requiring no additional salsa or toppings (though I could’ve obtained some if I’d asked), and served on small, handmade tortillas (that were green? yup.), I managed to enjoy each taco more than the last.  The fajita “taco of the night” was actually a little different from what I described (but that was the closest they had on the menu) and had some guacamole on it as well, but the queso blanco was creamy and flavorful and stole the show from the somewhat tough steak. That taco was tasty, but not my favorite.

The duck confit taco was my first time ever tasting duck (I know, right?!) I’ll admit, it was so juicy and the ancho chile salsa was the strongest flavor I got, so I couldn’t tell you off the bat if I’m a duck convert. I guess I’ll just have to go out and try more duck, eh?

The MVT(aco) was, without question, the Cochinita. The pulled pork was so tender that my mouth felt like the tortilla was giving the fillings a tight embrace as I took a bite.  The salsa was spicy and paired perfectly with possibly my favorite part of the taco: the pickled red onions.

When it comes to onions, I’m a huge fan, but I don’t know if I’ve ever tried them pickled. Well, after this experience (and a quick glance around the internet), I know that I want to try this Pickled Red Onion recipe from Umami girl POST-HASTE!  I want these in my tacos, on my eggs, or pulled straight out of the jar. They were pliant, yet still maintained a hint of crunch which I love about adding onions to dishes. Aromatic and diverse in flavor and texture, this taco was a rockstar, and I will judge all future tacos against it.

(Sorry, future tacos.)

Boozy Horchata: perfect compliment to a Mexican feast

A latecomer to the meal was an alcoholic Horchata that I knew I wanted the moment I spotted it on the menu. Coming in at $10, this drink was actually more expensive than all the tacos combined (which were $3 each) but, in my opinion, if you have a chance to get horchata at a Mexican restaurant, you should do it.

If you have the chance to add booze to that horchata, DO IT!!

I don’t see the cocktail on the menu now, but I’m pretty sure that, added to the base of cinnamon rice milk, it contained a dark rum and Stoli Vanil. I could be making that up. It really doesn’t matter at this point. All that matters is the joy on my tongue as I drank it, and the sadness on my face when I finished it.

Like losing a friend

As you might be able to see, there was a little more ice than I normally like in my cocktails. Luckily, I had my handy gloves wearable koozies on to keep me warm.

This meal was phenomenal, the atmosphere was exciting and social, and the horchata was one of the best I’ve ever had, boozy or not!  And to walk out paying less than $25 for a meal in the city that tastes fresh and doesn’t make you feel so stuffed you need to be rolled out… well that’s a success in my book.

Have you ever tried horchata (alcoholic or non)? If not, what’s your favorite Mexican beverage (sangria? margarita? tequila shots?) 

What’s your perfect taco filling?

Six Pack Sunday: Chi Town, Get Down!

Hi friends!!

It’s after midnight so, technically, I’m doing Six Pack Sunday a little off (by minutes.) But I wanted to share a few tidbits of my trip before I went to sleep (as the effects of my in-flight soda wear off).

Six Pack Sunday: Chi Town, Get Down!

1. 11:11 11/11/11

How’d you spend your eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Veteran’s Day?

Perfect timing

If it was with a cold glass of 3Floyds Alpha King, then… jinx.

You owe me a soda. Or a beer.

We may have sped to get to a bar before 11:05… good hustle, us.

2. I’m on a Boat

On Saturday afternoon, we got a chance to putz around on this beauty.

Yacht PARTAY

Well, not really. We did SEE this yacht. But my fellow Tar Heels WERE on a boat. And tore up some hardwood.  The USS Carl Vinson was the stage of the Carrier Classic, where UNC beat MSU! And, in a bar full of MSU fans, I proudly screamed for Roy’s Boys.

Love those boys in blue (blue camoflage… I’m sure they blended into all the blue foliage on the boat.)

3. Subjective Scales of Spiciness

Hot Cha CHAAAAAAAAAAA!

Sometimes, you think you’re a tough gal who can handle spice . So you arrogantly tell your waitress at the funky Thai restaurant you want medium-hot spicy. Like a 6-7 on spice.

Then you realize that you were a cocky fool and actively sweat at the table, decked out in your night-time finery.

Sweat goes so well with party dresses.

4. You Tryna See That Party Dress?

Max And Cleo, Jojo and Kiki!

I knew I couldn’t mention that dress without you all clamoring to see it. It’s new, it’s lovely, and I can’t wait to wear it more often.

5. Deep Dish Pizza. That’s all.

Dream Come True

All I wanted all weekend was a deep dish pizza. And, on Sunday, I got just that. A six-inch personal Chicago deep dish pizza. It was perfect. And as tiny as it looked, it was filling and delicious.  Perfect.

6. I am the MASTER!!

WAHOO!!

This weekend, I earned my Master badge on Untappd (friend me if you’re on it!!)

I didn’t even know it was coming, which is unfortunate because the beer I earned it on (Dortmunder Gold) was absolutely my least favorite beer I tried over the weekend.

Oh well, it takes all kinds, right?

What was the best food or drink that you enjoyed this weekend?

HUGE thanks to Caitlin for hosting me all weekend!!

NYC Take Three: Cousins Club Takes Aqua Grill

So in case you missed them, here are a few recaps from this weekend’s trip to NYC:

Saturday night, though, was for family.  If you’ve been reading for a bit, you may remember my cousin’s NYC wedding last month!  Well, the happy couple just recently got back from a glamorous honeymoon in Turkey, and offered their home for a little happy hour before dinner.

Ted and Whit, the happy couple!

The title of this post actually references to the “Cousins Club” that all of my younger cousins had growing up. My mother’s one of 8 kids, so you can imagine there are quite a few cousins in that club.  Well, this past weekend, I felt like we were the grown up generation of the Cousins Club!  And what’s more grown-up than a bit of a cocktail hour for the Cousins?

Whitney and Ted were fantastic hosts, and really pulled out all the stops for their guests (namely, Claire and me).

Quite the spread.

Quite the spread.

We got to tour Whitney and Ted’s apartment, which was adorable and perfect and totally reflected them.  Whitney even picked up some tasty craft beer, knowing how much I love it!

Clearly I was a fan.

Clearly I was a fan.

It was the Smuttynose Imperial Stout, and it was rich, malty, and oh-so-drinkable (perfect to go with all the salty cheeses and meats!)

After a quick photo op, we were on our way to one of their favorite restaurants, Aqua Grill.

Tiny tiny tiny

Tiny tiny tiny

Aqua Grill, located in the Financial District, is one of the newlyweds’ favorite spots and, the moment we walked inside, I could tell why.  The atmosphere was infectious. Even though it was a late dinner (around 10pm), the joint was bustling. There was a din of chatter and laughter, the lighting was warm, and they had a gorgeous display of raw oysters as we passed the bar.  I could tell we were in for a treat.  I ordered a Jalapeno Quencher, the spicy cocktail I mentioned in this week’s Six Pack Sunday. It was delicious and, after careful deliberation, we decided to order four different kinds of oysters for the four of us (16 oysters. MATH!) I even took a picture so I wouldn’t forget which ones we ordered.

Ah, memories.

Ah, memories.

We did an impromptu “oyster tasting”, which was actually my first opportunity to taste the different types of flavors that you can get from different types of oysters. They were creamy or briny, and we also ordered my first “wild” oyster. Maybe it’s because I date a fellow raised in the Cajun tradition of loving all things oyster, but this was just an awesome experience. We let our tongues do the tasting, and it was an exploration of flavors before the main course.

I'm selfish for shellfish

I’m selfish for shellfish

Ted also ordered us a little sushi type dish but, I’ll be totally honest, while it was tasty, it almost paled in comparison to the oysters and the main course.  For moi?

Heavenly

Heavenly

Seared Diver Sea Scallops with Dungeness Crabmeat Risotto and Sugar Snap Peas in a Tomato Shellfish Emulsion

MY GOODNESS!! This was to-die-for!  I’ve only had scallops once before and these were so on point, matched perfectly with a creamy risotto and the sugar snap peas were a surprisingly crunch every time I bit into one. I think my favorite was putting a little bit of each piece on the fork before eating to merge all the flavors and textures in one divine bite.  I can’t speak highly enough about this dish.

Aqua Grill certainly did not do us wrong. Although there was a bit of a wait for some of the dishes, it was a packed Saturday night, so I kind of expected that. No worries, as the company more than made up for the wait.

My tummy was so stuffed and sated by the end of this meal, I felt like I should either float or be rolled back to the apartment. We made a quick attempt at “going out” but, after weighing our options (and pushing through the crowds at another crowded NYC bar), we thought it might just be more pleasant to fall blissfully into bed, dreaming of salty oyster shots and luscious scallops.

I’d say that if the younger generation wants to compete with this cousins club, they have some work ahead of them.

Visit to Brooklyn Brewery

Merry Tuesday to each of you!! In case you’re curious, today’s the last day of Harris Teeter’s Super Double coupons!

In case you’re just getting here, check out my first day of NYC adventures.  Today’s post is a little bit out of order, chronologically, but one I really was itching to write.  I love to visit breweries, ever since my Senior year in college when, for spring break, I didn’t go get topless in Cancun or make mischief in Cabo. Nope, instead, I went to scenic Pottsville, PA to visit Yuengling, America’s Oldest Brewery!

Knowing that we were going to spending the weekend based primarily in Brooklyn, how could I miss the infamous Brooklyn Brewery?

Actually, the construction outside of the building made it pretty easy to miss (or hard to find, depending on how you look at it.)

Inconspicuous, much?

Oh, there it is!

That’s the good stuff, right there!

Located just a few blocks from Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, we were even able to pick up Claire’s little brother, John, for the trip. This was important because: 1. I think he’s great and 2. He could take pictures of Claire and me! (vanity, thy name is Jordan.)

For $20, we grabbed 6 drink tokens and, if you can’t handle basic math, that meant two beers for each of us.  We arrived around 12:45, just in time to pick up a beer before the “tour” of the brewery.  Each token = one 12 oz beer, so we each went for the East India Pale Ale.

That’s 72 oz of beer right there!!

Read it and weep drink!

Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for the brewery, they’re expanding, so the first room, the brewhouse, which is normally open to visitors, was closed off.  Luckily, they had this handy-dandy illustration that made us feel like we were right there!

Eric, our wise old tour guide, described the process of brewing, explaining how they outsource their bottling (of their smaller bottles) to a factory in upstate New York but their kegs and their bombers are brewed in the brewery in Brooklyn.

Wise owl!

Eric was funny, charismatic, and an excellent guide. I will admit, there wasn’t much to the “tour” as we mostly just relaxed, sipping our beers, in the main room of the brewery.  It was okay, though, because he told some hilarious stories and shared interesting factoids with the group, ones we’d never know about if not for the tour.

Gorgeous logo!

Brooklyn Brewery’s iconic logo was actually developed by Milton Glaser, creator of the I Love NY logo (you know, the one with the heart instead of the word love).  He originally asked WAY more than the $20,000 that Brooklyn Brewery had allocated for logo development. Luckily, though, Milton’s a bit of a beer fan.  So what he did was create a fantastic logo and, in turn, Milton gets free beer from the brewery for LIFE!! (Hear that, graphic designers? Get those pens to the paper!)

Also, when the brewery was created, the NY mafia was taxing EVERY business in the area, and approached the brewery, former Associated Press correspondent Steve Hindy and former Chemical Bank lending officer Tom Potter, for some moneys.  After weeks of negotiation and not really wanting to pay the mafia, one of the bosses approached Tom in the factory, telling everyone to get lost.  Tom, probably shaking in his boots, was pretty certainhe was going to get “offed” and sleep with fishes.  Then, to everyone’s surprise, the boss told Tom he was just messing with him and decided that the Brewery would be good for business and the area, and thus they were exempt from the tax.

We also learned the exciting tale of how the brewery got their tiny chandelier!!

Twinkle, twinkle!

Actually, this was the least interesting story of all. Someone put it up for a holiday party a few years ago, and everyone’s too lazy to take it down.  Gotta respect their honesty.

After getting a quick shot with (some of) the logo, we decided to head back to the bar for another brew!

The bar is only open on Fridays from 6-11pm and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6pm, but it’s a lively atmosphere and a great vibe!  They sell water and beer but, if you’d like, you can order pizza or delivery food right to the brewery (they’ll even provide menus!)  It reminded me a lot of the atmosphere of Fullsteam in Durham, very open, very relaxed, and very much about the community. We saw birthday parties, bachelor parties, and a mom who’d brought her kids and some cupcakes while she enjoyed a beer.  I loved it!

JOHNWICH!

JOHNWICH!

True to form, since I can’t go anywhere without making a friend, we ended up connecting with our tour guide while getting our second beer and, since we’re adorable and great (and humble?), Eric treated us to another beer, on the house!I went with the Winter Ale for my second beer (delicious, malty, almost biscuity) and back to the IPA for the freebie.

Thanks, Eric!! We love you!

Everyone was nice, the vibe was great, and, if you’re interested in beer, some history, and a good time AND you’re in NYC, I’d totally recommend getting over to Brooklyn Brewery for a Saturday or Sunday tour!

Friday, I’m in NYC! Eataly, Ippudo, and Farmer’s Market!

Hey there all!! It’s Monday, already, and despite that extra hour, I feel like I could’ve used at least 6 extra hours of sleep.  Such is the life of a jet-setter.

In case you missed yesterday’s Six Pack Sunday: Brooklyn, Baby and hate following me on twitter, I’ll clue you into the good stuff. I spent the past weekend in NYC with my dear friend Claire (yup, the one that I spent Halloweekend with only a few days ago) and, though I’ve been in NYC a bunch of times in my life for conventions, weddings, or field trips, this was the first time I’ve gone in without much in the way of a schedule. I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish or visit, and that was about it.

Luckily, both Claire and I have one thing in common.

329_607714642848_449_n

No, it’s not just that we love the Hoff.

We are totally and completely Type-A when it comes to planning.

Armed with smart phones and maps and print outs and lists, we will handle our BUSINESS to jam as much into a weekend as possible.  I love that in a traveling partner.

After flying into JFK (and arriving half an hour early!), I navigated the public transportation (if you’re flying to NYC and you wanna use public transportation, FLY TO JFK!! Their AirTrain situation can get you from the airport to Manhattan in about an hour-ish, and for $7.25.) I killed it.

After dropping off my bags at Club Claire (aka her workplace), I was on my own for about 2.5 hours. I decided to kick my legs into high gear and walk ALL OVER THE PLACE!!

First up: Union Square Greenmarket!

Bustling on a Friday afternoon

There were so many options of something to nibble on, but I decided to save my tummy for an exciting dinner later and picked up a few little hard pretzels for crunch and some DIVINE tea to warm my chilly bones.

Hot and DANGEROUS!

The hot wild mint tea was sweeter than I thought it would be, and tasted more like cider than anything else.  Luckily, that’s exactly what I wanted so, gloves on hand, tea in gloved-hand, I headed over to 5th Avenue for a little shopping.

Knowing that I didn’t want to fill up my carry-on with stuff I could get in NC, and not wanting to pay for a checked bag, I held myself back.  The other thing that held me back?

H&M (Hectic Madhouse?)

I feel like H&M is always crowded and messy and crazy, no matter where you go.  Oh well.

Next stop was somewhere Claire had mentioned, but I only accidentally stumbled on it (and I’m so glad I did!)

Eataly , an “Italian Culinary Funhouse”, was also a madhouse, but in a much more organized fashion.  This place seemingly had everything, from fresh produce to gourmet cured meats and cheese plates.  Although the Florence-lover in me was initially tempted by the wine, Eataly had something else pretty amazing to offer.

Molto Birra.

Molto Birra.

Their rooftop beer garden, Birreria, was more pleasant than I could’ve imagined.  The heat lamps scattered all over kept me warm (important, considering it was on the 14th floor) and the beer selection was top notch.

I nabbed myself a Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold (mostly because it was a NY based brewery and because it reminded me of this hilarious Velveeta commercial) and enjoyed it, while giving this fellow a side eye.

So much for chivalry

I guess he decided that, although the bar was completely full and people were trying to sit down, his jacket was more deserving of a stool than the rest of us lonely stander-uppers.  The man stayed like that for the 30 minutes I was there, never sat down once.  Thanks for nothing, buddy.

Anyway, after I left Birreria, it was time to meet up with Claire and get our own culinary fun going.  As I mentioned before, we headed to Ippudo (home of Anne Hathaway Drinking White Wine and Reading a Book).  Unassuming from the outside, this place was popping inside!!

In case you can't tell, that says Ippudo.

In case you can’t tell, that says Ippudo.

Once inside, we nabbed ourselves some Sapporo (when in Rome err Japan , or just a Japanese restaurant) and waited about 40 minutes for our spot.  Well worth the wait, though, once we arrived at our seats.  We were greeted with some Japanese words shouted at us (I was told they meant something like, welcome! or Eat! but they could’ve been calling me a clap-having jezebel for all I know) and seated at the “bar” right by where the food was prepped. This was the best seat in the house for a nosy Nelly like myself, and I had front row seats to watch all the food being plated, prepped, cooked, flipped, and served.

Oh lawdy.

Oh lawdy.

The Hirata buns were ordered, described as: Steamed buns filled with your choice of pork, chicken, or shrimp served with Ippudo original spicy buns sauce.

We went with the pork, and were not disappointed in the slightest. In fact, if this had been the end of my NYC trip, I think I would’ve gone hope happy (well, at least my belly would’ve).  Luckily, it was only the beginning.

Next up, the main course!

Having never tried Ramen from anywhere other than a pot in college, this was an experience that just blew my mind. It was hot and delicious , from the broth to the pork, and I think this was the one I got:

Akamaru Modern: The original “Tonkotsu” noodle soup topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, kikurage, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil

Totally on point, I slurped up the last drop.  Couldn’t get enough.

Pure Bliss.

Pure Bliss.

After dinner, we waddled our way back to Brooklyn to drop off our things and enjoy some brewskies (Lagunitas, to be more specific).

It was then that I realized the perfect simplicity of something which I tweeted immediately after.

Gloves are like koozies that you wear.

Why didn't I figure this out earlier?

Why didn’t I figure this out earlier?

Ignore the devilish grin and the weirdy out of focus shot, I needed to illustrate this.

We took a bus to The Woods which was loud and fun and crowded.  Someone snuck this picture of me, and I’m pretty sure I make this face ALL the time when I feel bars are too crowded.

Oh, Jordy.

Oh, Jordy.

But, after a Pickle Back (recap: shot of whiskey chased with pickle juice) and a few beers, I was in better spirits.

We danced the night away, then cabbed back to Brooklyn to fall instantly to sleep.  It was an ideal way to start my NYC vacation!

Have you ever had ramen at a noodle house?  What’d you think (and what’d you get in it?!)

What kind of bar is your favorite?

Cozy and dark, loud and flashing lights, discotheques, open, crowded, empty? SHARE WITH THE CLASS!

Six Pack Sunday: Brooklyn, Baby!

Greetings friends, from one very exhausted jet-setter.  It feels like I barely left on Friday for my jam-packed weekend in the Big, juicy Apple of New York!!  Though I plan to write a more serious grown up post documenting my experience in the future, this travel-addled brain thinks that, for right now, I’d better stick to the easy stuff. Namely, a Six Pack Sunday!  Here are a few little nuggets from my trip that I can’t wait to share.

WARNING: Graphic images of cobra genitals are in this post. If that offends your delicate sensibilities…. read no further.

Six Pack Sunday: Brooklyn, Baby!

1. I’m Bringing Sexy Pickle Back

Have you ever heard of a drink called a Pickle Back?  It’s not really a drink, per se, as much as it’s a series of two shots.  In my fraternity, we used to call it Dickle and a Pickle, I believe. But that’s just semantics.

You start with a shot of whiskey (preferably Jameson). Then, you chase it with a shot of briney pickle juice.

Ready for my first pickle back...

Well, I finally tried one (I was down to try any/everything this weekend).  My reaction?

Oh no no no no no, never again

Claire’s a bit of a pickle princess, but I really don’t think I’ll be ordering this one again.  Then again, I’m pretty pleased that I can proudly claim the experience.

2. Anne Hathaway Reading a Book and Drinking Wine

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a celebrity-crazed lunatic most of the time if/when I’m near a famous human.  This weekend, I had an especially lucky brush with fame.

I spotted Anne Hathaway, in Ippudo, reading a book and drinking white wine.  Well, technically, Claire spotted her first. And I tried not to ogle. And then, demonstrating EXTREME restraint and self-discipline, I didn’t run over and wildly demand a picture.  In fact, I played it cool.  I was all like, “Oh, Anne, I will acknowledge we’re dining at the same establishment, nbd, this happens all the time.”

This should sort of paint a picture for you.

This is exactly what it was like.

Secretly, though, all I could think of is “I’ve seen your boobs” which is (normally) not something I think about my dining buddies.  Oh well, part of the business, I’m sure.

3. Museum of Sex? Yes, please.

Speaking of “boobs”, we went to the Museum of Sex! Through Google Offers (Google’s group buying site!), I got my ticket for half-price, and definitely saw enough that I definitely got the bang for my buck (bahahaha cheesey sex jokes).

Sexy, can I?

There were oodles of exciting and interesting exhibits but, I have to admit, the Sex Lives of Animals was beyond fantastic.

Mounting!

Pleases all the lady cobras.

4. Hot Cha Cha!

Since I’d already tried one crazy cocktail in the Pickle Back, I couldn’t resist the Jalapeno Quencher at our fancy, amazing dinner at Aqua Grill.

Feel the Burn!

Described as: Chilled Ketel One Vodka, Pomegranate Liquor, Jalapeno, Lime, and Cranberry Juice, this left my mouth on fire in the most delicious way possible.

5. Smorgasburg Started Off Right!

One event I’d been looking forward to since the moment Claire described it was Smorgasburg.  A Brooklyn Food Flea Market, I couldn’t wait to go for brunch Saturday morning.  And what better way to start off brunch than an oyster shooter?

When in Williamsburg...

The oysters were from Brooklyn Oyster Party and I couldn’t imagine a better appetizer for the meal we enjoyed later!! An interesting way to start a morning, without a doubt.

6. You Look So Good in SWEAT!!

Easily the most inspiring part of the weekend was cheering on the runners of the famous New York City Marathon.  Sunday morning, we strolled to Prospect Park-ish, right around the 8 mile mark to cheer them on.  We saw so many runners, shouting encouragement to them all, as I tried my hardest not to burst into tears from being blown away and inspired and proud all at once.

You're so fast!!

Shouting things like “You’re KILLING IT out there!” or “You’re a speed demon” was great, but my favorite were the runners who had their names on their shirts.  To be able to pick out Katie or Paul (easily the most frequently seen name, I’ll never know why) from the pack and shout personalized encouragement was my favorite. They always looked so excited to be called out and some of them gave us high fives as they raced their hearts out.

It was beautiful, it was awesome, and I think I got a sunburn from the whole thing.  Worth it.

Love those runners!!

Congrats to all the runners!!  You’re amazing.

Clearly, we packed a lot into the weekend (perks of being hyper-planners) so I think I’m off to relax a bit before an early bedtime.

Have you ever been to New York city?  

If so, what was your favorite part of your visit?

If not, what would you want to see/do if you visited?


			

Halloween Recipe and a Flavor Blasted Burger

It’s November, already, but it feels like January. I’m freezing cold every morning (primarily because I’m a cheapskate who hates turning on the heat when I have a Slanket as an option) and I wasn’t expecting these types of temperatures for at least another month.

Oh, weather, you tempestuous mistress.

As I mentioned yesterday, I celebrated my Halloweekend at UNC on Friday and Saturday.  But yesterday, I had some treats of my own in store.  We had a Paranormal Potluck at my office and it featured such tasty treats as: Heart-attack-a-roni, True Blood Salsa, Sleepy Hollow Haystacks, Pumpkin Cupcakes, Jack-o-Lantern Jambon Sammies, and my own addition.

Sorting Hat Pizza Puffs!

Voila!

I adapted this recipe from an old book of Halloween treats my beau’s step-mother offered up, so unfortunately, I don’t have it to give credit where credit’s due.  Mine didn’t have the crescents on top, and I made vegetarian and meat-eater versions so I went with pepperoni slices instead of salami sticks.  Either way, they were tasty niblets, along with an easy parmesan pizza dipping sauce (take parmesan cheese + pizza sauce + microwave!! )

I know this is hardly a real “recipe” but I figured I’d share the picture so that someone can benefit from it all!!

Here’s my finished product:

Fun for the Whole Funky Bunch!

Weird Cat proffers up the goods!

After work, I decided to burn off the calories I consumed off with a killer cardio session at BodyCombat.  I also managed to blast the heck out of my shoulders with all those jabs and hooks, so I decided to keep the blast party going with a truly flavor blasted burger.

Takes a lot of punches to get these bad boys!

Since Laura’s Foodie Pen Pal package to me contained awesome ingredients meant to jam as much flavor into my food as possible, I decided to combine a few and see how it turned out.

Habanero Ketchup + Pumpkin Beer added to the mix!

I took about 1/3 lb of 93% lean beef and formed a patty.  On this patty, I added only two seasonings: wood smoked salt and pepper (wish I had fresh to grind, but oh well.)

While cooking it in a cast iron skillet, flipping it rather often, I toasted a bun with some cheddar and caramelized some red onion, and topped it all off with some avocado.  On the side, Habanero Ketchup for dipping (I prefer to dip my burgers/hot dogs, not cover it in ketchup, keeps things less soggy.)

This was, without question, the best burger I’ve ever made myself.  Ever. That’s 24 years on this earth (though I probably haven’t been making burgers all 24) and this one just blows the rest out of the water.

I savored every bite knowing, with total certainty, that I’d be repeating the burger base tonight.  We’ll see if I decide to get more creative with the toppings….  Then again, it’s hard to improve on perfection.

What would your dream burger (or turkey burger or veggie burger) be topped with?

What’s your favorite seasoning or sauce to spice up your foods?