Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Cupcakes

As part of a friend's birthday in conjunction with Halloween, I decided to bake up a batch of Halloween cupcakes this past weekend. Since my friend has a gluten allergy I made a batch of gluten free cupcakes and a semi-regular batch of cupcakes. Below are the gluten-free variety:

Below I have the "semi-regular batch." Semi-regular, because I added a 12 oz can of diet root beer to a box of chocolate cake mix in order to cut down on calories.

Next it was time to decorate. I made a gluten free chocolate icing and also used store bought vanilla icing. Decorations included carmel candy corn, gummy warms, reese's pieces (one of my favorite guilty pleasures), ground up graham crackers (the dirt), licorice, red hots, and shredded coconut.

So much fun and I totally over comes the holiday temptations. I think a post on that issue will be in the works.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicago Part 2

Last travel post from Chicago.
After another day of meetings and poster presentations it was dinner time! I met up with my roommate and coworker at Heaven on Seven. I absolutely love this place and recommend that anyone who loves hot sauce (look at the wall of hot sauces!!!) and creole inspired dishes check this place out. They have a few restaurants throughout the city, we went to the Rush st location.

I think I tried about every hot sauce on our table and asked for them to bring out the deadly sauces

Margarita special for the day.
My order, vegetarian black beans and sweet potato polenta. Everyone had a bit of my polenta, is was INCREDIBLE!!!! So smooth, rich, and a bit creamy, I'm definitely going to have to recreate this dish in the near future.

My roommate had a cajun enchilada, I must admit, I was a way too into my dish to gather the details of what the enchilada contained.

My coworker order Orzolya-a jambalaya made with orzo pasta.

We all ate till we were stuffed! The food was amazing and the portions were large. That enchilada above was actually under the appetizers.

Other specialities from Chicago that I indulged included garrett's popcorn. Go for the Chicago Mix-includes caramel and cheese covered popcorn, and make sure to order with a friend. This stuff is addictive, and you could easily consume by yourself (although with a sick tummy afterwards)!

On my last night my lab went out to Gino's East, a deep dish style pizza place. The only deep dish pizza I had in the past was an inch deep in cheese, and just made me rather sick. I must say Gino's changed my opinion of deep dish pizza. We ordered a family sized salad, which I ate a healthy portion, along with a slice and a half of deep dish pizza with spinach. The pizza was pretty good and I would go back again. The crust had a cornmeal consistency, and a small layer of cheese which was covered with tomato sauce and spinach. In other words, low on the cheese, heavy on the sauce...and I'm a sauce girl! Give me a tomato pie any day and I'm happy!! Sorry no photo, don't be mad.

Talk with you soon!

Movin along-Chicago!

For conference #2, I flew halfway cross the country to Chicago. My flight didn't get in till 11pm, so once I reached my hotel, I was ready to crash.

I was pretty bummed to miss out on a Saturday night in Chicago, but enjoyed a goodnight's rest. I woke refreshed, hit the gym, and met a coworker for Sunday brunch at a place near her hotel. I had a veggie omelet with feta cheese, whole grain toast, and home fries:

It was tasty, but nothing too special. I think the white egg and feta wrap I had at Starbucks a few days prior was actually a bit better.

Originally, I had a list of restaurants I wanted to try while in the city including the Chicago Diner and Bongo (known for their pancakes), but my time in the city flew by and was mostly engulfed with my conference. I need to return and spend a weekend that is for pure leisure.

I returned to my hotel room, and picked up a few things I needed for the conference. This included a teappuccino:

Basically, a cappuccino but made of tea. I had one of these last time I was in Chicago for an interview at Northwestern. I love this place! They brew fresh loose leaf tea in a variety of flavors. The place was right across from my hotel so I had 3-4 different cups throughout my stay. I think the Vanilla Creme Early Gray was my favorite. I also bought a bag of chocolate green tea mint, loose leaf tea to bring home!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, they said they will be expanding to New York in the coming season...this could be dangerous ;-)

Following an afternoon attending meetings and looking at posters, I did a bit of sight seeing with my coworker Sarah. Sarah-"This looks like a double helix!"...oh scientist.

Lake Michigan:

The Navy Pier and the entertainment:

View of the city from the John Hancock building:
FYI-If you didn't already know, the best views from this building can be seen from the ladies bathroom!

After a long day we were ready to relax, have a drink, and catch up on Sunday football. When searching the menu for a pumpkin ale or Chicago speciality, I failed to come up with anything and settled on a magic hat. Promptly after ordering I saw the table placement advertising both pumpkin ale and the Goose Island Harvest Ale. I ended up having the Goose Ale a few days later and wasn't impressed, but still, I was annoyed at myself for missing such an obvious promotion.

For dinner we walked over to the Rainforest, which was...interesting. The atmosphere was fun and elaborately decorate with animals of the rainforest (actually since when do Rhinos live in the rainforest?). There was also entertainment in the way of thunderstorms. No, I didn't get wet, but the trees moved around, and the lights stimulated lightning.
The food, however, was not so great. I had a simple salad with pecans, cranberries, and cheese crumbles. It was okay and satisfied my hunger mostly because I wasn't extremely hungry.
Conclusion of my trip coming up.


Conference 1-California quick recap

Hey guys-It's been more than a week since I first landed in Southern California, and looking at the past week, boy was it a whirlwind!

This trip to California is just what I needed! Yes, I had to leave my New York apartment at 4 am, make a pit stop at Phoenix, AZ and then back into the air and off to Orange County; but it was all worth it! Oh I didn’t mention I quickly crashed and slept for 2+ hours, but woke up refreshed for a 5 mi run.

I then walked around Fashion Island. It took all of my composure not to go on a shopping spree. Every store was having a sale, and things just seemed more fashionable than NYC. I know that’s not actually true, but New York stores are always so crowded and messy from everyones pickings, I can’t see the fashion beyond the swarms of people.

The island itself, fashion island that is, is like no mall I have ever visited! I mean looking at these next couple of photos, can you imagine a mall?

After walking around a bit, I grabbed dinner, a few rolls of sushi (I didn't have much of an appetite after flying half of the day) and headed back to the hotel.

I got an early start on Thursday. After a quick workout, I asked for directions to Balboa island, and set out on a nice 2 mi walk. Originally, I had intended on taking the ferry across the harbor to the peninsula, and walk around a bit more; however, I was pretty content with the views from my side of the island and decided to skip the extended journey. The only advantage of crossing would have been a better picture of the sea lions I saw/heard, layout on a boat. I tried to take a picture, but the zoom on my little camera did them no justice.

For lunch I stopped at a Starbucks and grabbed an egg white wrap with spinach and feta cheese, a fruit cup on the side. The wrap was as flat as it looks, but actually quite good, flavors came together quite nicely!
That afternoon, the conference began, and was followed by a brief reception, which provided cocktails and other beverages, but was lacking on the food department. I joined a few others as we ventured around and checked out our food options. We settled on Wahoo's, a fish taco chain in California.

I've settled on being a pescatarian, and as one I opted for the the fish bowl rather than the tofu bowl. The blackened fish and white beans, with added hot sauce on top, so yummy! Why don't we have places like this on the east coast?

My fellow '09 awardees and conference attenders.

After a filling meal and great company, it was back to the hotel room, to study and checkout the amazing sunset as viewed from my room window.


PS-sorry if you subscribe and saw this multiple times, I was trying to get the font all the same, but no luck...still learning this thing.

More Pumpkin?

Hey all! Before recapping my travels and eats over the last week I wanted to show you all the yummy Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies my roommate whipped up. The recipe comes from Martha Stewart, so probably not the healthiest item posted on this site, but boy were they delicious!
She doubled the recipe, so she made some as regular brownies and some in a muffin pan, which made perfect individual servings!

Back shortly with Cali pictures!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Hey all~

I'm still doing the conference thing and will do a few postings on my trip when I return to the city in a couple of days; however, I wanted to quickly share this interview with Erin McKenna, founder of Babycakes.

Hope you're having a wonderful week.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

The love affair continues

That is my love affair with all things pumpkin, most recently in the form of Pumpkin Ale.
Over the last couple of weeks I've sampled a few different Pumpkin Ales, all quite varied in sweetness, bitterness, and color.

First up was Wolaver's certified organic Will Stevens' Pumpkin Ale(pictured above and below) from Otter Creek Brewing Co. located in Middlebury, Vermont. That's a long name for a beer right? Well, the cool thing is Otter Creek bought 600 pounds of pumpkins from the Will Stevens' farm to incorporate into their pumpkin ale. Not only did they buy organic, but they gave this farmer credit and national recognition (beer is distributed at Whole Foods!). The beer itself is also pretty good providing a sweet but not too sweet flavor typical of such ales. This beer was also lighter than the others although I wouldn't say that it was the lightest of the 3 I tried, that would go to Blue Moon which I'll discuss in a moment.

I also tried a brew from Smuttynose Brewing Co. located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In their version of this seasonal ale, Smuttynose also incorporates pumpkin and pumpkin spices into the mash. It was pretty good, but not my favorite. It seemed to heavy. Pumpkin ales shouldn't be described as bitter but I would say this one definitely was; however, the flavor of pumpkin was dead on.

Finally I tried Blue Moon's Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale. Blue Moon uses the flavor of vine-ripped pumpkin to make this full-bodied, smooth finish ale. I hate to admit it, because I would like to be all about small/local brewing companies, but Blue Moon was by far my favorite of the 3 ales I sampled. To me they do a great job of incorporating pumpkin while keeping the essence of a traditional Blue Moon.

Hope you give one a try! Pumpkin ales are usually available up to and throughout the month of November.