Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Two Year Anniversary!

Andrew surprised me with white roses and a balloon for the anniversary for our first date:

Can you guess how many years it's been? I love the fact that he drove all the way home with this thing bobbing along next to him.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Done With The Bar

Since we had gone to New Rod Dee's after Amy had taken a practice bar exam, it was only fitting that we go there again after she was finally done with taking the bar for real! Plus, who could turn down their pad thai and crispy chicken?

Here's a look at their extensive menu choices - all reasonably priced - over Andrew's shoulder.

Here's the test taker herself, dressed in comfy clothing and glasses from taking the bar earlier in the day - she's proud of herself for convincing Pete to try the lychee drink (and unsurprisingly, relieved to be done with the craziness of studying):

Pete admits that it isn't too bad:

We headed to the Public House afterwards, and I'm happy to report that nothing weird happened with debit cards this time around.

Mark Your Calendar!

It's official - our wedding date is Saturday, October 9, 2010. Woohoo!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stuck In My Head

I've been trying to get a lot of writing done in work this week, which means whipping out my iPod to block out everyone around me. I've had two completely different songs stuck in my head - I hope they get stuck in yours too!

Sia - Breathe Me

Enur featuring Natasja and MIMS - Calabria 2008 - Andrew and I call this the "woop woop" song and I'm not ashamed to say that we first heard it and loved in a Target commercial.

Good Luck Amy!

Amy takes the Bar today and tomorrow, so be sure to send her all your good thoughts - it's the last step before she becomes an esq.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Christmas (in July) Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Ok, this is a catch-up post but I wanted to give credit where it's due.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my contribution to the Christmas in July gathering was a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake (recipe from Beantown Baker and her version turned out much better).

To be honest, I'm disappointed in the way it turned out - mostly due to operator error, since my bottom layer got a little overdone and my top layer was too small. Combined with the Christmas-colored frosting, it ended up looking more like these cupcakes. However, everyone seemed to like the flavor, and Andrew claimed they were soft and like "a freshly baked cookie".

This is what the batter looked like as I shaped it into a circle on the Silpat (parchment paper circle is underneath the Silpat):

Fresh out of the oven:

Frosted in Christmas colors - damn that small top layer! I think the effect would've been a little better if all the layers were the same size but I was too lazy to separate the batter into three bowls. I ended up eyeballing the amount I used for the layers:

Luckily, I think the Christmas tray and garland do a lot to make the cake look better - it's all about presentation!

I think it's fun twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie but make sure you divide your layers evenly!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Penn State Ranked First...

I just noticed one of's most emailed stories -

Penn St. takes top party school title in survey

Oh boy - considering that Andrew and I were just discussing when to drive down to State College so I can experience my first Penn State football game, I'm sure I'll be in for a crazy time!

PS. I find it funny that Phu's school (Colorado) came in at 11th and Pete's at 13 (Union). I guess the good ole Beer Can didn't make it onto this list!

Date Night in Inman Square

As Andrew pointed out to me tonight, it's a week of anniversaries for us - tonight marked two years since we first admitted we liked each other, tomorrow marks two months since we got engaged and Friday is our official two year anniversary which acknowledges our first date.

As we were in the celebratory mood, we decided to try something new and headed to Cambridge to try a new restaurant we'd heard a lot about from Jen F. - Tupelo.

Doh! Turns out it's closed on Mondays. Which ended up being OK since there were plenty of other restaurants as well. After some debate, we ruled out Bukowski's as we've been to the Boston location tons of times and headed into the East Coast Grill to experience "bold flavors and wood grilling."

Here's a shot of my dining companion perusing the menu - turns out, it's an odd combination of expensive sea food and random BBQ items:

Andrew enjoyed the Cambridge seasonal, especially since we don't typically see Cambridge served in the bars we frequent. It was quite tasty although I defaulted to my usual G&T. The pickled vegetables were delicious - slightly sweet and tangy and a nice change from the usual bread basket:

Andrew and I ended up ignoring the main menu (our apologies to the waitress) and ordering all appetizers and sides - this included bowls of corn and clam chowder (very good although slightly thinner in consistency than I prefer), grilled bread with garlic (YUM!), and Buffalo fried white shrimp (which had a great, not-too-spicy flavor and a crisp breading, although I swear I got the odd taste of cheeto each time I bit in):

As you can see from the empty plates, it was all good:

Unfortunately, we didn't anticipate how much the previous dishes would fill us, so when the ginger tuna & pork sausage dumplings (slightly too salty when paired with the soy sauce) and "damn good fries" arrived afterwards - we could only pick at the two dishes and ended up packing them up to go:

We made sure to save room for Christina's ice cream, which was only a few storefronts down. I had always heard of Christina's but had never tried the ice cream before. Although we were literally groaning from all the food we had just ingested, we had to check it out.

Although it was past 9 pm, the line for Christina's reached the door (but moved quickly). I'm not sure how well you can read the flavor board but they had tons of fun and unique flavors, including burnt sugar, Mexican chocolate, adzuki bean, green tea, cinnamon, orange chocolate and the list goes on and on:

I tried the burnt sugar flavor, which was good but I felt like it was a flavor I would get tired of quickly on its own. Andrew tried the Mexican chocolate which he cryptically said was good but reminded him of something he had tried before, but couldn't remember what. I ended up with a scoop of coconut butterfinger (two flavors I love separately that surprisingly meshed well together) and Andrew went with the butter toffee cashew.

We both loved our choices but I'm determined to come back to try the champagne sorbet!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Christmas in July

Saturday found us celebrating Christmas in July, courtesy of a themed BBQ hosted by Andrew's parents. As the poinsettia invitations explained, everyone was to come dressed in holiday colors, ready to celebrate Christmas on July 25 instead of December 25.

The mood was set from the moment we walked in the door - the pool was festively decorated with evergreen garlands and bows and the food table featured a poinsettia tablecloth:

A closer look at garland revealed homemade cinnamon ornaments - Andrew's cousin Kim (a teacher like Andrew's mom) explained that they're an easy project that she often does with her own students during the holidays:
What would Christmas be without a Christmas tree and presents for Andrew's younger cousins?
Madison's package revealed a blue straw:
While Meggie's package had a pink straw (by the way, how cute are these girls?)
To snack on as an appetizer, a cream cheese snowman:
And tons of regular BBQ food for dinner, including hot dogs, ribs, linguica, Andrew's sister Amanda's salad with homemade dressing and Andrew's dad Tom's famous beans:
After dinner comes dessert - Maddie and Meggie wistfully peered through the fence as we set up dessert:
Meggie told me that she couldn't wait to try the brownies and chocolate chip cookies that her Mom (Andrew's cousin Kim) made:

There were also Christmas-colored vanilla cupcakes, strawberry pie, peppermint ice cream pie and the dessert that I brought, a chocolate chip cookie cake:
A closer look at Charlotte's gingerbread men reveals swimsuits and flip-flops, a cute twist on the theme and the season:
This is a close-up of my dessert, which ended up looking more like a hamburger cake, as it was jokingly referred to - flavors were good but I don't think I would make it again:
The BBQ was so much fun that I think that this BBQ may become a yearly tradition. As one of my coworkers exclaimed when I told her about the theme, "Celebrating Christmas in July is a great idea! The regular holidays are so stressful that having it during the summer gives you time to relax and enjoy yourself." I completely agree!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Green Thumb?

My parents have loved gardening as far as I can remember and even won a "Yard of the Month" award while we were living on base in Sagami Depot, Japan.

For me, it's been a whole other story. I start off with the best intentions but end up killing everything in sight. My yard's a mess (luckily, Andrew mows the lawn regularly to keep the weeds down) and I killed the apple and tangerine seedlings that Phu gave me for Arbor day - they flourished for a year until I mistakenly replaced the soil, thinking that it would be better to give the plants fresh soil. Instead, it caused them to grow mold. Yikes.

Which is why I'm proud of my morning glories - I planted them three or four years ago and they pop up every year like clockwork now:

Thank goodness for annuals - and these bring a nice pop of color to my yard while hiding an ugly chain link fence:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Hour Special

Apgujung is obviously a favorite neighborhood restaurant, yet we've never had a chance to try their 5 -7 pm, three appetizers for $8 (with the order of one drink) special. We tend to have our favorite dishes (including bibimbop), and order those over and over. Tonight, we were determined to try their appetizer special. What also pleased Andrew was the fact that Sam Seasonal was special beer on tap for only $3:
We ordered two appetizers specials - you could choose one type of roll from a list of 8 - 10 different types of rolls and two items off an appetizer list that included things like gyoza, scallion pancakes, potato cakes and shrimp tempura.
We went with an order of gyoza (my favorite thing on the plate), two orders of calamari with a spicy sauce (they were the size of onion rings with a light tempura coating), spicy tuna maki, kappa maki and spicy chicken (a bit dry, so I ended up dipping it in the sauce left by the gyoza):

Overall, it was definitely a great deal and a good amount of food to sample from. Admittedly, we supplemented this with two orders of our absolute favorite dish, the asparagus tempura roll. It's that good.

Looks Like It Was A Fun Wedding...

If you didn't catch this in the morning on the Today show, I highly recommend you watching this video of a recent wedding in Minnesota where the whole bridal party boogied down the aisle.

It looks like it's a fun wedding idea but don't expect the same from me and Andrew - we're not very fond of dancing!

The same page on the Today show provides a link for another YouTube wedding sensation video - Baby Got Back - hilarious!

Odorless Kimchi!

Haha, this was the perfect story to read on a Friday.

Through's Dining Blog, I learned of a LA Times article (photo from them as well) describing how a South Korean kimchi master has developed odorless kimchi by freeze-drying it:

She claims the freeze-dried form means it can be leveraged into new products, such as kimchi chocolate (shudder!)

Although it's an interesting concept, this half-Korean gal just doesn't think kimchi isn't really kimchi without the smell and without being "fresh" (in a way).

And in case you're wondering, we really did say "kimchi" instead of "cheese" when posing for pictures while living in South Korea.

Welcome Olivia!

Jen and Rob are the proud parents of "Liv" - born on Tuesday, July 21 at 2:40, just shy of 7
pounds and 20.5 inches long.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Been A Long Day...

This week has been crazy at work, namely because we were working on a huge employee event for today. This has meant a lot of long days and early mornings, hence, me being too tired to post anything interesting.

So our event went off without a hitch today and was a lot of fun. The weather was decent - no rain, just a hint of sun (although it was strong enough to give me a light sunburn) and only slightly muggy. Despite being on my feet at 6:45 am, it was well worth it seeing everyone enjoying theirselves. Plus, who'd be unhappy with a free lunch, dessert from an ice cream truck, giveaways from companies like Izze, Red Bull, Otis Spunkmeyer and Food Should Taste Good. I've loved scavenger hunts since I was young, and I've made them for Amy (when we were young), the kids I used to babysit for and for Andrew on occasion. Thus, it was only natural that I was in charge of developing and overseeing a building-wide scavenger hunt as well - it was a hit and had our company's CEO approaching me to comment on it.

Then, I left straight from the close of the event at 3 pm to drive down to New London, CT. I managed to snag the 5 pm ferry rather than 6 pm that I booked. Although feeling clueless and apprehensive about driving a car onto a ferry (primarily, not knowing what to do), the process was pretty quick and painless. Getting off at Orient Point, Long Island, I enjoyed a nice drive through snazzy vacation homes, countless (literally a dozen) vineyards, farmstands. The only thing that seemed out of place was a cat that ran across the road that had the word "Ha" shaved into its side. I swear I wasn't hallucinating from exhaustion.

The nice part of the drive ended with 30 miles of highway. So totaling five hours of travel time, I finally arrived at my hotel in central Long Island. I had swung by a Bertucci's to pick up a dinner to go at 8 pm. I get to hotel, change into my pajamas and open meal of bruschetta and salad only to find that they forgot to pack any utensils. I was drained at this point and the thought of trying to find silverware somewhere in the hotel exhaused me. I'm not ashamed to admit that I ended up eating the bruschetta by hand (easy enough to scoop the topping with the pieces of toasted bread) and made an improvised sandwich by stuffing lettuce, mozarella and tomatoes into a hallowed out roll. Thank goodness I had ordered menu items that were relatively easy to eat by hand!

An long day of meetings awaits so it's time for this girl to get to bed!

Monday, July 20, 2009

June Potluck Lunch

To celebrate my manager's birthday, say goodbye to a coworker who is leaving and to welcome two new coworkers, I organized our department's now traditional, monthly potluck lunch - this is what the Army calls a "Hail and Farewell" event.

I love these lunches because they're loosely organized - we set up a list with just categories such as "appetizers," "entrees," "desserts" and "drinks" - but other than that, there's no theme at all. People are free to bring what they feel like and that is usually what makes the lunches so good -they end up as an eclectic buffet. Here's a shot of my department lining up at the food table - the offerings included fruit salad, a mescalin green salad with feta and raspberries, Swedish meatballs, french bread and butter, white rice (which I provided, in the rice cooker my Mom sent me off to college with) and sweet and sour chicken.

That's the sweet and sour chicken in the crock pot, accompanied by homemade calzones - one was spinach and artichoke and the other had spinach and sun-dried tomatoes (made by a vegetarian):
For dessert, we actually had four choices - the Tiramisu I made the night before, classic chocolate chip cookies, a peanut butter pie and a brownie pudding (which had a nice thick crust on top and a gooey bottom), topped with vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, I took a picture of the desserts before the brownie pudding was brought out so you'll just have to take my word on how good it looked (and tasted!)
The best part of these lunches is the fact that they give us an opportunity to stop working, eat, and mingle with one another. My department is so busy that we tend to grab lunch and eat at our desks while working, so it really makes a difference to have everyone gather together for these potluck lunches.

Tiramisu Trifle

My manager doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, which I thought would make it challenging to celebrate her birthday with a dessert. But when she mentioned Tiramisu, a dessert that I love but have never made, I leapt at the chance to try a new recipe.

Classic Tiramisu from

6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups marscapone cheese
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 (12 ounce) packages ladyfingers -I ended up using 5 (4 ounce) packages and ended up having a package left over
1/3 cup coffee flavored liqueur - I used a full cup of Kahlua which was a tad bit too strong - I would recommend 3/4 cup
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate I ended up using the chocolate I had on hand (Hershey's Kisses) and a citrus zester

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. (I used a glass mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water). Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon colored.

Add marscapone to whipped yolks. Beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks (try not to overbeat them like I did!). Gently fold into yolk mixture and set aside.

Split the lady fingers in half, and line the bottom and sides of a large glass bowl. Brush with coffee liqueur. Spoon half of the cream filling over the lady fingers. Repeat ladyfingers, coffee liqueur and filling layers. (I did this several times, as I was filling a trifle glass):

Garnish with cocoa and chocolate curls (I sprinkled cocoa powder over each layer of the cream mixture as well). Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

To make the chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler and run it down the edge of the chocolate bar. (As mentioned above, I used a citrus zester and Hershey's kisses to create a light layer of chocolate "snow" - it looked very pretty!)

I got tons of compliments on the Tiramisu, including a thumbs up from my manager, with tons of cracks on how much Kahlua was used. To be honest, it did ended up tasting slightly more boozy than I was going for but not bad enough that it detracted from the rest of the cake.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Crisis at Coach

A rare 20% off coupon for the Coach outlet and a coworker's wish to go shopping lead to plans to drive down to the Wrentham Outlets today.

One trend that I've noticed is that there is always a line outside Coach - this used to happen only during the holiday season or during holiday weekends like Memorial Day or Labor Day, both times where there are large sales featured. However, it feels as though there is always a line at Coach now, and I remained convinced that they do it deliberately to build up the prestige of the brand, although I'm sure when asked, they would reply with some type of fire code explanation:

This is how close I was to the front of the line (roughly ten people away) when the Coach saleswoman that was manning the door informed us that no one would be let into the store as someone had experienced a seizure and they needed to keep the area clear for the paramedics:

As most of us continued to wait in line, we could still see into the store - it was weird to see people continuing to shop and checkout at the register, although few actually left the store. Within minutes, the Wrentham paramedics and a fire truck pulled up:

This caused quite a scene at the Outlets and even more people gathered around the Coach store to see what was going on. One guy behind me in line joked that a person must've have fainted after seeing the prices, but this was said before we saw a young girl in her teens wheeled out on a stretcher. I was surprised to see that no adults accompanied her, but once they let us into the store minutes later, there was a woman accompanied by two other young girls, all very calm, receiving directions to the hospital from what appeared to be a fire marshal or policeman.

So in the end, everything ended well. And in case you were wondering, I did get to use my coupon on a Christmas gift for a family friend - it's never too early to start buying gifts!

Enjoying the Other Side

Now that the weather has finally gotten nice in Boston, it's the perfect time to lounge outside and soak in the sun while enjoying a meal and some cold drinks.

With this in mind, Andrew and I met up with Phu and Pete at the Other Side Cafe. It has the address of Newbury Street but it isn't where people usually picture Newbury street - it's actually located on the part of Newbury that is past Mass Ave..

Their serving staff seems very granola-crunchy/biker (as in bicycles, not motorcycles) and are covered with tattoos, but have always been very friendly each time we've visited. Their menu to me is nothing special, but they are known for their smoothies and vegetarian/vegan friendly fare along with enough regular choices for the meat eaters.

Here's Phu enjoying his vegetarian burrito with chicken added, which I know, technically makes it a chicken burrito. But it's listed as a vegetarian burrito on the menu.

As Phu and Pete had arrived 30 minutes before Andrew and I were able to join them, they added their names to the waiting list for the outdoor patio and we were able to head outside shortly after we arrived. Yes, that's Pete enjoying the champagne of beers while Andrew stayed true to his Plymouth roots by enjoying Mayflower's Summer Rye.

My drink of choice was Original Sin's cider - it's very light and refreshing, perfect for drinking in hot weather.

Here's to a couple more months of enjoying food and drinks on outdoor patios.