Monthly Archives: August 2010

Simply Philly


So, it’s Brown Betty time. Finally! Hilary and I have tried, on several occasions, to go to Brown Betty to gobble down a fabulously yummy cupcake, but have failed every time. Either we forgot we were going to go, or it’s closed on the days we are able to visit. After traveling around Rittenhouse, I had a lightbulb moment and blurted out, “Brown Betty!” We were walking in the wrong direction, but our cupcake cravings had us quickly switching routes. Though we were hungry, tired and achey from walking miles in flip flops, we started our journey to this famed bakery.       

Guess what we found.       

       

       

So, you’re telling me that I got a parking ticket today AND Brown Betty’s is closed? Breathe, Natalie, breathe. Oh wait. There’s another location that’s not too far. I think we can drag our exhausted selves a few blocks if it means there will be a frosted piece of chocolatey goodness at the end of the hike. Off we go…       

Guess what we found.       

       

Now guess what the sign on the door said. “Sold Out.” Seriously, Natalie. Brreeatthheee. Literally, as we were walking up to the door, the bakery lights were turned off. I didn’t get a picture of the sign. I couldn’t drag myself the last few steps only to be smacked by the bold words killing my dream while simultaneously worsening my hunger. Oh well. I suppose I have an excuse to visit my sister in Philly again soon. Strictly a cupcake weekend that will be.       

On the way back to the apartment to rest and freshen up for dinner, we stopped by Grocery, a petite speciality food store, to take in the sights.       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

All together now… “Yummmm!”       

I grabbed one of these to go, to quiet my cupcake hunger:       

       

After Grocery, we headed back to the apartment, relaxed, drank a glass of wine and had a few snacks prior to heading out to dinner.       

We chose to dine at Twenty Manning Grill. Boy, were we were thrilled w/ our decision.       

       

       

While waiting for our table, we posed for a few pics…       

Scotty Ce (Hil's BF), Hil & Missy

 

The Sisters

 

Soon after our photo shoot, we were seated. We loved the atmosphere.       

       

And loved our food selections even more.       

       

       

       

Cheers!

 

I chose the Farmers Market Beets as my entree and the Crispy Brussel Sprouts as a side to split with Missy. The waiter brought over four baby baguettes w/ rosemary butter, sea salt &  fresh cucumbers from the chef’s garden as our amuse bouche (that one’s for you, Mom).       

       

       

My company’s eats:       

Scott's scallops - please forgive his dorkiness

 

Hilary's pan roasted chicken w/ mashed potatoes & peas

 

I won’t bore you with another picture of the beets, which is what Missy also ordered. Missy was sure to point out Hilary making love to her peas as she shoveled them down.       

We finished off with an underbaked (which is actually how it’s described on the menu) chocolate chip cookie w/ vanilla ice cream.       

       

Scott loves salt…       

       

…so does Miguel.       

       

Didn’t anyone give them the memo regarding refined salt?       

Sea salt, boys, sea salt!       

        

Forgive my tangent. Leftovers were taken…       

       

and pajamas were donned.       

       

Another fabulous restaurant and farmers’ market on the agenda for tomorrow, you say? I’m not arguing with that. Sweet dreams!

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It’s a French Kind of Day


10:30am and the Philly adventures continue! We slept in. Don’t judge us – we were on vacation 🙂

      

On a leisurely walk with Riley and Hilary to my car with the intent to move it to avoid a ticket, we, ironically enough, found a ticket placed lovingly on my windshield by the local traffic cop. Happy Saturday from the Philadelphia Parking Authority! Good thing we didn’t let it ruin our day. What’s $36 anyway? Yeah, we’re cool like that.      

Off to the creperie! A good crepe and a yummy latte will band-aid anything in my book. And if they won’t, please don’t let me encounter that wound.     

Why hello, Beau Monde. So happy to meet you.      

      

What a delicious way to start off the day.    

Smoked salmon crepe w/ leeks and creme fraiche.      

      

Enjoying time spent with my best friends and my best beverage…      

      

      

Then our lovely waitress, my new favorite person, delivered the requested goods.      

 

Hilary's banana and berry sauce crepe

 

Missy's mushroom, egg and goat cheese crepe

 

My smoked salmon, leek and creme fraiche crepe

 

 Hello heaven. Goodbye heaven. It’s been real.     

     

Off to do some really important things. You know. Change the word type things. Like shopping at Anthro and visiting a farmers’ market and patisserie. My life is hard. Well, it will be next week when I continue graduate school and two jobs, among other daily life responsibilities. I’m not complaining!     

Since I’m watching every penny due to my return to school, I just took in the sights at Anthro, as well as the other two stops.     

Anthro’s decor never ceases to amaze me…     

Can I please live here?     

     

     

     

I’m feeing inspired. How about you?
Next stop: Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market.

Ry and I waited for mommy and Aunt Missy prior to heading to the market

 

The flowers were breathtaking. Please enjoy.     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Local & fresh produce, baked goods and meats:    

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

My boyfriend’s obsessed w/ meat. Seriously – he eats a pound of steak every. single. night. He’s made attempts to eat grass fed & organic. That’s why we’re dating. Ehhhh – I suppose he has a few other good traits. Sorry that my cheap self didn’t purchase the meat, Migs.    

I hope you enjoyed the picture slide show of the farmers’ market. On to Miel Patisserie, where we quenched our thirst w/ a jasmine, green tea, peach nectar iced tea.    

     

    

     

My sister Missy’s real name is Melissa. Miel means honey in French. Melissa means honey bee. One year my mother was so obsessed w/ Missy’s name that every gift Missy received had a honey bee on it. Missy didn’t care for honey bees all that much. It was funny. I suppose you had to be there.    

    

     

    

     

    

     

   

    

We chatted some more. I think this serious conversation entailed contemplation regarding Sammie Sweetheart and Ronnie’s ultra-healthy relationship on the Jersey Shore. “She didn’t look dumb… she didn’t know he was making out w/ a new girl every night after he called her the b-word and went out clubbing.” I don’t know what’s more pathetic. Young women’s lack of respect for themselves (and having it splashed all over the media), or our lack of respect for our own intellect ;).  [Speaking of women’s lack of self respect & esteem… please visit two blogs that have certainly earned my support: www.operationbeautiful.com & http://facesofbeauty.org]   

     

    

     

Poor Riley Rooter was exhausted (as were we), so we walked to Hilary’s boyfriend’s apartment to drop him off to play with his brother, Toby, who you may have met here.    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

    

     

Tober Lobes is a cutie pie. He requested that I show you all his happy self and his new haircut. You like?    

After we put Riley to rest, we went on our way to FINALLY find Brown Betty, a popular cupcakery in Philadelphia.    

Part deux coming soon. Au revoir mes amis!    

Clean kisses – xoxo – Natalie    

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FARMiCiA


I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for what feels like a long time.    

What weekend you ask? Sisters’ weekend. In Philly. Smiles all around :).    

Welcome to FARMiCiA, our new favorite Philly restaurant.    

Eat, drink and live better.    

A fabulous restaurant which focuses on local, organic and artisanal producers. Yum.    

I have two big sisters. Missy, the oldest, lives in New York City. For years and years we have gone to NYC and considered it our second home. A few months ago my other older sister, Hilary – the middle sister – moved to Philadelphia.    

    

    

Guess what that means. An entire city to explore and eat our way through. Enter FARMiCiA. What a happy life ;).    

    

   

    

After much debate over which delicious menu item to order, I settled on the “Mega Dose of Vegetables & Grains”.    

    

Wine, plus simply wonderful company and eats equals…    

Cheers!

 

Hildy Mae

 

Me & Missy

 

Very happy sisters!    

After a little catching up, our food had arrived.    

Missy & Hilary's Crab Cake

 

Missy's Lentil Salad -- we're obsessed!

 

Mega Dose of Veggies & Grains

 

As soon as my plate was placed in front of me, my sister Missy and I proceeded to drool. Missy is a vegetarian. Hilary is a meat eater. I’m somewhere in between. Hilary, jealous of our veggie daze, inquired, “Are you guys done making love to the vegetables now?” We love vegetables… we love them a lot. I think you all understand ;). Once, when Missy, Hilary and I were eating at Market Table in the city (when referring to “the city”, I mean NYC), Missy ordered a vegetarian plate b/c there was no non-meat option on the menu. The waiter brought her a beautiful plate of veggie sides. Hilary opened her big mouth and said, “That… is my worst nightmare.” We died laughing. Such a Hilary thing to say. So, we relived that moment for a few seconds last night. Ahhh, I love my sisters.    

If you have read my “About Natalie” page, you know that I have an outrageous sweet tooth that is hard to tame. So, to feed the beast, we headed to… Phileo Yogurt!    

Phileo Yogurt

 

     

 For those of you that aren’t familiar w/ Phileo Yogurt… it’s all self serve :). This was my first time.    

Step 1: Grab a cup.    

    

Step 2: Select fro-yo flavor. Sample if you’d like. Reese’s and chocolate flavorites won my heart.    

    

    

 Step 3: Go nutso-bongo w/ toppings!    

    

    

Step 4: [Pay for product] Consume!    

    

…and get out so they can close up shop! Geez. Quit taking your sweet time.    

    

We leisurely walked back to the apartment, parked our booties on the couch and continued chatting while polishing off our yogurt.    

    

After a belly full of fro-yo, some puppy lovin’ and a quick pajama change, it was bedtime.    

    

    

It’s off to slumber land to dream of tomorrow’s adventures!

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Friday Night Ritual (Laura)


My favorite day of the week has rolled around again…that’s right, it’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be happier!  I was fortunate enough to only have to work a half day, so I was free to do with this beautiful afternoon what I desired.  I had to run a few errands and was able to squeeze in some exercise strolling through the main street of a nearby town.  On my way home I stopped at a local farmer’s stand and picked-up some delicious-looking fresh peaches to use in the blackberry peach cobbler I was planning on making for desert tonight :­-).

Before I had adopted a healthier life-style, our Friday night routine was always to eat out at some restaurant, whether it was at a fast food establishment or chain fare.  It was something we did habitually every week – it served as a release and I used it as a way to unwind after a long work week.  As you can imagine, not only was it an unhealthy habit, it was a costly one too.

Since I’ve begun clean eating, I try to avoid going out to each as much.  I now like to reserve eating out for special occasions, so that it is truly a treat.  With my changed lifestyle, a new Friday night ritual emerged.  Friday night turned into the night that I experimented with new, interesting and fun recipes.  I can remember my first “clean” Friday – in sticking with my old family tradition of pizza Friday I made a delicious radicchio pizza on a home-made whole wheat crust.  It was quite an accomplishment for me, and I found cooking was something that I was really starting to enjoy.  Since then, I’ve tried to make Friday the day that I experiment with new recipes and different food that I’ve never tried before.

Well, tonight was no different as I engaged in my ritual once more.  In the September/October 2010 issue of Clean Eating Magazine, there was a recipe for Crab Nachos with toasted Cumin and Sour Cream.   They were super easy to make and great tasting!  It was a fun meal to eat with the hands and enjoy while watching my fav Friday night TV.

While I’ve made the Peach & Blackberry cobbler (September/October 2009) before, it was still a fun dish to enjoy tonight, especially with the local grown, fresh peaches that I just picked-up today.  Cobbler is one of those dishes that remind me of summer, so I was glad to savor the taste before summer completely fades to fall.

I’m looking forward to a little rest and relaxation the rest of evening with my satisfied tummy!  Well good night to all – remember – keep it clean!

Next up…training for my upcoming 5K!

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Homemade Tomato Sauce


I’ve never created my own tomato sauce… until now.
 
 
Lately I’ve been craving fall.

I swear I can smell the leaves...

 

I want to breathe in the crisp air, pick apples from trees in a family-filled orchard,
and sip pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.
 
 
By the way, how cool is this:
 
 
Yum.
 
 I’m also just too excited to wear sweatshirts – this is likely because I have two new hoodies  from two fabulous people! One representing my new school beginning this fall…
 

     

And the other, representing my spectating activity as a supportive girlfriend for the fall…    

     

    

Autumn… please come soon.    

So, along with my fall cravings came a desire for spaghetti squash complete w/ tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. I dragged my boyfriend to Basil Bandwagon, a great health food store, where I found spaghetti squash. Later in the day we went to Miguel’s (my boyfriend) parents’ house, and they stocked us him up w/ fresh veggies from the garden. While Miguel was at work, I proceeded to steal lovingly take the goodies to give them a new home — MINE!    

I’ve always wanted to make my own tomato sauce and had done some research on this topic in the past. While prepping my ingredients for the sauce, my internet wasn’t working well, so I decided to work without any sort of recipe guidance — my favorite way to do things :). Afterwards, I did ask my mother (a gourmet cooking instructor) if my technique passed her test. She gave me the thumbs up (via cellphone).    

Spectators:    

Toby, my sister's boyfriend's dog who I am petsitting

 

King, chomping on his new bone

 

Bru, our neighbor and King's best friend

 

Now… for the vegetables! I started with a bag of tomatoes. A few were large, but most were medium and baby size. I remembered that I needed to score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an “X”, so I could easily peel off the skin. So, I proceeded to score…    

Scored tomatoes

 

I apologize for the poor photo quality. As a new blogger, I’ve not quite mastered the camera for blogging purposes. I’m considering stealing my sister’s fancy schmancy camera since she doesn’t use it. She’ll never know!    

Back to important matters… I then blanched the tomatoes for a few seconds (about 30) in boiled water. This step will make for peeling the thin skins off the tomatoes an easy process.    

Blanched tomatoes

 

Post blanching, the tomatoes were placed in ice cold water just long enough for them to cool for handling. I then went peel happy and threw the tomatoes in a pot in which I was already sauteeing onions and fresh peppers.    

Icey cold tomatoes

 

Naked tomato

 

Onions & peppers

 

Onions, peppers and tomatoes

 

 While allowing the onions, peppers and tomatoes to simmer and break down, I chopped up some fresh zucchini from the garden and added it to the mix. I also threw in some shredded carrots and the remainder of the last head of garlic that I had hanging around. I’m going away for a few nights, and I wanted to assure that veggies wouldn’t be wasting away in my fridge – absolute crime.    

Once all the ingredients (including seasonings: basil and oregano) had a chance to meld together, I started to blend w/ a hand blender given to me by my dear mother:    

Blending...

 

The finished product:    

The finished product

 

After tasting my first bite, the flavor was a little bitter, although good all around. To balance this out, I added about a tsp or two of agave syrup and a little bit of organic tomato paste. Perfecto! My first attempt at tomato sauce (which turned into a veggie sauce)… a success!    

Now, for the mess…    

Clean up time

 

Any insight you may have regarding your favorite way to cook tomato sauce or special ingredients you use would be greatly appreciated. The most inspirational thing about the blog world is learning from others!    

As Laura and I like to close our e-mails to each other…    

Clean kisses  – xoxo – Natalie    

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