A Delicious New Blog!

I’ve been pretty inactive here lately, but I will pick things up again in the fall! As for now, you MUST MUST MUST check out this blog:¬†http://www.chefnicco.blogspot.com/

It is by far the most delicious blog you will ever read. This guy is probably the most talented 20 year old chef you’ll ever find. His recipes are outstanding and wait until you see his pictures. I was starving just after reading the intro.

He is trying to get his name out there and I was so impressed with his blog and his food (yes, I got to try it) that I’m passing on his blog to all of you. Definitely check it out and share the link. He’s worth it. His food is worth it. His blog is worth it.

Not to mention he has a heart of gold and the strongest passion for cooking out of anyone I’ve ever met. He’s overwhelming generous with his food because he simply believes people deserve to eat only the tastiest of dishes. He’s going to be huge so I highly recommend taking a look at his work before he gets so famous you won’t be able to get near his recipes ūüėČ

 

AGAIN HERE IS THE LINK TO ALLSTON GOURMET: NICCO’S CULINARY ADVENTURES: CLICK HERE

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Sojourn: A Sweet New Restaurant

While I was in New York City this weekend my boyfriend and I couldn’t resist trying out a few new restaurants. We were staying at a friend’s place on 79th st between Park Ave and Lexington Ave. When we woke up after a long night of concerts, we didn’t want to go far for breakfast, but we¬†needed something hearty and delicious. We found that at Sojourn- a new American restaurant with “globally influenced dishes.” The restaurant is located at 244 E79th street.

The Hangover Cure

The Hangover Cure

Their brunch menu was fantastic and pretty unique, which can be hard to find when it comes to breakfast foods. My boyfriend ordered the “Hangover Cure” which consisted of chorizo hash, spinach, three eggs over easy, and¬†hollandaise¬†tomatillo jalapeno sauce. According to him it was, “f*#@%&# phenomenal.”

I ordered the “Creamy Truffle Polenta” and oh my god. It’s exactly what it sounds like, but with a sunny side up egg on top. I took one bite and practically melted. I love truffle and I love polenta, so I knew it would be to my liking, but this was something else. It was so pleasing to my taste buds. The only downside was that it was really rich, so I had to order some bread to neutralize it a bit.

Creamy Truffle Polenta

Creamy Truffle Polenta

The interior of the restaurant was sophisticated, but cozy. They have a nice wooden bar at the entrance and the rest of the restaurant had dark wood and red tones. It sounds pretty dull, but it was actually really pleasant. Their drink menu looked awesome too, but we didn’t try any so I can’t comment on that.

Overall, Sojourn is a great addition to the New York City restaurant scene and is located in a great neighborhood. I’m sure they’ll see some pretty loyal customers over the years. Fantastic food!

Check out there website: CLICK HERE

Governor’s Ball: One Sweet Music Festival

This past weekend I went to Governor’s Ball, a music festival in New York City on Randall’s Island. Many of you may

One of many lost shoes.

One of many lost shoes.

have heard about this already, but after Friday’s serious rain showers¬†the place was a complete mud pit. I’m talking 5¬†inches of thick, goopy, smelly mud. It was like quick sand or something– so many lost shoes, sunglasses, and even a few iPhones. The mud was so thick it ripped my friend’s shoe in half! He lifted his foot and half his shoe came up and half stayed in the mud, forever to be lost.

 

However, if you think some mud ruined an entire music festival full of great bands and awesome people, you are mistaken. The weekend was EPIC. Funnel cake, falafel, cheese fries, milk shakes, beer, shandies, soft pretzels, corn dogs, and more. The food selection was out of this world. The food trucks were so popular, many of them ran out of food. They kept all types of people in mind tooРI was very happy when I found the vegetarian booth. Any type of food you wanted, you could find. There was even an arancini truck (arancini balls are basically fried risotto balls with different types of things added).

 

The lineup was great as well. I personally saw Dillon Francis, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Thievory Corporation, The Lumineers, Naz, Kendrick Lamar, Bloc Party, Beirut, Kanye West, and a couple of others. Guns N’ Roses was a big name that I didn’t get the chance to see, but from what I heard they put on a killer performance. Kings of Leon were also incredible. Unfortunately, Pretty Lights didn’t get to play due to the weather and then they had to take off for Baltimore, but since they come to Boston every Fall, I’m sure I’ll get to see them soon.

Sunset at Governor's Ball

Sunset at Governor’s Ball

 

When it comes down to it though, my favorite part of the festival was the attitude of the crowd. I saw very few people complaining about the mud, and many people just embracing it. People walked around bare foot just digging their toes in and accepting what it was. As difficult as it was to get around at times, the mud kept us all laughing and light-hearted. The event planning could have been a bit better, but it was a weekend full of friends, music, beer, and laughter. What more could you ask for?

 

If you haven’t been to a music festival, you should go some day. I didn’t think I would enjoy it at all, but even in the conditions we had, I had a great time!

 

A Sweet and Affordable Vacation: Maine

Maine is so underrated. SO underrated. Everyone around here flocks to Newport, Cape Cod, Block Island, the Hamptons, all those places. I’m not saying those places aren’t beautiful and great vacation spots. However, $– enough said.

 

Maine, though a bit more of a drive, is just as beautiful and has a more diverse environment. There are the rocky coastline cliff walks, beautiful soft sandy beaches, those touristy beach towns we all hate to admit we love, incredible national parks, the Eastern Trail which runs through the entire state, whale watching, fantastic hiking, great lobster (duh), and way more.

 

My parents bought a small vacation house near Kennebunk port (a little outside of it for privacy reasons). At first, I said “Really? Maine?” But now it’s my new favorite place. As cold as the water is, the beaches are so nice and depending on where you go, they are a lot more spacious than overcrowded Cape Cod beaches. Also, the hiking is really scenic. It’s the kind of place where you lose yourself in nature.

 

When I got up there last week I was shocked by how much clearer the air is compared to Boston. I could really breathe. People were more relaxed, the food was tastier than many of the high class restaraunts I’ve been trying in Boston, and the atmosphere was pure and calm. I really needed the peace Maine brought me.

 

So for real, if you want to go on a great vacation with the family, your significant other, or even alone, consider Maine. It’s everything you could want in a summer vacation without the Martha’s Vineyard price. Again, not putting down Martha’s Vineyard…if I could, I would.

 

Check out some of my pictures from my trip last week, they just might convince you ūüôā Also feel free to follow me on instagram: samrushh

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The Portland Lighthouse in Maine. It’s actually the most photographed lighthouse ever.

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The dense woods right outside of Portland, Maine. You could really lose yourself in the nature.

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An incredible sunrise on the beach in Kennebunk, Maine.

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A shipwreck site on the coast near Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Sad, but cool.

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A little birdhouse in my backyard in Maine.

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Fortune Rocks Beach– Kind of a gray day though.

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The Eastern Trail

A Sweet, Quick, Complete Breakfast

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image from hackthelife.net

We’ve all heard again and again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gets your metabolism going, gives you energy to start the day, helps keep you awake, etc. We all know the facts, but none of that changes that when it comes to the mornings all you want to do is keep sleeping. Very few of us wake up early enough to pull together a complete breakfast.

Well, I found 25 great breakfast ideas that are quick and easy. Here are my top 5 favorites:

  1. 60 Second Chocolate Chip Muffin in the Microwave (CLICK HERE)
  2. Make Crispy Hashbrowns in a waffle maker! Literally just put the shredded potatoes in the waffle maker.
  3. Apple Rings Dipped in Pancake Batter (CLICK HERE)
  4. 2 Minute Scrambled Eggs in the Microwave (CLICK HERE)
  5. Make French Toast in a crock pot (CLICK HERE)

The rest of the list is available HERE

Not all the recipes are exactly healthy, but a slightly not-so-healthy breakfast is still better than no breakfast. Some of the suggestions are so clever (like keeping prepared pancake batter in a ketchup bottle). Also keeping frozen fruits already portioned and bagged in your freezer can help you make a 30 second smoothie in the morning. Everyone loves smoothies! Believe me, I make them at work…I make A LOT of them at work.

So be healthy and eat your breakfast!

A Sweet Baking Success

So usually when I bake I like to make the sweetest, sometimes chocolate-iest, sugariest creation I can come up with. However, as we all know, that unfortunately leads to less than satisfying health conditions. I’ve been telling myself over and over again to make muffins, but they just seem so boring to me compared to my caramel-filled-white-chocolate-brownie-cake (yes, that’s a real thing and it’s addicting and sickeningly delicious).

 

I was going to my boyfriend’s sister’s family graduation party last week. I wanted to bring a nice treat for everyone, but his family stays on the healthier side usually. Finally, I had real incentive to make muffins. I wasn’t going to bring just any ordinary batch of muffins though. I decided to go with white-chocolate-raspberry-muffins. And boy did I make the

My White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

My White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

right decision.

 

The are surprisingly healthier than you would think. Less sugary than blueberry muffins I’ve made in the past (when you exclude the fact that there are chunks [yes I said chunks] of white chocolate in them). I’m happy to say that these muffins were devoured at the party even after the mass of food served by everyone else was finished. Their family is Italian, so as you can imagine, there was a lot of incredible food served that night. I’m so glad my muffins were a part of it.

 

Healthy baking is possible when we want it to be. I got the recipe from the¬†Golden Book of Baking. Yeah, that’s the actual name of the recipe book¬†haha. So have fun with your baking and even when making the less-fun healthy stuff, it can still be incredibly delicious!¬†

 

 

I love that recipe book. To get it for yourself: CLICK HERE

Also, for the recipe for the insane brownie cake I mentioned earlier: CLICK HERE

***It’s actually a brownie recipe, but I did it in a cake pan to make it a cake ūüôā Either way, it’s delicious.

A Simply Sweet Secret: Meditation

I’ll bet that you if you stood on the street (anywhere in the world) and asked people if they would like to get rid of their stress, be more at ease on a day to day basis, and free from anxiety, every single person would say yes. Why wouldn’t they? Stress is a major cause of pain and suffering, so why not be free of it?

As a college student in a busy city with high ambitions, I often feel stressed and anxious. It got so bad I finally decided to do something about it! Running relieved my stress, but only for a couple hours. Shopping relieved my stress, but only for a day or so. Anti-anxiety medication gave a false and temporary relief, but I didn’t want to rely on it. Nothing could give me lasting freedom from the constant tension…until now.

Many people have told me I need to meditate in order to quiet my mind and calm down. I have always resisted this idea though because just the thought of being alone and silent, doing nothing, but breathing, for more than 10 seconds made me jittery and almost panicky. How could I possibly do it? Well, how can someone possibly run a marathon? They train. They start off slow and run short distances and then after months or years of training, they can finally run a marathon. It’s the same with meditation. You need to practice, but FIRST you need to actually try it.

My mind was going so fast all the time to the point where I thought I would just collapse. There was nothing left for me to do, but try it. I’m so glad I did. I started off small and just did a simple 10 minute guided meditation. That way I had something to focus on instead of just silence. Each day I was able to relax more, quiet my mind even further, and just focus on my breath. I was amazed. I have been doing just 15 minute meditations every day for the past 20 days and I can promise you, I have felt the difference.

When I’m walking to work, instead of my mind thinking of all the negative possibilities that lie ahead (a busy shift, having to stay late, a terrible clean up, the stinging of the sanitizer on my hands after washing 100 dishes), I now just walk and breathe and enjoy the fresh air and feel the sun (or rain). No more stress, no more anxiety, no more medication, just 15 minutes a day of peace.

I dare you to try it.

If you’re not sure where to start check this website out: CLICK HERE

For some nice music to meditate to: CLICK HERE

For proof: CLICK HERE

Youtube has a million free meditations, you just have to find one that works for you. However, you can also buy meditation CDs or MP3s. You just have to find what works best for you, but I promise, it will wok.

Sweet! It’s World Penguin Day!

According to the WWF it is World Penguin Day! Galapagos Penguins are unfortunately endangered, which is not so sweet. BUT this fits into my blog because the fact that we have dedicated a day to these adorable little birds is SWEET.

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From the WWF’s Facebook page

 

Penguins are so adorably awkward. The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT (near my hometown Stamford, CT) had a penguin exhibit for quite some time. It was always my last stop because you know– save the best for last.

 

An interesting thing about penguins is that they are surprisingly diverse. There are penguins in the arctic, but there are also penguins near the nice warm equator. The Galapagos Penguins have adapted to live in a tropical climate. There are also African Penguins that live in my favorite place– South Africa. My family is South African and I remember being a child and visiting and being astounded that there were penguins. So yes, fun fact: penguins live in warm and freezing weather. What awesome little flightless birds.

 

So to help the Galapagos Penguins we need to stop the government from slashing the budget for environment conservation!

To help the issue: CLICK HERE

The WWF is urging people to write to their representatives to discourage budget cuts from such an important cause! Clicking that link will take you to the WWF page that has basically written a letter for you. You just have to put the address, your representative’s name, and your name! Penguins are adorable– help them out. It takes 5 minutes.

Sweet Victory for British Circus Animals!

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image from funimageshow.blogspot.com

I’m thrilled to write this post. I complain about the circus all the time and recently the ASPCA was sued over what they said about animal cruelty in the circus (who the F sues the ASPCA?!). England has gotten it right though! They have made a move in Parliament to ban the use of wild animals in the circus starting in 2015. There was overwhelming support for this by the British public.

When one stops to think about it, the circus is horribly cruel. The tricks animals perform are for starters NOT fun for them and second of all they are often very painful for them for perform! Elephants aren’t meant to be stuck in a cage and dragged across the country. They are meant to be in the wild covered in dirt and mud…not face paint and idiotic props. The circus has angered me for a long time and I only went to one once. Never again. These poor poor animals are FINALLY being saved. Time for American to jump on the band wagon please!

To read more about this from PETA: CLICK HERE