Tres leches, tres veces

I’m speaking in Spanish again, so clearly I spent the day at a work event. And if I spent the day at a work event, you know that also means there was no shortage of food. The first order of business on the “mission retreat” agenda was lunch!

Here’s my plate:

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I had half of a grilled chicken and avocado wrap:

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Green salad:

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And some pasta salad:

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All delicious, obv. On the side, I had a cup (probably equal to about two cups) of tropical fruit salad (papaya, mango, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, oranges, and grapes):

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I had seconds of the green salad and seconds and thirds of the fruit salad ๐Ÿ˜›

After lunch, we did a lot of ice breakers (fun ones, believe it or not!), reviewed the history of the agency, listened to a panel discussion by clients we’ve helped, broke into small discussion and reflection groups … and then it was time for cake!!! (Of course.)

Here’s my first slice of the beautiful tres leches (not as milky as the one I had last night, though!) along with two of Dorothy’s homemade oatmeal cookies:

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I supplemented with two jammy Pepperidge Farm cookies:

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And then proceeded to have two more slices of cake, one of which was mostly frosting:

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Since it was mostly frosting, it was ideal for dipping tortilla chips. I dipped quite a few, like so:

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We ended the retreat with a conga line and a daisy exchange. When I got home, I carefully arranged my daisies in the spread-eagle bunny bowl:

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Food aside, this “retreat” managed to get me even more excited about working where I do (as if I needed it). That’s usually the goal of most company retreats, but I think they rarely accomplish it so successfully!

On the way home, I stopped into Union Market for a sample handful of peanut butter-filled pretzels:

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After all of this indulgence, I was thrilled when Vani invited me to join her and Arthur (her dog) for a walk in the park. We ended up walking for nearly two hours! She also gave me a pack of stale Fig Newman’s that she didn’t want to throw away because she realized after opening them that they weren’t vegan and thought they would make a good “expansion challenge.” I liked her suggestion of grinding them up to make a pie crust. Keep your eyes peeled because this may be coming soon to a blog near you ๐Ÿ™‚

For “dinner,” I just threw together a quick yet wildly delicious snack of chips and salsas left from the restaurant last night with the rest of my humbecuemole and a string cheese stick that my mom donated a while back. I got it melty in the oven and then topped it with some plain yogurt:

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I’m off to get some packing done now because I’m planning to head straight up to MA tomorrow after my class (the last of the semester, finally!). I’m looking forward to a few days of true summer relaxation because I always feel like I should be doing stuff when I’m here in NY. Do you need to leave town to relax?

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Dirrrty

Well. I just ran my first and last trail race.

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(Those were my brand-new shoes. They’re broken in now.)

Erin Gunn, Sarah Whiting, and I spent the morning up at Bear Mountain for The North Face Endurance Challenge. Erin and I ran the 10k; Ting (short for Sarah Whiting) ran the half. To be more specific, while Ting was enjoying a little 13+ mile jog (just kidding — Ting, you’re amaaaaaaazing and I think maybe superhuman!!), Erin and I painstakingly tried to run 6.3 miles of hiking trail through muddy rivers, slimy rocks, and steep inclines.

I’m actually pretty pleased with how I did. I was expecting to end up walking the whole thing because I haven’t really been able to run since pulling all my leg muscles at the end of March. For this race, I focused on keeping my pace verrrrrrry slow, and the treacherous nature of the course forced me to walk for quite a bit of the race to pick my way “over the river and through the woods” while remaining upright!

** Edited 5/12 to add these pictures from the race website.

Feeling energetic early in the race:

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Finish line in sight, yet still so far away (all of 50 feet I think):

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Happy (?) finish line dance:

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I finished the race in something like an hour and 35 minutes (I was second to last!!! I was kind of disappointed when I heard someone else finished after me. If I was going to be last, I wanted to be last), but I finished running! Surviving this race actually gave me a lot of hope for the Brooklyn half at the end of May. Ting finished about 10 minutes after I did (but to be fair, the half did begin an hour before the 10k). Here we are at the end:

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There was a tent with cut fruit and peanut butter. I had many pieces:

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Erin and I were cold and tired and sore and wondering how the heck Ting had roped us into over 90 minutes of voluntary torture. We agreed we don’t have to do this again next year. Ting stuck around with some of her other friends to watch the 50k runners start to come in; Erin and I busted out of there to head to her apartment for showers and lunch. Which leads us to the food …

Featured Contributions: Thursday through Saturday

Thursday’s linner: homemade tortillas with homemade chicken mole and beans left from the Parent & Me cinco de mayo event at work on Wednesday:

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Ginger chew from Beryl on Friday:

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A chopped apple, an orange, cool whip, and peanut butter left from Myrna and Mildred’s afternoon group:

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(I had another orange and seconds of cool whip and pb later, too!)

I headed straight up to Yonkers after work, and Erin Gunn picked me up for some bridesmaid dress reconn at David’s Bridal, followed by Indian food, her treat ๐Ÿ™‚

Papadum and chutneys:

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Baingan Bhartha (eggplant):

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Channa Saagwala (chickpeas and spinach):

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We ordered spicy. We needn’t have. The spiciness necessitated lots of tissues and lots of rice:

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Anise crunchies on the way out:

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This morning, I made us pre-race breakfast cookies with the contents of Erin’s cupboards.

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Each cookie included 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 mashed banana, 1 tbsp chocolate chips, 1 tbsp sweetened coconut, 1 tbsp mixed chopped nuts, and cinnamon.

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The frosting involved plain yogurt and half of this baby jar of heaven:IMG_9396

Our post-run lunch was Indian leftovers with tons and tons of yogurt to cut the heat:

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And a very very exciting treat from work yesterday:

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Rosey’s mom (who I think is Puerto Rican) made pasteles — kind of like tamales but with plantain on the outside and meat on the inside — this past week, and Rosey brought them in to share on Thursday. I missed this first delivery because I don’t work on Thursdays, but Nydia gave me a couple of hers yesterday since it was my last day until June, and they all wanted me to be able to try them! I brought my tied-up package to Erin’s with me, boiled it for an hour in salted water per Rosey’s instructions, and set to unwrapping it.

In paper:

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In banana leaf:

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Finally ready:

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Mmmm, it was yummy. I loved the texture of the plantain on the outside. Here’s the filling:

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I dozed off a bit after lunch, and then Erin deposited me at the subway. Two hours later (grrr, construction), I was finally home.

Now, “vacation” is over, and it’s time to rededicate myself to the finals: one paper due Monday and one due Thursday. Then, I will be free!! (Errr, for two weeks until it all starts again …)

To conclude, here are Ting’s battle-scarred legs:

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Would you ever in a million years choose to spend your day off participating in a trail race?

The bakery

… aka my apartment.

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It’s been a busy couple of days around here since I can’t sit still for more than 3.7 seconds. I have too much on my mind with the end of the semester, the last week of my internship (which will be followed by a three week break before my full-time job there starts), my imminent 27th birthday (doom), oh, and the 10k trail walk run up at Bear Mountain this weekend. Never mind that my hamstrings, glutes, and groin are still shot and I haven’t run more than three miles (at a 15-minute mile pace, mind you) in six weeks …

So, back to the bakery.

Featured Bakery Item #1: Raw Macaroons

On Wednesday, I brought home a hunk of fresh coconut that Jessica gave me at work. Remember this?

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Between having raw coconut in my hands and all the raw talk that’s been going around lately, I had only one thing on my mind: raw coconut macaroons!

IMG_9325I’ve been drooling over Gina‘s Fitnessista macaroons for nearly a decade (ok, maybe only six months), so I was thrilled when Elisabeth at Jogger’s Life posted a similar recipe last week. I followed Elisabeth’s recipe with a few modifications: (1) after shredding my coconut, I only had 1/3 cup … so I halved the recipe and used (2) 1/2 cup almond flour (almonds ground in my coffee bean grinder) and (3) 1 Medjool date, chopped/mashed (I am processor-less) and (4) 1 tsp vanilla extract (I’m out of almond) and (5) nothing else, as the date was plenty sweetener for my minimized batch. (Oh, except I made half of the batch chocolate and mixed in unsweetened cocoa powder there).

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I formed my batter into eight little balls.

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And then, it was time to put them in the dehydrator.

Oh wait, I do not have a dehydrator! And, just as the folks at Turtle Mountain ignored my request for coconut ice cream, the folks at Excalibur ignored my request for a dehydrator. I guess I’m not worth a $300 top-of-the-line kitchen appliance. However, those of you blessed with dehydrators have nothing on me because I have an oven with a pilot light. Jealous?

Here are the little balls of delight after an overnight (nine hours!) in my off oven:

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They don’t look any different, do they? To tell the truth, while the texture was actually different (they were no longer sticky in the morning), the batter tasted just as yummy as (if not better than) the finished product.

Featured Bakery Item #2: Jam-Filled Berry Mini Muffins

Today at work (aka my last day as an intern!), my department was planning to have a potluck staff breakfast. It got rescheduled, but I kept to my original baking plan anyway!

I loosely used this recipe for Jam-Filled Almond Muffins from Eating Well. Changes included: (1) halving the recipe to make 12 mini-muffins instead of 12 regular muffins, (2) using only whole wheat flour, (3) replacing the sugar, buttermilk, juice, and oil with the cup of frozen fruit-on-the-bottom from the four fruit-on-the-bottom hotel yogurts I collected a couple weeks ago, (4) using the homemade black raspberry jam from Wife, and (5) eliminating the almond extract because I didn’t have it.

Here’s the jam-filling in progress:

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Topped off:

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And baked:

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Cross-section:

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Some of them got a little too jammy, but that’s actually a benefit in my opinion.

Featured Bakery Item #3: Carrot-Berry Mini Muffins

I was (probably unrealistically) afraid that I wouldn’t have enough muffins, so I decided to bake a second batch using this recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins, also from Eating Well. Changes included: (1) eliminating the upside-down topping so the muffins became carrot muffins, (2) halving the recipe to make 12 minis instead of 12 regulars, (3) using only whole wheat flour, (4) replacing the sugar, oil, juice, and crushed pineapple with a 4 oz. Dole tropical fruit cup and 1/4 cup of the homemade black raspberry jam, and (5) putting nuts only on top instead of mixing them into the batter.

They looked a little green after baking:

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But they still tasted yummy!

What’s your stance on baking substitutions?

P.S. First, I was famous for my balls. Now, it’s my eggs. What’s next?

Pineapple bomb

Featured Snack Failure: Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing

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img_9192I’ve had a major food disappointment. When this Just Pineapple Powder (freeze-dried pineapples crushed into a powder with nothing added!) arrived for me from Just Tomatoes last week, the first thing that popped into my mind was pineapple cream cheese icing and how amazing it would taste slathered on a hunk of carrot cake. I never got around to making the carrot cake, but the icing simply could not wait.ย  I followed my own instructions for healthy cream cheese icing and then mixed half the packet of this powder into it. It tasted fine in the momentย  — not as pineappley as I would have liked but nothing I would turn my nose up at. I packed a cup of it and planned to use it as a dip for my apple slices at work the next day.
When the appointed time arrived at work, I went to the fridge and excitedly lifted out what was going to be the best snack of the year. I could tell something was wrong immediately. Before I even opened the container, I could see that my icing had turned to complete liquid. I opened it to take a taste and nearly gagged as I was hit with overwhelming bitterness, not unlike my mom’s unfortunate pineapple-ricotta pie experiment last Hanukkah that I ended up repurposing into this. I should have known no good would come from the pineapple-ricotta pairing! Now my pineapple powder is gone, but if I had more, I would try mixing it with straight cream cheese. I have a feeling that would be more successful.

Anyway, all was not lost because I obviously had to find a way to re-use the pineapple cream cheese icing nastiness. I’ll save that story for another day.

img_9186With the other half of the pineapple powder packet, I had more success. I’ve already mentioned the pineapple-coconut- ginger peanut butter I made in some previous posts, and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. I don’t remember exactly how I did it, but I know that the process involved my coffee bean grinder, my immersion blender, some heat treatment, lots of taste-testing, and these:

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(side note: I had a bite of this Peeled pineapple before I chopped the rest for the peanut butter and, ohhhhh my goodness, it was amazing. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to find unsweetened dried pineapple. It’s SO sweet on its own without anything else added.)

At first, I didn’t think the peanut butter was pineappley enough, but that may have been because I’d been taste-testing it all afternoon and had become immune to the flavor. In subsequent days, however, I have not noticed this problem. In fact, I can’t stop taking little tastes because the flavor of each ingredient comes through so deliciously!

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In conclusion, I wish I had more Just Pineapple Powder. It has so much potential, but I have not been able to tap it fully yet. (And be cautious when mixing with yogurt and/or ricotta!)

Featured Contributions: Wednesday

Well, you know what I had for breakfast, you know what I had for lunch, and you know that at least one of my snacks involved a variation on an item mentioned above. All that’s left to address is the contributions!

Fresh coconut from Jessica:

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I actually took a smaller piece to eat and brought this bigger one (about 2 inches by 2 inches) home for a special project that is underway as I write.

Small forkful of spicy shredded chicken from Mildred’s taco. It was too hot for her but perfect for me:

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Trouble from Nydia involving between 1/4 – 1/2 cup of mixed nuts (especially brazil nuts and hazelnuts, yummmm!) and approximately seven yogurt-covered pretzels:

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I decided that the nuts and pretzels were going to count as my dinner. Oh, and then I heard that there were leftovers from a belated cinco de mayo party in the Parent & Me group downstairs, so these slices (yes, plural) of coconut cake roll also became dinner:

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And this piece of pecan doughnut from the famous Doughnut Plant also became dinner on the drive home when Pura passed it up to Mildred and Mildred shared with me:

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(You’d have to be pretty thick in the head to turn down a Doughnut Plant doughnut. If you ever have a chance, you MUST try their tres leches doughnut. No words.)

There was also a GIANT mango from Myrna to thank me for proofreading her paper (next to 1/2 cup for perspective):

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I did not eat it tonight, but I diced it and gnawed all the extra flesh off of the skin as I did so!

Have you had any snack failures recently? Where you able to rescue them?

Holes and suction cups

Featured Lunch: Huevos Expan-cheros

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Perhaps you remember last Friday (or perhaps you don’t) when Nydia brought a ton of food to work that her mom had made:

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Nydia is Puerto Rican (as in, she was born in Puerto Rico, and her mom is from there, too), so I can only imagine that this beans, pork, and rice brilliance is some sort of secret Puerto Rican delicacy. It might be better than chocolate cake?

Anyway, starting this past weekend and continuing through my lunches this week, I’ve been milking Nydia’s leftovers by parceling them out into this pile of perfection:

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My “huevos expan-cheros” (if you’re lost with this name, I am very cleverly making a play on huevos rancheros) include one beaten egg fried in a tsp of canola, wrapped around a hefty handful of arugula, and topped with 1/2 cup of Nydia’s mom’s rice, beans, and pork (I mixed them all together), a drizzle of plain yogurt, and 1/8 sliced avocado:

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It’s pretty much safe to assume that every day around 12:15 this week, I have been (and will continue to be) closing my eyes in ecstasy with every. single. bite.

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Featured Contributions: Tuesday

Tuesday, like most days in my office, was full of fun little contributions that kept me on my toes all day long.

Avocado slice and salad extras from Nydia and Jessica’s salad:

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Salad extras from Mildred and Myrna’s salad:

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Because everyone ordered salads for lunch, Mildred decided it would be a good idea to supplement with glazed donut holes:

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I did not have a salad for lunch (I had huevos expancheros, of course), but I still decided it would be a good idea to supplement with three donut holes.

Inginia also appeared with some leftover lunch items of absolutely staggering flavor complexity. I was full so I had little tastes, almost passed out from delight, and then brought the rest home to use for dinner. Here’s 1/2 cup peppery salmon noodles:

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And the most beautiful non-dessert contribution ever, Inginia’s homemade ceviche! I managed to sneak about a cup of this home with me, and I devoured it over a bed of arugula and 1/2 cup couscous-lentil mix from the restaurant last Thursday.

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This ceviche rivaled even the ceviche I had in Peru, the ceviche (or so they claim) capitol of the world, and it looked like a rainbow to boot.

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See the little baby suction cup? Awwwww … Mara, can this qualify for Cute Food Saturday?

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SweetiePie from Just Sweet Enough gave me this sweeeeeet award, and I’m tickled pink purple because I think her blog is super, too! Go check it out, especially since she recently baked something called Derby Day Brownies that made me go weak in the knees … while I was sitting down. Also, I hereby pass this blog award onto to anyone who is still reading my blog despite the sporadic posting and nonstop talk of stress. Please go right ahead and post this badge on your site immediately! I love reading everything you write, and I find it one of the best ways to de-stress. Muchas gracias!

When was the last time you had a donut hole (aka munchkin!)? Also, how frustrated do you get when suction cups do not stay stuck where you put them?