Category Archives: Food

crock pot chicken meal prep

I Tried Buzzfeed’s Meal Prep Plan So You Don’t Have To | BEDA Day 24

Meal Prep Sunday should seem like a total dream to a lazy girl like myself. You get all your cooking for the week out of the way on one afternoon and spend minimal time in the kitchen after work. It’s easy and helps you stay on a healthy diet. Despite all this, I couldn’t quite get behind the meal prep craze until recently. I never have quite enough time on Sundays to do all the necessary cooking, and doing a big shop every week can add up. After a week of one too many Seamless orders, though, I decided to give it a try.

I’d been eyeing this meal prep plan from Buzzfeed for a while. It uses lots of my favorite foods and each dish looks great on its own. A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and set aside a few hours to get everything together.

I made a few changes to the plan to fit my personal preferences. I don’t eat a lot of pork, so I swapped that out for a pound or so of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes or corn, so those were out. My local grocery store was also out of zucchini, so I skipped that as well.

My first step when I got home was to get the chickens going in the crock-pot. I consider myself a bit of a crock-pot master, so this was easy enough. About halfway through the chicken’s cook time, I started in on the veggies. The carrots I bought were not nearly as thick as those pictured in the article, but I figured I’d give them a try anyway. I doused the carrots and peppers in oil and seasonings and popped them in the oven on a baking tray.

As this was my first foray into roasting, I wasn’t totally sure I was doing the right thing. As it turns out, I wasn’t. I put the vegetables on a flat baking sheet rather than one meant for roasting, and they burnt to a crisp. Some of the peppers were salvageable, but the carrots were a complete disaster. Rookie mistake, Dow.

While the vegetables were roasting burning, I threw a few cups of rice into a pot. It ended up being WAY more rice than I could possibly need on my own, so I froze half of it. Hopefully it’ll actually be edible down the road. I steamed some broccoli as well to get some greens good to go.

The chicken came out tender and delicious, as it usually does after a few hours of slow cooking. Again, I probably made way more than I actually needed and threw most of it in a large tupperware in the refrigerator.

I ate my first meal, the rice bowl, that night. It wasn’t quite as bland as I thought it would be, as everything was fresh from the oven/stove/crock-pot. A little shredded cheese would’ve added something to it, but I forgot to pick that up at the grocery store. It fueled me up for a night of drinks and comedy with some coworkers and I only ordered one snack at the bar.

The next night I went with fried rice, which is pretty much a staple of my cooking repertoire. The rice took a minute or two to declump from sitting in the refrigerator, but after improvising with some of the chicken, it turned out pretty well. I saved a bit for lunch, but forgot to bring it with me in the morning. Such is life.

After an evening gym session on Tuesday, I wasn’t really in the mood to prep anything for dinner. I ended up leaving everything in the refrigerator and heated up a frozen pizza instead. I went with fried rice again on Wednesday night, as I needed to cook something fast before running some errands. Things were starting to smell kind of iffy by Thursday, so I dumped the extra chicken and rice and ended up making some pasta instead.

So, did Meal Prep Sunday work out for me? Yes and no. I got a few easy dishes out of it, but after a few days, nothing in the plan looked particularly appetizing. I also ended up cooking way more food than I actually needed, and it kind of pained me to throw it out after a few days. On the bright side, I learned from my roasting failure and had a few days of excellent chicken.

I would probably try another meal prep plan before embarking on this one again. Something with less meat and more ingredients I will actually eat. My friend Amanda has made a bunch of videos about meal prep and cooking that have given me some great ideas. As for the Buzzfeed plan, it’s going to take a little time before I try it again.

U Street

A Culinary Tour of DC and Arlington | BEDA Day 21

DC Food-4

Last weekend, I joined some of my favorite ladies in the world for a weekend of adventures in Washington, DC and the surrounding area. We were there to celebrate Leslie’s birthday and finally hang out like real adults, outside of a conference setting. It was an amazing three days filled with great talks, near-perfect weather, and lots of food. Seriously, by some happy accident most of the weekend revolved around eating and drinking.

U Street Mural 2

After checking into our AirBnB in Arlington, we made our way down to U Street to check out the scene. The U Street Corridor has been experiencing something of a renaissance in the last few decades, and is now home to lots of cool shops, bars, and clubs. While wandering the neighborhood, we found this gorgeous mural and had to do a bit of a photoshoot.

U Street Mural 1

If you find a mural in a city alley and don’t take an OOTD photo, where you really ever there?

u street mural 3

The lovely Allyson

The Saloon DC 1

At the suggestion of Amanda, we stopped into The Saloon, a no-frills bar and restaurant on the main drag. The Saloon is all about social interaction – you won’t find any TVs here and cell phones are highly discouraged. Their beer selection is top notch, though. I fell in love with a fruity wheat beer called Ruby Red that I will probably never be able to find again. I guess it’s better to have loved and lost, than to not have tasted Ruby Red at all.

The Saloon DC 1DC Metro

Remember when I said this was our first time hanging out outside of a conference? Well, we managed to find one anyway. After a breakfast of beignets at Bayou Bakery, we took the Metro down to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to check out the USA Science & Engineering Festival. While the exhibitors geared their booths more towards kids, it was cool too see all the innovation coming out of the participating organizations. Seeing so many kids, particularly girls, get excited about STEM and STEAM work was particularly heart-warming.

ragtime arlington bloody mary bar

We all managed to sleep in on Sunday and met up for brunch at Ragtime, a casual spot with Cajun flair. Ragtime is particularly well known for their Sunday brunch menu, featuring waffle and Bloody Mary bars, live music, and plenty of other goodies. As a Leslie Knope-in-training, I went straight for the waffle bar, piling on all the fruit and syrup my heart desired. Between that and several cups of coffee, I was highly content.
ragtime arlington live music ragtime arlington bar

All in all, it was a really great weekend. We may have laid pretty low, but it was so nice to have a few days to recharge and catch up with great friends that I don’t get to see that often. Sometimes just having a few beers in someone’s apartment is better than seeing everything a city has to offer. Plus, look at the sunset from our AirBnB. Why would I want to miss that?

arlington sunset

DC, thanks for a great few days. I’ll be back before you know it.

where to eat in theatre district

Five Great Places to Eat in New York’s Theatre District | BEDA Day 9

I see a lot of theatre, and as such, spend a lot of time in New York’s Theatre District. The West 40s are littered with restaurants, bars, and cafes catering to the millions of theatre-goers passing through the area each year. And I’ve been to…a lot of them.

Almost any type of cuisine you can think of is available just minutes from Times Square, and the amount of choices can be pretty overwhelming. It’s easy to just say “screw it” and end up at an overpriced chain restaurant right across the street from your theatre. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with convenience – I used to frequent happy hour at Jekyll & Hyde before it closed (RIP, old friend) – but there are some great places just a few blocks away from the main drag. The next time you’re in town for a show, check out some of these spots for a bite.

For Pre-Matinee Brunch: Pigalle 

This cute French bistro at 48th Street & 8th Avenue is popular with both tourists and the theatre community, and for good reason. Pigalle’s brunch menu features classic French dishes like croque monsieur and breakfast staples like challah french toast. I recently came here before a matinee of School of Rock and enjoyed a light, fluffy waffle and way too much coffee. I also enjoyed pretending I was in Smash for an hour, as the infamous NBC musical drama shot several scenes here. For the record, I’m Team Ivy.

For When Your Parents Are in Town: Esca

This restaurant, a joint venture from Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lydia Bastianich, and David Pasternack, has become a family favorite in recent months. Esca specializes in Southern Italian seafood, particularly of the raw variety. Their crudo, or raw fish, is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. If you’re not feeling too adventurous, Esca also offers plenty of classic pasta dishes. They also have plenty of options for the gluten-free crowd. Naturally, this place is a little pricey, so it’s definitely a  good place to bring your folks for dinner if they’re feeling generous.

For a Cold Winter’s Night: Obao

I am kind of obsessed with this Thai and Vietnamese spot in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Plenty of New York eateries have trendy interiors, but can’t quite deliver on the culinary aspect. Obao’s trendy ambiance is almost as spectacular as it’s menu of noodles, barbecue, and cocktails. Their Pho Bo is guaranteed to warm you up after a day of standing in the rain trying to get Hamilton tickets. Best of all, everything is really reasonably priced. Their lunch special (appetizer and entree for $9) is one of the best deals in the city, at least in my mind.

For Post-Show Cocktails: Bea

There must be something about the corner of 43rd Street & 9th Avenue, seeing as two spots on my list are located there. Bea, unlike Esca, is a little more casual and known for their menu of creative cocktails and bar bites. It’s not quite as rowdy as some of the other bars in the area, which makes it great for post-show discussions over a “Tottenville Tea” or “Lavender Monk.” Their flatbreads are also fantastic if you’re feeling a bit peckish after four hours of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

For Something Sweet: Schmackary’s

Schmackary’s, home to some of the best cookies in New York, quickly became a big part of my theatre-going routine after I moved here last year. After a show, if it’s not completely freezing out, you’ll usually find me waiting in line here for a Classic Chocolate Chip cookie and a decaf tea. Schmackary’s cookies are always fresh and never overly-sweet. Their cookies come in a huge range of flavors (including gluten and nut-free options), so you’ll definitely find something to tempt your tastebuds.

Hopefully, you’re feeling a little more equipped to handle the culinary jungle that is the Theatre District and Hell’s Kitchen. New Yorkers, let me know your favorite places to eat in the area. I’m always looking for new places to check out!

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6 Things I Did This Weekend Instead of Interacting With Humans | BEDA Day 4

I really haven’t had a weekend at home, without any plans, in a while. The prospect of an open weekend is always both exciting and a bit scary for me as someone smack-dab in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. I finally have time to check off all the items on my (very extensive) to-do list, yet I feel a twinge of FOMO and the pressure to see people. This weekend I spent 48 hours taking care of my home and myself, with like two social interactions in between. Here’s how I spent my hermit weekend.

  1. Deep cleaned my apartment. After weeks of traveling back and forth to Philly, a little spring cleaning was absolutely necessary. I’m a generally disorganized person, but clearing out the crap makes it so much easier to think and create and just live. Also, I cleaned my sheets which made it much more difficult to get out of bed this morning.
  2. Got a facial. I haven’t gotten a facial in…a while, which was pretty apparent when I met with my skin therapist at HeyDay. Needless to say, I needed some work. My clogged pores aside, they did a great job and I would totally go back. Everyone needs a little pampering once in a while.
  3. Bought an overall dress. Sometimes you see an overall dress on Topshop’s website in a petite size and you just have to go for it. I’m 75% sure this is getting returned, but for now I’m looking forward to cosplaying an extra on Clarissa Explains It All.
  4. Tried and failed to resell old clothes. You know that episode of Broad City where Abby attempts to sell a bunch of clothes at Beacon’s Closet and the pretentious sales lady only takes one bag? That happened to me this weekend (albeit not at Beacon’s Closet). It’s not like my clothes were in bad shape, they just didn’t quite meet the style requirements of that particular shop. My 11:30am walk of shame out of there was pretty embarrassing.
  5. Made coq au vin. Not trying to brag, but I’m turning into a pretty amazing cook. With the ample time available to me on this free weekend, I decided to attempt The Financial Diet’s crock-pot coq au vin recipe and it was delicious. I’m not sure if I got the whole wine reduction thing right, but the whole thing still tasted pretty great. 10/10, would recommend.
  6. Saw Zootopia. Holy crap, you guys. Have you seen this movie?! Come for the adorable animals, stay for the commentary on institutionalized racism. And Shakira as a gazelle. I may have cried a little.

Overall, it was a pretty solid weekend, but I think I’m ready to return to the land of the living again. How were your weekends, friends?

Skyline

Brunch and Bowling | A Weekend in Minneapolis

When Minneapolis was announced as the host city for the inaugural Nerdcon: Stories, it didn’t seem like the most obvious choice. I’ve traveled to more “destination” cities like LA and San Diego before for conventions, but never anywhere too far north. Regardless, I was excited to spend some time in Minneapolis during the con. I haven’t traveled extensively in the midwest, so Minnesota is some uncharted territory.

hen house 1

Unfortunately, thanks to the nature of conventions, we didn’t have a ton of time for sightseeing. We still managed to find some cute places to eat, though. One of my favorite spots in town is Hen House, a bar, bakery and breakfast joint just a few blocks from the convention center. My friends and I had some killer omelettes and mimosas between sessions on Saturday morning. Hen House is known for their giant cinnamon rolls (which are heavenly), but the crown jewel of the menu in my mind is their hash browns. Crisp, delicious, and very filling. I’m a sucker for some good potatoes. Our first breakfast was so good, we decided to come back for more on Sunday.

hen house 2

On Saturday night, we headed over to Brit’s Pub for dinner and drinks. Most pubs in America are pretty interchangeable in my mind, but Brit’s local charm and great selection of pub grub sets it apart. They have a great selection of local brews and to sip on their awesome roofdeck. We had some great weather all weekend and were happy to take full advantage of it.

Bar 1

Bar 2

Brit’s also has a super cool green rooftop for lawn bowling and the occasional screenings. Sadly, no one was out bowling that night, but I would happily go back for a round the next time I’m in Minneapolis. We did get to catch an amazing sunset on our way out, which perfectly complemented the old-timey streetlights on the rooftop.

sunset 1

Of course, what would a weekend in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area be without a cheeky trip to that great monument to Capitalism, the Mall of America? My friends and I actually did a good deal of shopping between MoA and the the flagship Target in downtown Minneapolis. Although we decided to pass on the amusement park, we did score some pretty great deals (no sales tax on clothing in MN!) and put a few miles on our boots. Nick Cannon also happened to be shooting a segment for TeenNick at the mall that afternoon, so we were in good company.

MoA

Sure, most of my non-convention time in Minneapolis was spent eating or shopping, but I still had a great time. I’ll most likely be back next year, hopefully with a bit more time to explore the city.

Have you been to Minneapolis? What are some of your favorite spots in the city? Give me some recommendations for next year in the comments!

Image via saccodent

Five Reasons Why Fall is the Superior Season

I have a confession to make. I, Charlotte Dow, am a basic fall bitch.

Tomorrow is the first day of fall and I couldn’t be more excited. Don’t get me wrong, every season has its perks. My fragile constitution just can’t handle the extremes of summer and winter. I much prefer the more temperate, in-betweeny seasons of spring and fall. Since spring comes with allergies that have me sniveling for weeks, that leaves fall as the supreme. I feel like fall never really got the respect it deserved until recently. Now every #brand cashes in on the change of seasons well before the calendar even turns to September. I don’t even mind the fall-sploitation. Bring on the pumpkin-flavored everything.

Not convinced? Here are five reasons why fall is the superior season.

1. New TV Shows! New Theatre! New Everything!

The drop in temperature gives us all plenty of excuses to stay inside and enjoy an avalanche of new entertainment. September and October are chock full of season and series premieres on TV. I’m particularly looking forward to the returns of The Leftovers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Luckily, they both air on Sundays, so I can balance the completely grim with the completely silly. Plus, as I mentioned in my Broadway on a budget post, the new theatre season has plenty to offer. Between Allegiance, Spring Awakening, Fiddler on the Roof, and King Charles III, my sippy cup full of theatre wine runneth over.

2. Dat Fall Foliage, Tho

While I still live in the northeast, I feel like I haven’t seen fall in its full glory since I moved to the city. The lack of trees is a bit of a problem and I haven’t had a ton of chances to go frolic in a pumpkin patch (or whatever it is that country folk do this time of year). This year, I’m determined to get in some quality time with the changing landscape. The vibrance of the fall colors up here make the brutal winters almost worth it. Almost.

3. HALLOWEEN

I mean, this should be reason enough to love fall. Yeah, putting together a costume (and plans) for Halloween tends to stress me out, but the night is so fun that I don’t even care. I’m not a huge fan of horror, but I love getting a little spooky. I’m so ready for some witchy-themed drinks, Hocus Pocus reruns, and thinkpieces on the occult. Plus, adorably-packaged candy never really gets old.

4. Peak Sweater Season

Once we hit about mid-October, I start rocking my cold-weather uniform: boots, leggings/pants, and a comfy sweater. I’ll admit, this ensemble does kind of lose its charm around February, but fall is a time to enjoy the novelty of being fully-covered and cozy. After months of freezing in my over air-conditioned office, I can wear something warm without sweating through my commute. I truly thrive in jewel-toned cashmere.

5. Pumpkin. Beer.

Do I really need to justify this one?

Now that I’ve convinced you all of autumn’s superiority, what are you looking forward to this season? If you’re in New York, Buzzfeed has compiled a list of killer fall activities in and around the city.

I have truly proved myself basic. Pass me a PSL.

Home

Things I Like About Being Home:

  1. Food, for the most part. Mom’s been on another health kick lately, so the refrigerator is full of almond milk and old oatmeal. This is a good thing, since my diet at school consists mostly of microwavable meals from Trader Joe’s (nom) and spaghetti. Being home also usually means that I’m going to visit family in the near future, which means I get to gorge myself on whatever that family member or the restaurant we decide to go to is serving. And that is usually quite good.
  2. Being able to see the stars at night. I think I kind of took advantage of that privilege when I was in high school. I never really noticed how amazing a clear night can be until I moved to the city where the night sky is constantly blank.
  3. My dog, Teddy. He’s kind of the best. If you ever have the opportunity to adopt a cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle mix), take it.
  4. Tea. And lots of it.
  5. My car. I really enjoy the freedom of being able to drive wherever I want. I love public transportation, but it’s very limited in Philly. Having the freedom to drive to the mall without worrying about walking through a sketchy neighborhood or getting dropped off five miles from your final destination is the best.
  6. Coffee shops galore! Sure, there are hundreds in Philly, some just a few blocks from campus, but again, they’re a hassle to get to. The ones in my hometown are easy to get to and I feel super comfortable working in them. Milkboy Coffee and the Gryphon Cafe are my two homes not so far from home.
  7. Netflix on my Wii. I don’t often watch Doctor Who on an actual television, but when I do, it is glorious.
  8. High school friends.
  9. My parents.
  10. My baby grand piano. I only really play it when I’m alone in the house (self-consciousness for the win), but I really love it. It looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, and is beautiful.