2. Listening: “Secrets” by Mary Lambert is a quirky, fun song. The lyrics make me laugh and the song is upbeat — perfect for Friday.
3. Eating: thinkThin came out with 2 delicious seasonal protein & fiber bars: Pumpkin Spice and Dark Chocolate Peppermint. I almost always prefer peppermint to pumpkin but I picked up both, for obvious reasons. Must taste test all seasonal products! Believe it or not, I actually liked the Pumpkin Spice a lot better. I even went back to Whole Foods the next day for more. The Dark Chocolate Peppermint was pretty good, but I think I preferred the Pumpkin because it was covered in white chocolate. The combo rocks.
Ohhh man. If I could eat one thing every single day, I’d probably choose hummus. Yes, hummus over chocolate. You read that right. I’m a sucker for a lusciously creamy hummus that’s so smooth it seems like a sin. One of my foodie friends here and I both have a love for Mediterranean food, so that’s usually our go-to cuisine when we eat together.
I had read oodles of glowing reviews for Cafe Barada in Cambridge, and after a Boston–>Charleston friend highly recommended it too, I knew I had a winner. After a killer spin class at Turnstyle last night, my buddy Mick and I made moves to North Cambridge for a phenomenal meal.
The two of us are trouble together; we both think of eating as a sport and it’s like a competition as to who can stuff themselves more. He always wins but I’d like to think I can put up a good fight. Any time we’ve eaten together, we usually share a bunch of apps so we can try a lot of items. Tonight wasn’t very different as we chose the family style option for a little bit of everything.
Our starter plates were hummus and baba ghannouj with stuffed grape leaves. I usually find that hummus is either thick and somewhat gritty or lusciously creamy. Cafe Barada makes the latter. It was so light that it was almost fluffy. Wonderful. Baba ghannouj is a tricky one, prepared so many ways depending on the region the chef is from. It can be chunky, where you actually see bits of the eggplant, or whipped similarly to hummus. This was the first baba ghannouj that I’ve ever liked. It was amazing! I couldn’t stop eating it.
We also had fattoush — a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, parsley, crunchy pita bread and spices. I loved this too! It definitely had sumac in it, which is a really lovely tart spice.
And then came the meat plate. Protein overload. It consisted of chicken shish kebab, beef shish kebab, and kafte kebab (ground beef with parsley & onion) all over a plate of buttery rice pilaf and grilled veggies.
Wow. The kafte was my favorite, followed by the chicken. The grilled squash was sweet and buttery and the tomatoes juicy. I really enjoyed slathering baba ghannouj all over the meats, while Mick preferred making mini wraps with the pita bread and hummus.
We were stuffed to the brim–well, I was but Mick kept going–when our server reminded us we still had dessert. I almost opted to take mine home but Mick wasn’t having it, saying it would be better enjoyed in the restaurant. Ha. I told him I would love to be eating this on my couch in yoga pants, but I settled since I was…still in yoga pants. The baklava was unreal.
If you’ve never had baklava, do yourself a favor and find some. If it’s made right, it’s crazy good. This Turkish pastry is made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey. Yeah, let that sit for a minute.
I know I still am. I’m currently sprawled out on my couch still stuffed to the brim from all this amazing food. I live 1/2 a mile from Cafe Barada so I’m anxious to go back. And often.
Favorite Mediterranean cuisine/dish? I love Turkish, Lebanese, and Israeli dishes most. Aside from my obsession with hummus, I really love shawarma (I eat it at least once a week!), ful medames, and shaksuka, and falafel.
Before I moved up here, my aunt Tina told me “Oh Christina, I’m just going to warn you, it’s really casual here.” I thought that was a funny warning, but as someone who would be happy wearing yoga pants 5 days out of the week, I wasn’t worried. To an extent, she was right. People just don’t glam it up if you will as much as in the south. Girls don’t seem as into their hair/makeup/big purses/dresses as my ladies in Charleston. Another observation I’ve had is that people don’t just dress more casual per se, but more athletic. WIN. As an alumna of the College of Charleston, part of my degree taught me how to complete an outfit with yoga pants. I’m kidding. Kind of. But seriously, I’ll never hate on a city that has a surplus of people that are either trying to get fit or at least pretending they are.
Because I’m right there with them. Constantly battling the question of:
Am I wearing yoga pants today because I’m going to work out or am I wearing yoga pants today because I’m going shopping?
NOBODY HAS TO KNOW!!!
Allow me to share some recent purchases that fit into my “Comfort Meets Cute” category.
As I mentioned last Friday, I fell in love with this Threads 4 Thought Judy Sweatshirt. Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to order the Orbit color! I bought this directly off the Threads 4 Thought site, but you can also find some pieces at Whole Foods and Nordstrom.
I’ve blogged about them before, but the Reebok Skyscape Runaround sneakers are the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn. I got the pink pair as a blog promotion, but bought the black pair as soon as they went on sale. My boss tried mine on and bought two pairs the same weekend. Luck was in my favor when I had a work event with Reebok a couple weeks ago. They were having a 50% off sale and I snagged a purple pair and a grey pair for only $30 each.
It may seem crazy to have four pairs of the same shoe, but I’m not kidding when I say that I’m hoarding them in case they ever stop selling them. I walk and stand a lot for work and these babies save my life.
I wear the Skyscapes a lot, but I wanted something a little thicker for winter. I had a gift certificate to New Balance so I found what’s either the ugliest pair of shoes or the happiest pair of shoes. Here’s the Static 574 in green apple.
Upon submitting my order, my roommate said “Ew, no, don’t buy those. They look like vomit.” They might, but they make me smile. My two favorite colors!
Last Sunday I had a work event with Lululemon–are you sensing a trend here?–and they’re always generous when we come onsite. One free tank, yes please!! I’m usually overwhelmed with all the store’s options, but when I saw lime green peeking out of a tank I was sold.
That is the Seek The Heat tank in heathered slate/almost pear. How about that backside?! It appears more yellow online but in real life it’s a soft chartreuse. But I appreciate Lululemon for naming that color after a fruit.
One last find is this Leisure Hooded Tunic from Target. Like the Judy hoodie, it’s fleece lined and super soft. I bought it in this heather blue color but ended up returning it because it was too long. However, if you’re taller than me (5’2″), go get this! It’s really cute on and would look great with leggings.
Side note: either I’m getting old or that girl looks 12. I promise I found the tunic in the adult section despite the model who’s rockin’ it like she just left middle school cheer practice.
Any recent “comfort meets cute” finds for you? Are you like me and enjoy living in yoga pants?
Oh man. I spoke too soon. When I mentioned on instagram that I’m on Team Peppermint (not Team Pumpkin), I hadn’t made these cookies. Sure, I can appreciate all the pumpkin-flavored goodies that come out this time of year, but I don’t go all BSC for it. I’m much more of a peppermint kinda gal who will gladly wait until post-Thanksgiving to have my preferred treats.
But when I made these cookies on Friday I started having second thoughts as to which team I should be on. (KIDDING.) Have you ever been stirring the batter for a new recipe, and while tasting it you thought it would come out amazing, but the baked good didn’t live up to your expectations? I often find that I enjoy the batter more than the actual cookie. When I first tried this dough I literally said aloud “Oh shit. These are gonna be good.” After a few more spoonfuls to the mouth, I decided I better get these in the oven before I lost all self control.
Super Soft Glazed Pumpkin Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup grandulated sugar
1 cup 100% pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk (or dairy alternative — I used almond milk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350*. Grease baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract until blended. Gradually add in flour mixture.
Drop by rounded tablespoon on baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, gently flatten the mounds. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until edges and tops are slightly firm. Cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes then transfer to wire rack.
To make glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Drizzle over cookies. Makes about 24 cookies.
Chocolate chip cookies will always be my #1, but I can firmly avow that these may be #2. I was shocked by how soft they came out. And honestly, with the glaze, they taste like a doughnut! I brought some to my neighbors across the street and this is the conversation that ensued.
Neighbor: Seriously, how did you make these cookies so soft?
Me: It’s the pumpkin! And magic.
Neighbor: We love you over here. You bring us cookies. You take care of us. You’re like our mom.
Me: YOUR MOM? *awkward*
Here I thought these would qualify as engagement cookies (they’re that good!), but instead, I got called a mom.
Truth be told, this individual did end up asking me out, so whether he sees me as a mom or a total babe is up for debate. I’ll keep you posted. But for now, MAKE THESE COOKIES!