Dominique Ansel’s Cookie Shot!

At last! I finally tried Dominique Ansel‘s famous cookie shot. (I still have yet to try his even-more-famous Cronut. Someday… when the lines die down!) I waited in a short and fairly painless line for the cookie shot, which the bakery starts selling at 3:00 p.m. The staff formed a separate “cookie shot” line for customers outside. For those purchasing other bakery items, there was a general line kept inside the store. Sounds crazy, but it actually works pretty efficiently. I arrived around 2:40 p.m. and stepped in line outside. I was probably 6th or 7th in line… not too shabby!

Dominique Ansel Cookie Shot

Once inside — a little after 3:00 p.m., I ordered my cookie shot, which came served with ice cold vanilla bean-infused milk. I honestly kept my expectations low. I thought the cookie would be dry — but it blew my mind! You know those super soft, gooey, heavenly chocolate chip cookies you had growing up? They just tasted so sweet and chewy, but now are so hard to replicate when baking on your own? That’s how the cookie shot tasted. I don’t even know what it was — could it have been the butter content, sugar, number of chocolate chips? No idea. But it just WORKS. I drank the milk right away. If you don’t, the cookie will start leaking from the bottom! Mine was almost getting close to that point.

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Here’s a shot post-milk swigging… after a few bites. At this point it was almost like a cookie taco or mini burrito. Yum!

Dominique Ansel Cookie Shot

Dominique Ansel Cookie Shot

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon

Froyo at The Plaza Food Hall’s YoArt

With the warmer temps lately, I’ve been craving froyo more and more! It never fails to hit the spot. A few weeks ago, my co-worker and I stepped out at lunch to treat ourselves at the Plaza Food Hall’s YoArt. I’d never been! My usual go-to place is 16 Handles — they’re everywhere. But I loved this place! It’s a tad on the pricier side, but the place is super clean, not too crowded and they have TONS of amazing toppings. My order: Milk & Cookies froyo (similar to cookies ‘n creme — but way better) topped with pink sprinkles, gummy bears, cookie dough bits and mini peanut butter cups. It definitely won two thumbs up from me. But next time, I’m going sans-gummy bears — they froze and became rock solid! (Seems obvious that they would, but I never even thought about it!) Still delicious though… :-D

Froyo at YoArt Froyo at YoArt

YoArt at The Plaza Food Hall on Urbanspoon

Graduation Weekend in Madison

Congratulations to my brother, who just graduated from UW-Madison last weekend! I flew into town to take part in the festivities. All I can say is I feel OLD. I only graduated (from Madison) two years ago — but going back, it feels so much longer! Either way, it was so nice to be back for a few days to see all my family and friends. :-D

5-25-2014 Graduation Weekend

The whole weekend pretty much consisted of various celebrations — parties, dinners and of course, the ceremony itself. The first night, we went to dinner at Brickhouse BBQ with a huge group of his fraternity friends.

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Later on, we went out for drinks, and I got to meet up with a bunch of my college friends! I haven’t seen some of them for over a year. Here’s a shot of a bunch of the siblings… me and my brother on the left!

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Saturday was graduation time! For the first time in 25 years, the ceremony was held at Camp Randall (the football stadium). To be honest, I was a little concerned about the weather. But it turned out to be just fine — in the 60’s and sunny! Apparently, about 6,000 kids attended the ceremony!

UW-Madison Graduation 2014 at Camp Randall

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We stopped at the Union after the ceremony to take some pics (my brother’s favorite part! NOT…).

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Turned out to be a beautiful day!

UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace

Then, onnnn to dinner #2. On Saturday, we had dinner with my dad’s side of the family at the Madison Club. I ordered scallops (not pictured), but obviously I got a shot of the most important part: dessert! This was the chocolate torte — garnished with raspberries, a chocolate-dipped cookie and the prettiest edible chocolate design I’ve ever seen!

Chocolate Torte

Chocolate Torte

Another photo opp! This time, a cousin pic.

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And a big group shot! For some reason, my cousin and I ended up in the front. Don’t ask me why it worked out this way, but the positioning of everyone in the pic actually worked out well in the end!

IMG_4926 Capitol in Madison

On Sunday, we had the last and final dinner for my brother with my mom’s family. The highlight: red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert — my fave! :-D (Not going to lie, I did have some influence over this pick… muahaha). Isn’t it pretty?

Graduation Cake

 

6 No-Bake Desserts for Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day! How are you celebrating? With lots of delicious food, drinks and relaxation I hope. :-D Whenever a holiday rolls around, the first thing on my mind is dessert (naturally). So for this occasion, I rounded up a few amazing no-bake desserts. They’re simple, and perfect for the warmer weather (now that we finally have some!). Check them out below:

1. Twinkie Strawberry Cheesecake Shortcake via Confessions of a Cookbook Queen (layers on layers on layers of strawberry goodness!):

Twinkie Strawberry Cheesecake Shortcake

2. Chocolate Dipped Fruit on a Stick via Family Fresh Cooking (okay… how cute are these?!):

Chocolate Dipped Fruit on a Stick

3. No-Bake S’mores Cheesecake Pie via Kitchen Addiction (Forget regular s’mores. I’ll take a slice or two of this!):

S'mores Cheesecake Pie

4. Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Parfaits via How Sweet It Is (Equal parts low-maintenance and delicious!):

Chocolate Chip Cookie Parfaits

5. No-Bake Peanut Butter S’mores Squares via How Sweet It Is (I’m ALL about this.):

Peanut Butter S'mores Squares

6. Chocolate-Covered Banana Bites via Tablespoon (Perfectly poppable!):

Chocolate-Covered Banana Bites

 

Pie Making Class at Pie Corps

Is there any dessert more classic than the apple pie? The answer is NO. Apple pie is practically synonymous with America. When I think of apple pie, I picture Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and backyard BBQ’s. It holds a major place in my heart — and my stomach! (And I know I’m not alone here.) But the thing is, I’ve never actually made one before. That’s why I was so excited to finally master the art of apple pie-making myself a few weeks ago. I took an amazing class at a Brooklyn shop called Pie Corps, where we learned the basics and even took home our very own pies!

Pie Collage 5-20-2014

I couldn’t stop staring at the shop’s extensive pie menu when I first walked in, which features a range of both sweet (my favorite!) and savory:

Pie Corps

After I arrived, we got right down to business. First up: we prepared the two crusts, and then it was time to prep the best part — the filling! Just look at all that juicy apple goodness.

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While our pies were in the oven, it was time for a little “pie 101.” Here were some of the fascinating pie facts I learned:

    • There are three main types of pastry crusts:
      (1) Pate Brisée (what we made!) — can be used for both sweet and savory pies; the crust itself contains no sugar
      (2) Pate Sucrée — contains sugar, and is typically used in sweet pies
      (3) Pate Sablée — consists of only flour and butter (no water), and features a crumbly texture
    • Think lard is “bad”? That’s a HUGE myth! The general public tends to believe that butter is the better choice, but guess what? Lard actually contains LESS saturated fat than butter. Here’s a great article from The New York Times that explains more.
    • Pie Corps’ “secret” apple pie ingredient = almond extract! It adds just the right note of sweetness to complement the apple and cinnamon.

Pie Corps Class

And drumroll, please…. here’s a look at the final product, right out of the oven! Pretty impressive for my first one, eh? ;-)

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Pie Class at Pie Corps

I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the pies on the menu! If you’re interested in the pies yourself, they’re sold at Pie Corps’ Brooklyn location at 77 Driggs Ave in Greenpoint, as well as several New York area locations! I can definitely recommend the apple. ;-)

Pie Class at Pie Corps

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Thanks again to Pie Corps for inviting me in! :-D

Pie Corps on Urbanspoon

Henry’s Hope Half Marathon

I finally did it! Last Saturday I completed my first-ever half marathon. My friend Val and I ran the Henry’s Hope Verrazano Festival of Races Half Marathon together, and it turned out to be a pretty awesome day (sans being sore)!

Half Marathon Collage 4-30-14

We met up just before the race. Funny story: after checking in, we looked for the bathrooms, only to soon realize that the port-a-potties had never arrived! Whaaaa? Bad news for those with small bladders such as myself. (I was pretty glad I didn’t have that second cup of coffee that morning!) Later on, the race officials announced that the start time would be delayed by 30 minutes to accommodate the late port-a-potty arrival. Whatevs… I didn’t mind! They came eventually, thank goodness! But that served as a lesson to me to spot out alternative bathroom locales for future races! Or suffer the worst case scenario.

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The course was a refreshing change from my usual treadmill runs! It was scenic, and better yet: very FLAT! Cha-ching! Good thing for me as a beginner. The entire course was situated right next to the ocean. My favorite: running under the Verrazano Bridge (pictured below!).

Verrazano Bridge

I’m glad I wore my hat… one of my essentials for outdoor running! Stay away from my face, sun!

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How could you ever tire of this view? You can see Manhattan in the far, far distant background (yep, the tall buildings!).

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Those last few miles were definitely the hardest. My legs were already starting to feel sore! To my surprise, that had never happened to me during training. But I kept on powering through to the finish line! Here’s a pic of me right after the race (Manhattan in the background!). Mission accomplished!

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I treated myself to a massage the following day. Best decision ever! I think I’ll make it my new post-race tradition! :-D

Here are a few other half marathon-related posts: