You all know how passionate I am about this city, especially my small town neighborhood of Federal Hill ever since I moved here 7 years ago. And, given the latest restrictions imposed upon Baltimore City, I’ve been racking my brain as I work on ways I can give back and support in lieu of these turbulent times.
So, introducing the, “Cheery & Charming Federal Hill Shop Small, Shop Local Stroll,” happening Tuesday, December 15th from 4 – 7PM !!!
I am so, so, SOOOOO excited and grateful for the local businesses that eagerly jumped on board for this super fun and creative way to drive traffic to local businesses in our neighborhood right before the holidays. Help me to make their holiday season EVEN better!
(not to worry – all capacity guidelines, masks, and social distancing to be followed.) #MaskOnMaryland
Need last minute gifts for the holidays?
A bite to eat?
And excuse to get out of the house?
A special treat for yourself?
Support local THIS Tuesday and be entered to win an AWESOME prize for doing so!!
HOW IT WORKS: 1. Visit the participating business in the images below 2. Shop (or EAT) til you drop! 3. For every visit and/or purchase you make, receive a raffle ticket to the GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY 4. GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY includes a basket containing goodies from all of the participating businesses, valued at est. $250+.
Check out the gallery of images above to get the full scoop, as well as all the safety rules and regulations. PLUS – – what better way to make the holidays a little warmer this year than supporting your favorite Fed Hill spots?!
As always, New York was a whirlwind! Up and back in 2-days, via the Vermonter & Acela Express made for a jam-packed, fun and exciting adventure for our Valentine’s Day this year. Aside from my first time at Madison Square Gardens + seeing Billy Joel live, we covered a TON of ground and visited a slew of new spots!
Whenever I find fun, new spots, I’m always pressed to share! So, I’m quickly jotting down my top 7 favorite places we visited for any of you who may be looking for a cool, trendy or cozy new spot to check out next time you’re in the area!
Hanoi House We had dinner here Thursday night and let me tell you – it was I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. Placed appropriately on the historical, adventure seeking, 119 St. Mark’s Place, you’ll arrive in a (not-so-surprisingly-small), delicately quaint, romantically dimmed, intimate spot in East Village. But – don’t let the size fool you. Hanoi House is known for “The Absolute Best Pho in New York,” “The Absolute Best Octopus in New York,” “The Absolute Best Vietnamese Restaurants in New York,” and more. I mean . . . WOW!!! Once you’ve had a moment to take in the eloquent details, brace yourself as you’re about to be spoiled with a breathtaking, unbelievable, well-cultured, imaginative display of Vietnamese cuisine! From the Crispy Crab & Pork Spring rolls (Nem Ran), to the Spicy Octopus (Bach Tuoc Ca Ri) – delightfully displayed over roasted sweet potatoes, coconut curry, charred scallion and shishito peppers, to the Hanoi Style Beef Pho Soup (Pho Bac), – a classic 16-hr broth with heritage Black Angus filet mignon, brisket & rice noodles AND an add-on option of bone marrow (must have!) on the side, our dinner was simply divine. The only thing that will leave you feeling disappointed after this visit, is the wish that you could fit everything on the menu in your belly! P.S. make sure you get there early!! They don’t take reservations and the place was nearly filled upon our arrival, 15-minutes post their opening at 5:30. P.S.S. our dear friends own this place, so go. check. it. out. !!!
Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria NYC I don’t know about you, but I know that when I visit New York City, I’m not leaving until I’ve had a proper slize of za 😉 Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria is more formally known in the Staten Island area of New York. Wanting to break in and make their presence known in the Manhattan area, they opened their NEW location at 168 1st Avenue. Priding themselves on a secret Neapolitan recipe for a special thin crust pizza that has made their restaurant famous, I was so glad to have enjoyed this gem during our trip! We sat at the antiquely pounded copper counter top on the corner of the bar and enjoyed catching up with friends and admiring the original, characteristic stained glass windows before, quite literally, demolishing our pizza. Looking for the perfect NY fold? You found it!! Can’t decide which kind to try when you visit? Psst… if you order a large, they allow you to do half and half! But, they also have a smaller, personal 10” option as well. Not to mention – the bartender and staff were amazingly warm and welcoming, making for a fun, social lunch break on Friday!
C&B – East Village, Thompson Square Park
I’ll keep this one short and sweet, just like this shop! Seriously one of the cutest little coffee shops in East Village! We stopped in for a quick espresso (always needed!) and loved seeing the kitchen staff live, in action, flipping, kneading and pounding their homemade dough!! I mean, you just can’t get that just anywhere in Baltimore! Plus, you can take your coffee/espresso/latte and enjoy a casual stroll around Thompson Square Park after, which is right across the street!
SALT! SALT! SALT! LOVED this Mexican spot we found on 267 Elizabeth Street. And come on … a old school, authentic Volkswagen Bus as the taco-making station?! We only stopped in for a quick taco (or two…) and kept on our exploring, but the atmosphere was so traditional and genuine, it’s definitely worth a visit and some cliché photos! P.S. the tacos were awesome too!
This is probably one of my favorite spots in NYC – although a little more ‘commercial,’ in feel, the atmosphere is to die for and this is going to sound weird, but I love their bathrooms! Haha! While separate male and female, the hand-washing station connects the two via a shared wash-sink area with a reflective, stained glass like mirror for separation. It’s a great spot for a casual happy hour, quick bite at the bar (they have amazing selection of appetizers, wood-burning pizzas, fresh pastas, and selections of charcuterie), or in our circumstance, a late night cap for topping off Saturday evening after the concert. We stayed in the hotel above it – The EVENTI, which I would TOTALLY recommend if you’re ever seeing a show at Madison Square Gardens. It was about a 5 minute walk from the concert!
Cute and friendly spot to stop to get a snack or drink beforehand if you try our Hanoi House! It’s right across the street and felt so intimate. The space is decorated with countless lit candles that grace spaces in the walls where bricks have intentionally been removed. Candles also delicately and artfully line random fashion behind the bar liquor bottles, shelving, and pretty much anywhere you look!
Talk about a local food market!! I WISH we had something like this in our small town, Federal Hill! Then again, I get we may not have the same volume to sustain this type of operation 🙂 It felt like I had walked into the Costco-version of a market! Never-ending, colorful supply and variety of fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, deli meats, cheeses, traditional grocery, flowers and more! Super cool spot to stop by, take in the colorful spreads and patronize a local business (with some salty and sweet snacks while you’re there!)
The Pennsy Food Hall
Last, but not least – and definitely not a big secret as it’s right above Penn Station, but this is a great, vibrant and convenient spot to grab-and-go a snack before you catch the train ride home. It’s more of an incubator-type feel with a variety of small eateries, so there’s a little something for everyone. From sushi, to tacos, to bar food, to sweet treats, ice cream and more! Plus, they sometimes have a DJ that slings throwback songs and top beats to get you boppin’ and grovin’!
Do you have any favorite spots or gems to share? I’d love to hear! Ping me in the comments below!
If you’ve arrived here today, WELCOME!! Today, I’ll be promoting my NEWEST & BIGGEST challenges for January. Every New Year, I like to take on a fresh new challenge, hopefully healthy, and ideally something that will push me to be a better version of me. Plus, I need a way to keep myself distracted from my #1 of the 2 challenges I’ll be tackling:
No drinking for the month of January
A Keto Lifestyle
That’s right folks, I said NOOOO drinking. Are. You. Kidding Me. Relaxxxxx, it’s not as hard as it seems! For those that are close to me, know I LOVE my W.I.N.E., but after the hustle and bustle of the holidays it’s a great time to kick start getting back on the right fitness track. And, what better way than to keep myself distracted by learning an entirely new diet/eating régime!?
I’ve officially been doing Keto for (1) whole week. And to be honest, I’m SUPER impressed with myself! No cheating, just straight up Keto. It was super tough at first – I was one of the few to experience what they call “the Keto flu” known as the period when your body learns to transition over from using carbohydrates for energy to using fat for energy. It. Was. Rough. I could barely move from the couch.
BUT – don’t let that deter you! The way I feel now, there’s no turning back. I have even more energy than I ever have before (I barely even need coffee anymore in the AM) and I feel super focused, motivated and driven at work!
Outside of the traditional cheese, avocado, no-prep needed snacks, I’m going to take you along in my journey of cooking, baking, prepping and taste testing (and trust me – those who know me know I am NO COOK), in the world of Keto recipes.
Keep scrolling for a sneak peek into this week’s (easiest EVER) prepped snack menu:
Keto Cheese Crisps
Cheddar Cheese Slices
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Arrange Cheddar cheese in 24 small squares on the prepared baking sheets. (I folded each slice into quarters)
Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before removing from baking sheets.
Per Serving: 60 calories; 3.0 g fat; 6.0 g protein; 0.0 net carbs
Pizza Keto Chips (Pepperoni and cheese are great keto snacks. To turn them into a chip, is absolutely brilliant. A simple recipe that the kids are absolutely going to love without question. It is impossible to eat just one.)
6 oz Pepperoni
5 ¼ Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Preheat oven to 400F. Take out some cookie sheets. You may need 2-3.
Arrange pepperoni’s – don’t worry, they’re not going to expand like cookies. They can be close together!
Bake them for about 5 minutes until they are semi-crispy and the grease is coming out of them. If they move out of place just arrange them back together.
Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake for another 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and a little crisp.
Lay the chips onto paper towels to soak up any excess grease.
Let sit for 3-4 minutes to cool off and crisp up even more.
Per Serving: 61.3 calories; 5.3 g fat; 3.0 g protein; 0.2 net carbs
No-Bake Keto Peanut Butter Balls
1-2 100% Bakers Chocolate Bar (For dark chocolate lovers, you can use a 100% bakers chocolate bar. It is extremely bitter, but when used in these peanut butter balls, they’re perfect, as they pair with the sweet and salty peanut butter filling)
2 Cups Smooth Peanut Butter
¾ Cup Coconut Flour
½ Cup Sticky Sweetener of Choice (The sticky sweetener is necessary to not only add a tad of sweetness but also to help the dough have a soft and chewy texture. Unfortunately, using a granulated sweetener will not yield the same result. The article I found suggested using a monk fruit sweetened maple syrup, which is 100% sugar free, keto-approved and low carb. Since I couldn’t find this, I used the next closest, sugar-free, low carb syrup)
Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine all your ingredients, except for chocolate bar, and mix until fully combined. If the batter is too thick and crumbly, add some liquid (water or milk) slowly until a thick, formable batter remains.
Using your hands, form small balls and place on the lined plate or tray. Freeze for 10 minutes.
While the peanut butter balls are firming up, melt your sugar-free chocolate bar. Remove the peanut butter protein balls from the freezer and dip each ball in the melted chocolate until completely covered. Repeat until all the balls are covered in chocolate.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate coating has firmed up.
I hope you all enjoyed my first Keto recipe spill!
Check back for more as I continue eating my way through Keto!