RANT: Snow in Philly

When we first moved to Philly, all of the "natives" explained how they never get any snow and it's practically 40 degrees all winter. Well, they've changed their story. Now that we've been hit with the 4th HUGE storm of the season, now they're are saying that this never happened before we got here. As it turns out, there is a small percentage of Philadelphians actually blaming these storms on us - ha!

Snow is quite debilitating to Philly. Schools shut down for weeks at time. Public transit completely shuts down. The governor declares snow emergencies and closes down ALL of the major freeways. They're just not set up for snow. Their roads are narrow and everyone parks on the street because they must have invented garages after most of this city was built. They dont' have enough plows, and the plows they have can't actually fit down 20% of the streets in Philadelphia - yikes!

Despite how difficult and frustrating it is to get around when it snows here, one thing that always brings a smile to my face is when I drive to work and see beat-up old chairs and stools sitting in shoveled-out spots on the side of the street. This is the system Philly has adopted, and it usually works. When it doesn't, it produces some pretty funny notes:

(Notes courtesy of passiveaggressivenotes.com)

RAVE: Becca's Bachelorette

A few weeks ago (during my blog hiatus), I went home to Minnesota to celebrate my good friend Rebecca's upcoming wedding. It was a blast to celebrate with her and several of my high school girlfriends. I think it's safe to say that we made quite an impression on downtown Minneapolis that night.

Rebecca married her prince charming on February 14th in Costa Rica.
Happy 11-day anniversary Rebecca!

RANT: Dead Herb Gardens

I thought I should update you all on how the herb garden has fared. And as you can see, the basil has survived:

One of the empty pots next to it used to house the parsley plant that just never quite revived from its initial trip home from the grocery store. And the other pot was the home to a cilantro plant for about 5 days. To be honest, the basil has touch-and-go moments at least once a week. If I can keep it alive through Easter, I might try parsley again. Anyone have tips? I feel like it shouldn't be this hard!

RAVE: New York City

As you may have noticed, my blog went on a bit of a hiatus throughout the month of January. Well, I think we're back up and running...An event I was always meaning to blog about in January was our trip to New York City for New Year's Eve. Our good friends Jared & Megan headed there to celebrate the New Year and they invited us to join them! Well technically, Jared invited us (Megan had no clue where she was going...or that we were coming). By the time we met them in NYC, they had navigated the city for a few days, so they served as great tour guides for us. Here are the highlights of the trip...

We went out for a delicious dinner and topped it off with a celebratory shot before heading out to join the masses to watch the ball drop.

We made it to 50th street (ball drops around 42nd, but 46th has the best view). I chose this pic because the guy holding this umbrella was quite the dancer. He almost poked our eyes out on several occasions.

You can't NOT get a pair of these glasses.

With 15 minutes left until midnight, we ditched our 50th street spot and headed towards 46th. The police were blocking crowds from going in, but we had a hotel on 46th street, so they had to let us through. We got there just in time to celebrate with all the crazies!

The cops were so relieved everything went off without a hitch that they started taking pics with all the cute girls :)

The next day was a day of visiting the typical NYC sites including Central Park, FAO Schwartz, and Rockefeller Center. But, no trip to the big city is complete without a broadway show. After standing in line for an hour, Megan and I scored tickets to "The Understudy" starring, none other than, MARK PAUL GOSSELAAR!!!

He's so cute.

While Zack was great, his co-star, Justin Kirk (Jack & Jill anyone?) was the true standout on stage and off.

Such a great trip...What places do you think we should visit next time?

RAVE: Roasted Beet Salad

This salad seems to be on every restaurant menu this Winter. And why wouldn't it? The combination of roasted beets and goat cheese is absolutely delicious. So in an effort to recreate this restaurant creation, I picked up some beets this weekend. Let me tell you, they do not sell them looking the way they do at restaurants! So, after scouring the internet to figure out just how to cook these crazy looking vegetables, I stumbled upon what I thought to be the most reliable recipe. It was quite easy and I hope you all can conquer your beet fears after reading these simple instructions:

(Don't let the amount of steps deceive you, I just wanted to be super thorough - I always need that when working with unknown foods!)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cut off the stems at the root of the beet (there are recipes for this part of the beet, but I haven't conquered them yet so I have no advice for what to do with them at this point).

3. Then, cut off any extra-long "points" at the end of the beet (not all beets will have this). Hopefully this picture helps explain what the "points" are...anyone know if they have a more technical name?

3. Scrub and wash the beets like crazy. They are grown in mud, so it will need a quality scrubbing.

4. Wrap each beet loosely in tin foil and place on a cookie sheet.

5. Bake/Roast for 1 hour.

6. Let them cool. Remove the tin foil. Peel the skin away with your thumbs (it should come off easily, if not, put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes)

7. Slice them up (however you want) and add them to your salad!

Warning: Beets will dye your hands (and anything else they come in contact with) So, be careful...

Use these beets to make your own version of a Roasted Beets Salad. The one pictured above has organic baby lettuce, goat cheese, and Amy's Balsamic Vinaigrette (if you haven't tried any of Amy's salad dressings before, you should, it is THE BEST!) This salad is good, but candied walnuts or pinenuts would make it extra special.

One final tip: I roasted 3 beets on Sunday and refrigerated the ones I didn't use. I recreated the salad tonight and it wasn't quite as good as when the beets were warm - but still a quality salad!

Correction: I originally said the salad dressing was "Amy's" Balsamic Vinaigrette, in fact, it is "Marie's" Balsamic Vinaigrette. Marie's salad dressings are amazing. But for the record, Amy makes some nice organic frozen pizzas and burritos.

One final final tip: I ate the beet salad again tonight. This time I nuked the beets for 15 seconds and that made the salad all warm and delicious like the first time all over!