Donut Showdown

Donut Showdown

Our small team hosting a Donut Showdown for our entire 70 person team.

We bought 1 dozen glazed donuts from 9 different places in town (should have been 10, but one place doesn’t make glazed donuts).

We cut them into quarters and put them on numbered plates (so it was a blind taste test).


Everyone came and sampled donuts. Most people marked around a plate (sort of like a clock), and took them back to their desks.  Some pieces weren’t worth taking a second bite of (seriously bad!), but a few were standouts.


We had them vote on overall best, overall worst, and best glaze. It as a tight race for best! Only one vote separating the winner and the two runners up.  There was one donut that was most polarizing- it was 3rd place for best AND worst.

And the two worst spots were clear- they got TONS of votes.

Just a fun thing to do at work, and interesting to find the best donuts in town!

What We Ate in NYC

What We Ate in NYC

I’m such a foodie.  I love to cook, eat, watch the Food Network, read Bon Appetit magazine. So even though we didn’t have a ton of time to eat amazing meals, what we did eat was SO good.

We grabbed pizza across from our hotel initially because we were starving. But it was legit the best NYC pizza we’ve had.  The crust was crispy yet bready (in the best way- so it wasn’t crackery crispy). The sauce wasn’t too sweet or too heavy handed.  They had traditional toppings (I happen to love a veggie pizza and mom likes sausage), but they also had pasta pizzas, like spaghetti with meatballs!  The garlic knots weren’t my fave, but the pizza was AWESOME.

Little Italy Gourmet Pizza on 45th between 6th and 5th


We had an iconic dinner at Sardi’s. It’s known for being a hub of theater meals. It was a pretty traditional Italian menu.  We thought the food was great, but the service was so-so. The atmosphere is why you go- it was worth it and I would go back.

We shared an appetizer sampler.  Everything was SO good except for the green olive stuff under the shrimp. It was Bruschetta; Prosciutto and Melon; Asparagus Rolled in Smoked Salmon; Roasted Bell Peppers; Mozzarella And Capers; Truffled Chicken Liver Pate; Grilled Shrimp (taken from their menu, since I couldn’t remember what it all was).


Mom got cannelloni crapes and I got a white broccoli lasagna. They were both great.


We were stuffed, but decided to get desserts to share. ha!  Tiramisu (which wasn’t as coffee flavored as normal, and almost tasted like it had orange liquer- it wasn’t my fave) and creme brulee…which was AMAZING.


We grabbed our favorite treat- Schmackary’s cookies (on 45th and 8th). Sadly, they were pretty picked over, but we did get 3 different cookies.  The cereal killer and cookies and cream are my faves- and they had both.


Another must eat for us is Shake Shack.  It’s the BEST quick service burger (I think better than In-N-Out. They are now all over the NY area and even across the country).  We got Shack burgers (OMG YES SHACK SAUCE), fries and shakes.  It’s just so good and worth the wait.img_4114

Our next dinner was at Nizza, another must-eat while in the city. Nizza is on 45th and 9th.

We got a delicious appetizer- the burrata cheese (like a cross between mozzarella and ricotta) which was served over an arugula pesto, yummy tomato and garlic bread.



Mom got the special- a paprika pasta with lamb ragu, and I got the cacio e pepe, a garlic butter parm pasta. I also got a meatball at the urging of our waiter and it was SO good.  We got cocktails- mom got a frozen aperol spritz and I got a peach bellini martini. Both were GREAT (also recommended by our waiter).img_4119


We snagged cheesecake at Juniors on our way to the hotel to change clothes so we could eat it for dessert.  Mom got a brownie explosion and I got apple crumb.  To be honest, hers was better.  We also got a pecan bar, which was YUMMY. img_4132

After the Tony’s, we got “street meat” at the Halal guys.  Their carts are everywhere, but it’s because it’s good.  Don’t fear the street meat. We both got lamb gyros. VERY good.


We got treats before we left from Magnolia Bakery (at the urging of a coworker). We got banana pudding (which was the BEST banana pudding I’ve ever had) and some brownie/cookie bars. All were good.img_4197

We also got donuts from Dough. They were bready, but airy.  They describe them as brioche donuts.  Mom got a cafe au lait, and it was DELISH.  She also got a plain glazed, which showed off the donut. I got a cinnamon sugar, and a passionfruit- which was tart and cut the sweetness perfectly. Very good. img_4196

We also ate breakfast at Europa and Pick a Bagel, which were both good grab and go breakfasts…but I didn’t take any pics of those. Oops.

Unwind with a Sweet Treat

Unwind with a Sweet Treat

*This post is sponsored by two of my FAVORITE things- chocolate and wine. Ghirardelli and Josh Cellars, to be specific. However, as always, all opinions are my own*

You know most of the time, I’m on that healthy living train. While I do give myself some freedom to enjoy pizza and chips and queso every now and then..I try to keep my treats reasonable.

One way I love to do this is with individually wrapped treats. It’s impossible to over indulge if you stick to one (or two!).

Recently I was shopping at Walmart and searching for some delicious treats so I could have an indulgence after dinner. I knew Ghirardelli treats were delish. I’ve eaten at their flagship store in San Francisco, and we indulged in some Ghirardelli treats in Vegas, too. You could say I’m a fan.

I found a plethora of beautiful Ghirardelli treats at Walmart! They had the traditional stuff in the candy aisle…

And some fun Valentine treats with the holiday candy. And ya’ll…it’s a great price!

Some of these are a staple in our office.  The ladies I work with keep us well stocked with the Dark & Sea Salt Caramel Squares. And while I love those, I wanted to try something different.

I ended up grabbing a couple bags of their special Valentine flavors (I’m a sucker for seasonal treats!). The white and milk chocolate Valentine’s Impressions caught my eye. I adore white chocolate. And at just 70 calories per square, I could easily have one or two after dinner. The the cute “conversation heart-esque” messages on them are PRECIOUS.  I love you too, chocolate.

I also picked up another bag of seasonal squares for my coworkers. I got the dark chocolate strawberry squares. Since I’m the first one in the office, I figured it would be fun to leave a little sweet treat on their desks before they arrive.

Another one of my favorite indulgences is a glass of wine, especially after a hard day. I love both a good, sweet red and a nice, chilled dry white. And did you know the calories aren’t that bad in wine?  A typical 5 ounce serving of red wine is about 125 calories, and white wine is around 120 calories.

I picked up some Josh Cellars wine and we had a little tasting at home. And let me tell you, it was DELISH.  My favorite was the Legacy- it wasn’t too sweet, but it was fruity and smooth. It paired perfectly with the rich, sweet chocolates. And for an awesome treat of less than 200 calories we enjoyed a glass and a square of chocolate. Can’t beat that! When I want a treat, I want it to be “worth it”- high quality and indulgent. And this pair hit the spot.

Get to your local Walmart and check out their selection of Ghirardelli treats and Josh Cellar wines for Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re treating yourself or someone you love, they are a sweet pairing!

I’ll have an awesome Valentine recipe using both of these later this week.

To sweeten the deal, I’m giving away TWO American Express $75 gift cards to two lucky readers! Enter in the widget below.  To enter, you can tweet (once per day), follow Ghirardelli and Josh Cellars, and leave me comments (leave 2 separate ones!) about your favorite chocolate and wine. Winners will be chosen 2/11.  Good luck!

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Dinner by an Iron Chef

Dinner by an Iron Chef

One of the highlights of my Cleveland trip was dinner at Lola, the restaurant by Iron Chef Michael Symon.

Last time I was in Cleveland, I spotted it, but we didn’t have reservations, and it’s a busy place.  So when we found out we were returning, I knew I wanted to go to Lola.  I made a reservation for one because my coworker I traveled with isn’t much for adventurous eating.  And even though I dined alone, I made friends with some nearby tables (who talked to me first, I didn’t interrupt their meals!), and I was so into the food, I’m sort of glad I didn’t have to talk over it! Ha!

Lola had beautiful al fresco dining, but I ate inside the restaurant.

I decided to splurge. While we are blessed to get a per diem from work, I totally went over that with this meal…and it was WORTH IT.  Every penny.  I got a cocktail, appetizer, entree, and dessert.  And I was stuffed, but again, it was WORTH IT.

To explore the cocktail menu. They brought me an iPad with pictures and descriptions.

I went with a (blurry) Kentucky Gunslinger, an apricot bourbon cocktail.  

It was beautiful.  And delicious.  I tried to sip it slowly to savor it.

Everything was beautiful, including the menu and the gorgeous silverware.   

I tried to take pictures without flash, which was tough in the dimly lit restaurant.  I HATE that this picture is blurry because this was DELICIOUS.  It was a beef cheek pierogi, a potato pasta ravioli-type food.  I got two little raviolis for the appetizer, and I wish I had gotten 10 of them.  The filling was smooth and savory, and the sauce was velvety.  I dipped my bread in the sauce to sop up every ounce of goodness. There were a few mushrooms on the dish, which only added to the savory wonderfulness of the dish.

For my entree, I ordered the beef hanger steak.  It was amazingly tender and cooked perfectly.  The steak came topped with pickled peppers and onions, and the pickle-y sauce was the perfect component to the wonderful steak.  I was also served a HUGE side of Lola fries, which were thin crispy fries tossed in sea salt and rosemary.  I never want to eat fries without rosemary ever again.  

I stopped eating my entree with a few bites left so I could enjoy dessert.  The waitress told me the best dessert was something called the 6 A.M. Special, so I went for it.  It was a brioche french toast covered in maple bacon ice cream and carmelized apples. And it was the best thing ever.  Like I would have eaten this until it made me pop.  The perfect combo of crispy, sweet, smooth, salty, cold, hot….just perfect.

If I had eaten with someone else, we would have split the appetizer and dessert…but since I tackled it all myself, I didn’t finish everything.  In case you’re wonderful, my meal came to $70.  And it was completely worth it.  Quality food, beautiful restaurant, great service.  I would go back in a heartbeat.