Running Forward

Giving Voice

Well, hello there. I regret not posting anything for the past year, but it’s been a whirlwind. Living in New York City, there’s no option. Life moves quickly. All. The. Time. But I’ve missed writing – even if I’m far from being a Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City reference, can’t help myself).

Last week I attended a dinner party only knowing one of the 12 other attendees. Situations like this used to give me such social anxiety, so I’m always proud to see how far I’ve come. Towards the end of the meal the host posed a question for everyone at the table. Who would you like to give voice to tonight? Sounds simple. There are countless people in my life who don’t get the praise and credit they deserve; my parents, my brother, my friends, etc. But after thinking about this subject for a few days, it’s actually much deeper. It’s interesting and oddly embarrassing to think about some of the people who influenced my life the most. Embarrassing because often times they hardly had a role in my life that merited a title and probably didn’t even know I existed.

The boys in middle school who didn’t give a second though to anyone but themselves used to make fun of my body. To this day I struggle to have a normal relationship with food and exercise. When I look back it’s silly to realize that some stupid comments affected me this greatly.

But I’ve also drawn inspiration from friends and acquaintances. The difference is that I make a more conscious effort to thank these people and let them know how much I appreciate them. I have one friend, for example, who is a complete go-getter and thrives on interactions with others. I’m not the type of person who can constantly socialize without my alone time, but I’ve become more outgoing and adventurous in social settings because of her. She serves as a great example and I let her know how much I value her.

Small things, but they had lasting impacts on my life. And these are just two examples of the countless people who have somehow shaped the person I am and will become. I firmly believe that every single experience and person you encounter has something to teach you. Whether you learn something positive or negative is determined by how you view the situation.

On the flip side, it makes me hope that I’ve somehow impacted others. Hopefully it’s almost always a positive impact, but know that’s probably not the case. I’m human after all and we’re a species far from perfect. But through my everyday actions I can become a better friend, be more patient with others and put my needs aside more often. Who knows, a simple action might just make someone’s day a little better.


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Ravioli Warriors

Last weekend was not only the slow start of spring in NYC, but I had the opportunity to learn how to make homemade raviolis. I tried my hand at these little dumplings back in the day (middle school I think), but I didn’t use a pasta press, which made the task much more difficult and probably resulted in larger biceps (I was still a competitive gymnast then, so I certainly didn’t need my arms to get any bigger than they already were). Luckily, we had a pasta press to work with this time, so I was more than eager to take on the challenge.


Instead of including an exact recipe, I’m going to walk you through the process. We are both handy in the kitchen, so we were able to make it up as we went. Luckily, the finished product turned out delicious! So, let’s get started.

First we gathered most of the ingredients at Eataly. I’m just including this because it added to the experience. We were also able to get our hands on some great cheese (ricotta, Gorgonzola, and parmigiana) and mushrooms (dried porcini, cremini, and shiitake).

The Sauce

As soon as we arrived back at the apartment we got down to business. I began by putting together a simple tomato sauce by sauteeing a chopped onion and finely chopped garlic until translucent. I added some seasonings (basil, salt, parsley, etc.) then poured in a large can of crushed tomatoes and a large can of whole romas (which I crushed by hand). I proceeded to add more seasonings and let the mixture simmer throughout the rest of the cooking process.

The Filling

We weren’t exactly sure which direction we would take the filling, but ended up focusing on mushrooms and cheese. We began by finely chopping an onion and quite a few cloves of garlic (4???) and sauteeing them for a few minutes with a little olive oil. We then chopped up all the mushrooms we had (almost a pound I would say) and added them to the already-cooking onion mixture.

Side note: We could only find dried porcini and ended up getting only 3 big slices ($50 a pound- what?!). We rehydrated them before starting the filling by simmering them in just enough water to cover. After we added the chopped creminis and shiitakes to the pan, we added the chopped porcinis and the cooking liquid (so much flavor in the liquid!).

We let the mushroom mixture keep cooking down while continuously stirring and adding some spices along the way. The shiitakes had such an amazing flavor! They may be my favorite mushroom.


While the mushrooms cooled down we added the ricotta, a little gorgonzola, some chopped spinach, and parsley to a bowl and stirred to combine. We added some of the cheese to the mushrooms once they were room temperature and pureed in batches in the food processor. You can leave the mixture chunkier if you like, but we were going for something a little smoother. It’s all about preference!

The Pasta Dough

Now for the messy part. The pasta dough is the component that I was the least familiar with, so I trusted my “teacher” on this one. He scooped out around 2 cups of flour for each of us and created a mound with each pile. We then used our fists to create a bowl-shape in the center for the eggs to rest in. We cracked three eggs in each pile, then used a fork to whisk them while gradually incorporating the flour. Eventually we reached a point when the dough was ready to be kneaded by hand, so we got messy. We kneaded until all the lumps were gone and the texture was nice and elastic. We cut the dough into smaller sections then used the pasta roller to turn it into long, thin sheets, always starting with the thickest setting and gradually adjusting to the thinner settings. We created raviolis with each sheet as it came out of the roller.


I completely forgot to take pictures of the actual process of filling the dough, but here are the key takeaways.

  • The exact shape doesn’t matter
  • Don’t overfill or else it will be difficult to seal your ravioli
  • Use your finger and a glass of water to wet the perimeter of the ravioli edges so that the dough doesn’t fall apart when you cook it
  • When sealing your ravioli make sure you press around the filling to get rid of the air

Here’s some of our finished product:


Cooking and Serving

Since the dough is so fresh and delicate it barely needs to cook. Simply drop them one-by-one into a  heavily salted pot of boiling water and remove each ravioli once it floats to the surface. We took our raviolis straight from the water to the sauce and added a bit of the starchy cooking liquid to help the sauce stick to the pasta. Once done, we served the raviolis with freshly grated parmesan and a side of charred green beans. Such a delicious dinner and well worth the work!

*Credit for the following photo goes to my fellow ravioli warrior!


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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

You might have seen my post from New Year’s Eve when I roasted a chicken for the first time in a loooonnnnggg time. Luckily it turned out delicious, but I have to admit a lot of my technique was guesswork. Last weekend I decided to give it another go and had even greater success! I’m only going to go over a few tips this time since I went over the whole process here.

  • Pat the chicken dry before seasoning and stuffing
  • I placed orange peels and onion inside the cavity. Because I always forget to get some twine, I just used some rolled up tin foil to keep the legs together. Janky, but it worked!
  • Always separate the skin on top of the chicken and stuff with your favorite herbs, spices, etc. I used sliced onion, orange peels, minced garlic, and a roasted garlic seasoning I’ve been loving lately. Be generous with everything since it’s only between the skin and meat instead of inside the meat. I included the picture  below so you get the idea a bit.


  • I left the wings out since I’m not a huge wing fan, but tuck them next to the bird if you want to keep them nice and juicy.
  • The biggest issue I have is with timing. I grew up with a mom who overcooked everything because of her extreme food poisoning paranoia, so I’m overly concerned with overcooking my meat. The chicken probably could have used more time in the oven, but I pulled it out after 1.5 hours. Note to self: buy a meat thermometer.
  • Skin freaks me out, but if you’re a fan turn the oven up to 450 for a few minutes right at the end of cooking to make it nice and crispy.

2.28.15 2

There you have it! Now go and roast a chicken for yourself.

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New Years Resolutions

Now that we’re two months into 2015 I think it’s safe to check in on my New Years resolutions to see how I’m doing so far. I used to set concrete goals for myself each January, but have changed my tune the past few years. I prefer to have some guidelines to live by and simply use the new year as a reminder to keep them up. Less pressure.

Step Out of my Comfort Zone Regularly

It’s practically impossible to make it through life without stepping out of your comfort zone, but making it a regular habit tends to result in more opportunities and experiences I would otherwise miss out on. I always had terrible social anxiety in middle school and high school, so I try particularly hard to focus on improving that aspect of my life. My job tends to place me into social situations where I may have nothing in common with the people I’m entertaining or may not know anyone at all. Being able to use my nerves to my advantage has helped tremendously. Of course, there are countless ways to challenge yourself so that’s why I like having this goal as an everyday reminder. There’s constant room for opportunity to better myself.

Be able to Rely Solely on Myself

I know this goal sounds terribly cynical, but it’s not- I promise. I have an amazing support system (shout out to my family especially), but it’s a struggle sometimes being a perpetually single girl. I’m very happy with my life right now, but it can be frustrating when so many of my college and high school friends are getting engaged by the minute. Seeing them achieve something I have practically no control over (my love life) makes me doubt myself occasionally. So this goal is simply a reminder to appreciate the state I’m in and not dwell on things I’m not meant to have yet. I’ve learned to enjoy my alone time and not take dating so seriously. As long as I’m happy and having fun, then I’m good!

Build my Financial Portfolio

Now that my career is on track I want to make sure I’m building a good financial foundation for myself. Shortly after moving to NY I put together an Excel document to track every penny I made and spent each month. It’s tedious at times, but knowing where my money goes really puts me at ease. I’m also getting into the investment game and purchased my first batch of stocks recently. Thanks to my dad, the self-help book guru, I have plenty of reading material about Warren Buffet, saving for retirement, and building my wealth through investments. Let’s hope it all pays off so I can buy that penthouse overlooking Central Park someday! (Although I’m pretty sure I would still need a sugar daddy to be able to afford that)

These are my top three everyday resolutions and so far I’m doing pretty well. And how crazy is it that March is already here?! This year is already flying.


Surviving the Snow

I love snow and don’t mind winter, but I’m ready for the temperature to consistently reach at least 30 degrees every day. Considering it’s almost March I don’t think I’m asking for too much. Luckily, summer in New York is my favorite because the city truly comes to life. So, to get me through the last few weeks of winter I’m making a list for summer of all the things I want to do before the snow comes back around.


  • Go to the beach
  • Read out on the pier
  • Go to the weekly Hoboken movies on the pier
  • Find a go-to rooftop in the city
  • Go to a Yankees game
  • Check out the frying pan
  • Eat a Mister Softee
  • Eat at Big Gay Ice Cream
  • Start an herb garden on my “porch”
  • Go to the farmers market every week
  • Attend some outdoor concerts
  • Ditch the treadmill and finally run outside again
  • Go to street festivals
  • Avoid falling asleep outside in shorts (like so)
  • consume mind-numbing amounts of watermelon


I think that covers the basics. So, for now, I will cuddle with my electric blanket and sip hot beverages until the ever-present ice patches melt and summer makes its appearance. Please hurry.

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Jiggy With It

Today is my roommate Jillian’s birthday. She’s responsible for picking me from Craigslist and is easily one of the funniest, genuinely nicest girls I know. The big celebration is tomorrow, but I got a jump start by baking her requested cake (vanilla with lots of vanilla frosting). I gathered all my ingredients Thursday night after work and put it together in no time. Boxed cakes just can’t measure up to a homemade one. So, please ditch the box, put on your apron, and make a cake from scratch. It’s super simple and so worth it.

Of course I’ve made plenty of cakes in the past, but this was my first time making true buttercream frosting to cover it. I had to get over my butter phobia for this one! After beating the ingredients for a few minutes I found my frosting to be really thick and dense. I decided to just keep beating it in an attempt to make it fluffier and it worked. I ended up with plenty of icing and definitely licked the bowl afterwards. You just have to be patient. I mean, it’s butter and sugar- it’s going to taste great no matter what.

This cake itself turned out perfectly light and reminded me of a pound cake. So, if you’re in the market for a cake recipe I would definitely recommend this one. Enjoy!

Vanilla Cake

1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

5 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together the butter, sugar, and oil on medium speed with an electric mixer until well incorporated and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Go back to your wet mixture and gradually beat in the 5 eggs and vanilla extract. Next add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until incorporated. Add half the milk, then continue alternating until everything is mixed together. Grease and flour two pans, then pour the mixture accordingly. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 sticks butter (room temperature)

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the vanilla and milk then continue beating on a high speed until it’s fluffy and increased in volume. Simply spread in between your two cake layers once the cake has cooled. And cover the cake in frosting as desired.

Much to my delight, the birthday girl was ready to dig in as soon as she got home from dinner with her boyfriend. We let him do the honor of cutting everyone a piece, which somehow left the cake looking like a tetris game (few too many drinks at dinner???). We all had multiple pieces and snacked on it again the next morning. Eat up!


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Football Food- Round Two

Time for the cheese dip! It’s ridiculous how simple this recipe is and how much better is tastes than restaurant cheese dip. Unless, of course, you’re at Sabores in Hoboken. Queso was never a temptation to me growing up- I always found it rather tasteless and a waste of calories. But a few months ago I went to dinner at Sabores with some high school friends and one of the girls insisted on cheese dip. Great decision. Instead of a thick, white sludge with hardly any resemblance to real cheese, this was so different. The waiter brought the dip out in a little cast iron skillet and the texture was nothing like the cheese dip I’d grown up with. It was real cheese! It had a stringy, texture and a sharp, salty bite that made it hard to stop eating. In fact, at one point I ditched the tortilla and went at it with just my fork. So good! The dip stuck with me, so I knew I needed to make some form of it for my Super Bowl party. I didn’t measure (per usual), but the recipe is more like a basic formula and is easy to eyeball. Once the dip is done, you have to eat it when it’s still warm and reheat as needed. Feel free to add more milk with each reheat if the mixture becomes too solid. Make it today!

Real Cheese Dip

Small block monterey jack cheese with jalapeños (grated)

milk (I used almond milk)

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tbsp butter

Place a small saucepan over low heat and melt the butter. Once almost completely melted, add the flour and use a small whisk to make sure it gets completely incorporated. Next, add a small amount of milk (start with maybe 1/2 cup) and make sure the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps left from the flour. Start gradually adding your cheese while continuing to whisk the mixture. Continue adding the cheese and milk as needed depending on the texture you’re looking for. Just make sure that the milk never comes close to a boil. Feel free to add any additional add-ons near the end (shrimp, chicken, more jalapeños, mushrooms, etc.)

See? Super easy and way better than the sludge you find at most Mexican restaurants. Enjoy!

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Football Food

I should start by letting you know that this post isn’t nearly as meaningful as the last one, but, hey, football food is tasty. Before I give you my chili and cheese dip recipe, though, thank you to those who reached out after my last post. It means a lot.🙂

Now onto the football food! My parents host a little Super Bowl party every year and it’s always one of my favorite events. In fact, I consider the Super Bowl a holiday. I worked all weekend last year and was happy just to watch the game at a bar in Manhattan, but this year I was ready for a party. Luckily, my roommates agreed and made it happen. Here’s a list of our menu:

  • turkey chili
  • cheese dip
  • pizza
  • chips & salsa
  • veggies & hummus
  • rice krispie treats
  • banana bread
  • beer

I was in charge of the chili, cheese dip, rice krispie treats, and banana bread. Since rice krispie treats are simple and I posted the banana bread recipe a few weeks ago, I’ll share the chili and cheese dip recipes. Confession: I have a problem following recipes, so these are an estimation of what I did. Use your judgement and taste as you go!

Turkey Chili

1 pound ground turkey (I went with the 99% lean)

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, rinsed

1 small can tomato sauce

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

chili powder

cumin powder

hot sauce


Start by sautéing the onion in a pot with a little bit of olive oil. Once they’re translucent add the ground turkey and minced garlic. Keep stirring and mixing the meat so that the onions and garlic get mixed throughout and the turkey breaks into small pieces. Once the meat is cooked through, let the pot cool of a few minutes and drain the grease. Side note: please don’t pour the grease down your sink- bad things happen when you do that. Moving right along…

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, and start adding some of your spices. Since I don’t measure, be sure to add a good bit of cumin and chili powder, taste, then adjust as needed. Then repeat with the salt and hot sauce. Let the mixture simmer until it thickens and enjoy! We served it with some tortilla chips and cheese dip.

Homemade cheese dip (way better than the stuff from a jar!) coming next time, so stay tuned.


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Two Year Anniversary

It just hit me- today marks my two year anniversary of moving to NJ. Looking back at the past two years makes me realize how quickly time flies and how much I’m still changing and discovering what I want from life.

Most notably, though, these past two years have been my happiest years yet. I tend to rant and rave about my dislike for the South and life in Georgia (sorry, everyone), but it’s just because NY is the first place that made me feel like I belong. I was always the odd man out in the south and never fit in with a specific clique. Even in college I struggled to find my place and always felt overly self-conscious and awkward. Perhaps the most unsettling feeling was being surrounded by people all the time (classes, social functions, etc.) yet never feeling more alone.

Let’s turn this around now- flash forward to January 26th, 2013. I’m taking my first one way flight by myself with two suitcases containing the contents of my life. I was excited, but also incredibly terrified. I had never met my boss, never stepped foot in my office, and didn’t have a permanent place to live. Luckily, it ended up being the best decision of my life. I quickly adapted to my new surroundings (lots to learn about dressing for winter), learned my way around, and took comfort in the fact that nothing is permanent. Whenever I got overwhelmed I simply told myself that I could change the situation if I really wanted to, nothing is set in stone (except death and taxes, right?). Thank goodness I loved my job, figured out an apartment situation, and started trying to meet people. It took a good year to feel truly settled and make a good group of friends, but it was a very productive year.

Now that things are comfortably in place (except my love life, but that’s a whole different story) I find myself trying to figure out why I’m so much happier here. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Anything Goes: You can do almost anything and nobody will think twice about it. As long as you’re confident, people will respect you.
  • NYC is huge: I was always used to being a small fish in a small pond, so being the small fish in a giant ocean feels nicer. Even celebrities find that they can blend in with the crowd.
  • Opportunities: I really lucked out with my job and savor being one of the youngest people in the department. At times my inexperience frustrates me, but I learn a tremendous amount every day. My boss is incredible and allows me to own some great projects and lets me take part in anything I’m interested in.
  • Meeting People: My position is unique in that I get to interact with some of the most influential people in cable on an almost-daily basis. Talking one-on-one with them might be my favorite part of the job because they have so much advice and wisdom to offer. I also love getting to interact with our “talent” and learning about their worlds. I even found a great mentor in one!
  • Life is Fast: People walk faster, drive faster, talk faster, and I love it. I’m a high-anxiety person who doesn’t like to have a lot of free time, so this environment fits me well for now.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. I know it’s cheesy to say, but if anyone struggling with his/her current situation reads this, just remember that nothing is permanent. I never thought I could be so happy, but I am. It happened. I truly love the person I have become and savor the fact that I’m still young and have countless adventures ahead of me.

So, happy anniversary, NJ! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Hopefully more snow!🙂


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Let’s rewind back a bit to New Year’s Eve. I stayed in with one of my roommates and cooked us a delicious and healthy dinner to ring in 2015. The star of the show was a roasted chicken and the supporting cast included smoky collard greens and black-eyed pea salad. Let’s start with the chicken for now.

I roasted chicken years ago while I was still living with my parents, but it had always been a team effort. So, this day marked my first time going solo with the bird. I went with one that was around 4.5 pounds (actually one of the smallest ones I could find at my store) and pumped myself up for a new cooking venture. (Ignore the fact that I look like a bum in the picture)

I first patted the bird dry over the sink and had a bit of a moment when all the organs and neck plopped out, but that was an easy clean up. Once the bird was dry I set it onto the rack I found and filled the inside with chopped onion, garlic, and some orange segments. To keep everything from falling out in the oven I tied the chicken’s legs together with some string. Then, I rubbed minced garlic underneath the skin along with salt, lemon/pepper seasoning, and orange slices. Right before I put it into the oven I also rubbed the outside of the skin with some olive oil to crisp it up. I’m not a skin fan, but still wanted it to look pretty.

Then I slid the bird into my preheated 350 degree oven and let it cook for about 20 minutes before basting with some of the cooking juices and chicken broth. I continued basting every 20 minutes or so until the bird was fully cooked, which took about two hours. I turned up the heat very high right before taking out the bird in order to get the skin to brown a bit. Once I took the chicken out to rest I was thrilled with how it came out. The white meat was incredibly tender and juicy while the dark meat was delicious as always. And, as a bonus, the apartment smelled amazing.

I had leftovers for a week and plan on roasting another bird in the not-so-distant future. Maybe next time I’ll be able to find some cornish hens.

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