Happy Hour

Despite a coworker’s impending last day of work, I eschewed a company happy hour for, well, a different kind of happy hour. My intention was to go for a run, but what I ended up doing was so much more fun, even if I ended up looking ridiculous. But who cares if you look ridiculous, so long as you’re doing something good, you’re not hurting anyone or anything, and you’re having fun?

What started out as a run ended up being some super-fun cardio conditioning along the Allegheny River. At one point, I realized that the cars on Ft Duquesne Blvd couldn’t see me, and no one else was anywhere around me… so I turned up my music and sort of run-danced along the river. I probably looked like I was having a seizure (despite how incredible I am in my mind, I’ve been told I’m not exactly a good dancer… I’ve been compared to Elaine on Seinfeld. Ahem.), but luckily no one saw me. And then, because a really up-tempo song came on, I started skipping. Then I started doing the kind of conditioning skipping where you jump as high as you can with your opposing arm extended. I ended up alternating dancing/skipping/running for the better part of an hour, and by the time I got back to the office, I was pooped. But boy oh boy, did I have a huge grin on my face. Turns out, it’s a LOT of fun to act a fool in public.

So the rest of you can keep your “normal” happy hour; my version of happy hour is more fun. :)

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Care Package

There’s something strangely satisfying to having a terrible evening and then coming home to a nice little care package waiting for you. I mean, it would have been great to skip over this evening entirely, but the fact that the BF stocked up on two of my favorite (and seemingly always out of stock) TJ’s products while I was out made coming home that much nicer.

He’s kind of the best… and this was most definitely the highlight of my day. :)

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Kale Me Maybe

Welcome back to the dinner rotation, kale chips! I’ve missed you!

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Inspired by yesterday’s delicious brunch, today I attempted to make a version of one of the salads from The Zenith’s salad bar. One of the salads that I liked best was a black bean and corn salad. I’m not saying my version is nearly as good as The Zenith’s, but in terms of a healthy vegan salad, it’s pretty darn tasty. Plus, it’s super-simple to put together – chop vegetables, put them in a bowl and let them sit. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Black Bean & Veggies Salad

1 can no salt added black beans
1 can no salt added corn (or better yet, fresh or frozen)
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1 tsp sea salt
~1/4 tsp chili powder
~1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
~7 TBSP lime juice (eyeballed)
~3-4 TBSP red wine vinegar (eyeballed)
lots of cilantro (I used the Garden Gourmet squeeze tube kind – tastes the same, but easier to use and doesn’t spoil as quickly)

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and let sit for a couple hours, then get your noms on.

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The BF and I had a very busy day today, but luckily we had a chance to fuel up at brunch. We ended up at The Zenith in the South Side, and I’m kicking myself now for not going there sooner.
We weren’t sure exactly what to expect when we walked in. I’d read about the antiques shop part of the building, so I knew to expect that, but that was about it. We were greeted by a friendly host, and then offered drinks. I liked that there were pitchers of water on the table; I always feel a little guilty making someone run back and forth for me, especially if I’m really thirsty. The atmosphere of the restaurant is probably best described as warm and eclectic… And communal. We were alone at our table for the first 5-10 minutes, but then another couple was seated with us. No big deal, and the host had warned us about that as he led us to the table.
There was a small menu for brunch, but it worked out like this – $11.50 gets you coffee or tea, an entree, and access to the salad bar. I chose the Polomalu wrap for my entree and the BF got the cinnamon french toast. I made full use of the salad bar before my food came, though, and by the time it had arrived, I was left wondering what the point of the entree was. That’s because the salad bar is so dang good. I think everything on the salad bar is vegan, and it’s not your typical salad bar with mixed greens and a paltry assortment of raw vegetables. It’s a long table filled with stainless steel bowls of delicious vegetable salads – think vegan macaroni salad, black bean & corn salad, peanut noodles, quinoa veggie salad, etc. The BF was a big fan of the dill hummus; I was a fan of absolutely everything. I basically filled up on random salads and then got a little sad when my wrap arrived – that meant my salad bar time had come to an end. My wrap was good, but honestly I wasn’t hungry for it after the salad adventures.
The only thing I didn’t like (and I totally understand why this is the policy) is that they don’t offer to-go boxes. As someone who rarely finishes an entire restaurant meal in one sitting, I felt very wasteful leaving about 3/4 of my burrito to be thrown out. Like I said, I get why that policy is in place, but I just felt weird and guilty about it. Other than that, though, I absolutely loved my brunch at The Zenith, and I hope the BF liked it enough that he’ll be willing to go back. :)


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Kegs n Eggs

Last night, I tried to be proactive and searched for something to fill my morning with today. The problem with most Saturdays (for me) is that I have to go to work in the afternoon, but I’m usually too worn out, too tired, or too lazy to do anything in the morning. Also, even when I’m motivated to go do something, it seems like there is just SO MUCH STUFF to do and I get overwhelmed. And so I end up wasting the entire morning and early part of the afternoon at home until it’s time to go to work.

Not today, though, my friends! Thanks to my research last night, I found something super fun to do in the morning – brunch! But since the BF was out of town, I had to go by myself. :( Sigh. Someone’s gotta eat all the bacon; it may as well be me…

Twitter informed me that the Square Cafe Brunch Truck was going to be at one of my favorite places – The Brew Gentlemen. I’ve written about my love for BG before, and I seem to end up there a few times a month since it’s practically in my backyard (like, 5 minutes away by car). But never before have I gone to BG for brunch. There’s a first time for everything!

I grabbed a seat at the counter near the door and then chose my beers. I opted for sample-sized glasses of the Leona’s Spice Cream Sammich tripel beer and (of course) the Pumpkin Walnut Pancake wheat beer. They actually tasted kind of similar, but I’m happy to report that both paired nicely with the Brunch Truck food. Speaking of which, I got a pretty standard breakfast – scrambled eggs (whites didn’t seem to be an option), bacon, and a pumpkin walnut pancake. Oh, and ketchup. You might notice that I added a wee bit of ketchup. Just a tad. ;)

I’ll be honest, I’m not really a fan of Square Cafe – the times I’ve been there, the food is just okay and it doesn’t seem worth the crazy line out the door and the inflated prices. I’ve been fairly happy every time I’ve gone there, but it just seems like such a hassle. Well, with the Brunch Truck (which is co-branded as Uncle Charley’s… like, the sausage people), you can get Square Cafe food without the ridiculous wait. The prices are still not cheap, though – my plate cost $8 and I was hungry again within an hour. I thought part of the appeal of food trucks was supposed to be lower prices due to lower overhead costs compared to a brick-and-mortar store? I understand the costs involved with the food, the workers, the truck, the gas, and whatnot, but how expensive can it really be to make scrambled eggs (just ‘meh’), bacon (good, because BACON), and a single pumpkin walnut pancake? I will say this, though – the pumpkin walnut pancake was delicious. I’d absolutely get it again, and I wish there’d been more of them instead of just the one.

If nothing else, the novelty of drinking beer and eating breakfast out of a truck was enough to get me out of the house today, and it’ll likely get me out of the house in the future. Next time I might try the chicken sandwich the Brunch Truck was offering – grilled chicken, brie, and caramelized apples. The only reason I didn’t get that today was because it was just served on a regular bun. Serve it on a homemade biscuit and I’m so there.

So far, Saturday is off to a pretty decent start. Let’s hope it stays that way. :)

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