Sunday, January 20, 2013

Grasshopper Cake

I know, I know. I've said many many times how I just don't like making cakes. A lot of it is because the stress of making it look pretty, something I've never been able to master. But this new trend of "naked" cakes, where you don't have any frosting on the sides, are making me feel a little better because I can make a delicious cake that doesn't have to look pretty...and let's face it, this one is kind of ugly an ugly yet delicious pepperminty chocolately kind of way.

So what had me craving cake? Probably the fact that my newest issue of Food Network Magazine (one of the best magazines out there) had a whole section of different types of cakes. This Grasshopper one caught my eye, partly because it was one of those "naked" type of cake, plus it's chocolate and peppermint, which I've been in a major chocolate mode lately for some reason. So I figured, what the hell, I might as well make myself a cake.

I started by preparing my 8inch pans by spraying them with Baker's Joy and then cutting out circles of parchment paper to put in the bottom of the pans. That was one of those tricks I learned when I was preparing to make my friends' wedding cake. It makes it so much easier to get the cake out of the pan, and not lose a big chunk of the bottom.

Since I was making a chocolate cake, I had to prepare the chocolaty part! I whisked together 1 cup of cocoa powder and 1.5 cups of boiling water. I then set it aside for the very end of the batter prep so it could cool.

This was a very different recipe than I'm used to when it comes to making a cake. I had all the dry ingredients and then added all the wet ingredients into them to finish it off. I always feel like it's the other way around, so I'm doing something wrong. But this was not wrong and so very easy.

I combined 2.5 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1.5 tsp baking bowder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt together. Just whisking them so they were mixed together evenly.

Then I added in 3 room temperature eggs, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup sour cream and 2 tsps vanilla extract.

Once all those ingredients are mixed together for a few minutes on medium speed, you slow it down to low speed and slowly add in the chocolate! Mix for a minute or two and then finish off by mixing with a spatula. And then you're ready to pour the batter into the pans!

Of course, you have to pick up and drop the pans onto the counter to pop all the air bubbles. I did it many times just because air bubbles kept coming up to the top! But it's good practice to make sure there are no holes in your cake. Luckily, I did not end up with batter on my ceiling (which has happened before). I then baked the cakes for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees! When I took them out to cool, I tried a little Pinterest trick I had seen, where you put a piece of bread on top of the cake while it cools to keep the top of the cake soft. I don't know what does it, but the bread keeps the tops soft and the bread literally feels like it was toasted. It was AWESOME. Science at work people. 

Meanwhile, I went ahead and prepped the filling for in-between the layers. You start by bringing 1.5 cups of whole milk to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. 

 Then in another bowl, you'll combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 3 tbsp cornstarch, 3/4 tsp peppermint extract, 1 egg and 1 egg yolk.

Once the milk has simmered, add half to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl, mix together and then add back to the saucepan. You'll then bring that to a boil while whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes. 

Once that's done, pour it into a new bowl, add in 3oz (or 3/8 cup) of white chocolate and 1 drop of green food coloring to give it that "natural" minty color.

Then cover with plastic wrap (pushed all the way down to the top of the mixture) and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

[Side note: at this point, I went to a yoga class and when I came home, I walked in and was hit in the face with the smell of chocolate cake. It was pretty much the most amazing thing ever because sometimes I don't notice the baking smell since I'm around it the whole time.]

So back to the cake and putting it all together! I sliced off the top of the bottom layer using my fun little cake leveler tool that I love. 

Then I mixed in a bunch of mini chocolate chips into the middle minty mixture and poured it onto the bottom layer.

When I put the second layer on top (which I decided not to level because I kind of wanted to go for the dome look), I realized I clearly put too much of the minty filling on because it started exploding out the sides. Whatever! It'll still be delicious and gave it a....uh....unique look to it! Right, unique. We'll go with that.

For the topping, I made homemade whipped cream by combining 1.5 cups of cold heavy cream, 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar, and 1/8 tsp peppermint extract. I plopped that on and then went a little overboard topping it with some mini chocolate chips.

It doesn't look pretty by any means, but it sure does look delicious, and it tastes amazing too!! Craving satisfied.

[Final Side Note - which is more of a question: How is it that someone who can bake a cake can NEVER seem to be able to bake a potato all the way through, no matter how long it bakes for??? Serious FAIL.]

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Resolutions - Version 2013

Looking back at my resolutions from last year, I think I did a pretty good job of being a more awesome Carolyn. I went skydiving, read good books (Hunger Games anyone??), discovered new music (but also rediscovered some old music I haven't listen to since college and forgot how much I loved), made some good crafty things (my NC State and Spring/Summer wreaths top the list), started my plate wall, went to a place I've never been (both Spruce Pine and 1000 Islands covered this...and I guess technically Birmingham too, but that was for work - I'll eventually make my way to Montreal), definitely had great conversations, and most definitely tried to live my life as a good and positive person (even if it meant chasing down a purse snatcher).

I did change my mind on the whole DC thing, (mostly because I was just trying to figure out what to do with my life and it seemed like an easy escape) and instead decided to do something much better, which was start taking nonprofit management classes at NC State. And unfortunately I never got around to baking something really fancy, even though I baked a LOT. So all in all, I feel pretty accomplished and happy with what I did in the past year.

While totally overrated because most people don't actually stick to them and are never very serious about them past January, I do find resolutions a fun thing to think about because you have a whole year ahead of you that you don't know what's going to happen, and you can take steps to make sure it's going to be a good one and its a good way to improve upon your life (as long as you stick with them). This past year I definitely had kept my resolutions in mind, and putting them out there helped keep me accountable to them and reminded me what they were. Ha. And I think I did a pretty good job of sticking with them!

So what about 2013? I have a lot of fun things going on this year, especially the first half:
  • FINISHING MY INVISALIGN! 2nd day of the year. It'll be amazing.
  • One of my best friend's, Nichole's, wedding and all the surrounding events
  • NC State basketball games (gotta get my student fees worth)
  • Turning 27. Odd age. So we'll see how fun that really is. Ha.
  • Getting a new niece or nephew!!
  • Zombie Mud Run
  • Heading to London for a study abroad reunion, and Barcelona for a few days afterwards with one of my best friends
  • NC State football. We have a new coach. Let's see how this goes.
  • Taking more classes! (HR for Nonprofits in the Spring, not sure about the Fall semester yet)
This year, I'm not sure what kind of resolutions to do. I'm probably just going to continue with the overall "Be Awesome" idea:

  • It sounds uber cliche, but less so when you factor in that I've already been in a workout routine, but I'm definitely needing to start running more to get ready for the Zombie Mud Run and then my half marathon in early 2014. I'm a terrible runner, so the more practice I get in, the better. I'll keep up my kickboxing and yoga because I think that'll help too. However, I keep debating about whether or not I should avoid my gym in January and wait for the crowds to die down in the classes I go to.
  • This is also going to sound cliche, but I need to start cooking more and cooking healthier. I find myself getting lazy and making pasta most nights, especially since I'm cooking for one, and all this holiday sugar has made me crave green beans and broccoli. If I can just plan my meals out every couple weeks and maybe even make some in advance depending on what they are, I'll be better off. And I'm going to use my Crock-Pot way more.
  • I think I'll try to get around to that fancy baking thing this year. I really want to try making croissants. I have a recipe, I just gotta make it! And I really want to start making my own apple butter. That's an easy resolution to float over from the previous year. And same thing with the read good books, listen to good music, have good conversation, live as a good and happy person. If it's more of just continuing good life ideas, does that continue to make them resolutions?
  • One new thing I'd like to try to start is writing at least one letter a week (or month...we'll see how well I can stick with this). It's kind of a "lost art" these days with email, facebook, and text messages, plus I love getting real mail and I assume others do too. And it would give me an excuse to buy fun and pretty cards and stationary!
  • Do something "extreme". Last year it was skydiving. This year? Who knows. Hot air balloon ride? Ziplining? If Special Olympics does their "Over the Edge" fundraiser again where you rappel down a building downtown, that is high on my list. Who knows, I'm not exactly sure what else is out there to try. But it would be fun to do something that gets the heart racing. I'm not counting the Zombie Mud Run in this though.
  • Volunteer more. Since I've decided I want to go into volunteer management, I've been kind of "studying" the different experiences I've been having volunteering, and thinking about the things I've learned in class. That's both a good and bad thing, but it can make them more thought provoking for me. My trouble is finding a consistent volunteering opportunity, so I kind of go where I can. Hopefully something will come along at some point where I can volunteer consistently with an organization.
  • Lastly, I plan to study hard, work hard, and play hard! 
I think that's good for 2013! I'm looking forward to finding out what's ahead in the new year :)


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Baking: Peppermint Cream Squares

Along with loving to bake, I love playing hostess. For the past few years, two of my best friends and I get together around Christmas for dinner and girl time (ie. painting our nails, watching Christmas movies, chit chatting, etc.), and this time they came to my place! We decided to do a meal made of appetizers and of course dessert and hot cocoa. It was perfect. I played Christmas music and I set the table with my Christmas dishes, and put candles in some painted mason jars to flank my trifle bowl filled with ornaments.

See? LOVE to host.

So for dessert, I made Peppermint Cream Squares. Peppermint is definitely a holiday flavor, especially considering I made peppermint rice krispie treats for this dinner last year. They were pretty good....veeeeery sticky/buttery/rich, but delicious!

I started by prepping the peppermint crushing 30 candies with my heavy duty rolling pin. I'm always worried one of my neighbors is going to come and ask what all the racket is. Of course, even though I doubled up the baggies, they still some how poked through and powder started coming through the bag, but it worked out.

Then I lined an 8x8 dish with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray to prep for the shortbread crust, and put the oven to 350.

I then beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of room temperature butter until creamy, and added 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

After adding 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 cups of flour (and mixing until there were no dry spots), the crust was made! I put 1/2 cup of the crust in the fridge for topping the bars off, and the rest I pressed into the pan.

I then baked the crust for about 22 minutes, and began making the filling. I started by mixing 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into the peppermint powder.

And then I mixed 1/4 cup of softened cream cheese with 2 tbsp milk.

Once that was well mixed, I added in most of the peppermint powder and the last 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. When the filling was done, I poured it over the warm crust from the oven and made sure it was spread even.

And then I crumbled up the dough from the fridge to create the top crust! And baked it for another 12 minutes. And then sprinkled the rest of the crushed peppermint powder on top while it cooled.

I was a fan! You just can't really talk while eating them...

Along with the peppermint cream squares, I saved some sugar cookies from the batch I made for my parents and aunt and uncle.

And froze some cool whip and used my little cookie cutters to cut out shapes for our hot cocoa!

So much Christmas cheer! It was great. And of course it was a fantastic time with my girls.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! (Yea, we were having fun)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dream a Little Bakery Dream

I love to bake. I don't think that's any sort of surprise to anyone. It's my main hobby. It keeps me sane and helps me relax. It's how I feel I can spread happiness in a little way to my family, friends, and coworkers. Every once in awhile, I'll have friends tell me (jokingly) I should just quit my job and start a bakery (never in a serious way, mostly because their mouths are full when they say it and they're clearly high on sugar, plus I think they realize that means they'd have to start paying for my sweets). I don't think it's something I will ever do, mostly because I don't want the joy I get from it to be ruined by business, I know there are far fancier and better bakers than me out there, and I just don't think I could handle the stress of it all. But, that doesn't stop me from dreaming about what kind of bakery I would have if I ever did do that, and had millions and millions of dollars so if it failed, I wouldn't be worse for the wear. Whenever I go to cute little towns (like Charleston and Asheville, where I've been to in the last week and a half) where there are lots of creative spaces, that's usually when I start thinking about it and what I would do.

So indulge me for a minute as I tell you of my dream bakery (I never do dream of a name though...that is far too hard to figure out....the most creative I've gotten so far is Steele's Sweets, but I still don't think I like that)

The Building:
First, it has has has to be a little old, vintage house. Two stories, with front porches on both levels. Preferably painted a mint color with a big white door (with glass window in the door that bears whatever bakery name I chose) and white trim and white shutters around all the windows (and there needs to be lots of windows because I love natural light). There needs to be a white picket fence around the front little lawn. The lawn would have a brick path leading up to the stairs/ramp (have to make it accessible!), and in the spring and summer it would be covered in in-season flowers, in the fall there would be tons of mums and pumpkins, and in the winter it would be poinsettias, little christmas trees, and evergreens everywhere. Twinkle lights would be wrapped around the porch railings all year long, because who doesn't love twinkle lights?

The Interior:
Obviously when you first walk in, it'll be an open floor plan. To the right side will be the bakery case with that days goodies, with a framed chalkboard detailing the week's specials. The register has to be one of those vintage soda shop ones (but there will be more technology advanced stuff to the side in case it fails...or people decide to pay with a credit card). The walls will be light shades of yellow, champagne, coral, violet, blue, and green. I really can't make up my mind, so maybe each area will be different but will clearly go together so it doesn't look like a paint explosion in there. Plus I would love to show local artists/photographers work on the walls (if this was in Raleigh, I would naturally be a part of First Friday). The floor will of course be dark hardwoods. I'll also have a coffee/tea/hot cider/hot chocolate/milk bar over near the register.

On the other side there will be a fireplace with a huge mantel that will be decorated with the seasons and holidays all year long. More than likely, so I don't have to deal with a real fire, I'd have a gas one, or put candles in it. Throughout the main room there will be tables of different sizes (fitting 2-6 people, but that can be moved together for big groups), all in either a deep brown or off white painted wood (basically like the dining table I have now). And of course there will be a few leather couches gathered around a big coffee table with a stack of board games nearby for people to gather and play together.

As far as the kitchen goes, I want to avoid making it look like those stale restaurant kitchens. I need it to feel homey if that's where I'm spending all my time. So as long as I have a few ovens and a few stand mixers, a big fridge and a huge island, I'd be good. I just want it to feel like a double-sized house kitchen.

Now, the upstairs. That's where the library will be with multiple couches. Who doesn't like to sit and eat delicious desserts and read a good book/magazine/newspaper with some coffee? There will be tons of twinkly lights and lamps for soft reading light when it's dark outside. And there will also be extra seating upstairs in case the downstairs is overflowing. Also upstairs, I want there to be a large room with a tiny kitchen. I'm not too into doing consistent baking classes (not my style) but if anybody wants a baking party (ie little kids birthdays, holiday parties with friends/family, bridal showers/bachelorette parties, family baking parties to make cookies for Santa, etc.) that room would be good for events!

And naturally there will be music playing all the time because I will be that baker who is dancing around her kitchen like a silly person, and there will be lots of flowers in painted mason jars everywhere.

The Food:
I'm just going to say it. I will not be doing cake and cupcakes...with the added exception of bundt cakes. Every other bakery out there does cakes, so I don't think I even really need to. Don't get me wrong, I loved doing my friends' wedding cake, but that is too much stress and hassle to do every day, and my decorating skills are just not up to par. I want to be different, so I'll focus on bars, brownies, blondies, donuts, cookies, breads, muffins, fudge, the occasional seasonal homemade gelato, etc. If I can ever figure out how to make some dang pie crusts, I'll do pies too...but for now my pies would have to have a graham cracker or cookie crust because that's just easier. Naturally, my apple butter bars will be what I'm known for. And every week, since I like to experiment with new recipes, I'll try something new and have that all week.

I love to collect mugs, so naturally all the mugs for the drinks will be mismatching (but cute). This will give me an excuse to collect more mugs because right now, I probably have too many (just kidding, I can never have too many). And the desserts will be served on vintage plates, kind of like what's on my plate wall. And at Christmas time, the plate will be festive holiday plates (duh) but also with some Hanukkah and regular ones mixed in just so I'm an all inclusive bakery.

Sigh. See why I would need millions of dollars? Sometimes it's just really fun to dream about these things though (especially with the world ending on Friday). I can picture it all in my head so clearly. Maybe I should just make my future home like this and pretend that I own a bakery in my spare time...but for now I'll just keep baking random things from my little apartment kitchen for my friends and family. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Baking: A Smorgasbord of Goodies!

Sometimes when I'm up baking really late at night, and I start talking to myself about what I'm doing (I'm not crazy, I promise), I worry that if someone else was around, this is what they would see:

Oh Swedish Chef. You make me giggle.

Moving on! So for the third year in a row, I completed my crazy Christmas baking extravaganza to send treats to my friends across the country for the holidays. I'm incredibly grateful for the wonderful friends I have in my life, so it's a little way I can show them how much I love and appreciate them. Plus, it's a great excuse to try new recipes. The first year I did it, I did tons of cookies, last year it was bread, and this year it is a variety of treats! I also decided to get very crafty with the presentation of everything.

My apartment basically looked like a baking factory for a couple weeks with my supplies strewn everywhere. I had cards spread out over my couch as I wrote ones for everyone to include in the packages. And then I had to tape up the boxes and set them up for easy packing. This year, I had what I feel is more than normal, but I can't remember. It ended up being 34 people in 21 households (and that's with me forcing myself to limit my list a little this year). The boxes made it a little difficult to walk around for a few days, but all in the name of organization!

Unfortunately, I did a terrible job of taking pictures as I baked this time around, mostly because I was too distracted with trying to finish everything!

So to start, here's the final product! Pumpkin bread in a jar, chocolate fudge in a cookie cutter, and eggnog cookies!

So the Pumpkin bread was by far the funniest baking adventure I've had in awhile. I had never baked anything in a jar before, but I thought it was a clever and cute idea. I ended up buying 12 oz jars, and then I bought fabric and ribbon to dress up the jar a little. I doubled the recipe and then did two batches of that, which made 23 jars of bread. Baking them in the oven was hilarious because it's all a balancing act. You don't want to bake the bread on a baking sheet because it doesn't cook through like it's supposed to, so you need to put them directly on the rack.

When it got close to be doing, I wanted to test a jar to see if it was done or not. Bad idea. I kept knocking jars over in the oven and then struggled to get them balanced on the rack again. I ended up having my head practically in the oven for at least 10 minutes trying to fix it all. But they eventually turned out great! As soon as I took the jars out of the oven, I immediately put the lids on the jars, and as the breads cooled, it sealed the jars. The first time a seal popped, I jumped a little because I forgot it was going to do that. The only problem I ended up having was the shape of the jars made it difficult to really grease them, so everyone will have to make sure they eat the bread from the jar...unless they like big crumb messes.

The rest of my baking was done between 11pm and 3:30am on the Friday night before I mailed everything out. On four hours of sleep. After working a 15 hour day (including 8.5 hours of driving to and from Charleston). But you know what is totally ridiculous? As soon as I started baking, I was just in the zone, very relaxed, and felt like i was moving pretty fluidly. That's why, even when I bake really late like that sometimes, I don't care because it's not stressing me out. Until I see the dirty dishes and then I save them until after I've slept. Ha. 

When I made the cookies, I doubled the recipe, and with making them a small size (about a tablespoon scoop per cookie), I made almost 100 cookies! SO MANY COOKIES. But it meant each person got three cookies each, so it was perfect. I didn't do the glaze on them though because most of them were getting mailed and it was just easier. The thing I loved about the cookies was the eggnog flavor did not hit instantly, and when it did, it was the perfect amount. I then put each person's cookies in little ziplock baggies with snowmen on them! Very festive.

The chocolate fudge was last and I molded each person's fudge in a holiday cookie cutter! I used a random fudge recipe with semi-sweet chocolate chips and marshmallows, and it was soooo rich and delicious. I wrapped each cookie cutter bottom in foil and greased them so as I poured the fudge in, it wouldn't seep out and it would stay in the cookie cutter. After making each batch, I poured the fudge in to the cookie cutters, and used a spoon to spread them to the edges. I had snowflakes, snowmen, christmas trees, sleighs, elves, wreaths, and many other shapes! I then stuck them in the fridge so they could set. It was very labor intensive, but really fun to make. 

I'm glad I finished up all my baking in time to mail everything out, and I hope my friends really enjoy their treats!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Touristy NY Christmas

In case you didn't know, I love Christmas. No, I don't think you get it. I. love. Christmas. I love it more than anything pumpkin, which, if you know me, that is a big statement. There is just something about the holidays: the decorations, the music, the holiday movies, everyone's cheerfulness, Advent and the overwhelming spirit at church, I love it all.

Now, I've also been to New York City many times. It's to the point where a lot of the typical touristy things I've already done, so since now I'm usually going to go just to visit my friend Laura, we do more non-mainstream things (which I like). However, the one thing I haven't done is Christmas in New York and all those fun touristy activities. So when I planned my visit to see Laura for December, I got the idea of being super touristy (especially since she doesn't do those types of things either)!

We started Saturday by attempting to go and get tickets for a matinee show on Sunday at the TKTS booth in Brooklyn. Mega fail on our part because the tickets ended up being waaaay more than we wanted to pay, so we decided to pass on that, but at least we did see this pretty tree in the MetroTech Center!

Up next was a holiday market in Union Square!

There were all sorts of cool items, from hats made with alpaca hair, lots of hand crafted jewelry, different types of chocolate, and even an irish gifts booth (I had to resist like crazy there). We pretty much just window shopped, but seeing all the different and fun things was great. 

Since it starts to get dark early, we decided to head to Central Park for some ice skating fun! Now, I've actually done this about ten years ago, but it was mid-March and the ice was starting to melt, so it wasn't holiday-y and NYC wintery. There's always ice skating in Rockefeller, but seeing as how I'm not a fan of painfully large crowds, I much preferred the idea of Central Park. Plus the setting is absolutely perfect. 

We didn't fall once! And weren't the people holding onto the wall! All in all, a success. Even though the little kids embarrassed us by being way better than we were. And of course, it wouldn't be a super touristy Christmas if we didn't see a couple get engaged on the rink...and we did! Adorable.

One thing that I've always heard about and seen stories on are the windows in department stores on Fifth. The themes of the windows change every year, but they're always elaborate displays that are way better than the typical advertising windows. We didn't see every store, but we did see Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, and Macy's. All spectacular! Lord and Taylor's windows were probably my favorite.

Bergdorf Goodman:

Lord & Taylor:


Other buildings were all covered and lights and other holiday things, but I really think that every store, department store or not, should totally do their windows like this.

Of course, it wouldn't be a touristy Christmas trip if we didn't see the tree in Rockefeller Center! For someone who doesn't like crowds, I was surprisingly eager to see it. I mean, it's a HUGE Christmas tree covered in pretty lights! My love of Christmas outweighs my distaste for crowds.

Now that I've done this once, I don't need to do it again because holy crowd. The fact that we were able to weave our way through the crowd and get a decent picture with the tree in the background had to be a Christmas miracle or something. It was super pretty though, so I'm glad we went!

We ended the awesome Christmasy day with an amaaaaaaaaaazing sushi dinner at Taro Sushi. Pretty sure the best tuna I have ever had. We also hit up the Brooklyn Museum for Target First Saturday where we saw a dance troupe, an awesome collection by Brooklyn artists, and just walked around to check out some of the displays.

Oh. And we also saw a guy with these light up pants:

We had a pretty easy Sunday, starting with going to church at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. I love going to church during the Christmas/Advent season, so I wanted to go to the Brooklyn Tabernacle because they have an amazing choir and I was hoping to hear some Christmas music and a great message. Well. The choir was fantastic. But not Christmasy. Bummer. And the service overall was way more evangelical than I was expecting. I loved the diversity of the church and all, but not really my style. (Side note: makes me realize how perfect where I go now is. It's kind of nice when something like that happens)

Following church, we hit up Cheryl's Global Soul for brunch. Oh. Em. Gee. I love brunch, and this was a win.
The people who worked there were awesome and omgggg that hot cocoa. And the food was incredible. I will definitely want to go back there again.

We needed a walk after brunch, so we went the three miles around Prospect Park.

Prospect Park definitely looks like a place I'd want to hang out. It's calm but busy with activity at the same time. I got to see parts of Brooklyn that I hadn't seen yet too. Also, it appears that they have a problem with people falling through the ice in the winters because there are ladders everywhere to fish people out.

I ended my time in NYC by trying Indian food for the first time and watching a Bollywood movie with Laura and some of her friends!

I've always been nervous about Indian food because of how spicy food sets my mouth on fire, but trying it with people who know what they're doing, made it easier. And it was way delicious! The movie we watched was Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, which is super adorable and I highly suggest it (it's on Netflix, but be warned, like most Bollywood movies, they are loooooooong).

All in all, it was a great trip to New York, filled with lots of new experiences (but most importantly time spent with one of my best friends)!