Recent Meals + Cold Stone + DIY Iced Passion Tea

I am so happy to have a functioning keyboard on a laptop right now!

You don’t realize how important each and every letter on a keyboard is until one of them stops working.

I’m successfully set up on my new Mac (which was not easy but I won’t get into it) and ready to talk about recent meals and whatever else I have going on in my food world.

Let’s rewind to last Friday night when I had dinner at Cipollini.

Cipollini is definitely one of my favorite Long Island restaurants.


Zucchini linguine is still one of my go-to orders when out for dinner and I see it on the menu.

zucchini linguine

I had a cup of decaf coffee with below chocolate tarte dessert which I thought about after my run on Saturday when I didn’t feel well.

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I had to cut that run short because I didn’t feel right. This was the first time I’ve needed to cut a run short like that since the 2014 Fitness Magazine Half Marathon.

My cup of decaf coffee at night was the only thing I can think of that may have been out of the ordinary for me prior to a run. I always drink coffee in the morning before a run, but never a cup at night? Could it have dehydrated me or something, even though it was decaf? I truly do not know, all know is that I didn’t feel well suddenly while running which was not at all normal for me. I was totally fine once I stopped running and have felt fine since that run, but still, it was so weird for me!

chocolate tart

In other news, I recently mentioned that Trader Joe’s is always out of romaine lettuce. I finally asked WTF and was informed that Trader Joe’s is switching romaine lettuce suppliers which may be causing the issues. On this particular day of food shopping, I was not going to Whole Foods too so I grabbed the Southwest Chopped Salad Mix from Trader Joe’s just to have some sort of salad in the house.

I used the Southwest Salad chopped salad mix to create the below salad and added tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, and Dr. Praeger’s veggie burger. It was quite good.

It would have been nice to have romaine lettuce in the house to make a salad when I was having a slice of Ezekiel toast smothered in vegetable cream cheese.

You know that if I crave anything, it’s vegetable cream cheese, right? Random I know, but vegetable cream cheese is a major favorite and major craving for me.

While I don’t eat vegetable cream cheese on a regular basis, I do eat it when the cravings hit, which is typically in the summer.

vegetable cream cheese

Check out this giant chopped salad from Town Bagel! It was SO BIG. I wish I remembered what I chose as my ingredients. I’m guessing it included my usual combo of tomato, cucumber, beets, chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, avocado, hearts of palm, and likely a few other vegetables.


It had been FOREVER since I last had Cold Stone Creamery! Who remembers my weekly obsession with Cold Stone creations?!

I didn’t get a waffle bowl this time but I did get a Like It size with vanilla yogurt, cookie dough, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and hot fudge.

cold stone

And finally, can we please discuss who I think I am making my own Starbucks Iced Passion Tea?!

I bought the Tazo Passion Tea Bags and find it extremely quick, easy, and cheap to make my own Passion Iced Tea at home.

I add a squeeze of lemon and pour it all into this nice pink cup that I bought at Target.

iced passion tea

While I can’t give you a specific recipe that I use to make my DIY Starbucks Iced Passion Tea (I am really basic about it), there are so many variations of recipes available if you search the internet. Here’s one site that offers a few variations on the Passion Iced Tea to try. 

Outdoor Dining (!!) + Favorite Trader Joe’s Salad Mix + Vegetarian Recipes

It’s amazing how normal I felt after being able to shop again in stores and enjoy outdoor dining. As soon as the retail stores opened last week, I immediately made my rounds for my favorites…and have already made repeat appearances.

I was so happy to return to some of my faves including Twenty5A, Ruby and Jenna, Denny’s, Bloomingdale’s, and the stores at Americana.

My son actually wanted to go shopping at Americana over the weekend which made it a perfect opportunity to go to Cipollini for an outdoor lunch. It was a beautiful weekend so I’m so glad outdoor dining was finally an option.

I bet we have seen the last of regular menus. It’s easy enough to scan a barcode with your phone to view the menu.


I love corn in salads. This simple salad of tomatoes, cucumber, and fresh corn was perfect. I think I shall make it at home.


Oh, how I love the margarita pizza at Cipollini. Check out this post I wrote recently about favorite places for pizza if you missed it! 

cipollini pizza

But of course, I still adore the whole wheat margarita slice from Mario’s too.


Have we discussed my new favorite salad mix from Trader Joe’s? It’s the buffalo ranch chopped salad which I somehow decided I like to eat with roasted potato wedges. Not sweet potatoes, they have to be regular potatoes but don’t ask me why — it’s just how the craving works.

trader joe's buffalo ranch chopped salad

I add chickpeas and tomatoes to the salad mix and then like to dip the potatoes in the dressing. This was actually too much dressing the other night. It’s very spicy so a little bit goes a long way.

trader joes buffalo ranch salad

And then this slice of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread with peanut butter became dinner the other night. It’s so very rare that I eat a simple slice of toast with peanut butter for dinner but I was feeling off (because my period was due in the morning – it arrived right after midnight which you only need to know because it’s comical how not only am I crazy regular but I pretty much know the time of day it will arrive). Nothing to eat other than toast was appealing. It really hit the spot so I’m glad I didn’t try to eat a normal dinner just because people should eat normal dinners, not slices of toast as a meal. Sometimes a slice of toast is all you need.

peanut butter toast

So yesterday I was chatting with a friend who is looking to eat more of a vegetarian diet. She was looking for recipes using eggplant. Immediately I remembered I had a recipe for eggplant cacciatore here on the blog, back from when I was good at writing posts regarding vegetarian recipes.

I figured I would share that eggplant cacciatore recipe post with you today along with a few other recipes I rediscovered I have here on the site. While we know I am a real basic cook these days (if you can even call what I do cooking), I do feel a little more inspired to make some of these vegetarian recipes again.

Eggplant Cacciatore

Vegan Sloppy Joe’s 

Quinoa, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Burgers 

Black Bean & Quinoa Chili 

Let me know if you try any of the recipes!

Food Highlights from My Son’s Birthday Weekend


I’ve got a nice round-up of meals to share today from my son’s birthday weekend!

I love that my son’s birthday falls right around the start of the hockey season. It’s just so fitting for me to have had a baby born this time of year. I don’t even know if I fully realized it at the time but over the years, it’s been so extra special to not only get excited for his birthday but celebrate the start of the hockey season at the same time.

My son’s actual birthday was Sunday, but we considered Friday night the start of the birthday weekend fun. Opening night for the Islanders was Friday night, so we stopped at Vincent’s for dinner.

I had the California Bistro salad (with candied walnuts and cranberries).

cranberry walnut salad

We also shared a Neapolitan pizza.

Saturday we were up super early as my son was taking the SAT’s. In addition to taking him to/from the test (and to/from his friend’s house in the afternoon), I picked up his birthday cake, and grabbed last-minute birthday things before we went out for dinner with my parents.

We went to The Cheesecake Factory because there’s always something for all of us to eat.

The Thai lettuce wraps – always.

thai lettuce wraps

My mom and I both order the vegan cobb salad. We really like it.

Vegan Cobb salad

I mentioned in Sunday’s post that my son requested his favorite, a classic yellow birthday cake with chocolate fudge frosting. So instead of having dessert at The Cheesecake Factory, we had cake back at my house.

birthday cake

My plate x 2.

birthday cake

Sunday morning, I wasn’t totally sure of the plan. While I knew the dinner plan, and I knew my son wanted to go out for breakfast, I wasn’t sure if the timing would be more like brunch.

I certainly wasn’t waking the kid but once he was up, I marched in his room with a full bouquet of balloons, his presents, and a goodie bag. I always make him a goodie bag, ever since we stopped having his little kid birthday parties. I love a goodie bag! And my son does too. 

He decided he wanted to go to the bagel store so that’s what we did. I had already eaten so I had coffee, knowing he would be ready for lunch in just a couple of hours.

bagel store

Lunch was such a treat! We were heading to Nordstrom (he had some clothes ideas in mind for himself) so I suggested we eat at the Nordstrom Cafe like old times. Maybe you recall me saying this in the past — my son and I were Nordstrom Cafe regulars during the first few years of his life. Literally, two to three times a week until he started full-day kindergarten! I loved having my little buddy with me all the time back then — even when he was in preschool, I only signed him up for the minimum amount of days so we still had our days together before those full days of school were mandatory. 

I wish I had pictures from all of our Nordstrom Cafe lunches (we didn’t have phones as we do now back when he was little, crazy right?) but I do still have the little boxes of Nordstrom crayons in random purses. It’s always so funny when I find them.

We were both so happy to see that our favorite tomato soup was the soup of the day. It was meant to be that we were there for lunch! The Nordstrom Cafe seriously has the best tomato soup ever.

I ordered a grilled vegetable salad for lunch.

nordstrom cafe grilled vegetable salad

Dinner was supposed to be at Bryant & Cooper but we were shopping at Americana so it just made sense to have dinner at Cipollini.

The margarita pizza for the table was delicious. You know how I love margarita pizza!

margarita pizzacippolini

I also had their zucchini linguine.

zucchini linguine

Dessert was terrific. I had the chocolate tarte — the fresh whipped cream was everything!

chocolate tarte

In case you are interested, I’ve recapped my son’s birthday in food over the last several years. Here are the birthday posts that still stick out in my mind:

Birthday 2018 – Dinner at Bryant & Cooper this time!

Birthday 2016 – Right before the Bar Mitzvah!

Birthday 2015 – Really good birthday cake plus cookies from Schmackery’s.

Birthday 2014 – I remember we had brunch at The Smith.


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