favorite sweets

If you follow me at all on twitter you might have caught on to the fact that I recently made a trip to New Jersey to see my family [my mom, dad, sister and paternal grandmother all still live in central NJ]. My visit was timed perfectly to introduce the latest addition to the New Jersey Tarans – Zuzu!

I grew up with a black labrador retriever, named Mushka [which is a Russian name that means ‘little black fly’]. She became a part of the family while we lived in the Philippines and over the next fourteen years of her life she traveled with us to New York City, New Jersey and Hong Kong.


In the recent year or so my parents were seriously beginning to entertain adding a dog to the family again. And so, Zuzu has made her grand entrance!

I was able to spend 5 days with the sweet [then] 9 week old puppy, so this week’s favorites round-up is dedicated to this sweet floppy-eared, snotty-nosed, puppy-breathed bundle of fur.


zuzu loves shopping!


beware the shark puppy!

zuzu | sweet betweens

crate training . nailed it!


and so it begins – zuzu’s a jersey girl!

zuzu | sweet betweens

sophie + zuzu during their new nightly routine : cuddle time!

zuzu | sweet betweens

squee! those eyes! those ears!!

zuzu + alexandra | sweet betweens

all . of . the . LICKING!

zuzu | sweet betweens

preferred sleeping position 01

zuzu | sweet betweens

preferred sleeping position 02

zuzu | sweet betweens

zuzu + sophie waiting for the school bus

and a video to ensure complete squee-ability :

a few things I’ve done, seen + learned over the past few weeks that are worth sharing in a line or photo or two.

[eats at home]

2013.03.08 - strawberry-almond, blueberry-ginger-coconut paleo muffins

I made a bunch [3 dozen!] of paleo-friendly muffins so that Jeremy + I have quick and easy breakfast-on-the-go options [which, apparently, we’ve been needing after this whole Daylight Savings lose an hour thing]. I used this great recipe from Amazing Paleo for the strawberry ones and then made a blueberry-ginger-coconut version subbing coconut flour for the almond flour, blueberries for the strawberries, adding some candied ginger and dried coconut and a few extra egg whites to compensate for the incredible density you get while baking with coconut flour. They have been delicious and are easy freezer-to-toaster options for the ones you don’t finish in the first few days after they come out of the oven.

2013.03.10 - Mason Jar Roast Chicken [stock, lemon, garlic, thyme + rosemary]

We’ve been roasting a chicken at least once a week these days. This is my new go-to favorite – a vertical roast with the chicken sitting on a mason jar full of stock [which I made myself, thanks to inspiration from Kira!], two lemon quarters, fresh rosemary and thyme as well as a couple cloves of bruised garlic. The mix is packed with flavor and steams the chicken full of its deliciousness from the inside, while the skin that’s coated with some butter, salt and pepper gets crisp and brown. You should try it!

2013.03.09 - Peanut Butter Banana Blueberry Oat Parsley Dog Treats

I made a double batch of dog treats [loosely based on my Two-Ingredient Dog Treats] to use up some bruised fruit and finally get the dog some treats as I kept forgetting to stock back up on their favorite goodies. These are a mouthful – Peanut Butter-Banana-Blueberry-Oat-Parsley treats, made with some peanut butter, mashed bananas, mashed fresh blueberries, oatmeal and fresh parsley [for fresh breath!]. The dogs are digging them.

2013.03 - Herb Coated Roasted Baby Zucchini

I did a modified juice Nashville cleanse this week, where I drank juice all day until the evening where I joined Jeremy for a light dinner. One evening I used one of my recent favorite OXO tools to mince up some fresh parsley, rosemary and garlic, added some olive oil and coated some halved baby zucchini before tossing them in the oven for a quick roast or broil. Served on top of butter lettuce, it satisfied my need to chew and eat something warm [finally!] without going overboard on calories, carbs, etc.

[eats around town]

2013.03.12 - BBQ Shrimp & Grits [Whiskey Kitchen]

I met a recent alumna from my high school at Whiskey Kitchen for dinner with Jeremy and asked for recommendations as to what to eat, as usually I’m there for happy hour and am completely satisfied by their Tennessee Whiskey Yam Fries and Blue Ribbon Pub Cheese. I got a shout-out for the Shrimp n Grits and knew after the first bite that I hadn’t been steered wrong. The sauce hovered between sweet, savory and tangy, the shrimp were perfectly cooked, and I could’ve gone face-first into that mini kettle of grits if I hadn’t been out in public.

2013.03.15 - Back to Cuba

Last minute errand running had me by Back to Cuba which I’d seen on the twitters as a great recommend by Vivek and Amy and also has a great write-up in Jennifer Justus’ new book. Vivek + Amy both recommended the Carne Asado platter, served with rice and beans and a tamale, and thanks to Vivek I also got an order of sweet plantains, a Cubano sandwich and a deliciously sweet, tart + flakey guava cream cheese pastry. Don’t worry, I shared. And, y’all? If you haven’t been, you really must go. Jeremy and I already planning a return visit.

so, do tell. what’ve you been eating these days?



a few things I’ve done, seen + learned over the past few weeks that are worth sharing in a line or photo or two.

[a new weekly series, so I am catching up on the past few weeks]

01_2013.02.21 - {blvd} French Onion Soup + Wedge Salad 01

{blvd} : french onion soup + mediterranean wedge salad

Jeremy and I met a friend who was back in town for a visit at Arnold Myint‘s newly revamped {blvd} restaurant [formerly cha chah]. This was my first french onion soup that was creamy, and though the cheese could’ve used some more broiling, it was delicious! Salad was worth ordering again, too. Loved the pairing of the cool wedge lettuce with green goddess dressing.

02_2013.02.23 - Chinatown Lunar New Year Banquet 01

Chinatown restaurant Lunar New Year banquet

For the first time since we have been together, Jeremy and I made multiple plans to celebrate Chinese New Year during the the tail-end of the holiday. Our first celebration was at new-to-us Chinatown restaurant in Green Hills. We feasted with new friends and had a great time. The sweet and sour whole fish [the blue & white platter on the right] was the highlight of the meal, but every single one of the dozen or so dishes was delicious. Jeremy and I hope to return to Chinatown to satisfy our pretty regular cravings for Chinese food. Vivek recommends trying the braised pork belly, which is at the top of our list.

03_2013.02.23 - NHA Teddy's Wagon - Pearl 01

Pearl : dachshund mix at Nashville Humane Association

Now that I’m working pretty regularly during the week, I no longer am able to head over to the shelter to walk and socialize the pups like I used to. I am, however, spending most Saturdays with Teddy’s Wagon, NHA’s off-site roving adoption unit. Make sure to keep an eye out for the bright yellow RV with Teddy on the side when you’re out and about Saturday morning. You’re always welcome to come on board and tour the state-of-the-art customized interior and, of course, cuddle the pups and cats on board and available for adoption.

04_2013.02.24 - Bombay Bistro Chaat 01

bhel puri chaat at Bombay Bistro

Jeremy and I were meant to finish our Lunar New Year celebration the night after our Chinatown feast with a banquet organized by the Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville. Sadly, due to an event start time misprint on the tickets, we showed up just as dessert was being served. We didn’t  mourn for too long, though, as we were right around the corner from our favorite Indian restaurant in town, Bombay Bistro. Though I learned how to make a few different chaat recipes through a University School Nashville evening class, I’ve yet to tackle that myself so I always order some chaat variety when we’re out and it’s on the menu. This bhel puri is my favorite – sweet + sour tamarind sauce, cool yogurt, fresh veggies, fried bits and chickpeas. All for me!

05_2013.02.24 - Pinned It and Did It - Lemon Rind Cubes 02

07_2013.02.24 - Pinned It and Did It - Lemon Rind Cubes 10

pinned it and did it : lemon rind ice cubes

Yes! Something I pinned and actually did! No matter it’s simply some sliced lemon rinds in ice cubes. I used a large number of meyer lemons and oranges recently in some baking projects and rather than shoving a half or two of the rinds down the garbage disposal to freshen things up, I sliced the rind into skinny strips, placed 3-4 in each ice cube well, topped off with water and froze. Stored in a ziploc bag in the freezer, I grab two or three when the disposal’s starting to smell funky, whirr it around, and problem solved!

10_2013.03.03 - Doughworks Truck Gamecock + ZolliKoffee Chai

soy chai // zolli koffee . gamecock // doughworks craft doughnuts

Jeremy and I have a new Sunday morning routine. After I’ve made an early weekly grocery run to beat the pre- church rush, we head out to a coffee shop for some breakfast and work on some crossword puzzles [our favorite are from the Vanderbilt University Hustler newspaper] or play gin [I’m currently winning, but I doubt it will stay that way for long!]. We’ve been going to a new place each week, hoping to find a favorite where we will become regulars. On this Sunday we headed over to Jackalope Brewing Company who is sharing space with newly opened Zolli Koffee. After grabbing our morning java we ordered breakfast from the visiting Doughworks Craft Doughnuts truck. I had my first taste of hot[ish] chicken, topped with honey, dill-centric dressing and blue cheese crumbles. It was delicious! Hope I spy the truck around town again soon as I want to try one of their sweet offerings.

11_2013.03.04 - Vietnamese Roast Pork Salad 03

12_2013.03.04 - Vietnamese Roast Pork Salad 05

vietnamese sweet pork salad, slow cooker edition

My friend Sarah recently shared her version of a favorite Vietnamese dish of mine [she and I went to the same high school and actually traveled to Vietnam on the same school trip, though in different years]. Once I saw the recipe I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A quick Monday morning run to Interasian, where I was able to stock up on pretty much everything needed for the dish aside from the pork, lettuce and peanuts, and dinner was served. Bonus trip down memory lane not guaranteed for everyone! Highly recommend you make this dish if you’re a fan of Vietnamese flavors. I can’t wait till the weather’s warmer so I can try grilling the meat and getting that char flavor.

Angela Roi.jpg

Angela & Roi handbags

One of my favorite bloggers, Kelly at Design Crush, recently highlighted this wonderful concept. Purchase your favorite handbag from the selection of quality, timeless pieces and select a charity close to your heart to which some of the proceeds from your purchase will be sent. I personally have my eye on a Casual Shoulder bag in gray [when they’re back in stock!] with a brown ribbon in honor of my father-in-law who died of pancreatic cancer.

Tim’s Place / Albuquerque, New Mexico

Huffington Post Food recently featured Tim’s Place, the only restaurant in the United States [that this family is aware of, at least] owned by a young person with Down Syndrome. I wouldn’t care if the food was fantastic or mediocre, if I lived in Albuquerque I would have to make Tim’s a regular part of my schedule so I could get some of those genuine [and free!] hugs. Watch this video – but be sure you have some tissues nearby. It’s definitely a feel-good happy-maker!

What have you been up to lately? I’d love to know!



A friend of mine [hi, Bora!] recently posted a link to this blog [Humans of New York] on Facebook, mentioning how she hoped to be featured on it one day. Quite like Bill Cunningham from the NY Times “On the Street” feature, or Scott Schuman [also known as The Sartorialist], I imagine there are umpteen New Yorkers hoping to recognize this photographer and have a sliver of their day and life photographed for eternity and a world to see.

I’ve highlighted some of my favorite characters featured on the blog recently below, with some snippets of their stories to go along with the images.

“After the car wash, I became a stock boy. Then, a delivery driver. Five years ago, I got my papers and became a citizen, so now I’m able to work at the airport. At nights, and on my days off, I drive a cab. Just this year I graduated from Brooklyn College with a Masters degree in French. I finished third in my class. Now I think I can become a professor.”

“Appropriately, his name was Dandy Wellington.”

“The mother laughed and said: “Not me, but you can take a picture of her.” The girl immediately assumed a self-satisfied pose.”

“Not sure how well an 80’s pop culture reference will go over, but she looks like part of David Bowie’s army in Labyrinth.”

“Super Monthly Awesome Spectacular Halloween. It’s like Halloween, but once a month!”

I highly recommend you add this blog to your feed or daily website check as you’ll be guaranteed a sweet smile or little chuckle with each view.

Now, who’s going to start a Nashville version?



No bones about it, I like to eat. Here are some of my favorite local, non-local + homemade eats.

There’s something about oatmeal when someone else makes it for you. Warm, comforting + a perfect balance of fresh, tart fruit + sweet maple syrup. This beautiful bowl is from Ugly Mugs.

My favorite breakfast to make at home is farina/cream of wheat. Add some salted butter + dried cranberries – mmm mmm mmmm!

Salty, crispy fried veggie spring rolls from Vietnam [Philadelphia, PA]. Wrap them up with some pickled daikon, mint + cucumber in a cold iceberg lettuce leaf and proceed to stuff. your. face!

When summer tomatoes are at their peak, I make my egg salad sandwiches salad-less [no mayo]. Just stack slices of warm just-boiled eggs, onion + tomatoes on some toasty whole grain bread and top with a pinch or two of crunchy sea salt.

Do not ever visit Asheville, NC and not eat at Tupelo Honey and not have a biscuit + their lemonade-of-the-season [this one’s Rosemary]. Seriously, don’t.

My father-in-law opened my previously-naive eyes to this, the most perfect of movie theatre treats. When with The Husband I have to forgo the carcinogen-laden extra pumps of “butter flavor”, but that’s ok ’cause there’s enough salty-sweet in this bucket to last me through an epic 3-hour shoot-em-up flick.

Can’t ever go wrong with ice cream, ‘specially when it’s Jenis. I usually go for tried and true Salty Caramel, but this time I went with Sweet Corn Black Raspberry and Pumpkin Amaretti. And let me tell you, they did not disappoint.

The only regret I have with Pinkberry is that I’d been eating it so long without honey on top! It gets cold and freezes a bit when it hits the [original tart, always!] yogurt and becomes a perfectly chewy texture. Great bonus to all the fruit + nuts you can load up on!

So what about you? What are your favorite eats?