Six Years Ago


As we awake this morning following the horrific tragedy in Boston yesterday I can’t help but think how the introduction to this post changed so quickly. As I came back from a meeting on our executive floor in 30 Rock I noticed on the column on TVs by the elevator bank the breaking news. The scene unveiling live before my eyes I was instantly reminded of a similarly gruesome scene six years ago. It’s been 2,192 days since I woke up late the cold, windy and snowy morning of April 16, 2007. Running late, and refusing to skip breakfast with a friend, is what kept me out of Norris Hall that morning. Instead of sitting in the second floor hallway, I was sipping coffee from ABP as I walked out of Squires. That’s when amidst the sirens in the distance I heard my phone ring. I answered the call from a 410 area code, one I didn’t recognize. On the other end of the line was the hurried but collected voice of a Virginia Tech Rescue Squad Probationary Member. That call changed the rest of my day. Instantly I turned my radio on, sprinted across Alumni Mall towards the Military Building tossing my friend inside Major Williams along the way for safety. I arrived at the station changed faster than Clark Kent into my jumpsuit, threw my boots on and hopped on the next unit to leave. The rest of the story picks up here.

"Jeremy, you're a TL, get on this ambulance and go."

“Jeremy, you’re a TL, get on this ambulance and go.”

And so the events of yesterday and the heroic actions of first responders only add more weight to the words so many of us have known for six years now, Ut Prosim. My heart was heavy with sympathy for all the first responders I saw in action yesterday who like so many of us six years ago rushed into an unknown situation. They acted bravely, swiftly and will undoubtedly be credited with saving a number of lives because of their actions. The thing is, it’s what we do. I guarantee, much like if you were to speak with any of the first responders from Blacksburg that day, our brothers and sisters in Boston would say they were only doing what they had trained to do for so many years.

Virginia Tech April 16 Memorial

Virginia Tech April 16 Memorial

We must rise every day grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life by the way we apply our talents and serve others – be it at work, at home, with friends or amongst strangers. It’s been 2,192 days since April 16, 2007. Have you made a difference in the lives of 2,192 people? If not, I challenge you to start with one today and live for the 32 Hokies – and now those lost in Tuscon, Aurora, Newtown and Boston – who are watching over you.

God bless, and Go Hokies!

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Tasty Tuesdays: You Say Potayto, I say Patahta


Just like the President says, change is still coming… to this here blog.  I’m just waiting on some friends (we’ll call them Congress) to get a few things done.  In the meantime, try this quick and easy to make dinner that’s guaranteed to warm you up this winter.

Gnocchi with Squash and Kale

Prep: 30min; Total: 35 min; Serves: 4

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBSP roughly chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 17.5oz (or close) package potato gnocchi
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
  1. Melt 1 TBSP butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring, until slightly soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes. (NOTE: if you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, be sure to use aluminum foil to cover an plastic pieces and adjust your broiler rack accordingly to avoid meltage!)
  2. Preheat the broiler (if you have an option choose high). Add the water to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in the 1/2 cup parmesan and the remaining 1 TBSP butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.

And since Miss Fancy Boots and I are sticking to our eating healthy and exercising resolutions, but seriously we are doing a fantastic job– here are the nutrition facts.

  • Calories 438
  • Fat 23g (Saturated 14g)
  • Cholesterol 76mg
  • Sodium 989mg
  • Carbohydrate 42g
  • Fiber 6g
  • Protein 16g
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Tasty Tuesdays: The Teaser


Well after a solid two months off, you’d think I’d be well rested, right?  Wrong.  The reason this here poor blog (and your inboxes, eyes, etc.) were neglected the last eight weeks has more to do with how crazy life got in the Big Apple.  See the onset of mid-October means one of our two biggest days of service at work, the holidays (when everyone seems to think it’s the only time of year to be charitable/volunteer AND when there is ridiculous amounts of travel back home).  All that said it’s about time to get back to work.  Today’s meal is a favorite of mine, but the recipe also comes from a close friend and seeing as how he essentially modified and perfected it I can’t willingly share without permission (which I haven’t asked for, oops).

Finished Product

Classic Chicken Alfredo

  • Secret sauce recipe from an Italian friend
  • Fresh head of broccoli
  • (2) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb. fresh whole-wheat linguine
  1. Boil chicken until internal temp reaches 140°F, let cool.  Then trim and cut into bite size pieces.
  2. Steam broccoli
  3. Follow secret sauce recipe
  4. Add fresh linguine to boiling water for no more than 2 min, rinse with hot water and drain in colander.

And, in more important news, expect some MAJOR changes coming to the blog over the next month or so… stay tuned.

Until next time, Happy New Year and Cheers!

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Tasty Tuesdays: Open Faced Chicken


The two faced chicken meets the chicken who turns the other cheek and you end up with the open faced chicken.  I think somehow that’s about how it all goes down.  Either way this tasty junction of caprese salad, chicken and some tasty starches will have you satiated on dinner in less than 30 minutes.

Where'd the other half go?

Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • provolone cheese, sliced
  • fresh tomato
  • spinach (or try arugula to spice it up a notch)
  • baguette loaf
  • sweet potato fries (frozen)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. I sliced my chicken breasts in half hot dog style to get them to fit on the baguette easier, but that’s a game time decision based on what you’re working with.  Then drop them in the pan with some just heated oil and sear ’em up real good ’cause no body likes e-coli.
  3. Throw in the sweet potato fries and let them cook while you’re putting the grills on the chickadee.
  4. Slice your baguette and tomato.  Arrange according to your preference.  I chose to go with the spinach on bottom, tomato, then chicken topped with the cheese.
  5. Slide your creations into the oven and let cook for the remaining time on the fries.  This should be long enough to melt your cheese, crisp your baguette and roast that tomato just a tad.
  6. Pull it all out, throw it on a plate and enjoy.

Until next time, Cheers!

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When You Combine Four Bros, Baseball and a Hurricane…

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#Brocation2011 had high expectations.  Park Ranger, MJ, the Senator and I had been planning our big vacation for months and the time had finally arrived to embark on the journey.  To be honest, it wasn’t much of a journey for … Continue reading

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Tasty Tuesdays: One Crabby Patty


[Yes, I know this is a day late.  Yes, I know it’s actually Wednesday.  Yes, I am sleep deprived and super busy this week.]

Seafood. Seven Five Seven. Simply Satiating.

They say there’s nothing like going home.  New York can certainly hold its own in the culinary world, but there’s just something about that good ole feeling I get when I’m back home eating seafood. I know it was caught by a local fisherman, dragged onto the boat, hauled into the dock and unloaded and processed all without leaving that one area code that does it all, the 757.  This past weekend Miss Fancy Boots and I traveled home on the ole railroad in an effort to be thrifty.  While the $130 we saved over flying was greatly appreciated by my financial advisor the 3:00AM departing train and 1:50AM arriving train were not so appreciated by my sleep advisor.  The trip combined two important events.  The Poquoson Seafood Festival held in Poquoson, VA or if you ask MFB “Pawcohsen” and a bridal shower that MFB’s momma was throwing for one of MFB’s childhood friends.  Now let’s review which I was more excited about, unending amounts of fresh local seafood or a gaggle of estrogen armed with mimosas and munchies.  Hmm, that’s a tough one.

The lone picture: crab cake, shrimp, oysters and fries from Graham & Rollins

Well if you guessed seafood then you guessed correctly.  If you thought I was really that excited about a bridal shower, we should talk… ASAP.  However, in my excitement for delicious food I failed to pause for the cause and take pictures.  I’m truly sorry, please forgive me.  Regardless here are the reviews of my favorites from the festival.

  • Sherri’s Crab Cakes… to be honest, FreshDirect has some pretty good crab cakes so it’s not like I’ve been completely without.  However, Sherri’s were by far the best in show at the festival this year.  Making an award winning crab cake is pretty simple.  You need to have less than 5% of the whole thing be any ingredient besides crab.  Otherwise you just end up with an over breaded, filler stuffed teaser.  The other key is to remember that you’re making a crab cake, not a flat shingle of crab meat.  Too often I find vendors or restaurants whose crab cakes more resemble a quarter pounder patty from McDonald’s than a delicious heaping pile of yummy crab.  The patty should be thick and fill out the entire bun.  Sherri’s does a great job with both of these cardinal rules.
  • Surf Rider… has always been my favorite seafood restaurant in the seven-five-seven.  While I have only ever frequented the Hampton location, I’m sure the rest are just as great.  Surf Rider made its debut at the Poquoson Seafood Festival this year to celebrate their planned opening of a restaurant in Poquoson, at the end of Rens Road.  The goal date for the grand opening is early May 2012.  Until then, you can pick up some of the mouth watering she crab soup they were serving at one of their other four locations.  This soup was the perfect fix to what became a brisk and chilly fall evening once the sun set.  Not too watery and not too thick with a wonderful balance of creaminess, crab and spices.
  • Graham & Rollins… a Hampton, VA staple, whose crab cakes have been featured and sold on QVC, these guys provided the best value at the festival.  Their classic boats (one item for $8, two for $13) are by far the best value you’ll find across the numerous vendors.  You can pick one (or two) from a variety of seafood staples (shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, crab cake) and it’s served alongside fries.  Toss in a sweet tea or lemonade for an extra $2.  Walking way with a complete meal for $10 is a steal at the festival.  Doing it with award winning seafood should be illegal.  Yet year after year the Graham & Rollins folks have kept their prices stable and their quality improving.  There’s a reason the line is always three times as long here (don’t worry it moves quickly!).

Maybe you’re [certifiably insane] not a fan of good seafood?  No worries, there are plenty of arts and crafts to keep you happy.  The vendors line a path that snakes through the woods on the grounds of Poquoson High School just steps from the food arena.  It’s your typical arts and crafts set up with everyone huddled under pop-up tents enticing you in with breathtaking displays.  This year’s festival lacked the diversity or uniqueness I’d come to expect.  There were multiple tents of painters and photographers (something I feel you can never avoid) as well as a ton of jewelers (mostly of the beaded variety).  I’m almost convinced there’s some global contest to see who can score the most loyalty points at JoAnn Fabric with their frequent shopper card.  There were a number of vendors who were making fabric based items like purses, bags, scarfs, dog accessories, place mats, you name it the list went on and on.  But again, there were about four tents with the same set up of these fabric creations.  The staple sand art vendor was there.  It used to be tradition for me to make a sand art every year.  At this point if I could find them all I’m almost positive I could acquire some display space at the MoMA for those beauties.  The highlight for me was a college artist named Brian J. Hart (a Hokie grad himself) who drew some amazing pieces and then had them signed by the relevant notables from each school.  Definitely check out his work!  The prints are pretty reasonable, but be sure to bring your bonus check along if you’re looking to snatch a framed and autographed version.  I was also really impressed with a vendor who used glass paint on white window frames to create some beautiful coastal imagery.  Of course, then MFB’s bro-in-law reminded me I could just DIY that project and save $200-$400.

I should also mention that there’s a great kids area full of bouncy houses, super slides, pony rides and the like so it’s certainly a family friendly event.  In fact, the festival is so family friendly there is no alcohol served (perhaps the only negative).  Live music can be heard almost continually from one of the two stages that overlook the food area and the children’s area/giant open field.  The festival is the same weekend ever year (second in October) so I highly encourage you to check out next year’s for some sure to please seafood.

Until next time, Cheers!

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Tasty Tuesdays: Cheese In Your Chicken?!


If you worked with me then you would appreciate the wonders of feta.  My colleague and friend is Greek and so I’m always up to date on the finer aspects of Greek culture, their financial aptitude withstanding.  In fact, Lady Athena (I’ll save you her real last name as it’s ten characters with lots of vowels and a Z thrown in there) was the one who taught me that feta actually means cheese in Greek.  Saying “feta cheese” is repetitive since you’re really just saying “cheese cheese”.  Regardless, it’s a delicious cheese to stuff some chicken breasts with and so that’s what I did!

In the process...

Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Broccoli

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I buy antibiotic free and free range)
  • 1/2 lb. feta cheese (I used Bulgarian for this particular recipe)
  • Lemon juice or one lemon
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  1. Take almost all of your feta and place in a small bowl.  Add the lemon juice (about 1 tbsp) or zest of the lemon peel.  Mix and combine.
  2. Cut the pocket in your chicken breasts for stuffing.  Be sure not to slice all the way through, you’ll want to create an envelope.
  3. Stuff the chicken breasts thoroughly as some of the cheese will melt out during cooking so the more inside the better.  Place chicken aside.
  4. In large pan, heat ELOO over medium-medium high heat and add chicken breasts.  Cook for 18-20 minutes or until internal temperature is 170°F and/or chicken no longer pink.  Turn chicken once during cooking.
  5. Cut off the stalks of your broccoli heads and place in a barely boiling pot of water.  Simmer for 6-8 minutes or until just softened.
  6. Turn chicken a final time and dress with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
  7. Sprinkle some of the remaining feta crumbles on top of chicken before serving.

Channel your inner Greek God(dess) and let me know how it turns out for you!

Until next time, Cheers!


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Two Years Too Soon

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Crazy to think how fast two years goes by when you’re living the life of an adult in New York City.  Alas, it has as of today, two whole years since I lost my hero, my dad.  I have written … Continue reading

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Tasty Tuesdays: Pork and Peppers Pizza


Making your own pizza is a great way to explore creativity with ingredients.  It’s also a fun way to get rid of some of the hangers-on in your fridge.

Before the baking

Three Cheese Sausage and Pepper Pizza

  • Whole Wheat pizza dough (frozen ball)
  • 8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Vermont aged)
  • 2″ block of gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 Italian pork sausage links
  • 1/2 jar sauce (Classico Tomato and Basil)
  • Corn Meal

Details

  1. Remove dough and allow to thaw for 1-2 hours or until soft
  2. Brown sausage over medium heat and slice into bite size pieces
  3. Slice pepper
  4. Stretch, roll and toss dough out using corn meal and rolling pin
  5. Carefully move dough onto baking sheet or pizza stone
  6. Spoon out approximately 1/2 the jar of sauce (8oz/16oz jar) over dough leaving room around crust
  7. Place cheddar cheese as a base layer
  8. Add toppings
  9. Cover with mozzarella cheese
  10. Slice gorgonzola cheese and distribute evenly across pizza
  11. Bake at 500°F for 16-24 minutes or until cheese is golden and crust crisp
  12. Let cool a few minutes before slicing then enjoy!

After the baking

Have any other suggestions for toppings or cheese?  Have your own favorite pizza?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Done Details

Until next time, Cheers!

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Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out About Bank of America’s New Fee


Bank of America Corp. (BAC) announced Thursday they’ll be instituting a new $5 monthly fee for what looks like most of their debit card users.  They’re excluding those with premium checking accounts (over $20,000 in combined balances) and existing college student accounts.  Hey— that’s like two PBRs on a TOTS Tuesday in Blacksburg.

So are you outraged? Furious? Livid? Pissed? Freaking out?

Here’s some rational advice:

  1. Don’t jump ship too quickly.  A number of major national financial institutions are considering a similar measure including Chase, Wells Fargo and SunTrust.  In fact they’ve already started testing it in small markets across the country.  Bank of America is just the first to announce it across the board.  Keep in mind, some of the stalwarts like Citi and TD Bank are standing by their no-fee policies.  While they dominate the Northeast, coming from Virginia I wouldn’t consider them the most convenient banks.
  2. Relax and get a grip. If you want to disagree about the principle of the matter then fine, but as of right now it looks like you can continue your spending habits without being charged the fee. It doesn’t apply to ATM withdrawals, only debit card purchases. The kicker will be if that means only when you swipe it as a “debit” card or if they’ll include using it as a “credit” card.  If the former, then really… why are you still even pursuing this option?  If the latter, then opt for an actual credit card with no annual fee and use that instead.  Keep your cash flow readily available in your Bank of America account and then pay off the credit card charges on a regular basis to avoid any interest charges.  Almost all of the banks have taken away the rewards components of their cards so you’re not missing out there.  If anything you’re gaining by using a credit card with a solid rewards program to match your needs.

I’m not a financial pro, but this isn’t rocket science either…

Until next time, Cheers!

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