Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bread Redemption

Yet again, I've been totally slacking on the bread front. At this point, I don't even know how many Healthy Bread in 5 assignments I've blown off. I won't profess to feeling too guilty, since my waistline is probably in better shape because of my slacking. I'd love to blame my busy schedule, but we all know that's a total crock. Maybe it's the onset of fall that made we want to bake some bread this week, maybe it was all of the amazing things other people are baking (like this crazy Marigold Honey Wheat Bread Heather made and these Homemade Chorizo Rolls), or I could just be in the mood to carb load again. Whatever it is, I peeked at my assignment sheet and lo and behold, we're back where we started! Pumpkin Pie Brioche was the first bread we baked as a group, and one of the only recipes you can find online, so you don't have to go get the book. Mine was a disaster. I saved it by turning it into Bread Pudding, but still. I needed to redeem myself.

First, remember to double the spices for a better flavor punch! I made half a batch and baked a loaf of Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread. Just roll out a lb. of brioche dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and spread it with a mixture of 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Roll it up and bake as directed for a loaf. So good toasted with butter, and I imagine it would make for some slammin' french toast! I decided to get a bit more creative with the leftover dough and use up some lingering ingredients in the fridge. If you make a half batch of the brioche dough, you'll have enough pumpkin left for this recipe. Heaven on a plate, bitches. Heaven.

Pumpkin Pie Mascarpone Cheesecake Bars

1/2 lb. Pumpkin Pie Brioche Dough
1/2 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1/2 15 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 8 oz. container of mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 glass baking dish. Flour a board and the dough and roll out to a 1/8 inch thickness.  Slide the dough into your baking dish, pressing dough up onto the sides. Trim any excess dough with a knife or kitchen shears. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing filling.
In a medium bowl, beat pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and one egg. Set aside. In a second bowl, beat mascarpone and remaining 2 eggs until fluffy. Beat in vanilla, sour cream, and sugar. Pour into cooled crust. Top with pumpkin mixture and swirl with a knife. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to squash a crappy mood

I'm grumpy. It's raining. And we are officially in the midst of fall weather. The forecast showed temperatures in the 60's by the end of this week. Grr. It's going to start getting darker earlier, which makes it almost impossible for me to take decent photos of dinner food, unless of course, I build myself a light box. I'll tag that on my to-do list a mile long, right underneath "Master the Art of Ikebana" and "Find a Full Time Job Taste Testing Pastry."

One good thing about the onset of fall is the sudden appearance of squashes the size of my head at the farmer's market. That and the need to un-clutter, since rain makes me housebound. This recipe is from an old Martha Stewart Living magazine, which I've just uncovered from a huge basket full of at least 40 old food mags. It was also featured on The Bitten Word way back when, which you must add to your list of food blogs if you aren't already reading it. Those two guys are the cutest thing ever (plus there's a great article about ground beef linked there)! Their squash looks just like the one in the magazine photo, but I'm just going to blame my point and shoot and fading light and call it a day. I loved the fall flavors in this dish and will definitely make it again!

Moroccan Style Stuffed Acorn Squashes
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, October 2009

2 medium acorn squashes, halved and seeded
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
3/4 c. bulgur wheat
2 leeks, washed and chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups water
1/4 cup raisings
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tbls. sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash cut side down in a large baking dish and bake until tender, about 35 minutes.
Heat oil in a large deep sauté pan or a pot. Add ground beef, 1 tsp. of salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook until browned. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leeks and garlic to the pan and sauté until tender. Stir in bulgur, remaining salt, and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff bulgur with a fork, and add beef, raisins, parsley and sunflower seeds.
Scrape out baked squashes, making 1/4 inch thick bowls. Fold cooked squash into the bulgur mixture and divide among squash bowls. Bake for 12-14 minutes until heated through and browned on top.

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And don't forget! Time is almost out to sign up for my Fourth Blogiversary Giveaway! Pop on over and comment to enter.

This post is linked to:
Tuesday Night Supper Club
and Tuesday Twister

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's almost time to say goodbye...

It's the end of the road for us, folks! Our six months of cooking with Mark Bittman is almost up. This is our last Potluck week, and we start cooking with Giada on October 4th. That smiley little minx beat out my girl Lidia Bastianich by just a few votes! I hope you are all looking forward to six months of lemon zest, baci, and cleavage. Woohoo!

No really, I'm excited to work with some more Italian recipes, which I crave constantly anyway. In prepping for the shift, I started doing a bit of hunting, since I only own one Giada cookbook and I've yet to open it! I came upon a wonder that has existed forever and I have also never used. Google Books. If you haven't tried it, open a new window and get on it now! Check out what happens when you type Giada's name into Google Books! A huge selection of her cookbooks online, so you don't even have to drag your lazy ass to the library. I just heard a chorus of angels singing. 

Anyway, since I have already had to return most of my Mark books to the library cause some other skeeze had them on hold, I did a Mark search, too. And lo and behold, the same huge selection. I had an abundance of eggs and cheese, so this recipe was spot on. I did lots of changing, since I'm not a fan of pre-baking a quiche crust and I also wanted some more flavor punch. E swears he hates quiche, but he lies. He admitted to eating a slice while he waited for me to get home yesterday. And of course he liked it. I think it was the tang from the goat cheese that did it. Everything is better with goat cheese. 

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Quiche
adapted from Mark Bittman's Cheesy Quiche from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food
1 pre-made 9 inch pie crust (go ahead and make your own if you are adventurous, but I use the frozen crust from Whole Foods  and it's really good!)
4 eggs, plus 2 egg whites
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 leek, washed and diced
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1 Tbls. olive oil
1/2 cup goat cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Set your pie crust on a large baking sheet. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add leeks and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook until tender, another 5 minutes. Season with oregano, salt and pepper and set aside. Beat eggs and milk in a large bowl. Crumble goat cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. Top with vegetables and pour egg mixture over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake another 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Rest quiche on a rack for 10 minutes before slicing.

*Tip, if you have any leftover egg mixture, pour it into a buttered ramekin and bake it along side your quiche. Eat it with toast for breakfast. :)

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And don't forget to enter my Fourth Blogiversary Giveaway for your chance to win Entertaining with Booze and some Halloween Cupcake Stencils by Martha Stewart!

This post is linked to:
and Simple Lives Thursday

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fourth Blogiversary to Me! And a Giveaway!

It's that time of year again, peeps! It's September. And four years ago this week I started this blog. Crazy. Last year at this time I babbled on about my early blog posts, which, if you are really bored or bed-ridden thanks to some illness or other, make for some rather funny reading (You can find them in the Archive on the left). Germany was F.U.N.

Last year I hosted a giveaway of the crafty sort to celebrate turning three, but since this blog has evolved into even more of a food centric endeavor, I'm focusing on noshing for this year's giveaway. You lucky buggers!

Your prize package will include: 

This bad ass cookbook by Ryan Jennings and David Steele
Entertaining with Booze: Designer Drinks, Fabulous Food and Inspired Ideas for Your Next Party
                                 Entertaining with Booze: Designer Drinks, Fabulous Food and Inspired Ideas for Your Next Party
These guys are just so cute, I mean really, how can you help wanting this book? Plus it's full of amazing recipes that would rock your party guests and would also be great for just cooking at home. They are all set up into menus with party themes like "The Perfect Suck-up Supper" and "Get Fat Tuesday." There is a recipe for Black and Tan Brownies. And Roasted Cock with Leekie Banger Stuffing, which makes me almost pee my pants laughing. And of course, they all include booze. Me likey.

Martha Stewart Holidays™ Halloween Pastry Stencil KitMartha Stewart Holidays Vampire Cupcake Stencils
Perfect for your Halloween baking! I love love love the drops of blood stencil. Gross and awesome at the same time!

And if you are feeling adventurous, let me know and I will toss in some Reishi Mushrooms for you, too! You know you want to try a Vanilla Chai Latte.

To enter:
No hoop jumping! Yay! Just leave me a comment with your email address so I can contact you.

Of course, I always appreciate if you click the little Follow button up there in the left sidebar, but it's not required! Also, for you scaredy cat friends of mine who I know read secretly and never comment (I see you Ibeys), never fear. You can comment without signing in and type your email like so: whathisface(at)yahoo(dot)com. Then those meany phishermen won't spam you.

This giveaway is only open to residents of the US, again, I'm cheap. We all know this. Until the P.O. reduces shipping rates, I can't ship to my fab friends in other countries :( Sorry!

Giveaway ends Wed. 9/29/10 at 5PM EST.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Make way for Reishi

Ages ago I got a fun sample of Reishi Mushrooms from MarxFoods. You remember them from the heirloom beans and the palm leaf plates, right? You're wondering what the hell Reishi Mushrooms are, yes? Interesting little buggers. Look a bit like wood chips! Chinese herbalists prize them for their nutritional and medicinal qualities, but there's a catch. They have to dry them, then brew them into a tea, and that tea, my friends, tastes like ass. Well, maybe not literally ass, but you get the drift. The folks at MarxFoods issued a challenge to food bloggers to create a recipe for Reishi Mushroom tea that made it delicious. Of course, I suck and have an issue with deadlines apparently, cause I missed the boat and am posting this just now. You can check out the other recipes posted on the MarxFoods blog by the bloggers who are timely and responsible.

Meanwhile, I made this for E, who has quite possibly the girliest drink order at Starbucks ever. Second maybe to Derek Zoolander's Orange Mocha Frappucino. He's lactose intolerant, so he orders a Grande Vanilla Soy Latte with a Shot. I think they call that extra shot "dirty," but that just makes the name worse. He actually really liked this tea and only noticed a slight "bite" from the Reishi. Good thing they sent me so much!

Vanilla Chai Reishi Latte
serves one

1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 rounded Tbls. Reishi mushrooms
1/2 tsp. chai spice
Cinnamon stick

Bring soy milk to a boil in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a low simmer, add mushrooms and chai spice and stir. Simmer twenty minutes, or until mushrooms sink to the bottom of the pot. Strain into a martini shaker, and shake until frothy. Pour into a mug garnished with a cinnamon stick.

A quick and important note: As with any herbal or unusual ingredient, you should always check into it before consuming, especially if you have health problems. While Reishi Mushrooms tea is used to boost the immune system, fight cancer, and reduce high blood pressure, it should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, people with blood clotting issues, or people with low blood pressure. Check it out on WebMD if you are curious and talk to your doctor before using any questionable herbal remedies.

If you wanna try your own, stay tuned...

Thug Life

I know some of you may be morally opposed to veal, and I get that. You may also be opposed to foie gras, and I get that, too. However, it's not going to stop me from eating it. I'm informed, I'm sensitive, but I'm also hungry and I like what I like. I'm not going to go all Bourdain on you, but I'm going to make this amazing osso buco for lots of reasons, despite the moral issues. I'll enjoy it as much as that killer foie gras hot dog I inhaled, cause I'm just hardcore like that. A food gangster, if you will. Bring it on.

I first made this dish when I was 15. My stepdad, the Goombah, had a copy of this cookbook and his huge extended famiglia was coming to dinner. We decided to team up to make this dish for 20 people. That may not seem like much, but it was a very big deal. See, when I was 15, I hated the world and everyone in it, including myself. I was a selfish, miserable little bitch and I think Ralphy got the worst of it. It makes me teary even thinking about it now. For us to work together to make a dinner was huge, especially since neither of us were very good cooks. It was a lesson in teamwork, compromise, and improvisation. Guerrilla cooking.

We pulled it off. Despite a few issues along the way (we multiplied every ingredient by 4, so I skimmed olive oil out of the pan by the spoonful), dinner was a resounding success, evident from the loosened belts of all the old Italians crowded around the table. It's become my favorite recipe for special occasions since the veal can be pricey, but I've never made it with Ralphy again. My parents are coming for Columbus Day weekend for a visit. I think I just decided the menu.

Veal Osso Buco
adapted from The Mafia Cookbook, by Joe Dogs Iannuzzi

1 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
8 cross cut veal shanks, 1 1/2 inches thick
2 Tbls olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. dry white wine (or apple juice!)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 Tbls. tomato paste
3/4 cup brown gravy (homemade is fab, but buy a jar if you must)
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season flour with salt and pepper and dredge veal shanks, be sure to coat all sides and shake off excess. Heat oil in a large dutch oven on the stove top. Brown veal on all sides, then remove from pot and set aside. Add onion and garlic to post and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add wine and cook for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a spoon. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and gravy. Bring to a boil and add remaining ingredients. Return veal to the pot, cover and bake for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Remove veal and set aside, covered in foil. Remove bay leaves and discard. Cook sauce over medium high heat for five minutes and pour over veal to serve.

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This post is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam

 and Tuesday Twister.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Say Cheese

Anyone who reads this blog (and bless your little hearts you loyal few) knows that I am a big fan of breakfast. I'll eat breakfast foods any time of day. That challah french toast I had in Philadelphia last weekend is still on my mind. It's kind of sick. I usually try to whip up something a little special on the weekends when E and I are lazing around the house doing jack. This weekend I just happened to have a bit of extra ricotta and a whole bowl of quickly ripening apples to work with. Thankfully, it's cheese week at IHCC, and Mark just happened to have this little pancake recipe posted. Now, I've made cottage cheese pancakes plenty of times and love them, but this was the first time using ricotta. Interestingly enough, while I put our plates out on the table to eat, E had turned on Food Network. Tyler Florence was whipping up pancakes, too. With ricotta. And baked apple topping. Go figure. Check out Tyler's menu here if you wish, but really, they didn't look as fluffy as these!

Whole Wheat Ricotta Pancakes with Fall Fruit Compote
Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe for Light and Fluffy Pancakes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 eggs, separated
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of salt
1 Tbls. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup chopped pecans (for serving)

In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, beat egg yolks, ricotta, yogurt, and half of the buttermilk. In a third bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Blend dry ingredients into ricotta mixture until just combined. Gently fold egg whites into ricotta mixture. If the batter is very thick, you may thin it with a little of the reserved buttermilk, just fold it in carefully so as not to deflate the egg whites. Spoon batter onto a hot, greased griddle. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Serve with compote and chopped pecans.

Fall Fruit Compote
5 Macintosh apples, peeled and sliced into chunks
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 Tbls. lemon juice
1 cup apple juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbls. butter

In a medium sauce pan, bring apples, juices, and sugar to a boil over medium high heat. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. As the apples begin to soften, use a spoon to break them apart if needed. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, cherries, and butter and reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking and stirring for 20 more minutes or until thickened.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

My New BFF

Every once in a while I stumble upon something that makes my life just a little bit brighter. Sometimes it's a new person, a new ingredient, or even, as is the case today, a supermarket. I am in love with a supermarket. It has made me feel gasp! happy to live in New Jersey. Corrado's is my new BFF. I might go so far as to call it my new gay boyfriend (E won't let me have straight boyfriends, duh!), except it's not really stylish enough for that.

It is good enough, however, for me to drive past 6 other markets and through the ghetto of Paterson to visit. The prices are insane, the produce is amazing, there store brand of everything is delicious, and they have the best cheese section ever. Where else could I buy a 102 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (ok, maybe Sam's Club, but it's owned by Wal-Mart and is therefore the devil)? But where could I buy a 102 oz. can of tomatoes for three bucks? And why would anyone want to buy a 102 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, anyway? Because. I use it in everything, and it freezes well. I used almost half of this can for chili and the rest went into ziploc bags. I stacked them flat in the freezer, labeled of course, and now I can pull out a bag to defrost anytime I am making a sauce or soup. I think I need to go buy more cans.

Turkey Vegetable Chili 
2 Tbls olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large zucchini diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 Tbls. ancho chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbls. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cloves, minced garlic
1 12 oz. bottle dark beer
2 Tbls. tomato paste
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
3 15 oz. cans red kidney beans
Shredded cheddar, cilantro, and/or sour cream for garnish

In a dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add turkey and cook until browned, drain, pour into another bowl and set aside. Add onions to pot and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes. add carrots, zucchini and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add turkey back to the pot and add chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and cook for 5 minutes more. Pour in beer and cook until foam subsides. Stir in tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and cook uncovered until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add beans and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Serve topped with garnishes and a slice of cornbread.

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Cornbread with Chile de arbol
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, September 2008

Cooking spray
1 1/4 c. stone ground cornmeal
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears of corn)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 large Chile de arbol (any hot pepper will do!) diced
1 1/2 Tbls. honey
1 1/2 Tbls. butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 inch cast iron skillet with cooking spray and place in the center of the oven to heat.
Whisk cornmeal, corn, hot peppers, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, making a well in the center. Combine buttermilk, cheese, butter, honey, oil, and eggs in a small bowl. Pour into the cornmeal mixture and fold to combine. Pour into preheated pan and bake for 25-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing into wedges.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Phun in Philly: Days Three and Four

Our first full day in Philly was so jam packed, we thought we'd start Saturday off easy. Our friend Kristin highly recommended a place for breakfast; really, she gushed about it. So we headed off to South Philly to Carman's Country Kitchen. This tiny little corner joint (literally 3 tables inside, an 8 seat counter, and a pick up truck at the curb with a picnic table in back) was so awesome! It's full of kitschy tchotchkes and mismatched vintage dishware, and hidden among the Betty Boop cookie jars were penis pepper shakers, boobie mugs, and all sorts of fun things to laugh at while you ponder the menu. The menu, by the way, changes every day and offers four choices, all whipped up by Carman in a kitchen so tiny I don't know how she turns around. E went for the Jewish New Year special: brisket with fried eggs, toast, and country potatoes. I had challah French toast topped with baked peaches, apples, and blueberries and a mound of homemade whipped cream. I could have died. Trust me, when a woman's business card says, "She puts the Cunt back in Country" you know you're in good hands. Just call ahead to make a reservation; it's a local fave and we were lucky to get in!

We rolled ourselves out the door and walked down to the Italian Market on 9th Street. More amazing food stalls, specialty shops, and cafes. The cheeses alone got me dizzy, but E was more thrilled staring at meat. He made me walk into every butcher shop to ogle chops even though we couldn't buy anything. He was equally impressed that you can buy a whole boneless roasted pig there. How the hell they do that I have no idea, but it sounds impressive! On our way out, we passed the Magic Gardens, an art installation made of found objects, broken glass, and concrete created by Isaiah Zagar. Next time, I'll take the time to go inside, but even the outside is stunning and I imagine kids would love it!

We moved on to my absolute favorite part of our whole trip: The Eastern State Penitentiary. I wasn't really joking about the going to jail thing! We spent hours wandering this old prison, home to some of the notorious criminals in American history. It's truly amazing how they've kept this place as a ruin with only a few restorations. I took an insane amount of photos, and now I know I really do need a good camera! These were the best I could do with my old point and shoot, and I have tons more on flickr if you care to look. I'm not really a history buff, but the stories about what took place in the prison are fascinating. It's also got some very cool artists' installations scattered throughout the ruin, all linked in some way to exploring the prison system in America today compared to how it was when the ESP was built. I just wish I could go back next month to do the haunted tour!

We were smart on that afternoon and actually went back to the hotel for naps, then out to dinner at Lolita. It's one of the several restaurants and shops on 13th Street owned by Marcie Turney, one of the hottest female chefs in town. We went early since they don't take reservations and it's really popular, and the food was so delicious! We had guacamole (duh), roasted poblano and chihuahua gorditas, and short ribs. The ribs were crazy good, but left us, sadly, with no room for dessert. Lolita is also another another BYO place, but they call it BYOT for Bring Your Own Tequila. They bring a big pitcher of Blood Orange or Strawberry Basil Margaritas and you spike your own. Fun! We did some more shop hopping (oh how I loved you, duross & langel!) and called it a night.

Sunday was time to head home, but not without a stop at one of Philly's most famous places: The Philadelphia Museum of Art. No, we did not run up the steps and jump around like Rocky. No, we didn't even take our pictures with the statue of Rocky. I don't even like Rocky. I just wanted to see the art. Honestly, I think it would take a full day or at least two trips to really see everything inside. The place is huge and they have some gorgeous exhibits. It was perfect for such a gray drizzly day and a nice way to end a very long weekend. I'd go back in a heartbeat, if only to eat at more restaurants, but for now I'm keeping my walking tours to a minimum. It took two days for my feet to stop throbbing.