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I've lived in San Diego my whole life, and been at SDSU for 4 years...yet somehow this little neighborhood of Kensington eluded me all this time. Continuing my hunt for new things involved a good friend who we shall call "Randy" for safety purposes. Names and oddness aside, he too was interested in going exploring with me, so we consulted Yelp for a quick solution...

Kensington Cafe is located about 3 miles from SDSU, on Adams Avenue between Marlborough Dr & Edgeware Rd. Serving breakfast and lunch all day, this local spot was all that I could hope and dream for - delicious and inexpensive.



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Order this and a trip to the ER on the side
I myself opted for the waffle special of the day, which as you can see included a fresh waffle topped with bananas and peanut butter, drizzled with chocolate to taste. Get a side of bacon and eggs - DAMN. My spider senses told me this place would be good, but who knew that 10 bucks (not including my mocha) would leave me a happy camper.

Anyway, my counterpart Mr. Marsh took a leap of faith and chose one of the panini's from the lunch menu, with a side of fresh chili and a Stone Pale Ale to wash it down. Like me, Randy was enthusiastic about his option and the price (~$15 for the works).

All in all, the food = awesome. The service = awesome. The location = awesome. That's 3 awesomes, which have absolutely no meaning other than its all good. Next time your looking for a good spot around State (or don't mind a quick trip into a pleasant neighborhood) then stop by Kensington Cafe for a bite! Cheers to new things!

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Randy's got good tastes
 
 
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Cheap and delicious
Company was coming over expecting dinner, but what to make with leftover chicken breasts?! Doing a quick search on allrecipes.com and was almost disappointed until kitchen staple Campbell soup came to save the day. What's on the menu? Pan fried chicken breast, rotini pasta w/ chicken mushroom sauce, and garlic bread. Running short on time, I didn't really put in the effort to make the bread, though its super easy and delicious (props to my mom for showing me how to make it happen). The $2 store bought stuff is just as easy to prep, and also delicious (I mean...its prepared for you, just throw it in the oven for God sakes and your good - IMPOSSIBLE TO SCREW UP!).

The Run Down:
1 box rotini pasta
1 can of your favorite cream of whatever campbells soup
4x chicken breast
3 large carrots
1 red pepper
1 bag of pre-prepped garlic bread

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Quick and easy, perfect for cooking on the go
In one pan, heat skillet until hot. Add cleaned and thawed chicken breasts, cook evenly (flip regularly to avoid burning). Season with pepper and parsley if desired.

Boil 4 quarts water, throw in the pasta for 10 minutes or until tender
--While the pasta water is boiling, throw your bread in the oven per instructions (usually bake for 10-15 minutes at 350).
Drain pasta, rinse with hot water.
Add 1 can of cream of chicken and mushroom (or whatever you choose) and 1/2 cup milk (for creaminess)
Stir well until pasta is well covered

While your pasta is boiling, skin and chop carrots into small pieces, discarding ends
Clean pepper of seeds and also chop into small pieces
Heat skillet until hot, add 1 tbsp. vegetable oil.
Add chopped veggies (which you can also choose on your own) and pan fry for ~10 minutes. Add to pasta.


Timing is everything, as no one wants cold food. Enjoy yourselves...and look around. New stuff may have been staring you in the face the whole time (how many times have you passed campbells soup and never considered using it as sauce?). Leave me ideas in the comments, and munch on!



 
 
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Something told me today was going to be off...and it started with so much hope! Starting with two new movies, I suggest you heed my warnings and avoid watching these box office failures...

The first cinematic disaster was "The Goods" starring Jeremy Piven (aka Ari Gold from Entourage), as well as many other recognizable faces including Ed Helms (Andy from The Office, Stu from The Hangover), Rob Riggle (SNL), and Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers). With such a talented staff, how could it go wrong?

A horrible plot that's how. Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) is an expert used-car salesman that travels the country helping struggling dealerships move their inventory. One particular job has Ready thrown off his game, yet he has no choice but to improvise and live up to his reputation...otherwise the dealership will fall into the hands of rival auto dealer Paxton Harding (Ed Helms). It just isn't as funny as I thought it could have been...so to Mr. Neal Brennan - I had never heard of you before this, but I'll never watch one of your movies again.

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I should serve time for starring in this film
I blame ignorance on the selection of the last one, but the following film was chosen by my peers so I had no choice but to hope. IMDB was created for a reason, God help you if you choose to ignore its wisdom.

Instead, our party opted to believe the Netflix ratings and choose "The Education of Charlie Banks" as the next movie on the playlist. Garnering 3.5/5 stars on the rating scale, it seemed to be a safe play. Within 30 minutes, Norkin had seen enough...I should have stopped the horror then. Fred Durst, you did us dirty on this one...

Charlie (Jesse Eisenberg) stars as a college student that encounters an unpleasant surprise from a high school bully that shows up on campus years later. Just when Charlie thought he had escaped the drama, Mick (Jason Ritter) brings with him bad memories and an unstable ego - just what Charlie didn't want. As Mick is friends with Charlie's roommate, he sticks around essentially making Eisenbergs life a living hell. I could provide a further synopsis, but I'd rather not. Rotten Tomatoes didn't even give this film 50% on the Tomatometer, but lets be fair...those guys can be rough some times. IMDB gave it a 6.7/10, which would be a D+ in the classroom for those thinking positively. If you've got 100 minutes, do yourself a favor and put together a puzzle, nap, or polish your fine china - but do not by any means invest your time/money into this.

To top off my day, I had never stood in line (before the gates open) to get into a basketball game, or any other game for that matter in my life. Not really a big deal, but #4 SDSU squared off against #7 BYU today in battle for the top spot in the Mountain West Conference. Jimmer and the Mormons couldn't miss if they tried today, and it left my school as quiet as a ghost town (it's truly depressing stuff to lose to your most hated rival). So to my friends that waited in line for 3+ days, got rained on, and left your voices in the arena - I salute you. With only two losses, SDSU can still hold its head high. On a high note, at least we can still party! Cheers to best fans in college basketball! (See the vid below, but add 10x the intensity to duplicate last night)

Here's to hoping for new and exciting things on Sunday...

 
 
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Located on 30th between Lincoln and Polk
With my boarding plans canceled, I made good use of my time today and ventured  out to Toronado, located in North Park. Not the biggest of places, there were probably 20 people there and it seemed pretty busy (right around 4:30ish). Regardless of that, the bar has a nice neighborhood-like feel to it - making it a nice place to grab a beer and kick back. Toronado offers a good variety of craft brews, including beer from locals such as Alpine, Stone, Pizza Port, and Green Flash breweries.

Not only that, the pub food offered from the kitchen is pretty damn tasty. Reynolds and I both ordered the Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich, and is was agreed that we had found bliss on a bun.

Great food, great beer, and a great staff. The bartenders were happy and alert, always ready to grab something for us when we were ready. If you go on a Monday, drafts are $3 bucks from 6-10pm! So if you're looking for a new spot, drive through North Park and check it out.

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Glorious
Speaking of new things...leave me some ideas in the comments box!

 
 
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I bet you have most of this in the kitchen
A recent Amazon shopping spree included the purchase of a new hand mixer...which could only mean one thing - more time in the kitchen. Specifically, I'm venturing into the baking department. I was recently browsing when I stumbled upon a site by the name of foodgawker. Curious to see what delicious ideas might be waiting I continued on to the All-Time favorite list. Currently sitting at the #3 spot was a delicious looking piece of baked greatness simply known as espresso chocolate chip shortbreads. As the original creator of the recipe writes "These cookies are like money. They will soon replace currency. People will want them more than gasoline. Sorry OPEC..." About to pull em out of the oven, we'll have to put it to the test...

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Chop the chips with whatever weapon you choose, just be safe
Here's the rundown (copied verbatim from Use Real Butter):
1 tbsp instant espresso powder (I like Medaglia D’Oro)
1 tbsp boiling water
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped OR 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

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Dissolve espresso powder in boiling water. Set aside to cool to tepid. Beat butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in vanilla and espresso, then reduce mixer speed to low and add flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate or chips with a sturdy rubber spatula. Using the spatula, transfer dough to a gallon-size zip-loc bag. Put bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet (okay, I didn’t poke the cookies and they’re fine). Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point (I didn’t do that either – I bake one sheet at a time). The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. Makes about 3 dozen.

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Santa Claus approved
Wait for ittttt. Yes, there's a pretty good reason that these things might be considered currency. If you're a fan of shortbread, you'll need to bring a change of pants along when you try these. Serve with coffee or milk, and you're gonna be walking on sunshine. Even the roommate thinks so. Now on to Friday, with my plans to visit the mountain being canceled yet again (HOW DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING?!)...what to do? I'll let you let me know in the comments.

 
 
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You may have seen it around the streets of LA or on a high billboard someplace in Manhattan...Paris, England, or just about any other major city for that matter. I'm referring to street art. A recent development that started as a form of 'graffiti' has since evolved into mainstream media and art galleries. For those of you curious what street art is: take traditional icons with some sort of significance , change it around to reflect a different meaning, and post it for the world to see...even if for just a short while. Post it any way you can really, stickers, murals, posters...whatever. Just post it, no rules apply (some of the most visible public places have been hit by the street art movement - even Disneyland).

Tonight I was actually able to finish "Exit Through the Gift Shop" - without Netflix crapping out (last time an error popped up some 5 minutes into the documentary), so after a long day I suppose it'll count..guess I'm the only one really counting new things anyway.


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A hit by Banksy in San Diego
The title stems from the 'creation' of a street art icon. A man obsessed with filming practically anything life had to offer was given the greatest gift he could have ever asked for - a purpose. By having a family tie (his cousin) into the street art world, our main character transitions from French shop keeper and family man into street artist accomplice / film maker practically overnight. As experience and film accumulates, the role of accomplice isn't good enough for our 'star', so he progresses his vision further and becomes a street artist himself. This film was put together by world renown street artist Banksy and was apparently all the rave at the Sundance Festival (as I would find out later after completing the film...). I would have to agree with the critics, its pretty interesting to see what motivates some of these visionaries walking our streets. One may call it graffiti, but I see good taste and creativity. All in all, I'd say stop by your local blockbuster (what?) and check it out, it's worth a view. On to new things for tomorrow...

 
 
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Taking a tip from one of my fellow classmates, I decided to check out BitLet. In short, BitLet allows the user to download torrents (assuming you have the correct torrent metafile URL) without the need for a client like uTorrent or BitTorrent, among others. I found this very useful today when I was on a friends computer who had no client to be found, but knew what he wanted to get. While this tool doesn't allow the customization of clients (bandwidth allocation, stacking, etc.), it's definitely useful in a pinch. As far as security goes, I can neither confirm nor deny how exposed you are in using this service...either way nice find Alan, thanks for showing me somethin' new! Give me more tips in the comments!

 
 
To think I was wondering what new thing I would do today. As I returned from a trip to our fabulous library here on campus, I receive a call from my roommate. He was curious about my location, and to his luck I was walking up the front yard. I enter the house, to hear my roommates voice in the kitchen...where he's standing guard over the entrance. "In the oven...it's huge". What's huge you ask? A small armadillo practically (a really huge rat). Don't worry, everything I cook with is clean...but wedged behind my oven and the backing was this guys home. Knowing this, we got strategical. By blocking all the exits, we could smoke him out and get a chance to seek revenge on the beast ravaging our banana supply. Today's new thing - rat clubbing.

After setting the oven to BROIL, we laid in wait. Within 2 minutes, the baby hedgehog was loose, and with moves like OJ Simpson, avoided 5 near death collisions with the blunt end of my hammer. Norkin was ready in the center of the 'arena' with a MagLight, in a sitting position to get a better look at where the beast had temporarily hidden. Apparently, his reflexes weren't quite quick enough though. The small dog ran INTO his pants! Quite literally, the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I'm talkin' 1,000,000 hit+ video on YouTube. Once the sneaky SOB had managed to find his way out of my roommates pants, he opted to seek shelter in the sink...and VANISH. Incredible way to end a day of otherwise nonchalant schoolwork and studying. I could go for something a little less bizarre tomorrow, but who knows what I'll try, give me a suggestion in the comments!
 
 
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That's a lot of potato
Back in the lab again. Tonight we've got Oven Fried Chicken, Dirty Mashed Potatoes, and steamed green beans. The Oven Fried Chicken recipe (serves 3):

-Trim the fat off the chicken breasts and wash.
-Hammer the breasts until they are flat to allow even cooking
-In a freezer bag, mix the following ingredients:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8-10 grinds of pepper

Once mixed evenly, add the chicken pieces to the bag and let it sit in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, evenly mix the following ingredients in another freezer bag to coat the chicken:
1 cup of dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder/granules
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsely
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
10-15 grinds of pepper
1 teaspoon California chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

After 20 minutes in the fridge, toss the pieces into the spiced breading bag and shake. Shake n' bake baby.
--If you have time, refrigerate for an additional 30 minutes to really get the coating to stick--
Heat oven to 400 degrees, and splash some olive oil  (drizzle it down the middle) on each side. Insert pieces for 25-30 minutes on a baking sheet w/wax sheet over it (allows for turning w/o sticking)
-After 15 minutes, flip pieces.

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Something about steam makes you hungry
Get one of your 5 daily servings of veggies with some steamed green beans. (steam for ~10 minutes or until desired crispiness). If you want some awesome mashed potatoes that my mom used to make in the kitchen, follow this:

Cube and wash 6 medium russet potatoes
Boil for 30-45 minutes or until fork soft, drain
Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 stick of butter, 1 cup sour cream, and 3/4 cup shredded cheese. If desired, add garlic powder to taste for garlic mashed.
Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Serve...

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Yeah buddy, give it some worcester sauce and your set.
Wah lah. For those of you wondering, I had never tried this recipe nor the concept of shaking and baking before. And to the satisfaction of myself and my roommates, pretty tasty. Looking forward to something new tomorrow, but if you have some ideas feel free to leave 'em in the comments.

 
 
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When life gives you lemons, cut 'em open and squeeze it back in life's face. Torrential downpours across San Diego county ended my hopes for going out this evening, but in an effort to give something new a shot, I decided to do some work from home.

To be totally honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when it came to working with Adobe Illustrator, but where there's a will there's a way. Messing around a bit with some default templates and a bit of creative thinking, I've developed a rough draft of a monthly publication coming soon to the front desk at the Marriott Gaslamp. Still a work in progress, but hey there's a first time for everything. Not too shabby if I don't say so myself (cue the *sshole who does this for a living and nags about this and that being off...whatever!)

Anyway, stay warm out there people. Now to power up the Netflix and watch some theatrical awesomeness...goodnight everybody.