Monday, February 28, 2011

Thank you!

My sister just told me that her friend follows my two blogs religiously.  I was so touched when I heard that.  I've been using this site as an outlet to get some ideas out while I'm currently working on the brand behind little miss...and will be ready to debut soon.
Thank you in advance for your patience.  I will make sure the site is fun to look at, easy to navigate and allow you to sign up for updates :) 
Thank you also for all of your support and I hope you continue to enjoy my daily adventures!
Now I just need to I have been very delinquent with my posts.  
It's been a very busy month with my best friend in the whole world getting married.  She's tying the knot to the most fabulous guy and I am over joyed for them.  So I promise as soon as I'm back in NYC next week I'll fully catch up.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A weekend out east

This weekend we had our friends over to our house out east and spent each waking moment eating, cooking or talking about eating + cooking.
Our first evening out there together was Mexican night.  It's a pretty standard meal for us because it's pretty light and very easy to make.  Not to mention, utterly delicious!  The menu was as follows:
Pico de gallo
Jalepeno skirt steak fajitas
Corn + black bean salad

The best part of this meal is you can make it all in advance.  Here are the recipes and tips that I would suggest with each...

Pico de gallo:
* plum tomatoes (figure one per person) - squeeze the juice/seeds out and chop
* 1 small onion, diced
* handful of cilantro, chopped
* Kosher salt and pepper to season
Combine all ingredients above and let sit out so the flavors can marry at least an hour before serving.  
If you want you can make this easy dish earlier that day and let sit in the fridge covered.  

* Avocado (figure 1 for every person, which leaves some for leftovers).  SAVE THE PITS
* Juice of 1 lime
* handful of cilantro, chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, pressed
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 small jalepneo, chopped
* Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Mash the avocado and add the rest of the ingredients to combine.  If making ahead store in the fridge WITH THE PITS from the avocado pushed in to preserve the green color.  Store covered.

Jalepeno skirt steak fajitas
* Skirt steak (figure 1/2 pound per person)
* Juice of 1 lime
* 1 jalepeno, chopped
* 2-4 garlic cloves, chopped
* Chili powder, small palmful
* 1 cup of EVOO
* Kosher salt and pepper
Combine all of the above in a plastic bag for at least 2 hours before grilling.  Store up to one day in fridge.  When ready to cook remove the meat from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to bring to room temp and fire up the grill to cook to your liking.

Corn + black bean salad - recipe compliments of Rachael Ray.

For Saturday dinner we stepped it up a notch and broke out my hubby's good ol' Big Green Egg to do some consisted of the following -
French Onion soup
Winter Greens
BBQ smoked baby back ribs
Big Green Egg fried chicken wings
Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Tomato
The soup bombed so I won't even bother giving you the recipe and honestly this menu just didn't need it.  But the rest of the meal was pretty outstanding.  Unfortunately, my hubby was in charge of the green egg dishes so I cannot give you those recipes, the salad was thrown together BUT the Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Tomato is Barefoot Contessa's which I can happily share!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Update: Presidents day weekend

My good pals from Toronto came to New York this President's day weekend and it couldn't have been planned better.  The boys played hockey in Central Park and us gals were hitting the shops.  We had a lot of ground to cover and had to make time to rest and eat.

If you're having out of town guests pay a visit and you're in charge of the itinerary OR you're traveling to New York and need some help putting together a fun weekend, follow the plan I'm outlining below.  And get ready to have a great time!  It went a little something like this...

Where your friends should stay...if your apartment is too small or crowded:  The Bowery Hotel
This hip hotel is located in Noho and is surrounded by uber cool restaurants and e.m.o. shops.  The rooms are designed in a sophisticated but chic way with large windows that help to create the illusion of space.  Tip:  Request room 902 which is a corner with tons of natural light and floor to ceiling windows.

Arrive on a Friday:
Check into your hotel and refresh.  Head back out for a bite at the Bowery Hotel's Gemma.  Rustic Italian fare offering crisp, fresh salads as well as meat + cheese boards and pizzas galore.  It was a nice day outside when we arrived at this sidewalk hot spot around 2pm and missed the last table out doors.  So we ended up waiting a good half hour or so just to eat outside.  
This wasn't the smartest use of time.  A great alternative would have been to head over to Peels, which is located just next door, to grab a bite inside this cute little joint.  Sister to Freemans, Peels is great for a quick eat and of course a glass of wine.  Note:  They also have a wonderful brunch!

Dinner:  Beauty & Essex
By far the latest lower east side craze.  Sister restaurant to the Stanton Social (an old fave of mine) this restaurant, which also has a glamourous bar scene, is a great spot to take friends visiting from out of town.   A plethora of people watching (like Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers and Carla Gugino) plus food that is pretty tasty.  The menu is tapas style.  We ordered an abundance of fried food because it all sounded so good.  It was.  Though by the time the non-fried dishes like the saucy bbq ribs came along (which I was dying to try), I was just too full to eat anymore.  So I would suggest the lobster taco and chicken meatballs (my faves!) and to be careful with the rest of your ordering.
Saturday morning:
10am - Prune.  I've mentioned this restaurant on my blog before...because it's my favorite.  Get here by 9:30am to guarantee a spot in the first seating, otherwise you wait 45-60 minutes min.

11am - Shop till you drop.  Head up to 5th Avenue and 49th street.  Hit the J.Crew in Rock Center and then back over to 5th for the flagship H&M, Zara, Bergdorf's, Bendels, Club Monaco, etc.  

Eyebrow wax at the BEST:  Sania's Brow Bar on 56th Between 5th and 6th.  

Facials:  Mario Badescu.  Simply the best.  I use all of his face products.  Be prepared - this place is not a spa, it's for dealing with your skin.  But you'll still enjoy it!
Late lunch:  Fred's At Barney's.  Followed by...more shopping.  Duh, of course!  During this latest trip to Barney's I discovered red J.Brands and have gotten great use out of them since. 

Head back over to Rock Center to finish the day at the new and beautiful Anthropology.  Make sure you check downstairs where they are always having great sales.

Before catching a cab or hopping on the subway right next door, run into Magnolia at 6th Avenue of the Americas and 49th street for a few cupcakes and a container of their famous banana pudding. You won't be sorry.  Trust me.
Saturday dinner:  Locande Verde.
Ok, ya I know I'm behind. This place has been hot for ages now.  Well I'm just getting there...have been pretty busy, ok?!  It was out of this world.  The scene, the food and the wine.  Divine!  A major new FAVE!  It is pretty impossible to get a reservation so call a month ahead and just take the best night you can get.  It will give you a pretty fabulous dinner to look forward to.

Sunday brunch:  Ditch Plains.  Has been in my heart for quite some time now.  A great place to go with kids as they can run around and be crazy here and also have menus and crayons for the little bats....always a life saver!  The food is delish and the service is always great. 
I recommend the breakfast tacos or the lobster roll for lunch.
Lazy (likely hungover) shopping:  hit soho.  Broadway has all of your staples and if you weave in and out of the side streets you can find the most incredible boutiques with all of the latest trends and fashions.

Sunday Evening:
BROADWAY -  American Idiot with Billie Joe Armstrong.  Limited showing with the Green Day singer himself.  With or without him (and I know, I've seen both!) if you like Green Day - what a show!!  Such fun.
Post show dinner:  Head down to the east village and grab a bite at Lil Frankies.  Wood burning oven, pizza and wine.  They have the most incredible eggplant there.  They whole roast it slicing into it only once it's brought to your table where they drizzle with hot oil and sprinkle thick sea salt on top.  Melts in your mouth delicious.  And if you're looking to avoid the carbs this night, try the chicken.  It's all around perfect.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paella with the girls

About every 6 weeks I get together with my girls from J.Crew - where I previously worked BB (before baby).  We take turns hosting and serve either wine and cheese...or wine and dinner.  It was my turn to host and I took a stab at my good friend Nicole's Paella.  No one makes it nearly as good as she does...but you can try to come close with this super easy recipe (listed below).  And if you don't have Paella pan you can use a large skillet (as long as it can be transferred to the oven).
The girls were blown away by the succulent chicken, spicy sausage, tender rice and veggies that I actually made - almost entirely - with my clingy LM hanging off my arm.  I served with the Barefoot Contessa's Mustard Roasted Potatoes (recipe also below). Delish!
Winter Vegetable-Chicken Paella
Active:  1 hour; Total 1 hour 45 minutes

6 Servings

1 large leek, white and tender green parts only, halved length wise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
12 boneless chicken thighs, with skin
1 large onion finely chopped
10 oz chorizo or other spicy cured sausage, cut 1/4 inch thick
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups Spanish Valencia rice
3 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
One 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 pound Swiss chard (or you can use collard greens) stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped

1.)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush leek with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and arrange on 1 side of a large baking sheet, cut side down.  On the other side, toss the squash with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes, or until golden and just tender.  Cut the leek into 1 inch lengths.

2.)  Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 14-16 inch paella pan or skillet.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper; cook over moderate heat until golden, 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.  Add the onion and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan; cook over low heat until softened.  Add the chorizo, saffron and cayenne.  Cook over moderately high heat, stirring for 2 minutes.  Add the rice and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring for two minutes.   Stir in the stock, tomatoes, chard, leek and squash.

3.)  Nestle the chicken in the rice, skin side up.  Simmer the paella over low heat for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a 350 degree over and bake for 30 minutes or until the stock is absorbed, the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and cover with a towel.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Serve at once.

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

2 1/2 lbs small red potatoes
2 yellow onions
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 425

Cut potatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size, and place them on sheet pan.
Remove the ends of the onions, peel them, cut in half.  Slice them crosswise in 1/4 inch thick slices to make half rounds.  Toss onions and potatoes together in sheet pan.  Add olive oil, mustard, 2 tsp salt, and pepper and toss.

Bake for 50mins to 1 hour, until potatoes are lightly browned on outside and tender on inside.  Toss the potatoes from time to time w/a metal spatula so they brown evenly.

Serve hot sprinkled w/ chopped parsely and a little more salt.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dinner at Supper

An oldie but a goodie...long standing cheap eat SUPPER located on 2nd street between A and B (closer to A).  My husband and I love coming here because the food is always consistent.  The flavors are rich and the food is beyond delicious.  Without fail I always get the basic ol' tomato bruschetta.  There is something about how they salt those tomatoes that makes my skin tingle.  I usually get a pasta dish to follow but this trip I got an order of of veal meatballs (an appie) and garlic sauteed green beans.  Dynamite.  The meatballs were sticky and almost crispy on the outside while super juicy when you bit in.  And the green beans were Frenched (my favorite) and perfectly oiled with garlic and salt.
Check it out if you're looking for a no frills date night.  And most nights be prepared to wait.  But good news - they have an adorable wine bar next door to hang out and drink at while your table is prepared.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life.  It was 10 years ago today that we went on our first date.  xo

Supper Restaurant
Northern Italian Osteria & Wine Bar
156 East 2nd Street
New York, 10009
(212) 477-7600

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Treats

I spent the weekend dabbling in baking.  I don't bake very much.  I'm just not that into sweets.  I love to serve them, but not indulge in them.  Of course my guests love em.  So I'm working on perfecting. Starting with some basic chocolate (used color red to be festive) hearts in a basic mold I made about a dozen and with what was leftover, I packaged up and gave to the door men in my apartment building as a kind valentine's day gesture!
I continued to make whoopee pies, shortbread cookies and chocolate dipped pretzels.
I served a simple brunch with the most fantastic deviled eggs, fruit salad (topped with red strawberries), bagels & schmear and the goodies to boot.
Hope you had a sweet Valentine's day!  xoxo

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chef Joe: Braising Chicken

Our friend Joe is like a chef.  He's not a real chef.  He just loves to cook and whips up really tasty food.  I'll certainly take it...whenever he is free and wants to cook for us!
He never uses recipes.  It's cool to watch but it sucks when I try to below is my best attempt to give you the recipe as many of you have asked how it was cooked.
Onward...tonight's menu was as follows...

braised chicken + tomatoes with pesto roasted sweet potatoes and garlic sauteed spinach

Try to take note of the braising technique that this recipe requires.  It's when we sear our meat and finish it off in a hot oven to bring out all of the juices under a super crispy skin.  Delicious.
Serves 4
Prep your ingredients:
1 package of chicken thighs and/or legs (6-8 pcs)
Salt and Pepper
Cherry tomatoes - washed and left whole (you could also use diced tomatoes from a can - drained)
Mushrooms - 1 package washed and sliced
Onions - diced (a handful - see picture below)
Garlic - minced (2-3 cloves)
Parsley - chopped (a handful)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

Now read through the entire recipe before moving on...

braised chicken and tomatoes 
Start by heating your oven to 400.
Your goal here is to get the chicken to caramelize.  Take a large saute pan (with deep sides) and add your EVOO (3 turns of the pan).  Heat over medium-high.  Salt and Pepper your chicken and add to the hot pan.  Let the chicken get a good sizzle on it.  It will be ready to turn after approx. 8-10 minutes.  If the chicken sticks to the pan when you go to turn, it is not ready to be flipped.  Watch it so it doesn't burn.  Cook for another 10 minutes after flipped and then transfer to a cookie sheet. 
Put the chicken into the oven for no longer then 12 minutes.  Meanwhile add the onions, garlic and mushrooms to the pan.  Top off with a couple turns of the EVOO.  Stir the veggies and add a couple of good pinches of Kosher salt and small pinch of pepper.  Let the veggies cook down for about 3-4 minutes.  Add in the tomatoes, white wine and chicken stock.  Stir and bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken back into the pan nestling between all of the veggies.  Let simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes COVERED.  Add parsley for a gorgeous pop of color and serve HOT.
pesto roasted sweet potatoes
Add 1/4 cup EVOO to the potatoes and toss liberally with salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 for 15 minutes or until they have browned.  
Meanwhile, make your pesto by combining the following ingredients in a food processor or blender:  
Basil (large handful)
Parmesan (2 palm fulls)
Pine nuts (2 palm fulls - toasted)
Sweet Potatoes (2, small, sliced into discs)
Blend until combined and then stream in a 1/4 cup of EVOO to make a nice chunky paste.  Add salt to taste.  
Remove the potatoes out of the oven and plate.  Top with the pesto before serving.

garlic sauteed spinach
2 Cloves Garlic - minced
1 small onion - diced
1 bag pre-washed spinach (baby is fine!)
Heat, on medium, a large skillet with EVOO turning twice around the pan.  Add the garlic and onions and saute until translucent about 3-4 minutes.  Add the spinach and saute until it has wilted down.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Practical Cook Ware: Fish's Eddy

Talk about a New York City store that I could spend hours in...Fish's Eddy. Located at 19th and Broadway, it is the perfect match for a kitchen lover.  From generic restaurant type supplies like cups, cutlery and dishes to darling cake stands, Manhattan inspired platters and patterned glassware.  The store is jam packed with very reasonably priced housewares that you can use for cooking and entertaining.  Everything is so funky and creative you can't resist picking up a few new goodies.  The staff is extremely knowledgable which I appreciated.  For example I had no idea what the sign that said "you butta believe it" meant...but I love butter and wanted to believe it.  So talk to me...

- Keep the butter nearby on the table or counter and stop worrying about putting it back in the refrigerator.  This porcelain butter keeper allows you to keep the butter out.  It prevents butter from melting and keeps it fresh.  -

Brilliant.  How often do I want soft, spreadable butter for my fresh bread, toast and/or pancakes?!
Let's see if it works...I'll keep you posted.

Tip:  Leave your lil one at home if you're heading to this store.  It's just too cramped for strollers and everything is at a breakable reach...could get pretty ugly if you have an LM like me...with sticky fingers!

Friday, February 4, 2011

An annual treat: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Dan Barber.  A farm.  A table.
I want to say...that's all you need to know about this restaurant.
A brilliant chef.  Seasonal ingredients listed on the menu.  The freshest, tastiest meal you'll ever eat and an extensive wine list that won't disappoint.  I don't know what else to tell you except, treat yourself.
Tip:  Check out the stone barns center site for special events catered to children where you can enjoy a Sunday brunch with the family while the little ones can get involved with the farm.  Delicious and adorable!

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Road
Tarrytown, NY 10591
(914) 366-9600

Thursday, February 3, 2011

There's a man in my kitchen...

A few months ago my friend Dov asked me if I could teach him how to cook.  He wanted to learn how to make some delicious basics...and I of course was happy to help him.  
Obviously, I turned to Aunt Debi who is always full of super easy meals.  She guided us to make her famous:  Auntie Doobils Rose Chicken/Shrimp Pasta a la extraordinaire.  He was a great student and did a good job in the kitchen.  The meal was divine.  
After a test run in my kitchen, I gave him a complete check list of items he needed to buy for his home to be able to make easy meals after work, brunch on the weekends or a romantic dinner for two.  For a single guy in this situation - I thought it was best to send him to Bed Bath and Beyond.  That was of no interest to him.  So he ordered all online.
Last weekend he came to me and asked if we could try Jambalya.  Aggressive I thought.  Never made it before.  He found a recipe in the latest issue of Esquire magazine...and it couldn't have been easier.  I stocked his fridge with all of the ingredients he was going to need and left him a detailed to do list for when he got home from work (all of the prep:  washing, dicing and chopping).  When I was ready to come down and oversee the cooking process he had all of his prepared ingredients in bowls and the oven was preheated.  I was very impressed.  From start to finish he did all the work and the Jambalaya was outstanding.  A little spicy for my liking...but the rice was cooked perfectly and the meat and veggies burst with flavor.  A simple, hearty and very wintry dish that was a huge success.  I'm extremely proud of my eager student!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dinner tonight: surf and turf tacos

With some major inspiration from Aunt Debi, here is my take on surf and turf tacos....
The Menu:
california tacos
sirloin tacos
corn and black bean salad
pico de gallo
mango salsa and gaucamole served with Tostito Scoops
Here is the recipe for the California tacos - compliments of Aunt Debi (serves 4):
One package of lump crab meat (free of shells)
One package ready made coleslaw mix
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper or chile powder
1 tsp dill 
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbls of honey dijon store bought salad dressing (this is one of those ingredients that you can't get in NYC so I just used dijonaisse - looking back I should have squished some honey in there too - next time!)
3 tsp fresh lime juice
Avocados (slice one it should do)
I package taco shells (10 in a pack - I bought the ones that are shaped with the square bottoms so they stand nice and don't fall down!) - brilliant!

Finely chop crab.  Throw in a glass bowl and mix with coleslaw. Add all ingredients except avocado.  Put bowl in fridge to marinate at least one hour but you can make this in the AM and leave it. Fill each taco shell and top with sliced avocado and your pico de gallo.
Stunning and too die for delish.  

And for the little man...

Lunch today: A fire and then some Bubby's

Want a great idea for a New York adventure with your little one?  Well LM and I have the outing for you!  The FDNY Museum located on the outskirts of Soho.  A 2 floor museum made for young and old to explore the history behind the fireman, truck, gear and glories.  The staff was friendly and super helpful as they encouraged me to dress LM up in the little jackets and hats that they set out on one of the antique trucks...making for an incredible photo opp.  Too bad I forgot my camera and have to show you this amateure picture from my cell phone!    None the less, you get the idea.
Following lunch we trekked a bit to have lunch at Bubby's.  So worth the 15 minute walk.  Warm and cozy, Bubby's is the perfect place to have a relaxing lunch with LM.  Lunch isn't very relaxing with him anymore now that he's super active and impatient like his mother (who me?) so it's important for me to find a place that suits his needs.  That consists of restaurant that is NOT:  crowded, loud, slow service and/or has bad food.  Bubby's is perfect and it meets all requirements.  LM did not make a peep through the meal.  I ordered a cup of whole milk, hot cocoa and eggs with pancakes and sausage.  The pancakes were fluffy and delicious and the eggs were perfectly runny.  All parties, satisfied.  Check it out...

FDNY Museum
278 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 691-1303

120 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-0666