Saturday, March 29, 2014

Winter 2013/2014 Brooklyn Eats

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
(Anne Bradstreet)

It's been a long winter with so... much... snow... and though it's officially spring, it has yet to really feel like it. This time of year is always really busy for me, but I'm finally trying to catch up on some small tasks around the apartment, and on photos from the past few months, especially ones of first-time tested recipes. Please see below for photos and new recipes links on 1) eggs, 2) soup, 3) salad, 4) quinoa, 5) chicken, 6) stuffed shells and pizza, 7) lasagna, and 8) salmon.


Egg dishes are tasty and satisfying any time of day, not just for breakfast. I think I made The Naked Kitchen's Asparagus Frittata for breakfast one day -- I decided to try this recipe because it was simple, and it didn't call for broiling at the end (my broiler is a little extreme) -- and the Fitness Magazine's Mushroom-and-Kale Ragout with Poached Eggs for dinner on another day.

Asparagus frittata
Mushroom-and-kale ragout with poached eggs


I really enjoyed the following 2 soup recipes: Silky Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup from Sweet Potato Soul, a vegan food blog, and the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten's Italian Wedding Soup. They take a few steps, but were definitely worth it.

Silky butternut squash and cauliflower soup
Italian wedding soup


Both of the salads below have oranges in common: Fit Foodie Le's Orange Sesame Kale Salad uses orange juice as an ingredient for the dressing, and the Fennel Salad with Oranges, Arugula, and Shaved Parmesan from page 72 of Williams-Sonoma's Bride & Groom Entertaining cookbook calls for 4 blood or navel oranges sliced over and around the salad (similar recipe; I can't find the exact one online).

Orange sesame kale salad
Fennel salad with oranges, arugula, and shaved Parmesan


Cranberry orange quinoa salad
Mediterranean quinoa
Quinoa and almond pilaf

I go through phases of pinning only certain kinds of recipes, for example, slow cooker meals, French toast, cookies, pizza, lasagna (you'll see some of the latter 2, further below), and for some reason, for the first time, this past season I kept looking at variations of chicken lettuce wraps. They just seem like a good combination of hot and flavorful wrapped in cool and crunchy. Before I made Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps by She Wears Many Hats, I also made Women's Health Magazine's Low-Fat Chicken Marsala, and Martha Stewart's Curried Chicken Salad.

Chicken marsala
Curried chicken salad
Chicken cashew lettuce wraps

Stuffed Shells and Pizza

I'm always drawn to pasta and pizza; who isn't? Stuffed shells are always satisfying to make and eat -- Butternut Squash, Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Shells were no exception -- and though I've made pizza dough from scratch before, lately I'm more into finding yummy recipes for toppings. The one shown below, Simple Tomato Margherita Pizza, was just that: very simple and basic, with only a few ingredients needed.

Butternut squash, ricotta & spinach stuffed shells
Simple tomato margherita pizza


I'm a little obsessed with lasagna (kind of like stuffed shells), and there are so many recipes I want to try. Below are 2 recent ones: Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna, and Annie's Eats' Spicy Kale Lasagna. The best thing about lasagna is that it always tastes and looks better the next day!

Slow cooker spinach lasagna
Spicy kale lasagna


The last photo and recipe link I'll post from winter is of Quick and Easy Balsamic Salmon from a blog called Eating Bird Food. It's a clean and simple recipe, which I paired with the quinoa and almond pilaf from earlier.

Quick and easy balsamic salmon

Winter Meals from Local Restaurants

The list of restaurants in our neighborhood that we haven't tried yet is getting smaller, but over the winter we did get a chance to try some that were new to us.

American: Pure Bistro
Beer/Sandwiches: Bierkraft
Burgers: Bareburger
Café & Wine Bar: Café Dada
Diner: Purity Diner, Z-7 Classic Diner
Japanese/Sushi: Sushi Katsuei
Mexican: Haab
New Zealand: Kiwiana
Soup: The Soup Bowl of Park Slope
Thai: Mee Thai, Rice Thai Kitchen
Vegan/Latin American: The V Spot

If I ever get around to it, I would still like to post photos from our quick trip to Las Vegas in late February, plus some video clips from the Britney: Piece of Me concert. Those should be up next. Happy spring!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Long-Awaited NY/NJ Super Bowl

"I know that there have been a number of players who have walked away as champions. I'm sure that is a great feeling for those people."
(Peyton Manning)

Alas, it was not meant to be for the Broncos quarterback, whose team was crushed (8) by the Seattle Seahawks (43) during Super Bowl XLVIII, played at MetLife Stadium in NJ on Sunday, February 2. The game wasn't exactly exciting, and the commercials were not very noteworthy overall, but Bruno Mars did a good job with his halftime performance, and it's always fun just getting together with friends over food and drinks.

It was our 2nd year watching the Super Bowl at home in Brooklyn (see last year's "A Southern Super Bowl Sunday"), but this time, 5 friends came over. We had everyone guess the winning team and score, and the person who was closest to the final numbers won a Starbucks gift card.

Daniel won (and clearly, I was way off)
We love Ting!

Please see below for more photos and links to all the recipes: seven-layer bean dip, buffalo chicken mac and cheese, honey teriyaki hot wings, slow cooker beef chili, brownie bars made with Guinness, simple cranberry white chocolate cookies, and an icy treat spiked with tequila.

Seven-Layer Bean Dip

The Martha Stewart Seven-Layer Bean Dip was fresher and less processed than the usual layered dip, with 1) pinto beans cooked and mashed with onion and garlic, 2) low-fat shredded cheddar, 3) sliced scallions, 4) fresh chopped tomatoes with onion and salt, 5) lemony avocados with jalapeños, 6) light sour cream, and 7) black olives. I made it the same day, because I thought if I had done it earlier the avocados would brown, but found that it tasted even better as leftovers in the refrigerator a couple of days later.

Seven-layer bean dip

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

The Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese from The Girl Who Ate Everything was delicious, and how could it not be? Classic elbow pasta, chicken, Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce, butter, half and half, sour cream, and lots of cheese: cheddar, pepper jack, and blue. Such indulgent comfort food! (The blue cheese mixture on top looks a little clumpy because I accidentally combined a couple of steps at the end.)

Honey Teriyaki Hot Wings

I wanted to make chicken wings, but not buffalo-style since I was making the mac and cheese, so I baked Honey Teriyaki Hot Wings from Damn Delicious. These wings had great flavor, with soy sauce, honey, garlic, fresh grated ginger, and Sriracha.

Honey teriyaki hot wings

6-Hour Beef Chili

I made my go-to Williams-Sonoma 6-Hour Chili recipe, with ground beef instead of the usual turkey; but no matter what I use, I always decrease the amount of meat and add black beans to make up the difference. Sam likes this chili very spicy, but I prefer it a little milder, but still with a nice kick from plenty of chili powder and a pinch of cayenne.

6-hour beef chili

Guinness Stout Brownie Pretzel Bars

At least a year ago, I pinned a recipe for Guinness Stout Brownie Pretzel Bars via Hostess with the Mostess (from a blog called Batch From Scratch, which I'm not sure is around anymore). There were some critiques in the comments, but I wanted to give it a try, and I liked the way it turned out. You could taste the Guinness, the chocolate was dense and fudgy, the butterscotch on top was sweet but subtle, and the salty crunch from the pretzels was a nice contrast.

Guinness stout brownie pretzel bars
Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

I also baked simple Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies from Table for Two. Why not? I had dried cranberries and white chocolate chips to use, and I love dessert options!

Cranberry white chocolate cookies

Mojito Sorbet Margaritas

Almost a year ago, I had also pinned an idea for Lime Sorbet Margaritas from Real Simple: tequila is poured over lime sorbet, and the glass rims are rubbed with lime and coated with sugar. We weren't able to find plain lime sorbet, but we did find mojito sorbet, so I made frozen mojito margaritas!

Frozen mojito margaritas, inspired by Real Simple

Tomorrow, I'm going to the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden; on Friday, Sam and I plan to enjoy a nice Valentine's Day dinner at Thalassa; and the following weekend, we will fly to Las Vegas and see Britney Spears in concert! I hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Season's Greetings and Eatings

"I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of a familiar turn it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending."
(Fred Rogers)

Below is a photo-heavy, text-brief recap of my past month, from early December through early January. Christmas lights, gingerbread cookies, a child's excitement opening presents... The familiar scenes, scents, and comforts of the holiday season are some of my favorite things.

Christmas Craft Potluck Party

One of the highlights of my holiday season was also the very first Christmas-related event on my calendar. On Sunday, December 8, I hosted a small Christmas Craft Potluck gathering -- similar to the previous year's "Autumn Craft Party" -- and along with 4 girlfriends, made felt ornaments, holiday gift tags, and cards (for a list of craft supplies, please see the bottom of this post).

A Christmas crafternoon
Making coffee punch and white "Christmas" sangria
Coffee punch with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream
Cranberry & rosemary white "Christmas" sangria
Stuffing gingerbread cookies with Jacques Torres chocolate
Chocolate-stuffed gingerbread cookies
Making pistachio-cranberry white chocolate bark
Pistachio & cranberry white chocolate bark
Potluck lasagna, cookies, and lemon tart
Supplies and templates for holiday felt ornaments
Seasonal stamps, ink pads, and magazines for inspiration
Gift tags, cards and envelopes, and embellishments
Festive and glittery foam stickers
Some favorite creations by friends, including a bacon ornament

Holiday Hoops

Like last year, this past December, my husband and I went to see the University of Michigan men's basketball team play in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational game in our neighborhood at Barclays Center. We met up with some friends to watch the winning game against Stanford on Saturday, December 21.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

For a work holiday luncheon, I made an easy dessert called Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight, which consists of a layer of chocolate chip cookie, topped with a mixture of cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and whipped cream, topped with a mixture of chocolate and vanilla pudding, topped with more whipped cream, and sprinkled with chopped mixed nuts and dark chocolate.

Layers of cookie, cream cheese frosting, pudding, whipped cream...
Chocolate chip cookie delight, sprinkled with chopped nuts and dark chocolate

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, Sam and I went to my home church's candlelight service. We took the train from NYC to Westchester, stopped by my parents' house to borrow their car, and drove it back to Brooklyn that night, to return the next morning for Christmas.

Christmas Eve candlelight service

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, we went back to my parents' house and spent the day there with my family, including my sister and her family, and my brother. We didn't open presents until after dinner in the evening, and I was impressed that my 4-year-old nephew Peter was able to leave them alone all day.

Before we left our apartment, I found a gift for me from Santa!
Presents I wrapped last-minute for my family
Christmas dinner, and my cranberry, pecan, and rum baked brie
Opening Christmas presents

The Metropolitan Opera

I went to 2 operas in December: Puccini's Tosca, with my friends Robyn and Christine, on Friday, December 20; and Mozart's The Magic Flute with Sam, on Saturday, December 28. I'm looking forward to returning to Lincoln Center this season for Puccini's La Bohème.

At Lincoln Center for Puccini's Tosca
Sam's music note cufflinks at dinner before Mozart's The Magic Flute

Have Yourself a Cozy Tartan Christmas (and Other Decor)

I ordered an adorable wool plaid mitten and scarf garland from Oh This Nose! on Etsy, which turned into my holiday home decor, along with a felt plaid "Merry Christmas" Threshold garland I bought at Target. In addition to those and my Christmas tree, I had just a few other simple Christmas-y touches, including cinnamon berry potpourri I got at Barnes & Noble.

Holiday Greeting Cards

I always love sending and receiving holiday greetings, whether in the form of paper cards or e-cards, and finding out what friends and their families have been up to.

Handmade cards from our nephews and nieces
Hands down the best card we got, and it was made at my craft party
Wall of Christmas cards
Our holiday greetings to you

New Year's Eve at Home 

We stayed in on New Year's Eve, and had a quiet night at home in front of the TV. Although I can't remember the last time I was home on New Year's Eve, I'm really not that keen on going out to the parties; I prefer smaller, more intimate celebrations.

Right before Christmas, we also celebrated my mother's birthday (and it was my puppy niece Emma's 10 birthday). Since we rang in 2014, we celebrated Sam's birthday with dinner at Scalini Fedeli (where I had my birthday dinner in 2011), drinks with friends at La Biblioteca and Whiskey Blue, and dinner and dessert with my family. Birthday shout-out to both Christines!

{Craft supplies: Buffalo Snow; Celebrate It Tempo Wire-Edge Ribbon in Gold; Crafts Beautiful Christmas Special 2013 felt ornament templates; Creatology Foam Glitter Stickers; Creatology 10 mm Pom-Poms in Green and Red; DMC Mercerized Cotton Tatting Thread in Ecru and Red; DMC Size 28 Tapestry Needles; Felt in Antique, Pirate, Red, and Walnut; Jolee's Boutique Snowflake Embellishments; Recollections Poinsettia Dimensional Stickers; Recollections Wreath Dimensional Stickers; Stamps in Handwritten and Manger Scene / Invitations: Paperless Post Knit Mitten}