Monday, June 24, 2013

Spring 2013 Brooklyn Eats

"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti."
(Sophia Loren)

As often seems to be the case in good old NYC, a mostly chilly and rainy past few months have quickly given way to temperatures in the 90s. In my final goodbye to spring -- which officially ended on Friday, June 21 with the summer solstice -- below are photos and recipe links to our unduplicated meals from the last season: 1) smoothies and drinks; 2) breakfast; 3) vegetarian; 4) chicken and turkey; 5) seafood; 6) pasta; 7) sweets; and 8) grilled food.

Smoothies and Drinks

After our New Year's cleanse, I wanted to make more blended fruit concoctions with interesting flavors, and saw one that looked good in the March issue of Martha Stewart Living, with peaches, spinach, ginger, and honey. I also came across a tart grapefruit juice and apple cider vinegar drink that is supposed to be good for swimsuit season. Finally, one night I was in the mood for a mojito, so my husband went out and bought some rum and mint leaves and muddled one up for me!

Green ginger-peach smoothie
Dr. Oz's grapefruit juice with apple cider vinegar
The Real Mojito


Breakfast and brunch are my favorite meals of the day, but you probably won't be able to tell from this post, since I didn't cook a lot in the morning in the spring as compared to in the winter, and I also enjoy going out for brunch. I did bake some wholesome banana and chocolate muffins though, and eggs with arugula and cheddar grits from the March issue of Everyday Food.

Skinny chocolate fudge banana muffins
Baked eggs and grits with arugula and cheddar


I eat pretty much everything -- including chicken, turkey, fish and other seafood, eggs, and dairy products -- except meat from mammals. I don't mind cooking beef or pork, and have no plans to limit it from my family, but since my husband adopted a healthy lifestyle (he even took part in Meatless Monday when he was away at medical school), we seldom cook beef or pork at home. So while I sometimes complain about his healthfulness, I guess it works out for the most part. But we do have marinated Korean beef in our freezer.

Goat cheese, caramelized onion, and spinach quesadilla
Egg salad with Greek yogurt
Black bean and brown rice burgers
Roasted ginger beets
Baked falafel

Chicken and Turkey

Chicken can get boring, but because there are so many different recipes out there, it's easy to find and prepare a tasty chicken dinner. The turkey we eat, besides on Thanksgiving, is mostly in the form of cold cuts for our lunch sandwiches, or lean ground for burgers, pastas, and chilis.

Moo-shu chicken
Orange chicken with asparagus
Hawaiian BBQ chicken pizza
Kimchi fried rice with chicken
Buffalo chicken sliders
Balsamic chicken
Crockpot chicken teriyaki
Mini turkey burgers


I grew up in a family of big seafood fans, and I definitely take after them in that I love fresh fish, mussels, scallops, crab, and lobster, to name a few. I've already eaten a bunch of lobster rolls, and summer has just started!

Tilapia and quinoa with feta and cucumber
Salmon with sriracha sauce and lime
Chipotle shrimp stuffed avocados


Being that I thoroughly enjoy bread, pastries, pizza, and pasta, a low-carb lifestyle is clearly not the way I'm headed. Pasta dishes are generally inexpensive to put together, are flavorful and filling, and somehow always feel comforting and familiar, even when you've never made them before.

Skinny mac and alfredo with chopped spinach

Same recipe as above, with roasted red pepper sauce and green peas
One pot spaghetti with ground turkey
Cheesy baked spaghetti with leftovers from above


Everyone knows that I love me some pies, cakes, and cookies! I've been experimenting with lighter recipes that are lower in calories and fat, like the Hungry Girl cake below... but I'll never get away from the real stuff, which everyone knows tastes better.

Grandma's lemon meringue pie
Upside-down pineapple-applesauce cake
Oatmeal cookies with dried apricots and white chocolate
via The Bitten Word
Chocolate chip cake mix cookies
Peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Mexican hot-chocolate cookies

Grilled Food

Spring is the warm-up to summer, which is all about cookouts and pretty much throwing anything you can on the grill. Well, we don't have a grill or any outdoor space, but do you know what we do have? A grill pan! So when I say "grilled" food here, I really mean food cooked in our little grill pan on the stove. (Actually, it's technically a panini pan, but you get the idea.)

Grilled Greek chicken kebabs with mint-feta sauce
Sesame grilled asparagus via Half Hour Meals
Grilled cilantro-lime chicken with tzatziki sauce
Grilled pineapple kabobs with honey yogurt sauce

Spring Meals by Local Eateries

American: Elberta Restaurant & Bar, James
Bagels: La Bagel Delight
Health Food, Juice & Salads/Sandwiches: Healthy Nibbles
Indian: India Place
Japanese: Shinju Sushi
Korean/Mexican: Kimchi Grill
Latin American/Colombian: Bogota Latin Bistro
Mediterranean/Falafel: Kulushkät Gourmet Falafel
Seafood: Fish & Sip
Vietnamese: Bahnmigos

Now that it's officially summer -- and officially hot! -- I'll probably try to cut down on oven use and do a little more indoor "grilling." I may also make more slow cooker recipes, because although they usually come to mind for fall and winter meals, if you think about it, they would be great for warm weather when you don't want to crank up the oven or stand over a hot stove. I also want to take another trip to Smorgasburg.

With this, alongside my winter, fall, and summer Brooklyn food posts, and my posts on various occasions and holidays in between -- my sister's baby shower; last summer's dinners with friends; our autumn craft party; our first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and smoothie cleanse together; the Super Bowl; and Valentine's Day -- I've covered much of our past year in home-cooked and local meals. There are many meals I would love to write about in more detail, but then my posts would become even longer than they already are or I'd have to post more often... and ain't nobody got time for that.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Personal Space

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."
(Maya Angelou)

Almost a year ago, I posted details and photos of our new apartment in "The Big Move", including the outside, the empty inside, and the furniture we purchased. As I had mentioned, I planned on sharing an update on our apartment life once we had settled in, but realized I never did. I thought about splitting it into a few separate updates, but I might as well fit everything into a super-long summary post. So here it is, an "after" from the "before".


The bedroom is small, with an even smaller closet and a single window, and fits a queen-sized bed, 2 complementary-but-not-exactly-the-same nightstands and lamps, and a corner and 2-door wardrobe to serve as extra closet space for yours truly. It's simple and quiet, and the only sounds we hear are church bells, or birdies outside when they sing with extra cheer.

Light, neutral tones are calming
Korean lacquered box with inlaid mother-of-pearl -- a gift from my uncle and aunt
(I also have a larger one from my mother-in-law) -- and my journal
Extra storage with full-length mirrored door
A look inside my wardrobe unit
Towels, handbags, jewelry, clothing, cosmetics, and a few friends

My mirrored corner wardrobe unit holds hanging blouses, cardigans, dresses, and skirts. Sam's clothing is in the regular bedroom closet, we keep our coats in the outside closet, and I store out-of-season apparel in zippered underbed boxes.


The bathroom is very basic, with a sink, mirrored medicine cabinet, toilet, and bathtub. We installed 3 floating wall shelves to hold bath products; a 2-door wall-mounted cabinet with shelf, since the medicine cabinet is very shallow and doesn't hold much; and a small towel rod for our watermelon-y coral Kate Spade Larabee Dot hand towels (the platinum grey bath towels hang on an over-the-door towel rack). A canvas print adds more color to room.

Basic sink and mirror as the starting point
Gifts of fragrance, lotions, and scrubs on added floating shelves
We needed additional storage options
Full view of our added cabinet and towel rod
Monet Nympheas canvas print and Hookless white waffle shower curtain


Immediately inside our apartment is a wall-mounted shoe cabinet to maximize space (also holding our wedding cake topper, which I didn't know where else to place). A few steps down the narrow hallway towards the living room is a mini gallery wall of framed photos. I'll eventually add to it since right now most of the photos are wedding-related, which I know is a little lame but we don't have other nice photos yet.

Slim-profile wall-mounted shoe cabinet by the door
Hallway, facing out and facing in
Heading towards the living room
Mini gallery wall, a work-in-progress
Some family photos

Living Room

The hallway leads into the living room, which contains our TV, sofa, coffee table, and a few decorative elements. Before I got married, I lived a very low-tech home life, without cable, internet, even a smartphone, but those things were necessities for my husband. I still don't know how everything works -- TV, cable/Wi-Fi, Blu-ray player, and Apple TV -- but I use my iPad every day (the latter 3 were gifts).

TV/media console against Popsicle Sticks wall art
Sofa with chaise lounge in front of windows
Living room with a glimpse of the kitchen
Colorful embroidered and canary yellow velvet throw pillows
Blooming calandiva, wedding photos, and abstract floral canvas

Dining Area

The living room has somewhat of a built-in room divider, which allows us to partition the space and have a slightly separate dining area, even though it's really the same room. We have an extendable dining table with chairs, a stacked set of folding bookcases for cookbooks and other items, and we bought a buffet with hutch top after moving in because we needed more storage than what the kitchen provided.

Dining area at end of living room
Decorative items on bookshelves
Shelf with wine bottle corks and books
Cooking and craft books (Can you tell by the way it's organized
that I worked in a bookstore?)
Dining table and chairs
Lamp and red, clear, and blue vase stand
Hutch and buffet (flanked by Cher and Dionne)
Nicer glassware, dinnerware, serving pieces, and my ceramics


Last but not least is the kitchen. It's small, with very limited counter space, so when prepping and cooking, I place cutting boards on the stove top for more surface area. We installed a wall-mounted pot rack, a microwave oven, and a paper towel holder for convenience, and bought a dual trash/recycling can to make it easy to sort recyclables.

Where we whip up breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts
Stovetop = Countertop in our kitchen
Nice to have a window, even if it faces a building
Requisite rice cooker, and an ultra compact dish rack
Cutting boards, utensils, spices, and at least 5 types of hot sauce at all times
Wall-mounted pot rack with shelf

So there you have our humble abode: simple and comfortable for this space and stage of our life together. What do you think? Next time, I'll share more close-ups of the kitchen -- or more accurately, of meals made in the kitchen -- in my spring food post!