I’ve had the past 4 days off and enjoyed some much needed poolside r&r and a nice visit with my boyfriends family. Visiting with them is always a nice little escape from the city and I can always count on my boyfriend’s mom sending us back home with delicious, fresh veggies from her garden. During the summer months, I love preparing veggies in the simplest ways. This dish, using baby squash from the garden, was prepared with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and pepper then grilled on both sides. I topped it off with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It can be served hot or room temperature and makes for a light, simple, summertime side. I’d love to know… what are some of your favorite summertime dishes?
Although it hardly feels like the beginning of Summer, here, in NY, I’ve already started to crave fresh, delicious salads and more light-hearted fare. Salads are great for Summer because the possibilities are literally endless as there is so much you can do with fresh fruits and veggies. I, particularly, love jazzing up a salad with some fresh or dried fruit to give it some added sweetness. Most recently, I’ve been substituting mesclun greens for raw kale and I have become a huge fan. Although kale is a bit tough at first, it’s important to toss it with a touch of olive oil first to soften the leaves . Once done, you can add your ingredients and dressing just like any other salad. I prepared this raw kale with a mixture of dried cranberries, raisins, sliced apple and pistachios. For the dressing, I used olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of honey, and a dash of dijon mustard along with some salt and pepper.
Pasta al Forno is a dish I’ve known since childhood. Growing up in a traditional Italian family, it’s a staple on our dinner table. It’s a hearty dish that most everyone enjoys and it’s pretty simple to make. I grew up with all of the women in my family each mastering their own take on this dish and sometimes, it’s almost surreal that I now make my own. As a kid, I remember rolling the baby meatballs all while my mom would keep reminding me to “keep them small” and not to roll them “too big!”
Recently, quite a few people have asked about my most favorite places to eat. For me, that’s obviously a loaded question. Are we talking fancy? casual? brunch? a happy hour with some light bites? New Yorkers are fortunate enough to be in the mecca of amazingly wonderful restaurants. Both the high-end places and the hole-in-the-walls alike have stiff competition to be great. While I do enjoy the occasional super fancy dinner, I must say, that some of my absolute favorite places are the unassuming ones. Maybe it’s simply because it’s so much fun to be blown away by amazing food when you are least expecting it. So, without further ado, I present my current go to spots for a delicious meal. Whether you’ve already been or visit these places after reading this post, please do tell about your experience.
Le Barricou– For the best croque madame
Roebling Tea Room– I love to sit up at the bar and enjoy a cocktail after brunch
Cafe Cluny– In the west village; my favorite place for brunch in the Spring
Flex Mussels 13th st– Delicious thai mussels and a $25 happy hour that can’t be beat!
The Spotted Pig– My go-to spot for after work cocktails
A Glass of Wine:
Aria Wine Bar– Romantic and adorable
Traif– The blue cheese, bacon wrapped dates. ‘Nuff said.
Frank– Amazing squid ink pasta and quite possibly the best steak over salad ever.
Casa Mono– If you can score a table at the little Batali Spanish tapas spot, Go. Pronto.
Roberta’s– Hip hop and pizza what more do you need?
Mole’– Yummy fish tacos and margaritas to boot!
Wafa’s– a casual mom n’ pop with the best smoky babaganoush. In the mood for fish? Order the tilapia with garlic-walnut tapenade. Not on the menu. Only on Fridays. Thank me later.
Babbo– My favorite NYC spot. Go for the melt-in-your-mouth homemade pasta and stay. Forever.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns– Farm to table with a tasting menu that changes daily.
Estiatorio Milos– Simply delicious seafood
As you can see from last year’s post, here, I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day in the commercial sense. I much prefer dinner at home with a more personal approach to the holiday. This year, I decided to whip up these “sweet heart” cookies. Thanks to the big snowstorm that hit this weekend, I decided to tackle this recipe while I was stranded at home. It was a lengthy process, but the end result was a delicate, buttery, crisp, cookie with a delicious raspberry jam layer.
Last night, I was lucky enough to be the stand in “date of honor” to my friend, Jacqueline, who was nice enough to invite me as her dinner guest to Rao’s. She was supposed to go with her hubby but due to an unexpected business trip, the spot was opened up to none other, but moi (thank you, Eric!). Now, if you don’t know, it’s a pretty rare opportunity to dine at Rao’s so, naturally, I jumped at the chance. I also should admit that I was a little skeptical about this place and was expecting that the experience and the food would be over-hyped for what it was. I was wrong. It totally exceeded my expectations. The food was delicious. From the artichokes, to the cold seafood salad, to the meatballs (oh! the meatballs…) to the mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth veal chop with hot peppers and finally, to the homemade coffee ice cream…yum! As you can see, we ate our little hearts out. A big shout out to the wonderful staff at Rao’s who made us feel truly welcome (and, if I may add, went as far as arranging a driver to take me home at the end of the evening- amazing).
~cold seafood salad~
~roasted peppers with pignoli nuts and raisins~
This weekend, I decided to take it slow. I purposely made a plan to have no plan. I stayed in bed late without feeling guilty. I ran no errands and hardly did any chores. I did things that made me feel good and relaxed. This included going out to dinner, going to the gym, seeing a show and enjoying this yummy, warm nutella banana cake that took almost no effort to make and was simply delish. I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup flaxseed meal or freshly grind your own
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup mashed ripe banana
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 3 tablepoons of nutella
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Lightly coat a cake pan with cooking spray and spread batter into pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Enjoy!
Saturday was the perfect ending to a chaotic, but productive, week. The weather was really beautiful and the streets were surprisingly crowded with people eager for some sunlight and a casual stroll. With that, we ended up at Mast Brothers in Brooklyn. I had seen and heard so much about this chocolate company as their funky candy wrappings and unique flavors are quite the hit amongst chocolate lovers. The shop is situated just up the block from the Brooklyn waterfront and from the moment we walked in, it was chocolate heaven. The retail space in front houses a nice assortment of their various flavors as well as cookies and other treats. Large burlap sacks filled with cacao beans provide the barrier that separates the retail space from the chocolate factory in the back where the workers can be seen furiously mixing and making chocolates. After sampling some (too many?) of the flavors, we scooped up a few of our favorite bars and were on our way. Here are a few of the pics:
In my first post ever (here), I posted about this very recipe- spiked apple cider. So, now that the weather has officially turned super chilly in NY, I thought it fitting to to share with you (once again!) my all time favorite wintertime warmer. This simmering cider fills the air with the most inviting scent and paired with cloves, orange slices, cinnamon, brown sugar and brandy (of course!) it is just the thing for those wintery NY nights. I hope you enjoy!
~ my fresh baked pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust- recipes here and here~
This Thanksgiving, I’m most thankful for wonderful friends and family. It’s almost surreal that Thanksgiving is here with the rest of the holidays just right around the corner. This holiday season, I look forward to savoring the smell of fresh baked pie, simmering apple cider, cozy fireplaces and gathering around the table with the people that are most important to me. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.