Monthly Archives: January 2011

Homemade but still kind of not

I have a confession to make: I’m a little bit of a food snob when it comes to certain things (no Prego EVER, Bisquick? Uh uh, Aunt Jemima go home), and a total lazy butt when it comes to others (Ortega fajita seasoning YUM, Twinkies and Twix? ok!, Stouffer’s vegetable lasagna helloooo lover). So when a friend from work sent me a recipe that involved Pillsbury crescent roll dough, I scoffed for .2 seconds and then I drooled a little.

Oh, come on, we all drool.

I made this ridiculously quick and easy cheesecake pie for The BF and his roommates (who got mad at me because they apparently have this weird hangup about not eating junk food every day) and in a matter of hours half the pan was gone. Success.

On the menu:
Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

2 (8 oz.)  packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 (8 oz.) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.

Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each piece into 9 x 13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of the baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent roll dough. Blend together the cinnamon and butter. Dot the mixture over the top of the cheesecake.

Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.

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Gosh, is it winter? I could barely tell.

I had planned on sharing a ridiculously sweet (literally and figuratively) recipe with you guys today but uh… something happened last night. I was tricked into drinking too much wine and then it blizzarded (it’s a word) here in New York and I found myself unable to resist the warm, snuggly, dreamy comforts of my bed. So no post for you today. Stay tuned for tomorrow…

A blurry picture of my neighborhood this morning

 

In other news, I realize I am behind the times on this but I had one of the most amazing cupcakes I’ve ever eaten last night. Have you had Butter Lane cupcakes? If not, RUN there right now. And try the banana cake with maple pecan frosting. It’s pretty much sent straight from the gods.

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Brown Butter Goodness

Remember that time I had planned on making fabulous Greek salads for dinner, and then The Boyfriend said, “…Oh. Really?” but I already had all the ingredients and was totally stumped and starving? That was a nice time.

So I looked at what I had, forced my brain into “comfort, filling food” mode, and came up with this. Very similar to chicken dishes I’ve made in the past, but with a twist. And brown butter never hurt nobody. Well… unless you’re prone to high cholesterol. Then maybe stay away.

On the menu:
Fried chicken with tomato brown butter cream sauce

2 large chicken breasts, flattened to 1 inch thick
1 Tbsp canola oil
8 Ritz crackers, crumbled [I use Ritz because I love the sweet, butteryness of the crackers but Panko works here, too]
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

In a small saucepan, melt better over medium heat just until the color of the butter turns light brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Lower heat, and whisk in flour until a paste develops. Gradually whisk in milk and raise heat to medium. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, around 10 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir for another five minutes. Add parmesan cheese and tomatoes and reduce heat so the sauce simmers. Cook for another ten minutes, and then salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, dip chicken breasts in egg and then Ritz crumbs. Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil over medium/high heat. Set chicken in the hot oil and cook for 7 minutes on each side, until the breast is cooked through. Plate chicken and pour sauce over.

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Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, loves. I woke up to white powdery beautiful streets this morning, and of course, immediately checked my e-mail to see if I had a snow day. No dice.

Have you seen this? It’s called “Smooth Criminal Flash Mob at Eataly.” Have you clicked it yet? No? Then what the H is wrong with you?

Just wanted to say a quick hello and remind you of some things you might like to make this weekend. It’s all comfort food, and it’s all guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Also guaranteed to make you want to hit the gym on Monday. You’re welcome.

Breakfast! pancakes…

Lunch! peanut butter…

Dinner! carbonara…

Dessert! cupcakes… (pictured above)

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Midtown Restaurant Recommendation

People ask me all the time for restaurant recommendations, usually in the form of, “My family is staying in the West Village and they want an affordable Moroccan restaurant that will seat all 17 of them at 7PM on a Saturday and one is a vegan and one is lactose intolerant. Do you know of anything?”

The one neighborhood I’m asked about the most is midtown. “Can you recommend something affordable and delicious in midtown that isn’t tourist central or Europa Cafe?”

I’m happy to say I finally can.

Remember this beauty?

(click the pic for the original post!)

Mia Dona is a relatively affordable, incredibly delicious Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan (58th Street and 3rd Avenue) that is chic enough to make out-of-towners feel like they’re eating haute cuisine but rustic and friendly enough that they won’t stare down at something foreign and squishy and green that they’ve never seen before and ask, “What do I do with this?”

Recommended dishes:
Anything with meatballs
Ricotta gnocchi with roasted cauliflower, peas, pancetta, and basil
Chocolate cake with rosemary creme brulee (this was to DIE for)

It should be said that the service was a bit slow and the decor kind of strange (my dining partner commented, “I like the… farm equipment?”) but it serves its purpose: a reliable, relatively affordable, upscale dining experience that I’d recommend time and again.

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BBQ and Blues

Happy Tuesday, kids! I had a glorious day off from work yesterday so I spent it making omelettes and eating out at an Italian restaurant (more on that tomorrow!). Also, have you noticed that this is the season when oranges show up in your local grocery for mere pennies? It’s like I can’t help but eat 7 a day.

Over the weekend I went to Hartford, Connecticut and dined at my favorite BBQ restaurant in the world, Black Eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues. Granted, I’ve never had southern BBQ in the south, but someone told me that the owners of Black Eyed Sally’s went to Memphis to perfect their Memphis-style ribs recipe. Let’s just say it’s worth the Amtrak trip.

Black Eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues 350 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT. Black Eyed Sally’s is a Memphis style BBQ restaurant that features nightly blues music and cajun-inspired dishes. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, the prices affordable, and the food authentic.

On the menu:
Fried calamari and crawfish tails
Memphis-style ribs with red beans and rice
Pulled pork sandwich with homemade salt and vinegar chips
Cornbread with honey butter

Verdict: So good! So good! So good! Gosh, I love this place. I lived in Connecticut in the summer of 2005 and fell head over heels for this place, so when I went back this weekend I prayed it was the same. And ooooh friends… it did not disappoint. The ribs have a ton of meat that falls right off the bone, with a distinct but not overpowering smoky flavor. The skin was crispy with almost no sauce at all. The calamari and crawfish were also outstanding with a tangy dipping sauce that I could’ve eaten with a spoon (don’t worry, I didn’t… at least not while anyone was watching). Another meal highlight was the cornbread: cakey and moist and sweet and smeared with honey butter… even after the button on my jeans was about to pop I had another piece. It’s a sickness, really.

Hartford might not be the most likely spot for delicious BBQ and jaw-dropping blues music, but trust me, if you ever find yourself in this little New England city, stop into Black Eyed Sally’s. Elvis would approve.

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That Sounds Delicious

Apparently this is a whole week of self-indulgent posts… Awhile back I Twittered (Tweeted?) that I would love to post about all my favorite songs that include food references (there are a lot of them…), but that probably no one would be interested in that but me. My lovely friend Ashley responded that she’d like to read it, and really… all I needed was one more person who cared. Some of these you may know, and others maybe only my family and an AM radio DJ in South Dakota have ever listened to. Either way, kiddies, here they are.

I went to a panel discussion one time about food writing and Melissa Clark, a food writer and New York Times columnist, said that if you’re really into food and you also like to write, somehow you always find yourself incorporating food into your writing. I like to think if you’re a music lover, whenever you hear a song with food mentioned you pick those lyrics out immediately. Call me crazy. Call me hungry. Just don’t call me late for dinner.

See what I did there?

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