NYC Restaurant Week Reservations Now Open

Good day, Foodies! I have some exciting news for an otherwise mundane Wednesday: you can now start booking for NYC Restaurant Week.

By now, I’m sure you know the drill: three-course prix-fixe menus at over 300 of NYC’s best foodie digs ($25 for lunch and $38 for dinner). Visit nycgo.com to see participating restaurants, peek the menus, and most importantly, book your reservations! My Foodie partner-in-crime, Alycia, and I will be on the hunt to visit some restaurants on our 101 list, so stay tuned for updates.

This post is cross-posted from Feel Good Foodies, a fantastic food blog, if I do say so myself!

Foodie Friday: Finding My Favorite Local Bar

As I’ve referenced quite a few times, my boyfriend and I recently moved to Brooklyn. We’re living in Bedford Stuyvesant, and though our weekends have been busy with lots of travel, we’ve been working to find our new favorite spots during the time that we are in town.

An important element to the ‘favorite spot’ list is, of course, the local watering hole. Who doesn’t want a bar where everybody knows their name? Ok, maybe we don’t frequent bars often enough to gain that status, and maybe that’s a good thing, but finding our token neighborhood favorite is definitely important. And, big news, we may have a winner!

Enter Dynaco. Jamie and I visited this unassuming bar late on one of our first Fridays in the neighborhood, and left just as quickly. It was so crowded and…warm. We planned to get one drink, but upon realizing it was cash only and waiting just a little too long to get to the bar, we thought it would be best to come back on a weekday.

Photo courtesy of Yelp

And that is how we spent the following Monday night. When I walked into the bar I almost didn’t recognize the place. It was cozy and warm (this time in a good way) from a wood-burning stove in the back, and the decor was absolutely beautiful. I sat at the bar and felt like I was visiting someone’s home. I was itching for a good cocktail and Sean the bartender recommended a Kentucky Mule (bourbon/ginger beer). It was perfect.

Now that we’ve had some time to explore the neighborhood, I think that it’s safe to say Dynaco could easily become our favorite neighborhood bar. The drinks are well-made, the bartenders are friendly, and the cash-only policy will keep me honest. Win.Win.Win.

Location: 1112 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

Foodie Friday: Juice for All

I’m a juice-aholic. By now, this is a well-known fact among my friends, and I receive requests for juice cleanse recommendations on the regular – I’d say about once per month.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, Spring has sprung, and Summer is JUST around the corner! I noticed today that there are a ton of juice cleanse sales on all of our favorite daily deal sites, so I thought I’d do all you healthy-minded New Yorkers a favor and put the top ones all in one place:

Cleanses I’ve Tried

1. Cleanse:Jus By Julie

jus by julie cleanse

The deets:

  •          $99 ($200 value) for a 3-day juice cleanse + meal plan
  •          $175 ($350 value) for a 3-day juice cleanse for you and a friend + meal plans

Where to buy: Get it on LivingSocial

Thoughts: This is my favorite juice cleanse. I had a customer service snafu once, but they reached out and compensated with a free 1-day cleanse. The juices are so tasty, and they have puree in them, so you’re still getting some fiber and protein, and you don’t feel as hungry (or in some cases hungry at all) while cleansing.

2. Cleanse: Liquiteria

Liquiteria

The deets:

  •          “Juice, Eat, Repeat” $79 ($99 value): Four cold-pressed juices per day for three days (12 juices total)
  •          Level One Cleanse: “Explore & Nourish” $118 ($147 value): Six cold-pressed juices per day for three days (18 juices total)
  •          Level Two Cleanse: “Restore & Energize” $118 ($147 value): Six cold-pressed juices per day for three days (18 juices total) – same deal as level one, but different juices
  •          Level Three Cleanse: “Deep Dive & Heal” $160 ($200 value): Seven cold-pressed juices per day for three days (21 juices total); One coconut water per day (three total)
  •          All cleanses come with One-on-one coaching session with an expert cleanse coach. They basically walk you through the cleanse and answer any questions when you pick up your juices

Where to buy: Get it on Gilt City

Thoughts: The “Juice, Eat, Repeat” is awesome for juicing rookies! Juice all day and have a nice raw dinner – it leaves you feeling so refreshed! I really like Liquiteria, but you have to pick this cleanse up in person, so it takes a little extra prepping. They have three locations: Liquiteria Chelsea, Liquiteria East Village, or Union Square

Other Available Cleanses

1. Cleanse: The Squeeze

The Squeeze New York City Deal of the Day   Groupon New York City

The deets:

  •          $119 for a three-day juice cleanse ($177 value)
  •          $235 for a six-day juice cleanse ($354 value)

Where to buy: Get it on GroupOn

Thoughts: I haven’t tried The Squeeze yet, but maybe I will!  This is another ‘pick-up only’ cleanse. There are three locations: Battery Park City, Hell’s Kitchen, and Union Square

2. Cleanse: beQu Juice

bequ juices

The deets:

Where to buy: Get it on GroupOn

Thoughts: I haven’t tried beQu yet either, but here are some additional details from GroupOn: Recipients receive a supply of six bottles for each day of their cleanse, which includes three lemonade and three sweet greens juices that can be alternated throughout the day. Shipping is not included in this deal; beQu Juice will confirm delivery dates by email. Based on this, I would look up cost of shipping before buying!

One Pot Mac & Cheese with Low-Fat Maia Yogurt

This weather! NYC may have seen more snow this winter than in the past four put together, and the forecast is not necessarily showing us any signs of  long-term relief.

With a busy schedule, and maybe a slight case of the winter blues, I’ve been turning to my favorite comfort foods more often than I’d like to admit. Slice of pizza? Sure. Mac-n-cheese? Bring it on. Like, once a week. Okay, maybe twice.

I’m a huge comfort food junkie, but I’m also big on ingredient substitutes to try to make things just a little healthier. So, when Maia Yogurt, shared an alternative recipe to my standard, boxed mac-n-cheese, I was all in. I’ve been wanting to try homemade mac for a long time, but it always seemed like a daunting task, and I worried that the effort would not yield the same results as the easy, creamy, delicious box version. This one-pot-wonder was ready to eat in three easy steps! It was quick, simple, and satisfied my craving perfectly.

One Pot Mac & Cheese

Maia one pot mac n cheese

One pot mac-n-cheese

  1. Cook 2 cups elbow pasta in a large pot.
  2. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot along with 2 cups shredded cheese, 1/2 cup plain Maia Yogurt, salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. onion powder, and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder.
  3. Stir all the ingredients together on low heat until the cheese is completely melted.

Let’s zoom in on that ooey gooey yumminess.

MAIA mac n cheese_christinadoes

I’m officially done with boxed mac.

Do you have any favorite recipe substitutes? Would you try subbing in Greek yogurt in your creamy recipes? 

*Special thanks to Maia Yogurt for yogurt samples and recipe suggestion 🙂 

Crock Pot Chronicles: Turkey Three-Bean Chili

It pains me to write about chili on day three of a juice cleanse, but baby, it’s cold outside, and if I weren’t cleansing I would be whipping up another batch to warm up this dreary day.

Last week I made the most phenomenal chili to ever pass my lips. It was hearty and thick, and so perfectly spicy.  And I know I’m not just tooting my own horn, because Jamie couldn’t get enough of it either! The best part? It was SO easy.

turkey three bean chili recipe

Turkey Three-Bean Chili

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb fat free ground turkey breast
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 (10 oz) cans hot or mild Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies (if you can find a 28 oz can, more power to ya!)
  • 1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, undrained
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can small red beans, undrained
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (flour can be used as an alternative)

Seasoning:

  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Brown the turkey with red onion in a medium skillet over medium high heat until cooked, and drain any fat remaining.To make life easier, I did step one the night before, and kept the cooked meat in the refrigerator overnight, so all I had to do in the morning was put everything in the crock pot. So easy!
  2. Add the meat, tomatoes con chilies, tomato sauce, green pepper and seasoning mix to the crock combining well.
  3. Cook on high for 6-8 hours. If you’re like me, and a work day could potentially last 10-12 hours, leave the pot on the low setting.
  4. In the last hour or two of cooking, add the beans, and turn the crock pot up to high, if it isn’t already. The world won’t end if you have he beans in the whole time, but they might come out a bit mushy, so I choose to add them later.When you’re almost ready to serve, incorporate the nutritional yeast or flour, little by little, until your chili is at desired consistency.

Top with cheddar, cilantro, sour cream, lime, etc. Whatever your little heart desires, and enjoy!

Foodie Friday: Three Good Reasons to go to Montreal

A few weeks back Jamie and I took a long-weekend trip to Montreal to celebrate our five years together, and to eat. A lot. Here are the highlights:

Joe Beef

Joe Beef, Montreal

Photo courtesy of Ashley B. on Yelp

We first heard of Joe Beef from CNN’s Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, where Bourdain was joined by Joe Beef’s Dave McMillan and Fred Morin, collectively eating ALL the foie gras. The entire episode is pure decadence, and would motivate you to travel 370 miles as well.

As soon as we booked our flights I reserved Friday dinner here. Three weeks away, and all I could get were two seats at the bar! This wound up being better in the end. Joe Beef’s menu is ever-changing, written on a chalkboard on the wall (in French). The friendly bartended read us the entire menu, sharing recommendations as he went.  We ordered:

  • The freshest oysters I have ever tasted
  • Two appetizers – the famous foie gras double down (half order), a menu staple consisting of two fried pieces of foie gras with bacon and maple syrup sandwiched between; and a shredded turkey leg concoction that was reshaped around a bone to look like a drumstick.I could have stopped here and been satisfied. The foie gras was out of this world. Life changing. I am so lucky that I do not live in Montreal, I would turn into a foie gras double down
  • For entrees, I had veal scaloppini and Jamie had the half hen. Both came with generous sides of rice, mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. The veal was a bit salty, but everything else was perfect

The courses were well-paced, and the bartender informed us that the restaurant allots at least three hours for each reservation. A refreshing and leisurely experience for us New Yorkers! Three hours later, the friendly barkeep gave us some maple sorbet to finish, and we were on our way.

Liverpool House

menu at Liverpool House

the ever-changing menu board, photo courtesy of Jennifer K. on Yelp

Liverpool House is the sister restaurant to Joe Beef, and all-in-all isn’t much different. The ingredients seemed to have a more Italian influence, but the fresh chalk-board format and overall feel were the same. We came into Liverpool House with a strategy, ordering much lighter appetizers: clams casino and tripe. Jamie had never had tripe before, and I had bad memories of a chewy substance in tomato sauce, but this was not the case at Liverpool House. The tripe was melt-in-your mouth good, and the sauce was so flavorful. A definite favorite and all the couples around us ordered it after seeing ours come out of the kitchen!

For dinner we thought we were being savvy ordering the lamb for two, in light of the overwhelming portions at Joe Beef the night before. Boy, were we wrong. What emerged from the kitchen could have easily fed a family of four. The meat was tender and perfect, and it came with a large dish of seasonal veggies. After that it was more sorbet, and off to some bars to wash it all down.

Pro tip: try the Joe Beef Pilsner, very crisp and refreshing, and only available at Joe Beef, Liverpool House and a couple of other local spots.

Lawrence

We had been having low-key breakfasts at our hotel all weekend, so on our last day in town we decided to find a nice Sunday brunch spot. I found Lawrence on Yelp and we headed to Mile End. The neighborhood looked deserted when we arrived, but we quickly realized that everyone was at Lawrence already. We waited patiently in a café across the street, and a quick 45 minutes later we had the option of a seat at the bar, or a cozy 4-seater in the corner next to two girls fervently gossiping in French. We’re no strangers to close dining quarters, and chose the table.

Jamie and I quickly ordered some Bloody Marys (hair of the dog), and I insisted that we start by sharing a scone with jam and clotted cream.

After putting the order in, our eyes simultaneously wandered over to the bar (probably impatiently awaiting our drinks), and landed on…Spiderman! I was SO close to being seated right next to Tobey Maguire. There’s something so much more exciting about seeing a celebrity outside of NYC, and I was instantly annoyed at our seating choice. The Bloody Marys and scone made up for it though, two good decisions outweighing the bad one.

For mains I ordered kedgeree, a fried rice dish with ham, plum tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and other goodies all mixed together. It was savory and comforting. Jamie ordered something similar that had shredded meat (pulled pork maybe?), potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and a delicious sardine sauce. This might have been better than New York brunch. Just maybe.

Kedegree at Lawrence, Montreal

Kedegree, photo courtesy of Laura M. on Yelp

So, all in all, if you’re looking to eat your way through a city, Montreal is a fantastic contender. Of course there are also photos and other highlights of the trip, which I will share in future posts, now that I’m done gushing over the food.

Happy Friday!

Monday Motivation: Transitioning Back to Reality

It’s Monday! This is likely one of the most difficult Mondays of the year, as we get over the long Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend. Our bellies full and our wallets empty, it’s time to get back to work, and back to the daily grind.

drink coffee

Image via Pinterest

I personally have thrown routine out the window lately, and after a long-weekend vacation in Montreal followed by the long holiday weekend, I am ready to reintroduce things like the gym, smoothies, and a normal sleep schedule back into my life.

Here are some links from around the web that are helping motivate me – from jumping back on the treadmill to getting the ball rolling on my holiday shopping:

healthy oatmeal smoothie

Image via marthastewart.com

  • I had this healthy smoothie for breakfast this morning. Did you know that yogurt plus oatmeal equals a complete protein? Mine was a little too thick, but still oh so good.
  • Looking for creative ways to finish up those turkey day leftovers? The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond has you covered with some inspiring leftover turkey recipes 
  • Self magazine always has my back when I’m feeling less than motivated at the gym. I think they read my mind when they pinned these 10 boredom-busting treadmill workouts on Pinterest yesterday
skinny cranberry bliss bars

Image via skinnytaste.com

  • And JUST in time for the holidays, Gina Homolka of skinnytaste.com has a recipe for Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars that I must try. These were my favorite holiday treat back when I worked at Starbucks, many eons ago

In conclusion, this Cyber Monday I am keeping the coffee flowing, and I have my gym bag packed and ready for tonight. I am motivated! How about you?

Foodie Friday: Is Instagram Making Me Fat?

After receiving criticism for my social “foodspiration” photos at every family gathering I’ve attended since joining Instagram 18 months ago, I could not hold back an enormous eye-roll today while reading a Gothamist article on a study reporting that Instagramming photos of your food could lead to an unhealthy food obsession.

Gothamist reported, “The study, which was presented at the Canadian Obesity Summit in Vancouver this week and titled “Food Fetish: Society’s Complicated Relationship with Food,” suggests that some people who take photos of most of their meals do so because food plays a big role in their lives—this, in turn, could lead them to develop unhealthy eating habits and weight problems.

I’ll be the first to admit that food plays an important role in my life. Food fuels my energy for every day’s activities – of course it’s important! And living in a city like New York, it’s hard not to get excited at the newest trend in burgers or donuts, or the next big restaurant opening. Some may frown at indulging in these things; God forbid we celebrate with a cupcake or considering a glass of wine a reward after a long week.

Though, I’d like to think that my social posts are more motivating towards healthy habits. I drink homemade juices almost weekly, and dabble in predominately veggie recipes quite often. But, knowing that my Instagram isn’t exactly my food journal, this Gothamist article got me thinking – is my Instagram as healthy as I’d like to think I am?

I did some data mining and it appears I have 288 photos posted to date, 78 of which are food related. So I’m not completely antisocial, and I don’t have a relationship going with my daily lunch menu. That’s good, right?

Of my food photos, I would classify 28 as being super healthy, with juices, smoothies and salads being the healthiest posts.

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Twenty posts are neither healthy nor unhealthy, just amazingly delicious foods or interesting photos. I classified most home-cooked meals and things like sushi here –I thought these foods were healthy in moderation.

Thirty-one photos could classify as fat-kid-special, but more than half of these were photos of alcoholic beverages – 18 photos depicted Bloody Marys, quality beers and vino. photoHighlights from the remaining 13 “unhealthy” eats include rare indulgences like Shake Shack, Serendipity ice cream, and In-N-Out Burger. Holy cholesterol.

So how would I grade my Instagram? Balanced. And I think balanced is healthy. What do you think, is your Instagram making you fat? Is MY Instagram making you fat?

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I was a lazy foodie and ordered a Rueben sandwich from the local diner instead of enjoying actual Irish fare. I’m not actually Irish, so I’m giving myself a pass this year. That’s not to say that I didn’t miss the annual feast of corned beef and cabbage with the family.

So, in honor of the holiday, I’m reposting my mom’s recipe for corned beef and cabbageShe’s not Irish either (obviously), but she makes a darn good corned beef. If you’re not married to a recipe of your own, I highly recommend you give this one a whirl.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

(Makes 6 servings)

Corned_Beef_and _Cabbage

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3-4 Lb. corned beef brisket
  • ½ cut shopped onion
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • A dash of ground cloves
  • 6 medium potatoes peeled
  • 6 carrots
  • 6 cabbage wedges
  • Prepared powdered mustard (Coleman’s)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Place corned beef in a Dutch oven and barely cover with hot water. Add onions, garlic and bay leaves. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, or until tender (3 hours is probably enough). Remove meat from liquid; cover with foil and keep warm. Add whole potatoes and carrots cut in 2” or 3” pieces to liquid in Dutch oven. Coer and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or so and add cabbage; then cook 20 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, glaze meat and spread fat side of meat lightly with mustard powder. Combine brown sugar and cloves and sprinkle over mustard. Bake in shallow pan at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered. Arrange corned beef and vegetables on a warm platter for serving.

So so good!  Last year we went home with leftovers and I made a great breakfast of it too. Love me some corned beef! What do you eat to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? 

Foodie Friday: Tandoori Lamb Balls Recipe from The Meatball Shop

I’ve been experimenting with The Meatball Shop Cookbook ever since I bought it for my boyfriend for Christmas last year. I guess it’s still a gift for him if he gets to eat what I cook, right?

So a few weeks ago I tried my hand at Tandoori Lamb Balls. In a word? Brilliant. I’ve been participating in a Skillshare class called Show Us Your Balls: Meatball Making with The Meatball Shop, and was able to reflect on having cooked these before watching some of the training videos. There were definitely some pointers that I will use in future meatball recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (stems included)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup tandoori spice mix
  • 2 teaspoons salt

First thing’s first: The tandoori spice:969bfaeb

2 teaspoons ground ginger; 2 teaspoons ground cumin; 2 teaspoons ground coriander; 2 teaspoons sweet paprika; 2 teaspoons tumeric (not pictured); 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper. I know I tweaked this a bit, but it was a while ago and I can’t remember what I did.

Question: What is sweet paprika? How is it different from regular paprika? I assume it’s sweeter (duh), but figured I’d ask. I decided that as long as I had most of the basic elements, I’d have something close to the intended flavor, so I didn’t sweat it too much.

I combined all of my ingredients and made a test meatball on the stove, which I’m proud of since I decided to do this on my own before watching  Meatball Shop co-founder and executive chef Daniel Holzman’s training video. He made a good point to flatten the meatball before frying it to test – would have been much faster.

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Once I had my flavor down, it was time to roll the balls. Holzman recommends using an ice cream scoop, this way the meatballs are evenly sized, so they will cook evenly. Roast at 450° for 20 minutes.

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I combined the balls with The Meatball Shop’s Cilantro Yogurt Sauce and a side of roasted Brussels sprouts with apples and honey roasted pecans.

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Next up: I’ve practiced the basics of making meatballs a few times, so I’d like to try to think up an original recipe next.

Question: What are your favorite kind of meatballs? Do you prefer traditional, or do you have a special unique flavor combination? Please share!