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!

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!

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.

P1010914

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?

Foodie Friday: Blueberry Lemon Smoothie for Weight Loss

In her return to the blogging world yesterday, Amie (The Healthy Step-Mom) posted about willpower against cravings, and how difficult it can be. It was encouraging to read that even someone as fit as Amie battles with willpower every now and again.

When I’m feeling particularly tempted, I like to trick my body into thinking that I’m fulfilling its unhealthy cravings. Evil, I know – but it works! Wednesday, I felt like I was having dessert for breakfast when I replicated a blueberry lemon smoothie that my girl Deborah over at Delightfully Fit so generously instagrammed (yes, instagram is a verb now).

blueberry lemon weightloss smoothie

My version of the Blueberry Lemon Smoothie

Here is her recipe, with my variations in parentheses:

  • 1 banana
  • Greek yogurt (plain) (I used approximately half a cup)
  • Flaxseed (I replaced with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds)
  • Blueberries (I used one cup, frozen)
  • 1 lemon-ring slice sized rind (I put a whole, circular slice in – I wanted it to be very lemony)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I skipped this because my almond milk was vanilla)
  • A splash of unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla almond milk, and put just enough to blend the mixture to my desired texture)
  • Stevia (I used half a packet of Truvia)

The result was a tangy and delicious breakfast that reminded me of a trip to Pinkberry – my sweet tooth was satisfied for the day!

What are your healthy craving alternatives? 

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.

8f074724

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.

0b090670

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.

51a45c0d

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!

Foodie Friday: Tri-Color Cookies (a.k.a. Venetians)

After a long week of shopping, wrapping, shopping, working, eating, drinking, and SHOPPING, I am finally sitting on my couch. This is a big deal, people! I don’t think I’ve seen this couch all week, and this is where my best blogging is done.

I do feel bad for neglecting the blog, but I’m sure you’ve all been just as busy, with very little time to read. I owe you a Foodie post. What better recipe to share right before the holidays than my favorite Christmas cookies?

P1000852

Venetians—also called tri-color cookies or rainbow cookies—are a family tradition, and no one in this world makes them better than my grandmother, Mary. They are not too difficult, but definitely time consuming. So if you’re interested in trying to make these at home, make sure you carve out a good half-day. Take your time and have fun!

Ingredients

  • 1 can almond paste
  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Food coloring : red, green, yellow
  • 12 oz. jar apricot preserves + 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 large bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Grease  three 13×9 pans (cookie sheets)
  2. Line with wax paper & grease again
  3. Break up almond paste in large bowl, add butter, sugar, egg yolks and almond extract
  4. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy – 5 minutes
  5. Beat in flower and salt
  6. Beat egg whites until peaks form in a small bowl.
  7. With wooden spoon stir in almond mixture
  8. Divide into 3  bowls, add food coloring to each bowl: one red, green and yellow
  9. Add more food coloring for a brighter color
  10. Spread in to pans, bake 15 minutes, or until edges are golden
  11. Allow to cool, heat apricot preserves, strain & spread ½ of the warm preserves over green layer, spread to the edges. Put yellow layer on top and spread with remaining preserves. Put red layer on top of yellow
  12. Melt chocolate over hot water, add 2 drops of almond extract a few drops of water to desired consistency, should be on watery side, not thick, so that it’s easy to spread
  13. Spread on top using half of chocolate. Refrigerate. When chocolate is hard, turn upside down and spread remaining chocolate on top. Let dry 30 minutes in refrigerator

Cut into one-inch pieces, and enjoy!

 

Foodie Friday: Falling Off the Wagon

Raise your hand if you fell off of the healthy-eating wagon this week.

I know I did, and if you did too, you are not alone. Something about a natural disaster makes people binge. I think that it’s partially a testament that eating can easily become an emotional outlet. I think another part dates back to our hunter-gatherer instincts. I watched a documentary during Sandy, which said that humans used to be conditioned to eat food when they could, in preparation to survive for long bouts without it. Maybe knowing that access to food could potentially be cut off makes us load up a little extra? Whatever the case, I know I was guilty of baking brownies instead of making salads during the dreadful week indoors.

Image courtesy of boyfriend’s instagram

The New York Times reported Wednesday on the “Sandy Five,” and the Associated Press also reported on New Yorkers finding comfort in junk food. So just when I was starting to feel down in the dumps for gaining back what I lost with my BluePrint Cleanse, Linda Wagner, one of my favorite bloggers, reminded me that it’s ok. We can’t be perfect all the time, but we can be positive.

Image courtesy of Linda Wagner

So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve fallen down a bit. Get back up, wipe off the dust and start over. Ask for help where you need it, and get back on track.

I’ve had a lot of stress this week, and I know that is another reason that I fell off. But knowing how to identify this, and eating a piece of fruit or drinking a juice instead of going for coffee and cookies is something I am trying to do moving forward. It feels great to scarf down some junk food to feel better, but it never feels great afterwards.

What triggers your unhealthy eating habits? What do you do to avoid turning to junk in times of stress? 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin