Saturday, March 31, 2012


My friend, Sweet P, took me to Brodard's for some tasty Vietnamese takeout--notably their famous spring rolls.  I didn't even know what kind I'm eating but I LOVED the crunchy goodness inside and their killer sauce.  Honestly, I could have eaten a dozen of these:

I also enjoyed their Banh Khot--these crispy little rice cakes that are wrapped in lettuce and dipped in a light sauce. So tasty and savory. Again, bummed that I only got one order.

Another treat Brodard's are known for--macarons!

And I had to get one of each flavor of the macarons they had: chocolate, coffee, pistachio, mango-passion fruit, raspberry, coconut, hazelnut, salted caramel, orange, taro, green tea, lemon, strawberry, and durian:

They were all tasty, but my favorites were mango-passion fruit, salted caramel, and orange. I will confess that the durian may be an acquired taste if you're not used to it. A slight digression: I remember a long, long time ago, a co-worker told me that I had to try durian fruit--how it was once of the best tasting fruits BUT, she warned me that the smell of the fruit when you cut it open can be off-putting. Her description? Cat litter, she whispered. So yeah, I guess it's an acquired taste, for sure.

Next time I think I'll want to eat here so I can keep stuffing my face with various tasty rolls. I definitely recommend stopping here if making a visit to Orange County.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rice Krispies Treats

While visiting California, I was fortunate to meet with two friends for lunch who both were celebrating a birthday. For one, I made a clutch. For another, I wanted to also give something homemade and went with good ol' Rice Krispies treats that I wrapped individually in waxed paper:

Two stacks of Rice Krispies treats all prettified in baker's twine that Linda had:

Holy cow, has anyone had Rice Krispies treats in a while? I hadn't eaten one in a long time, and yeesh, it was sooo good straight out of the pot! Kind of want to make a batch when I get home...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Linda's bread

I'm visiting California for my friend's baby shower and I got to stay with my friend Linda, who baked this delicious cheese bread:

I remember she posted about a no-knead bread recipe that came out perfect because it was baked in a Dutch Oven.

And it WAS. The crust was perfectly crispy, and well, crusty. And then on top of that, the inside was perfectly holey and chewy. The recipe is for a plain loaf, but she added asiago and other hard cheeses, inside and out. So good.

I have GOT to get a dutch oven!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Yesterday I took Augie to check out another famous New York bakery, BabyCakes, a vegan bakery where a lot of the baked goods are also gluten-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free. Currently Augie is allergic to wheat and eggs so I was excited to try a place where he could enjoy a little baked goodness.

We picked out a healthy assortment--mini donuts, chocolate chip cookies, a red velvet cupcake, a banana cinnamon cupcake, and a slice of corn bread:

Side note:  around the corner from the bakery, they were shooting scenes from an upcoming film, Now You See Me.

But this guy just wanted to head home and check out the treats.

Sigh. We are so related.

Augie loved it all.  It was all pretty tasty and you certainly don't miss the gluten, eggs, and dairy.  It wasn't as sweet as typical cupcake fare which, frankly, was actually pleasant.  I highly recommend the banana cinnamon cupcake and mini donuts.

I hope to take Augie back there next time I'm in New York and make it "our place" where his auntie gets him sweet treats!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Milk bar

After dinner last night, we headed to Milk Bar to grab some sweet snacks:

They're famous for their Corn and Compost cookies:

As well as their addictive Crack Pie:

We sampled their soft serve, both cereal milk (which is astonishing exactly like cereal milk and was awesome with corn crunchies) and fried apple pie, which was really, really good.  We brought back a selection of baked goods to enjoy as late night snacks.

First up, the cornflake-chocolate chip-marshmallow cookie:

This was our favorite--it had a toffee like flavor from the corn flakes, balanced by the chocolate chips and had a great chewy texture from the marshmallow. I'd get this again.  And again.

Then we tried their famous Crack Pie:

It was delicious but with all the butter and sugar, the richness is a bit overwhelming, though I have to say the oat crust was delightful and grounded the dessert as whole a bit.

Next was the Corn Cookie.  A really pleasant surprise.  Very "corny" in a surprisingly refreshing way.  Balanced sweetly, it was a unique cookie experience.

The next morning we started out the day with coffee and their famous Compost Cookie:

Presumably named for having a lot of stuff in it, including chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coffee grounds, it was a delicious cookie where you couldn't quite put your finger on why it was so tasty. Definitely wouldn't turn down one of these if offered to me.

Overall, Milk Bar is a definite treat and I would highly recommend trying one of their unique offerings if you're in New York.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Tonight my sister, cute nephew Augie, and I enjoyed a visit to Upstate, where she is hooked (HOOKED I say) on their fettuccine with fresh clams.  Pasta? Fresh clams?  I'm in.

We enjoyed their happy hour special which included our choice of 6 fresh oysters and a beer.  I'm more of cocktail girl myself but a cold beer can greatly enhance good food, especially seafood.  And when I do drink beer, I tend to go for wheat beers.  Upstate did not have any but the waiter steered me towards Captain's Kolsch, which was ice-cold and crisp--perfect for me and the oysters.  They had this fairly enormous list of choices from the East Coast and West Coast and frankly we kind of just picked ones from places we'd heard of, been to, or would like to visit.  They varied from briny to sweet but we enjoyed each one.  With Captain's Kolsch to spare, I'm pretty sure I could have done another plate.

See that toy car in the background?

My sister: (sighs) The battery's dying.
Me: All these adults here are going to be so bummed to hear that.

Augie: (too busy adorably reading a board book anyway)

The fettuccine arrived shortly after:

Yes--it tasted as good as it looked.  The clams were cooked just tender, the garlic cooked with presence but not overwhelming, tender noodles, and a sauce that I want to say was rich without being creamy and heavy. The first thing I remembered thinking was that I wouldn't be able to finish such a big bowl.  The next thing I remembered was staring at an empty bowl.

And what I consider a classy and brilliant move by smart restaurants--automatic dessert.  I love it when there is just one dessert and it's done so well, like this whiskey cake made by the owner's wife:

So good. It was just the perfect sweet ending to this superb meal. I hope the next time I go back to New York, my sister wants to eat there again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Big Gay Ice Cream

While my sister still lives down the block from Big Gay Ice Cream, I manage to hit it every time I visit.

Real ice cream (vs. frozen yogurt or "light" versions I'll grab at the store) is obviously a treat for me so when I indulge, I really like to go for the unique and flavorful.

Combos that feature dulce de leche, chocolate dip and sea salt (Salty Pimp)? Yes please. Curried coconut (CocoCone)? Out there, but yes, I'm curious. Pretzels, sea salt, chocolate dip (American Globs)? I never would have guessed it would be so tasty. And for what it's worth, I kind of doubt I could recreate this combo at home.

Guess I'll have to keep coming back. Man, I can't wait to eat another cone from there soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mermaid Inn - Lobsterpalooza

I hit the Mermaid Inn with my sister, BIL, and nephew, right after catching some of the March Madness games on TV. One game went really well, one didn't, but I'm still #2 in my group's brackets if you're wondering.

We managed to hit the Mermaid Inn while Happy Hour was still going on so we got some oysters and drinks. The BIL tried the Pork Slap pale ale and I enjoyed the "Dark and Stormier" cocktail  which featured Gosling's rum, Domaine de Canton (a ginger liquer), and ginger beer. 

I wish I had taken a picture of the oysters--they were the best part of the meal--so fresh, like I was enjoying them dockside.

We all went with the Lobsterpalooza which features a 1.5 pound lobster with potatoes and roasted corn cob.

I have to say this isn't the first time we've hit Lobsterpalooza, but this was probably the first time we were somewhat let down by it.  The lobster seemed a bit overcooked, as if it had been cooked earlier in the day and re-steamed right before it was served to us.  The shell was somewhat soggy (instead of the bright snap) as if boiled in water for a long time with the tail and body meat fairly tough, though the claw meat managed to be tender (at least in mine).  Given the last times we've really enjoyed Lobsterpalooza so we were somewhat disappointed to hit them on an off day.

The service is friendly and efficient--though this time, it was almost too efficient as a staff member cleared away the flat bread while we were still enjoying it post-lobster.  What didn't disappoint is their standard inclusive dessert--a mini tea cup of chocolate mousse with Fortune Teller fish.  Just the right size and sweetness to end the meal:

All in all, we'll probably hit the Maiden Inn again but we may stick to the oysters and cocktails next time.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Northern Spy Food Company

When visiting New York, I love eating out in the East Village. This morning we brunched at Northern Spy Food Company and it was awesome.

We started out with some drinks--I had the refreshing fuji-apple mimosa, where the apple was very subtle,  my BIL had their Bloody Mary, which was nice and spicy, and my sister had the lemon seltzer:

We started out with some biscuits and apple butter.  The substantial biscuits were tender and flaky and the apple butter was amazing.  I've had apple butter before but I'm guessing they make it fresh here because it was deliciously bright and flavorful:

I enjoyed the Kale Salad with two baked eggs.  The combination of the almonds and the cheeses with the kale was a wonderful savory balance to the richness of the eggs.

My sister enjoyed Polenta with eggs (which I loved as well) and my BIL had the Corned Beef Hash which was quite unlike the stuff I remembered as a kid that came in a can.  I should have taken pictures--it had hearty cubes of beef brisket with roasted potatoes.  my BIL was very impressed.

This little guy had his own food but the staff was kind enough to cut him an apple as well:

Which I have to say, the staff charmed the adults as well. The service was great, friendly, and aimed to please--from the hostess who got us our table to the waiters to the friendly kitchen staff that waved hello to my cute nephew. I'm pretty sure we'd all love to come here again.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Protein Shamrock Shake

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here's one of my favorite new protein shakes--it's green!

The secret is frozen spinach. Wait come back! I promise you don't even taste it--but your body definitely appreciates the iron and fiber.  My 12-year-old daughter even admits it's not too bad "as long as you don't tell me what's in it". 

In a blender:

- 1 1/2 cup of milk or almond milk
- 1 frozen banana (I recommend you slice up the banana before freezing)
- 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach
- 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (we use whey protein but there are vegan versions available)

Blend until the spinach is blended in--makes a large shake.  Overall, it's a banana shake and is sweet enough for me, but if you like, I'm sure you can add honey or sweetener.

If you try it, I'd love to hear what you think! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lazy Lasagne (no pre-cooking the noodles!)

This is one of my go-to dinner recipes, it's ridiculously easy and delicious. The only catch is it takes about an hour to bake. I also made it somewhat healthier by replacing the traditional ricotta cheese with lowfat cottage cheese. And since I'm sure that made a bunch of Italian grandmothers clutch their hearts, I might as well confess that I use any shredded cheese that I have on hand--light cheddar, Mexican blend, anything tasty that melts.  The best part of this recipe? No cooking the lasagna noodles before it goes into the pan! Interested?

You need:

- a 26-28 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce
- 6 uncooked lasagna noodles
- 2 cups of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups (one of those 16 oz containers) of lowfat cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour about a half cup of sauce on the bottom of a small baking pan:

Kind of spread it around the bottom of the pan.  Obviously the pan needs to be big enough for 3 lasagna noodles to lay in but not too big, or else it flattens out a lot as the filling melts out:

Then lay the 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top of the spread sauce.  Hmpf.  This pan is a bit too big:

Spread all the cottage cheese on top of these noodles:

Then top with one cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese:

And top with a cup of sauce:

And spread it evenly on top of the cheese:

Top with the last 3 uncooked lasagna noodles:

And empty the remaining sauce on top:

Cover tightly with foil.  This traps in the moisture that will cook the noodles.  Bake for 50 minutes:

Remove foil and be amazed that you didn't have to cook those noodles beforehand:

Top with remaining cup of shredded cheese and bake for 10 minutes:

Remove from oven and ideally let it sit for about 10 minutes to set:

That was easy, right? Pretty cheap, right? And when you sub in cottage cheese and low fat cheese, it's definitely a healthier version than those frozen entrees. Try it--I would love to hear what you think.