Cheesesteak Monday

So I caught  a little bit of slack on my last post for my weeknight meals being too healthy and boring. Well I’m sorry, but I’ve been trying to keep our weeknight dinners full of lean protein, several different kinds of veggies and little to no carbs, because I’d like my arteries to still work when I’m 30. But if you’re a reader who likes my blog for the decadent pictures of Italian food and stories about ridiculously caloric dishes like chili mac and cheese, well I can see how you’ve been a little dissapointed by the steamed salmon and cauliflower puree I’ve been making lately. (I still maintain that both of those dishes are delicious.) But I am a woman of the people and I hear you readers, I hear you.

So without any further adieu I give you…buffalo chicken cheesesteaks…on a MONDAY. When I gave Matt the shopping list tonight you would have thought we were getting a puppy. “No vegetables!?” Nope just buffalo-y chicken-y blue cheese-y goodness. Here’s how ya make it

Pound out boneless skinless chicken breasts

Slice into thin strips

Sautee with sliced onion for 5 to 7 minutes until chicken is browned on the outside and cooked through, and smile while you do it

Add some Franks Red Hot, the more you add the spicier it will be, I did a few tablespoons

Spread a sliced roll with blue cheese dressing

Finish, plate, and demolish!

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The Blog Binge

I’ve been starving the blog for over a week. What can I say? Birthdays, vacations, and life gets in the way. But I hope you’re all ready ’cause we’re about to go on a BLOG BINGE. So buckle up, its going to be a delicious ride. The theme of this blog is going to be kind of like a “garbage salad” or a “kitchen sink omelet.” These dishes combine all the ingredients you have in your fridge and pantry, whether they go together or not, to make one big delicious concoction.  You see sometimes in my eating and cooking adventures, I make or eat something that’s totally blog worthy, but for whatever reason (Real Housewives is on, or I have work to do, or Real Housewives is on) it doesn’t make it into the blog…until now. So I’ve gone through my phone and camera to bring you all the great things that got left behind. Get excited people, this is going to be better than an episode of “The Real Houswives: Lost Footage.”

Where to start…well, Tuesday night was my birfday, I am now officially old. To help ease the pain of aging, Matt took me to a restaurant where I’ve been DYING to go for months, none other than The Stanton Social. I’d describe it as trendy comfort food served tapas style. Kobe beef Philly Cheesesteak sliders with truffle oil and goat cheese. Chorizo mac ‘n’ cheese. Mini Beef Wellington with foie gras mousse. I literally wanted to die after every single bite. Oh, and they had my fave wine, Morro Bay Chardonnay. But the best part…well, other than spending my birthday with my favorite person…the french.onion.soup.dumplings. I know I say this a lot, but my description wont do it justice. Just go and go now.

Now, onto some weeknight meals. Even if you only have a few minutes, everyone, and I mean everyone, can throw together these last minute weeknight meals. So the next time you’re tempted to just give up and order Seamless (for non-NYers that’s how we order takeout) do yourself a favor and cook up one of these recipes. Like Mesclun greens with grilled chicken and honey balsamic vinaigrette.

 Gorgonzola Cheese Meatloaf, Mashed Cauliflower, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Steamed Salmon with Rosemary, Lemon, and Capers. Sauteed Spinach and Roasted Corn

Over the weekend my friends and I took a little girls trip down to Miami. When I wasn’t sleeping by the pool, I was EATING. Here are two of the standouts.

Deep Dish Breakfast Pizza with Sopressatta at The Front Porch Cafe

Braised Lamb Shank over Orzo at Opa

The weekend before we went to Miami, all of my friends and I made a pilgrimage to the movies to see one of our favorite books come to life on the Silver Screen. Something Borrowed was amazing and so was the pre-theatre meal at Banc. Two words: sampler platter.

Tuna Tare Tare, Meatballs, Lobster Mac and Cheese, White Wine Musceles

Ok…what else we got here? A few weeks ago, Matt and I celebrated our anniversary at Locande Verde. I wanted to go there because the critics have raved about it. Matt wanted to go there because Robert Deniro is a partner and he was hoping for a celebrity sighting. The food definitely lived up to the hype. It was perfect neighborhood Italian food, with an upscale twist. Orecchiette with duck sausage? Well done Robert, well done.

Further proof that I go out to dinner way too much. Here’s a little melange of some outstanding dishes I’ve had in the past month or two.

Mac and Cheese Pizza at Krunch Pizza…this shouldn’t be legal.

Veal Parmigiana at Il Vagabondo. After you demolish this ridiculously cheesy piece of meat you can go play Bocce Ball on their old school court.

The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich (or T.U.B.S.) at Ted’s Bulletin in D.C. Say it with me…hangover cure.

Grilled Prawns and a ridiculously large drink for a Wednesday night at The Hurricane Club. Think Gilligans Island meets a trendy club in the Meatpacking District.

I know that was a lot to handle. But I didn’t want all those pictures, recipes, and amazing food experiences to end up on the Island of Misfit Blog Posts…that would just be so sad.

Meatloaf and salmon recipes to come tomorrow – I swear. It’s just that the blog binge really took it out of me and I must sleep now.

The Royal Wedding Watch Party

So I know that you must have been on the edge of your seat all week wondering how the Royal Wedding Watch Party went. Well, let me tell you…it was frickin’ fabulous. After a full day of seeing little snippets, the ceremony and the precession and the kiss(es!), I couldn’t wait to get home, set out all of my adorable food, gather around the TV with all of my girls and watch this once in a lifetime event unfold. Before I get into the party, here’s my little take on all things Royal Wedding. The dress was amazing, although it was a little understated for my taste. I wanted a bit more drama, but I think she looked absolutely stunning. I mean, come on, could she be any more beautiful? The ceremony was so pretty and yes, I cried when they said their vows. Oh, and let’s not forget the not one, but TWO kisses! (A royal first.) It was everything I wanted it to be and more. And I will fully admit that I spent a good hour the next day googling “royal wedding lip reading” to find out all the sweet nothings they were whispering to each other throughout the day. My favorite one was when Kate walked down the aisle, William turned to her and said “you’re beautiful.” I died. Oh, and you can’t have a Royal Wedding Recap without talking about Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton. All I’m going to say is this, Amy if you look that hot on my wedding day I’ll kill you. Just kidding…kinda.

So back to the party. After work, I picked up some champagne, made some crustless sandwiches, donned a tiara and waited for my guests to arrive. They were greeted with strawberry champagne cocktails, candy rings, and 12 hours of DVR’d wedding footage. The menu was adorable if I do say so myself. For the cocktails, I made a really simple strawberry puree (just slice and puree until slightly chunky) that I added to the champagne to turn it pink and give it a little something special. And thanks to my friend Shannon, who studied in London, we all were introduced to the wonderful world of Pimms. Pimms is a dark brown British liquor, which when added to some ice cold Sprite is the most refreshing, not too sweet, not to tart, absolutely perfect cocktail. And let me tell you it goes down easy…so pace yourself.

Now, before I get into the food, I need to gush over my fabulous new servring pieces. Over Easter weekend, I hit Pier One and The Christmas Tree Shop and I hit them hard. The Easter Bunny (aka Matt’s mom and grandma) filled by basket with some fabulous ktichware that took this party from cute to over the top adorable. There was the cake stand, the mini soup shooter cups with individual little spoons, my new trendy square plates, and cute little dishes from the Pier One “Tasting” series. I have to be honest, I structured the menu  so I’d be able to use all of my new pieces.

The full menu is below, but the standout of the evening was something that I didn’t even cook. Some genius human invented this insane dessert that has come to be known as cake pops. Its crumbled cake and icing rolled into a ball and dipped into melted chocolate, which then hardens into a candy coated shell. And when you eat one your life is totally complete. I had these fantastic cake pops from Kreated by Kristen at an NYMag event, and ever since then I’ve been looking for an excuse to order them. In the days leading up to the party I was arguably more excited for the cake pops then I was for the wedding. I’ve had cake pops made by others, but I’m convinced that Ms. Kristen puts some sort of illegal addictive ingredient in them, because honestly, you can not. stop. eating them.

Here’s the rest of the royal menu

Turkey, Sliced Apple and Alouette Sandwiches

Ham, Brie, and Orange Marmalade Sandwiches

Cucumber, Cream Cheese, and Dill Sandwiches

Mesclun Greens with Walnuts, Gorgonzola Cheese, Dried Cranberries, and Cherry Tomatoes with a White Balsmaic Vinagarette

Spinach, Artichoke, and Gouda Quiche

Creamy Tomato Soup Shooters with Crispy Prosciutto

Assorted Dips and Crackers

White Chocolate Almonds

Dark Chocolate Cranberries

Buttercup Bake Shop Cupcakes

Kreated by Kristen Cake Pops

Recipes

I think they’re all pretty self explanatory, besides the quiche

Spinach and Artichoke Quiche

Ingredients

5 eggs

1/4 cup of milk

10 oz. frozen spinach

1 can of artichoke, chopped

4 oz. shredded gouda

Frozen pie crust

Directions

In a bowl beat eggs and milk. Added the defrosted spinach, artichoke, and gouda. Pour into frozen pie crust shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Who Cares What I Made…The Royal Wedding Is TOMORROW!

That’s right. It’s the day I’ve been waiting for ever since Will popped the question back in November. The Royal Wedding is tomorrow!!! There’s something so magical surrounding this day. It’s a fairy tale, complete with the beautiful princess, (semi) handsome prince and big giant rock. It’s a time we can all let the little girl inside of us come out, wear a tiara, and watch dreams come true. I can’t wait to see the parade, the flowers, and most importantly the dress. Obviously, I am celebrating this momentous occasion in proper fashion by throwing a Royal Wedding Watch Party. There will be champagne, decorations, and of course FOOD. I wanted the food to feel elegant and British, without having to serve meat pies and stale scones. So I’ve settled on some seasonal goodies and sweet treats that I’m sure all my friends (it’s a girls-only party by the way) will enjoy. So stay tuned for pictures, menus, and a recap of this once (well maybe twice if Harry gets married) in a life time occasion!

Onto what I cooked for dinner, which just seems so common place and un-elegant in comparison to the description of my party. Well, any way, tonight I made one of my favorite meals to grill in the summer – chicken sausage skewers. Now you might be asking yourself, how did she get a grill in that teeny New York apartment. Well I didn’t, but fortunately I have my niffty cast iron grill pan, which when inverted makes an excellent flat top to grill on. After searing the screwers (which are super simple to assemble, just layer sliced chicken sausage, bell peppers, and red onions) I popped them in the oven just to ensure they were cooked through out. When the sausages start to look wrinkly around the edges they are done.

Serve it along with some Mesclun salad and you’ve got a great weeknight meal that will cure your hankering for a backyard summer BBQ (at least for the next few weeks anyway.)

“What do you mean he don’t EAT NO MEAT?”

“Oh that’s okay…that’s okay…I make lamb”

So we all know that I have issues with delaying gratification. (Anyone remember that time I was so excited to make buffalo chicken dip for Superbowl Sunday that I spent the entire week putting Franks Red Hot on anything I could get my hands on? For a reminder, see the back to back posts Buffalo Chicken Anything and Buffalo Chicken Everything.) So, of course, in similar fashion, I’ve spent the entire week awaiting the glorious baby lamb that I’ll get to dig into on Easter Sunday. And today I decided I just couldn’t take it anymore. That coupled with the fact that I just saw Giada make quinoa-crusted lamb chops, I knew I just couldn’t wait another day. Plus, I was very intrigued how this new trendy super food would taste wrapped around a perfectly seared piece of lamb. In Giada’s recipe she coats the lamb with raw quinoa. Now, I was a little skeptical about how quinoa, which is essentially a seed, would taste uncooked. But, hey, I’m adventurous and I figured if it was awful we could always just brush it off and eat the lamb shops naked. Much to my surprise, the quinoa got nice and toasty from the cast iron sear and it was ah-mazing. Arguably better than cooked quinoa.

To go along side I decided on steamed asparagus with a poached egg on top. I’ve been on a big fried and poached egg kick lately. I’ve been topping everything with eggs and I get really excited when I think of a food that would go perfectly under a runny egg. I realized this makes me sound weird. But I swear I’m not alone. A few weeks ago I went to Pulino’s with some of my sorority sisters and I talked my friend Nat into splitting an arugula and prosciutto pizza with a fried egg in the middle. A few days later I received the following email:

“I have been putting fried eggs on EVERYTHING ever since that glorious night.I thought you were the only person who’d appreciate that statement”


 And I did appreciate it. Because you see, when you top veggies, pizza, sandwiches, hash browns or anything your little imagination can think of with a runny egg, the yolk serves as this rich, glorious, silky sauce that just coats every bite of food and makes you all happy inside. And bonus…no guilt! It’s not a cheese sauce, or a cream sauce, or another kind of calorie packed sauce. It’s just a simple egg, cooked with no added fat. It’s a great source of protein and most importantly, it’s simply delicious.

And egg poaching could not be easier. Here’s how ya do it:

Bring a pot with 2 to 3 inches of water to an almost boil, add 2 tbsp. of vinegar and then:

Crack the egg into a small cup
Holding the egg near the surface, gently slip the egg into the water
Using a slotted spoon push the egg white over the egg
Turn off the heat, let sit for 4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and EAT!!

Chicken Soup for the 20something’s Soul

Today, the unthinkable happened. After being on a waiting list for over three years, my dear friend Christine DiPrinzio received an email from The Rachel Ray Show. She had been awarded tickets to the show and since she knew I wouldn’t be her friend anymore if she didn’t take me, I GET TO GO TO RACHEL RAY ON MAY 4TH!!!

Note: I did not cook this

Now, I know Rachel is often lampooned for her “un-chef” like techniques, semi-obnoxious catch phrases, complete lack of culinary pedigree, and penchant for putting her name on anything that will make her money…but…guess what? I still love her. I will admit that sometimes the pictures of her recipes look highly questionable (right…what the heck is that?)

But most of the time they’re simple, quick, delicious, and generally very inexpensive. So in honor of this joyous day and also because I was feeling sick today, I decided that I’d make some chicken soup. But not just any chicken soup. Rachel Ray’s Chicken Soup. There was just something about this recipe, maybe it was the addition of the very flavorful parsnips, the use of egg noodles instead of traditional spaghetti, or the fact that it was indeed ready in under 30 minutes, that made my love for Rach grow exponentially. It was warm and comforting and made me feel a lot better. But most importantly it’s gotten me even more excited to make the pilgrimage to Rachel’s studio in just a few short weeks!!!

Eating East 53rd Street

Let me first begin this post by extending my deepest apologies to my readers for my lack of blogging the last few days. It’s been a busy week, but I just want to assure Tom O’Keefe, creator of What’s Minnella Eating Now, that I am indeed still feeding Matt. Here’s the evidence:

Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Chili "Lasagna"

Ok, now on to the rest of the post. Seven months ago, I moved to the greatest city in the world, with the greatest boy in world, to one of the cutest blocks in the world (minus the dirty video store…hey, it gives it character.) After seeing dozens of apartments that would be considered sub-par in a third world country, Matt and I found our way to sunny 53rd street. We had just come from looking at apartments on 11th avenue in a part of Manhattan that slightly resembled Bosnia. So when we got to the tree lined, restaurant studded haven we now call home, it was like the clouds had parted and then angels had started to sing. Then we went inside and despite the bathroom built for ants, it was perfect and I knew instantly that I was home. We were signing the lease within minutes. We then went out to celebrate a few doors down at La Giocanda. It was a small, warmly lit Italian restaurant with big fresh flower boxes on the windowsill and some of the best lasagna I’ve ever had. On that night we made a pact that we would try to hit up nearly every dining establishment on 53rd street between 2nd and 3rd before the time we moved to another apartment. This is no small task, considering I took a count this afternoon and there are 28 restaurants in the tenth-of-a-mile stretch of our block. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic eating establishments just steps from our humble abode.

Vero – One of my favorite wine bars even before we moved in. We went here to celebrate our first night in Manhattan and now it’s become a favorite spot to have a glass of wine and a Panini (which are free on Monday nights!) The overall vibe is very chic and trendy, the food is delicious and the wine, well even though I’ve rarely met a glass of wine I didn’t like, it’s really fantastic. Whether it’s date night, girl’s night, or I’ve had a terrible day and desperately need a glass of Chardonnay night, Vero fits the bill perfectly.

Oh and the antipasto platter is crave-worthy

Primavera Pizza – We live dangerously close to this popular late night pizza spot. Even though it’s technically one door in on 2nd Ave., I’m still counting it as a 53rd street eatery. I could go on and on about the perfect crust, the millions of toppings, or the fact that they don’t judge us for getting delivery when we’re literally 45 steps away; but do yourself a favor the next time you have a 2 a.m. pizza craving, hop in a cab and high tail it to 53rd and 2nd.

Redemption – Two words. Mimosa brunch. Two more words. Breakfast pizza. Now put those four words together and you have a pretty fantastic Sunday on your hands. For eighteen bucks you get a breakfast entree, coffee, juice, and not one but TWO drinks. Not only do you get to get boozy at brunch, but the entrees are off the charts. Thin crust pizza, four different kinds of cheese, bacon, sausage, and fried eggs. Besides being delicious, it looked AMAZING. I ordered this a few weeks ago on a warm Sunday when it was nice enough to sit outside and I kid you not, the pizza was causing people on the street to slow down and stare. My pizza was so good it was eliciting envious looks from strangers and you know I was brimming with pride over my top notch order selection.

Peking Duck House – While I have yet to hit up this traditional Chinese restaurant, I hear that when you order the peeking duck they literally carve the entire duck tableside, needless to say it’s on my to do list.

Little Thai Kitchen – Teeny tiny inside, but an awesome takeout spot. They make the best Pad See Ew I’ve had since I lived in Australia.

Social Eatz – The site of the BEST celebrity sighting (and meeting) I’ve ever had. A few weeks ago as I was stepping out one rainy afternoon, a tall, dashing, very familiar looking man passed by me. “Angelo?,” I called after him. As he turned around and flashed that signature smile, I knew it was him. Oh yes it was none other than Top Chef All-Star and restaurateur Angelo Sosa. After some Twitter stalking I ascertained that he was opening a new Asian infused comfort food restaurant right on my block! The second it opened we were there. The first time we went we had great service, awesome food, but unfortunately no Angelo. So when my friend Michelle spotted him on the street on St. Patrick’s Day on the way to my apartment, we basically dropped everything we were doing and parked it at Social Eatz in hopes of a little meet and greet with the chef. There were five of us there that night and we basically ordered everything on the menu and everything I mean EVERYTHING was outrageous. It was comfort food on steroids. The layers and layers of flavor just didn’t quit and with options like curried creamed spinach, Korean beef tacos, and organic chicken hot dogs, your taste buds have a serious party in your mouth. The amazing food was topped off with a visit from Angelo. Needless to say as a die-hard fan of Top Chef, I was completely star-struck. We chatted with him for a good ten minutes and he was so nice and humble and really down to earth. He dished about preparing for the competition, his favorite chefs, and his love for Padma in a hot pair of Balenciaga heels. We gushed about how much we love the show, how much we loved the food, and let’s be honest how much we love him.  Then he thanked us for coming and got back to the kitchen, as he walked away we all gave each other the “did that really just happen look.” I’d go back a million times, not just for the sighting of handsome Angelo, but for inventive, surprising, and flavor packed cuisine.

Cello – A few of my friends had been here before and they told me I must must must try this adorable little wine bar. “But Vero is my local wine bar!” I’d protest. Finally I conceded and decided that I’d cheat on Vero and give this tapas style wine bar a try. The place is very very small, maybe ten tables, and the kitchen it basically a little stall with a window cut out, stocked with sink, an oven, two stand alone flames and a single chef pumping out all the food. We sat in the back, inches away from the kitchen window. At first I was a little off put, but when the chef leaned out and asked us if we’d like balsamic reduction on our bufala mozzarella, I started to warm up to our table location. After a few more courses and lots of chatting with Chef Chris I started to feel like we had a private chef cooking us our own dinner. For dessert, he asked if we’d like to try an off-the menu apple and rhubarb crisp that he’d invented that afternoon. I still have daydreams about that thing and I’m not even a big fruit in my dessert kind of person. We walked out feeling super cool for our VIP chef’s table and super full from the 8 different tapas dishes we couldn’t keep our hands off of.

Radicchio – BYOB Italian with fantastic food, very romantic ambiance, and great service. The best part? Well, besides the calamari that was marinated and grilled to perfection? Having a check dropped at our table that’s under $50. Which prompted me to realize how much bigger my savings account would be if we were non-drinkers, because good God I spend a lot of money on wine.

Solera – Another tapas spot near the end of the block. We had a nice enough meal here but given that Cello has better wine, better food, and is a half of a block closer, I don’t think we’ll be back.

So there you have it, a small taste of the plethora of restaurant options in our little slice of the city. While I love our local restaurants, I must say that my favorite place to eat on 53rd street is still my dining room table. 🙂 So come back soon because I promise this week will be full of lots of home cooked blog posts.