My D-I-Y Menorah!

In the spirit of the holidays, instead of buying a new Menorah, I wanted to make one. Voila! Here is my very own homemade Menorah! It took me a while to collect all of the parts (had to order the candle holders from Germany), but once I had everything, it only took about an hour or so to create. I got the idea from Martha Stewart, but added the Tiffany blue roses as a colorful touch. I made three of them and gave two as Hanukkah presents. This was so much fun to make and I am thrilled with the finished product. You can also use it as a gorgeous candelabra on any table after the holiday is over...
Happy Hanukkah!

Paula's Pumpkin Cheesecake with My Pecan Praline Topping

This was such a hit at Thanksgiving, and it was fairly easy to make (make sure you use a springfoam pan). I didn't get to try the finished product until it was served, so I was a little nervous because I'd never made one. I must say it turned out pretty awesome. I will definitely make this again for my next holiday party. Here's Paula's recipe (wish I could take the credit).
Once the cake cooled, I topped it with a pecan praline sauce - here's how I made it:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped (coarse or fine is up to you)

Melt butter over medium heat in a small pan. Stir in brown sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Cook and stir until it reaches a full boil then reduce heat and boil gently for three minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in chopped pecans. Once this has cooled a bit, pour on top of the cooled cheesecake.

Soy Vay!

I was cruising the aisles of my neighborhood gourmet market and found this flavorful marinade. I HIGHLY recommend it! I used it last week on some Chilean Sea Bass and I'm using it again tonight on black cod. I marinated the fish for about an hour and then just threw it in a hot pan until it was cooked. It was simple, savory and tasted like the sea bass from Buddahkan.

Fish Cakes with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Here's what you need:
Pan cooked cod or another flaky white fish
handful of cheese
1 beaten egg
flour or bread crumbs (estimate)
chopped vidalia onion
splash of worsteshire and tobasco
3 tbsp parsley
salt & pepper
clove of fresh garlic
Portugese muffins (sweet and delish) - even crumbled some into the batter
I think this is everything but I'm having a hard time remembering exactly what I put in them, this should be pretty good though...
Mix all of the above ingredients together until it forms a batter. Then drop the batter onto a heated pan with olive oil and cook until golden.

The tartar sauce is so simple and makes them sooo good.
I've recently discovered Wickles Relish at my neighborhood gourmet market and it's the best!
All you need is Mayo, relish, lemon juice and a little salt and pepper to taste. Then glob it on your fish cake, smack it between your Portugese buns, add lettuce & tomato and voila!

Veggie Pancakes

I made these as part of our dinner last week and I definitely want them again this week. They were really easy and turned out rediculously delicious. Here's how I made them:
Hand grate one large zucchini, about 5 large broccoli stems, 1/4 onion and half a can of corn. I added one beaten egg and about 3/4 cup of bisquick, (you can also use flour but I think the bisquick made them exceptional) and a shake of flour as well. I then added about 1 tbsp of baking soda for fluffiness. I seasoned them with corrainder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of mustard powder. Oh, i added about a handful of shredded cheese as well (this was the sort of dish where I sort of threw in anything I could find in my kitchen). Mix it all up (you want it to be the consistency of a batter), heat some olive oil in a pan (get it real hot for added crispiness) and add the mixture in silver dollar pancake forms, cook for about 5 minutes, add a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

Baked Falafel

I think I was always more intimated by making falafel at home than I should have been. It was SO easy! I made it for dinner last week and it was a tasty, healthy main course for dinner.
Here's how I made it:
1 can of drained chickpeas
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoons of fresh parsley
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon or so of coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
Literally thrown it all into a food processor until it is blended. Then transfer to a bowl, beat an egg and add it to your mixture. Mix well and roll into ping pong sized balls.
Heat a pan with olive oil and brown on both sides (flatten slightly). Transfer them to your oven on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Next time I'm going to be bad and deep fry them.
Serve with a sauce of your choice

Brunch at Jane

This past Saturday I had a lovely, lazy brunch at Jane - such a cute spot, might be a new "go to" brunch destination. We started with "The Best" Bloody Mary (awesome) and the truffled mushroom soup (to-die-for). I had the crab and crawfish benedict and the boy had an egg and ham scramble with rosemary salted fries (I most definitely helped myself). Can't wait to go back! Also think this would be a great spot to rent out for a private event.
3.5 Stars

Brunch at Artisinal

I've had brunch here a couple of times now, and went most recently this past Sunday. So far, I've had the soup (lobster bisque, onion or fish), salad and sandwich combo both times - I love this because you get a little bit of everything. The vegetable panini with the tapenade and goat cheese is heavenly and grilled to perfection.
3 Stars

Dinner at Sevilla

I have a friend from home who raves about this place and goes every time he is in NYC. I had drinks with him there once, but never tried the food. The portions were huge and it was all very good. It is however a little cramped and humid - you stink like Spanish food when you leave. I would say is it potentially worth it though. We had the seafood paella and shrimp creole. The rice and creole sauce was awesome.
2.5 Stars

White Dipped Honey Braided Twists

I was in the grocery the other day and found these. I love honey braided twists, and to have them covered in white chocolate, oh my!
I bought a bag and they stood no chance. I highly recommend trying these (if you can find them) - they are too good.

Yoga Toes!

My brother has bad ankies so wears these to help them. I just got myself a pair and boy am I a fan! I put them on the second I get home (despite the fact that I am teased and called a loser) and wear them for about an hour at a time.
Here's how Yoga Toes work:
By spreading, stretching and exercising toes.
Help correct and realign foot structure.
Strengthen and stretch foot muscles.
Helps improve circulation and appearance.
Balance the entire body and stimulate, improve posture.
Mine are actually knock offs that I got a Duane Reade but work just as well. Go get you some!


I had apps and cocktails with a friend last night at Choptank, and it was really good. Great space and a good crowd. We didn't order a ton of things off the menu, but had the fried oysters and crab dip. Both delicious. I will definitely go back to try a few more things. They also bring you these deadly homemade potato chips to start.
The owner, Bobby Werhane - former owner of the well-loved Italian nooks Dell'Anima and L'Artusi (my second favorite resto in the city) brings a different cuisine, but I'm thinking it may pack the same punch as his other joints. Can't wait to go back.
3 Stars

Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies

I love pumpkins and pecans, so why not combine! I'm deciding on a few different desserts to bring to Thanksgiving dinner this year, and these delicious looking little pies are in the running. I might even top with a dollop of cream cheese frosting and then add the pecan.
Here is the recipe.

My New Boots

I have been collecting black boots for years now. I find that they never really go out of style and I tend to live in a great flat. I actually just took a few pairs to the cobbler to have them shined, soled and tapped so they're ready for the season. I thought I was going to stay away from over-the-knee boots, but I have fallen. I was on the hunt for a new everyday flat black boot (not over-the-knee), but I saw these and knew I had to have them. They're very fitted throughout the entire leg, which is what I was looking for - I knew if I was going to do it I wanted them to be ultra slim and sleek. They're actually very practical for a frigid New York winter if you ask me!

Lunch at Bar Pitti

I had lunch the other weekend at Bar Pitti and forgot to blog about it! It was a beautiful fall day so we got to sit outside right on bustling 6th ave in the village. We started with the burrata with roasted red peppers and then both had the eggplant parm. Both were really, really good. I would definitely go back.
3 Stars

Butternut Squash Soup

Since winter squash is still in season, I am taking advantage. This recipe is really simple if you don't use fresh butternut squash. The frozen kind is cheating a little, but still quite tasty.
2 packages of frozen butternut squash (or 2 lbs of whole butternut squash, halved and seeded)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps cleaned
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
5 cups store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock
Place frozen squash in a pot, add water and cook on low, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Roast veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper on 400 for about 10-12 minutes. Transfer vegetables and 2 cups of stock to a blender or cuisinart and pulse until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock, along with the squash mixture and puree until smooth. Move to a pot and simmer on low. Add salt, pepper and fresh rosemary as necessary. I like to add a little goat cheese, and maybe even a little truffle oil.
Remove from heat, cover to keep warm.

Dinner at Peasant

I had dinner with some girlfriends at Peasant last Friday night. It's such a cute little place and I love how you can see right into the rustic, open kitchen. When we sat down, they brought us some hot-outta-the-oven Italian bread and along with fresh ricotta cheese for dipping. We ordered the homemade buratta to start so thought this was our app, but to our surprise we had more cheese coming (I'm certainly not complaining!). We all shared a couple orders of the mushroom gnocci and a margherita pizza and called it a night. The food and wine were great, but we had a terribly rude waiter who put a damper on the experience. I would have gone back, but probably won't now because of him.
2.5 Stars

Frosted Amaretto Sugar Cookies

Since I love an amaretto liqueur, I was a little restless last night so decided to get crafty with some plain sugar cookies. I took a basic sugar cookie recipe as follows:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter (at room temp)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Rather than the milk, I used about 3 tbsp of Disaronno to add an almond kick.
Mix salt, flour and baking powder in one bowl. In another bowl, whip the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add the egg, vanilla and Disaronno. Slowly add the dry mix to the butter/sugar mixture until combined. Roll into balls and bake for about 10 minutes until golden, do not overcook. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Frosting (I eyeballed it and kind of used what I had in the fridge):
About 1 and 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
1/2 stick of butter
teaspoon of vanilla
2 tbsp Disaronno
2 tbsp of cream cheese
2 tbsp of cake flour to help with consistency (only if you need it)
3 drops of blue food coloring (for color)
Beat this combo for about 2 minutes and then spread on the cookies once they cool!

Disaronno, on the Rocks

My handsome man friend and I love to enjoy a glass of amaretto on the rocks for a night cap after we go out to dinner. The cheesy commercials give it a bad wrap, but it's so sweet, almond-y and the perfect way to end the night.

Frosted Black & White

Dangerously, I have a Crumbs Bake Shop around the corner from my office. Being Friday and all, my boss and I decided to treat ourselves... 380 calories later, I'm feeling good - that frosted black and white was well worth it. Every single bite was out of this world.
(note, that is not my hand)