Friday, November 20, 2009

NYC and the Greenwich Village Food Tour

My heart is forever in NYC.  That is my filthy rich, no responsibilities, patient heart is there.  The traffic is unruly and most of the people are crazy or rude. But I loved it. I don't think it'd be a great city to raise your family in but I think it would bring opportunities. Everyone in Manhattan is the next big star. The best part had to be the tour we took in Greenwich Village and it was centered on food. Our guide, Curt, was awesome. He was funny, interesting and remembered all of our names. Danny Fields is also one of his closest friends, so I made myself Curt's new best friend. The stories on the restaurants and the history in the area were incredible. He knew all the great gossip and all the great food. I wish I would've listened to him and cancelled our prior dinner reservations and ate at one of the restaurants in the village but I was all set out for a great steakhouse. The steakhouse let me down. All the food on the tour did not. We had everything from pizza to arancini to freshly made cannoli's. I'll share some pictures from the tour:

 Amy's Bread
Didn't get to taste anything but it all smelled so good.

Joe's Pizza
The best thin crust ever.  I came back after the tour and my husband split another slice with me.  Yum.

Faicco's Pork Shop
Arancini balls were creamy and hot.  We wanted to go back for a dozen to take home.
It was so simple: rice, parsley and parmigiano.

This is where they filmed a couple season's of The Next Food Network Star.

Mario Batali's First Restaurant

Little Havana
Cuban cuisine and the nicest owner ever.  Only a couple tables.
Fresh chorizo on a baguette with skirt steak and mustard

Cute Mediterranean Restaurant with a garden and her residence in the back.  Met one of the chef's who fixed us a cozy fire and some wonderful cauliflower with currants and roasted pine nuts.  I have to figure out how to recreate this.

Cornelia Street Cafe
Next visit stop.

Herbs and Spices. And lots of cats.

Centro Vinoteca
Risotto with shitake mushrooms.  We wanted to lick the bowls clean. 

Milk and Cookies
Smells like home.  Fresh baked and oatmeal in the chocolate chip cookies.  I'm ordering some for Christmas.

Cherry Lane Theatre

Murray's Chesse Shop
Ordered a take home box before we left.
Sopressata, cheesesticks and my husband adored the drunken goat.

Wedding cakes, pastries, tarts and fresh cannoli's.

I can't wait to go back and do another tour.  It was totally worth the money spent.  You really didn't need anything to eat afterwards.  Next time I will bring another bottle of water.  They only provide one small bottle and it goes quickly.  I just hope we have Curt next time, he definitely made the tour. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins and turning 30!

So about 10 minutes after making a dozen muffins I quickly learned that you should make at least two dozen to last the troops. My oldest ate 6 within a 3 hour period. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I put candy corn Hershey kisses in them. He acted as though he won the lottery when he saw a big chunk of melted candy in his muffin. But than I realized, that's how I react to big chunks in my Dairy Queen Blizzards too. It runs in the family I guess.

This is probably my last entry before my big 30th birthday. And I am finally realizing I have turned into my mother. I have come to this conclusion for the following reasons: I wear cardigans, I spaz when my kids leave the house astrewn, I lick napkins to wipe my boys' faces, I become excited when I'm able to cook for A LOT of people, I have Longaberger parties, I get manicures and pedicures, all I want is happy kids, I have Joshua adopting his first kid this year so he can help people without. I talk to myself (while other people are looking at me). That should be enough for now. So this makes me feel like thirty is the new forty. I don't feel old, but I do feel time fleeing at a more rapid pace. And all of a sudden things are closing in around me. Should we have more babies? How am I going to afford college for my kids? Should we put more money into our retirement account? What am I going to do about this white streak in my hair? Do I really want need that new car? What kind of cookies am I making for Christmas? And what in the hell am I getting the kids for Christmas? Is Josh too old for Santa pictures? When are we going to finish our kitchen? How long will it take to sell our house? Do I write in my blog enough? Too much too soon. Ugh!

Thank God I have a wonderful husband that is pulling me away for the weekend. A nice "peaceful" weekend in New York City. I'm nervous because I'm leaving my baby boy, Hudson, for the first time since he was born. Joshua has pretty much set up house at my parents' and a couple of his friends' houses so I have gotten used to him being gone overnight, but not the baby. It feels too soon. Who's going to wake me up in the morning? I love having the morning all alone with the boys. One smiles and one frowns, they're a ying and yang duo. Hudson grabs his blanket and is all excited to start the day, while Joshua just wants to sleep cause he doesn't feel good today. I'm a great mom, I threaten him with anything that quickly comes to mind until he gets up, dressed and brushed in time to go to school.  Today though we skipped the bus and did the McDonald's thing.  He's still my baby too, just bigger and more independent.

But I am excited about finally getting to visit the Big Apple. We have over planned and probably over scheduled activities but I want to do it all. Saturday is our food tour of Greenwich Village so there will be a lot of pictures from that. But there's also The Met, Otto's Shrunken Head, Madame Tussaud's, Big Daddy's, Chelsea Market, Times Square, Tavern on the Green, Statue of Liberty needless to say we'll be busy. And my camera will be charging every night. The best part is going to be the roadtrip experience with just me and my husband. He has already decided that we are stopping for breakfast at Waffle House. Everyone should eat at a Waffle House sometime in your life. You'll be thankful for home cooked meals from then after.

And my sons pray for the next batch of Pumpkin Muffins

Dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and make a well

Toss in your wet ingredients and mix it all about

It even looks good raw.....maybe

Heavily spray your muffin pan

Take your spatula and make sure nothing is hanging around the bottom
(this would also be the time to throw in the candy)

Bake until fluffy(ignore that mound of mess beneath)

No frosting this time

Maybe a little bigger next time

Just a little cream to cut the sweetness:)

Candy Corn Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 cup chopped Hershey's candy corn kisses
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Make well in center.  In small bowl mix milk, pumpkin, butter and egg.  Add to well in flour mixture.  Mix in kisses and walnuts.  Spoon into greased muffin tin.  Bake 15-18 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes and remove from pans. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First of November Soup

Nothing is better when the temperature starts to drop than homemade soup. Or chili. But today it's soup. Chicken and dumplings to be exact. My Mom used to make them all the time. But I don't want to make my own noodles or boil the chicken. I'm using German Spaetzle Egg Noodles and roasting the chicken. It made the house smell like Thanksgiving. I can't wait for Thanksgiving, especially the mashed potatoes. Yummmmm.

So after two days of dealing with inventory at work, Halloween , getting ready to go to New York and just everyday life. We're making muffins, bread and soup. The muffins and bread will be another day. Plus I have to email someone about the bread. I had to have messed something up cause it just didn't turn out right. My take on Chicken and Dumplings.

First the chicken. Roasted not boiled. Heavily salt and pepper the skin. You're not eating it anyways. J

Separate the skin from the chicken so you can shove your herb rub in between. Make sure to rub your chicken down with olive oil so it won't dry out.

Of course before you start pulling and stripping the skin off, please let it cool. Your fingers will thank you later. But you can start on your soup while you're waiting.

Water, bouillon cubes, peas, corn, celery and carrots.

Chicken is cooled off. Time to shred and put it in with the veggies.

Now is when you'll want to toss in your spaetzle noodles.

You could even make this without the chicken or veggies. I used the same herbs in the broth that I used to rub the chicken with. Now its time for the dumplings. Bisquick and milk, it's that simple. These are my favorite part. I just would like the tops to be a bit more stiff.

Just plop em' right in.

Serve to your patiently waiting family.

Chicken and dumplings

4-chicken leg quarters (bone in, skin on)

6-cups water

6-bouillon cubes

1 tsp-parsley

1 tsp-garlic pepper

1 tsp-onion powder

1 tsp-rubbed sage

1 tsp-poultry seasoning

1 small bag frozen corn

1 small bag frozen peas

4 stalks celery

½ bag of baby cut carrots

1 bag German long Spaetzle noodles

2/3 cup milk

2 1/ 2 cup Bisquick

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine herbs in small bowl. Separate chicken skin gently rub with herb mixture. Salt and pepper skin and rub with olive oil. Place chicken on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour. In large stockpot combine water and bouillon cubes along with left over herb mixture and ¼ cup of chicken drippings. Add in all your veggies when liquid comes to a boil. Pull skin off of cool chicken and cut into small chunks and place into soup. Cook at med heat for 15-20 minutes, or until your veggies are cooked. Add spaetzle noodles and cook 15 more minutes. Make your dumplings while cooking noodles. In a small bowl mix together bisquick and milk. Drop by the spoon full onto soup. Cook for 10 minutes. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes. Serve warm.

And at the end of it all this is what you end up with


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween and Stuffed Shells

Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween! We had a good night. Our son, Joshua, decided to stay home and pass out candy while we took Hudson up to town to see the Halloween parade. Halfway into our trip we looked back and noticed the young one just staring off. I figured that he was taking in all the decorations on Main Street and the costumes were catching his eye. My husband realized a couple moments later that he was actually falling asleep while sitting in the wagon. Upright and in his costume he was dazing off and not even getting fussy. We had to take pictures.

I guess it was just a really nice walk after stuffing himself with our Stuffed Shells. It's really easy and alot better than pizza or McDonalds.

Make sure to check on your shells, they will stick to the bottom. Even with olive oil in the water.

Prepare your cheese stuffing while you're waiting impatiently on the shells to boil. What's better than a whole bunch of cheese stuffed into pasta??

I use jarred pasta sauce. I don't have time or a good recipe for homemade. Yet. I like Rao's Vodka Sauce. But you can use whatever you like. Put about a half of a jar on the bottom of you baking vessel. Enough to coat the bottom.

So when you're trying to take pictures, get Halloween candy put in baskets and dress the kids. One is going to be ignored. Thus the lack of pictures. Bake for 15 minutes and kick the kids out the door. At least when the OD on candy they have lots of cheese to coat their stomachs.

Simple easy Stuffed Shells.

1 12 oz box jumbo shells
1 24oz ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
3 cups mozzarella
1-2 jars pasta sauce

Boil shells for 15 minutes until al dente. In mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 3/4 cup of Parmesan, 2 cups of mozzarella, egg, basil and parsley. Pour 1/2 jar of pasta sauce on bottom on baking dish. Stuff shells with cheese mixture. Lay down over sauce. Pour remaining pasta sauce over stuffed shells. Top with the rest of the Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes.