Friday, June 26, 2009

Celebrity Sighting!

Today on the way home from my mammogram (how fun is that?) I saw Anne Burrell from "Secrets From A Restaurant Chef". She looks exactly as you'd expect :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Suzee's Ground Beef Stroganoff

Last night I needed to use a pound of ground beef. I was going to make burgers to go with the potato salad, but it never quite happened :) After eating this, now I'm glad!

1 lb low fat ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
8 oz button mushrooms, chopped
A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
A few shakes of Gravy Master
16 oz low fat sour cream

Saute and caramelize the onions, and put them in a bowl. Sautee and caramelize the mushrooms, and add them to the bowl. Brown the ground beef, add back the onions and mushrooms, and add the Worcestershire and Gravy Master. Mix around to get it all evenly distributed. Add the sour cream, and mix again.

Serve over light pasta - egg noodles, or the like. Not so good with a heavier pasta (ziti for example). I'm going to try it over steamed shredded carrots sometime too.

Nice supper.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Tour of Jersey City

I am no longer a PATH virgin. :)

The PATH is a train connecting Manhattan to New Jersey, and it runs similarly to the subway. Jessie emailed and suggested getting together for the afternoon and lunch in Jersey City. As you can imagine, I was all over that like white on rice. Once I figured out what train to take (courtesy of the little phones on the platforms), I rode out to the Grove Street stop. Jessie brought her sister, Marianna, and I met them at The Hard Grove Cafe - right across the street from the PATH station. Jessie let me know that Cuban Cuisine is most known for roast pork - sounded good to me. And I'll tell you think - it tasted AMAZING! There was a citrus flavor and a spicyness that I couldn't quite put my finger on....Jessie explained it was Goya Sazon with annato (con achiote). You rub it in with a little oil and citrus, and let it marinate overnight. The pork cut is a pork shoulder with the bone (not a smoked shoulder). I haven't seen this cut, but I'll have to be sure to keep a look out for it and for that spice - delish! The other thing at the Hard Grove Cafe that got high praise was the sangria! Woo! Normally I am not a huge sangria fan, but wow, this stuff was sweet, but not too sweet, and savory, but not too savory....If you go, you won't be sorry if you order a pitcher with friends. (you will be sorry if you order a pitcher just for you)
Jessie and Mari are throwing a big party on Saturday - Jessie's son graduated from High School (yes she was 7 when she had him - ha, ha!) and Mari's son is turning 21 (Mari was 9!) Anyway, we did some errands, which was a very nice tour of Jersey City.
After the day, I took the PATH from the Pavonia / Newport station (where there is a Mall very close by with Sears, JC Penney
and Macy's in it, but no Target or Wal Mart darn...).
It was so sweet of Jessie to give me a call, and a tour! I know they will have a great day for the party! I put in a good word with the Weather Goddess :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

I really was thinking I was going to forget today was Father's Day - not being on a real schedule so to speak, sometimes the days pass without really realizing it. The last time I went to NH I was able to slide a bag to my Mom and I asked her to hold on to it until today. It was fun being on speaker phone while he opened up the few things I sent. I think he liked them ;) He's a bean and sour cherry guy - though thankfully not together.
I called Ann today - her first father's day with out her dad. Matthew had been sick, and she wasn't sure if she was going to head to her Mom's today or not, but he was feeling better, and they were on their way. I know she misses her father a lot. I'm hoping that spending time with her family will help ease the day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mom's Potato Salad

I'd been having a craving. It's getting all hot and muggy, and I wanted some summer food. Potato salad - though fattening as hell - was calling my name! So today I broke down and made it :)

1 net bag of new potatoes (2 pounds)

1/2 a medium onion diced (I used a vidalia since that's what I had on hand)

4 or 5 cornichons (or baby dill ghergins - same diff) diced

6 or 7 hard boiled eggs

a heavy cup of mayo (to taste)

a tablespoon or 2 of French's yellow mustard

a 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt

Rinse the potatoes well and put 'em on to boil. Don't cook them too long - you don't want them to fall apart - just long enough so they are cooked.

Cut the potatoes in bite sized pieces.

Cut the eggs so they are just a little smaller than the potatoes.

The onion and pickles should be about the same size dice.

As you cut up the ingredients, drop them in your VBB (very big bowl). Then add the mayo, mustard, and salt. Fold it all together so you don't rip the skins off the potatoes, and separate all the yolks from the whites.

Have a bowl while the potatoes are still warm - cook's treat :)

Put it all in the fridge ASAP so none of those nasty bacteria start multiplying in that warm potato goodness, and it will last as long as there is some left. I've never had it go bad - it gets eaten too fast! Course when Mom made it, it was a double batch and only lasted a couple days.

Suzee's Pantry Dinner - Black Bean Dip

Yesterday I was tired and I just didn't want to cook. I didn't want to fight with where to put my pans when I was using the stove, or try to organize the 1' x 1' square of counter I have to prep.

So I came up with this super delish, super easy black bean dip!

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar medium salsa
2 oz or so of lite cream cheese
4 oz or so of mexican cheese shred blend (about 1/2 cup)
a couple tablespoons of chili powder

Layer the ingredients in a microwave proof casserole (I used a 1.5 quart) in this order

chili powder
cream cheese (I just put thin slices around - it will melt later)
cheese shreds
chili powder
cheese shreds

Heat in the microwave - I put it in at 50% for 5 minutes and turned it a quarter turn. All in all it was about 20 min in the micro - mine is a million years old so use your best judgement - just have to heat it through and melt the cheese.

I served this with Tostito's Scoops - feeling pretty good about it since the ratio of the pretty healthy dip to unhealthy chip was about 4:1.

Rick liked it :) That's all that matters :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Stroll Through Soho and Little Italy

I decided to get out yesterday since there was some sun outside and I've been missing it a lot! I got off the 6 at Bleeker Street and strolled over to Think Coffee. It was nice to sit outside and enjoy my decaf while the sun was out!

After coffee, I started south and found all these cool restaurant supply stores. One had John Boos 24" cutting boards for $59! I'm going to have to go back there for that steal! It was too heavy to carry all day.

Then I started walking around looking for Little Italy. I was going in circles for a bit (whoops!) but eventually found Alleva Dairy whose claim to fame is being the oldest Italian Cheese Shop in the US. I found they had fresh mozzerella and fresh ricotta - so of course I bought some. I see some chicken parmesean in Rick's future!

As I walked around, I came up to the Baked By Melissa cupcake window. I remember reading about it on Home Sweet NYC. I knew I had to pick some up for Rick :)

Almost across the street was Balthazar - hmmm and it was lunch time....OK! I'm in!

The mercury glass mirrors and pretty surroundings made me feel a little princess like :) I ordered the Salade Nicoise - it was so delicious! Seared fresh tuna, crisp greens, so many different veggies - just 1 or 2 of each -so many flavors - amazing. Since lunch was so good, maybe I needed to actually order dessert, too. Now normally I never order dessert. Mom always told me that the bakeries beautiful cases were filled with things that didn't taste nearly as good as they looked. And when I have ordered in the past, I am often disappointed. But it seemed this could be a little different! I ordered a Cafe Latte and a warm chocolate cake with white chocolate ice cream. Oh my. Oh my my my my my. The small individual cake was perfect - a little bit of a crust on the outside, which would make you wonder if it was one of those molton cakes that I don't particularly care for, but it was not. Perfectly baked, it was rich and chocolatey, and the ice cream was a sweet cool topper. And it was not one of those monstrosities - a perfect portion - petite and just enough.
I am very very lucky to have time to peruse around the city during the best time of the year - Spring. I'm going to enjoy it before the oppressive heat gets here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Karen Came To Visit

Karen took the Acela from Boston for a visit to the big apple. It was so nice to see her - it had been WAY too long. Karen only had 1 request - to stop by Kate's Paperie, and then to meander around NYC. We found the one near Union Square, and spent time looking at lush cards, papers, boxes and ribbons. Karen stocked up on pretty papers and cards :)

Karen kindly took us to lunch at the Union Square Cafe - a popular spot owned by Danny Meyer, a famous NYC restauranteur. We had a gorgeous dry white with tuna salad sandwiches and home made potato chips, with so much food that I took home what most people would consider 2 whole tuna sandwiches :)

We went from lunch to the Union Square Farmers Market, and poked around. We did a little wine tasting, and Karen bought a beautiful Savignon Blanc from the North Fork of Long Island.

We decided to head toward the apartment, and meandered up Park Ave. We passed Barbounia and it had an inviting feel so we stopped in. The bartender let us know they would be closing in a half hour or so for a private party, but we were welcome to have a cocktail in the mean time.

Next we fell in love at Brasserie Les Halles. I've walked by this location many times thinking that it' very cute and adding it to my list of places to try. When Karen suggested we try this place, I was enthusiastic :) We sat at the bar and asked for a wine that would be like Pinot Grigio. The bartender made suggestions, which we took. Then he let us know that it was essentially the same price for a bottle of wine as for 2 glasses. Well, that was a no brainer! The La Vigne D'Argent from Bordeau was light and crisp and very enjoyable.

Apparently every Monday there are 50 wines that are 50% off for the bottle. The bottle we had was $18. We were getting closer to dinner time, so we asked for some nibblies, and again the bartender came through with this beautiful fruit and cheese platter and some bread. Delish!

I'm looking forward to returning to Brasserie Les Halles again soon! Hopefully Karen will come again so she can join me :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Puerto Rican Day Parade

The Puerto Rican Day Parade is quite an event! Plan ahead to get there early if you want to set up your folding chair, cooler and red, white and blue decorations. Or get there when it starts to stay mobile, walk around and take in the atmosphere. I was in midtown around 53rd street, and it was pretty busy here. I think next time I'll take the 6 up to 77th street and meander my way back down to mid town.
There were lots and lots of flags waving, and many people wearing full sized flags as capes. Everyone had noisemakers - whistles, maracas, cow bells and the like. Smart of them not to ruin their voices ;) People wore every item of clothing that said "Puerto Rico" on it, and I actually felt a little out of place wearing a teal blue top rather than the red, white and blue. Vendors sold flags (small and large) and beads, and hats and noisemakers. Also, lots of flavored ice and ice cream trolleys. One random lady was selling empenadas out of a shopping cart. I had heard about her on Mid Town lunch, and I really should have bought one, but I didn't.

The parade was filled with all kinds of policitos - there was a polictical conference for the last few days in the city, and the parade is kind of the culmination of the conference. Also, many many many police groups. The military bands were very good, but seemed out of place when next to the floats blasting fabulous salsa music (I love salsa music!). There were many more dancing groups than actual bands and it was really cool to see the participants doing the salsa down the street rather than marching :) Some dancers carried flags or ribbons to fly in the air - others had these huge golden wings (see pic above). Those wings probably signify something, but I have no idea what. There were a few performers on inline skates, and more beauty queens than I could count.
I had heard there were problems at the Puerto Rican Parade previously, and the number of police on duty made me think that was probably true. I saw about 5 different young guys being taken away in handcuffs, but I didn't see any altercations or problems. While I was there early, it did seem like a family affair with people coming in large intergenerational groups. I didn't stay the whole time - hopefully the day went without any significant problems. I'm looking forward to next year!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A visit to the High Line park

I walked to the new High Line park on the west side - 2 miles there and 2 miles back - that's gotta be 10,000 steps, right? It was beautiful! I'm sure the folks on the west side will enjoy this park immensely!

The High Line is a section of reclaimed elevated railway that was originally built to move product from the meatpacking district. It was believed that the lifted tracks made living in the area easier.

A grass roots group raised the money necessary to create the park, and a trust large enough so that the city would agree to take on maintenance (as they do with all public parks). They have been working on this project for the last 10 years, and last Tuesday the first section of the park opened to the public for the first time. The next section is targeted to open in 2010.

Lots of perenials were planted, as well as trees and bushes. The views of the city and the Hudson River were very pretty. Here are some images from my excursion :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Suzee's Best Meatloaf So Far!

Rick ate meatloaf tonight - there was ketchup on the table and he didn't even use it! That's how I know this was my best meatloaf so far. He wouldn't say it was the best meat loaf ever, so Michelle, you must still have that honor :)

Here is what I used:

2 lbs ground beef from the King Farm
1 lb ground meatloaf mix from D'Agastino's (even parts beef, veal and pork)
1 heavy C of 4 cheese blend cheese shreds (or whatever you have on hand)
1 C red wine
1 C oatmeal
2 eggs, beaten
1 packet Knorr French Onion Soup mix
1/2 C Low Sugar Ketchup

I heated the oven to 375, and put all the meat in a big bowl. I dumped the oatmeal and the wine in a separate bowl for the oatmeal to suck up the wine. After 15 or 20 minutes I added the beaten eggs and the Knorr soup mix to the oatmeal mixture. Then I mixed the 2 together just until combined. I loaded the meat into a loaf pan, and added the ketchup to the top and baked it for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

This meat loaf would have stood up to a nice Cabernet, but I had opened a pinot noir thinking it needed something lighter. Whoops!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Suzee's Chicken Caesar Salad

I whole heartedly admit I based my salad on one I saw in Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home series currently playing on the Food Network. I love food porn - and the inspiration it brings so I can make my husband very very very happy!

I roasted 4 chicken legs and thighs with olive oil and a combination of rosemary, thyme and chives rubbed into the skin. I baked them at 400 for 40 minutes. they looked lucious at this point, but I thought they could use a few more minutes. I ended up adding a good 20 more minutes. My oven really is not consistent, so cook the chicken the way you normally would roast chicken.

I sliced some stale chiabata and put it in the chicken juices, and left it in the pool for a good 10 minutes while the chicken was cooking, then I move the bread and chicken to a sheet pan so it wouldn't be in a pool of chicken juices and would toast up. After another 10 minutes or so, I pulled the chicken and deboned it, and once done, pulled the bread and chopped it up.

While the chicken was roasting, I made a salad dressing - I made a paste of 3 fat anchovies and most of a clove of garlic. I added about a 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil and the juice of a very juicy lemon. Then I added a tablespoon of light sour cream and heavy half cup of grated parmesean (I grated this myself with a microplane so if you use preshredded go lighter on the cheese). I also chopped 2 small heads of romain and a 1/2 container of grape tomatoes.

I tossed it along with the meat from 3 small legs all together for dinner and served it with a bottle of Pinot Grigio from Cavit (a nice inexpensive bottle, and my favorite). I topped with with roughly grated parmesean and black pepper. It was delish!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Fun In June

I went to Water Taxi Beach to see the first annual Paella Parade - I got there at noon, and they already had closed the doors for folks who hadn't already purchased a ticket online. Bummer. I took some pictures of this new location of the Water Taxi Beach. It would be more aptly named Water Taxi Sandy Dock. Maybe I'll walk by sometime, but I seriously doubt I'll pay the $20 cover for the pleasure of walking on sand rather than the boardwalks of Pier 17.

I had to take a photo of the water taxi - so cool to see the taxi yellow boat :)

There were a few folks riding sea-doos on the East River - looked like lots of fun!
I walked to the opposite side of Pier 17, and loved the Latin Dance extravaganza! Lots of kids were lining up for their chance of dancing on stage in their incredibly cute costumes ;) It was lots of fun to see so many folks out to support these kids.

Friday, June 5, 2009

NH Visit

Shopping at the outlets and lunch at Robert's

Ann was such a good sport - after 12 hours of shopping she agreed to stop in downtown Portsmouth too! Yay!

Daniel's birthday was Monday, and he invited his friend Evan to join us at the drive in in Milford.

Matt had a great baseball game - his team beat the pants off the competition!

My parents must really really love me because they drove to Amherst to pick me up and bring me to the seacoast! Here we are at lunch at the Weathervane. It was TASTY!

Jilly loved pretending to be Lady GaGa in her new swim suit!

Auntie Suzee wore Jilly out!