Recipe: Thanksgiving Pies

My family is pretty spread out across the East Coast, with only a handful of cousins in the tri-state area. So before we all head to wherever it is we need to celebrate Thanksgiving, we make time in early November to get together for our very own “cousinsgiving” potluck. Cooking is something that’s always come natural to me (thank you, Nonna!) but when it comes to baking, I swear I could screw up a box cake with the simplest of instructions. Cooking is my abstract safe zone, with room to experiment and play. Baking is more a calculated chemistry that leaves no space for what I like to call, “delicious mistakes.”

Despite having a tumultuous history as a baker, I’ve been volunteering myself as resident baker for Cousinsgiving each year in an effort to improve. While each design has taken me entirely too long to create, I’m pretty proud of how each turned out these last couple years. I’m even more proud that people now trust me with arguably one of the most important parts of a Thanksgiving feast. (Thank you, Pinterest.)

Because these desserts were so easy and enjoyable to make (hello, I put them together) and because I’m really good at sharing (Thanks, Kindergarten), I wanted to make sure I passed each recipe along.

2017: Turkey Face Pumpkin Pie 

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2016: Rose Petal Apple Pie

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Recipe: My “Syracuse” Stir Fry

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This might sound crazy, but there are days I legitimately miss the food from my college dining hall. One dish in particular, was the stir fry noodles which were made to order.

Four years later and about 300 miles away, I am craving those noodles like nothing else. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t figure out a way to A) get to Syracuse by 9pm or B) figure out a way to convince the staff that it’s totally kosher to just let me in and feed me.

So, I went with plan B: make it my damn self. I’ve been toying with a copy-cat recipe for these four, stir fry noodle-less years, and can confidently say that I’ve finally perfected it. Behold:

You’ll Need

1 package of udon noodles

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce

1/4 cup of brown sugar

3 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon of stir fry oil

2 tablespoons of honey

1 whole onion

2 cups of broccoli

1 cup of snowpeas

What To Do

  1. Boil water and prepare noodles
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water.
  3. In a small saucepan, add soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, honey and 1 cup of water.  Slowly stir in cornstarch mixture for about two minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and chicken and mix to marinate for one hour. After an hour, drain.
  5. Heat stir fry oil (or olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in chopped onion, broccoli and snowpeas. Once cooked to softness, set aside, leaving oil in the skillet.
  6. Add chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown.
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through, add veggie mixture to the chicken.
  8. Stir in Udon noodles and 1/4 cup reserved soy sauce mixture until well combined.
  9. Serve! (Sesame seeds make a great garnish, but I didn’t have any around -_-)

Recipe: Portobello, Pesto and Mozzarella Pizza

I don’t always veer off the timeless, trusted path of cheese and pepperoni, but when I do, I make some pesto, wash some baby portobello mushrooms, and (sometimes) grab a pre-made dough from the grocery store because even I can be lazy.Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 6.09.29 PMOh! I forgot to mention that you’ll need wine. You won’t need it for the pizza, but I typically like to cook with a glass of a bold red in my hand/on my stovetop. Feel free to skip this step if you’re a bore. While you’re at it, spread your pesto sauce across the dough.

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Next, add the mushrooms.

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If there is someone standing next to you, telling you that you’ve sprinkled on too much mozzarella, tell them to step away. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Once you’ve created distance, put your pizza in the oven (375 degrees) for 15 minutes, or until the cheese turns a brownish color. I then like to let my pizza sit in the oven on broil for two minutes, so that the cheese becomes bubbly and golden.

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Enjoy!

My Favorite NYC Restaurants to Take Out-Of-Town Guests

There’s a plethora of restaurants that exist on this big (but actually little) island of ours, and half the joy of living here is never having to go to the same place twice, unless you really want to…and unless you have guests in town looking for a place you’re 100% sure about. With that said, here’s a list of some of my favorite spots in Manhattan (and a little Brooklyn). Keep checking back, because I update this list regularly.

The Smith

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Photo Credit: @r32dbp

What I really appreciate about The Smith is that their menu is expansive enough that your guests are guaranteed to find something they like. My favorite meals here have been the flounder as a main, brussel sprouts as a side, skillet macaroni and cheese as an app (the best I’ve ever had next to my dad’s homemade) and any and all of their spicy tequila drinks. You can’t go wrong with anything I’ve listed above, promise!

Bar Primi

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Don’t tell my Nonna, but it’s not too often you’ll find me eating a dish of pasta these days. Growing up, pasta was really all we ate, along with maybe a salad and some kind of meat (in that order). So in those far and few between moments that I am craving a taste of home, Bar Primi is one of my go-tos. Stay tuned, because I have a few of these places to list!

Felice Wine Bar & Ristorante

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Photo Credit: @coffeeandchampagne

I took my mom, aunts and cousin to Felice on Gold Street over a recent ladies weekend.  I hadn’t been there before, but it was located relatively close to the area of the financial district we spent the majority of the cold afternoon touring our way through. Inside we were welcomed by thick Italian accents and a warm, romantic ambiance incomparable to any other place I’ve been to in FiDi.

EATS on Lex

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I have taken every single person that has ever visited me in the city to EATS on Lex, a neighborhood spot I discovered while exceptionally hungover the morning after my birthday party. What I love about EATS, aside from it being close to my apartment, are the drink specials for Sunday brunch, delicious Eggs Florentine (my absolute favorite breakfast), and I can’t forget what they’re known for, their oysters.

JG Melon

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All I have to say is that this is the best burger I have ever eaten at. Your guests will overlook the smaller interior and semi-noisy space because the food is just. that. good.

Brook-Vin

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Photo Credit: @rachelschwartzmann

When any wine lovers come to town for a visit (I know a lot of these), the first place I take them is Brook-Vin. Located in picturesque Park Slope, this cute spot is home to the best selection of wines (of course) and small plates. Also perfect for a first date, if you ask me 🙂

Recipe: Baked Potato Soup

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This hearty (yet, Skinny) baked potato soup hits the spot when the weather gets a little chillier. There’s nothing I love more than a Sunday at home with both the game and the crockpot on.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes, washed and dried
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, stem removed cut into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • shredded organic cheddar cheese
  • chopped chives
  • 3 slices nitrate-free bacon (for those of us with migraines trigged by nitrates), cooked and crumbled

How To Make It:

  1. Pierce potatoes with a fork; microwave on high for 5 minutes turn over and microwave another 3 – 5 minutes, until tender. Or if you prefer to use your oven, bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes.
  2. Meanwhile, steam cauliflower with water in a large covered pot until tender. Drain and return to pot.
  3. On medium heat, add chicken broth, milk, potatoes and bring to a boil.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Add sour cream, half the chives, salt and pepper and cook on low another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl.
  6. Top each serving with 2 tbsp cheese, remaining chives, and bacon.

(Recipe via SkinnyTaste)

 

Going Green for Breakfast

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I used to be a toasted bagel and cream cheese kind of girl when it came to breakfast, but I grew to hate the lethargic feeling I’d get about an hour after eating. Not to mention, the overwhelming hunger. Damn you, carbs.

So around two years ago, I started experimenting with smoothie bowls in an effort to add all the right nutrients into my morning and eliminate any unnatural sugar. My goal was to put more ‘good’ into my body while at the same time be able to stay fuller, longer.

While the green in this smoothie bowl might be a little intimidating, hear me out and give it a try before jumping to conclusions.

Base (blend all together)

1 peeled banana

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 of an avocado

1/2 cup of spinach

1/2 cup of water

Toppings (you can add anything you like, really. But here are some ideas)

Chopped Berries

Raw Coconut

Flax Seeds

Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, etc)

Chia Seeds

Caprese Skewers

I decided to take a much needed trip home this past weekend, where somewhere in the mix of seeing my big Italian family, I got to squeeze in some girl time with my best friend over our favorite pairings: chilled white wine and gorgeous appetizers. That is, before we picked up a box of beer and ordered pizza. But before that binger, there was my favorite go-to shared plate, Caprese Skewers.

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Essentially just a caprese salad with toothpicks, these little skewers came fresh from my dad’s garden and their creation was easy as can be. I mean, just look at the picture. All that isn’t pictured is the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper on top. Being pressed for time in between seeing so many people in a three-day time frame, I found this recipe to hit the spot in more ways than one.