Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Magnolia Cupcakes

After an exhausting Saturday, I knew it was going to take A LOT of energy to go out. Thankfully, Eli and Spencer came out to Queens to see me!

We dined at Foxy's Diner on Queens Boulevard and 44th where the service is great! We ended the meal with the most perfect dessert - Magnolia cupcakes - courtesy of Eli. :)


She had just picked these up just an hour earlier so they were still fresh and delicious. Now, I'm not a cupcake connoisseur in any way shape or form, but these were AMAZING! I've had Magnolia cupcakes in the past but usually they were a tad bit too sweet and the cake portion a bit heavy. But these were nice and light and delicious!

I had the red velvet cupcake...


I LOVE LOVE LOVE cream cheese frosting!!! 'Twas DE-licious! Didn't hurt my cavity at all ;) I also may have had a piece of the chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting... (equally yummy)

Spencer had big chipmunk cheeks here but it's a bit hard to tell. Needless to say, we ALL enjoyed these!

I had been told that the uptown Magnolia was not as good as the one downtown but now I'm going to HAVE to go over there to taste test ;)

4 stars for Magnolia!


In other news, I've been receiving a bunch of free samples in the mail lately through Wisebread - a great blog! Not only does it have great articles about managing your money (as we all know I love to do) but it also has a listing of free giveaways! I've gotten BearNaked cereal and these fun things:

Mostly cereal samples but I also have tea coming my way as well as soy butter and chapstick. Now if only I could find a website that'll send you fresh produce for free...


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Guest Post: Beth's Review of Cooking Light


Hi everyone, it’s Shion’s friend Beth here back with another Foodie Wednesday post! Remember I have a blog – www.gettingbydreamingbig.com. Come check me out! Wednesdays may be all about food but Mondays are about books, Tuesdays are about travels and Thursdays are about entertainment. Whatever your interest I have it covered!

Back in May I had this great idea that I was going to review all of the cooking magazines out there and give my unbiased opinion on what I thought of each of the magazines. Well I may be 5 months late but I still think it's a good idea! So here we go.

I reviewed the Cooking Light magazine (seen in the picture - it was May/June). I'll be up front and say that I reviewed Cooking Light first because, well, I love Cooking Light (so much for unbiased). I've previously been a subscriber to their magazine and I have a number of their cook books. I generally find their receipes are easy to follow, light, healthy & delicious. I was excited to re-visit the magazine as a reviewer instead of a reader.

General Format

  • Website Update
  • "Ask Cooking Light" Section
  • Live Green: Be Fit, Eat Smart, Beauty Wise
  • Healthy Living: Good Movies, Enlightened Traveler, Fit House
  • Philosphy: Eat Smart, Be Fit and Live Well
  • Nutrition Essentials (this is a 4 part series and this was the 4th part)
  • Recipe Section: Healthy Fats
  • Recipe Section: Berries
  • Recipe Section: Chicken & Spring Vegetables
  • Recipe Section: Grilled Lunch for a Perfect Day
  • Recipe Section: Dinner Tonight (20 min., 30 min, & 40 min meals)
  • Recipe Section: Eggs Exactly Right
  • Recipe Section: Lighten Up (Reader Recipe)
  • Inspired Vegetarian
  • Test Kitchen Secrets

I liked the clear & concise layout; it was simple with a good variety and short articles. One thing I didn't like was that it wasn't until page 69 that the first recipe appeared; that seemed a little late for me given that it was a cooking magazine. However, I did find all the articles and tidbits that were prior to page 69 helpful to life in general! I counted 61 recipes total in the magazine and I estimated that 19 of them were recipes that I would realistically try. That's about 20%, now granted I am a picky eater so maybe you would do better!!!

I've heard that since I reviewed the magazine or rather since the last magazine I purchased back in May/June that they have revamped the Cooking Light magazine. So I may comeback and review it again! Overall, I would definitely recommend this magazine to a foodie who is health conscious and looking for a lighter fare that consists of fairly simple recipes.

Next two magazine reviews will be: Everyday with Rachel Ray and Bon Appetit. Have a favorite foodie magazine that you'd like to see me review? Post it in the comments!

Post in Comments:

Do you read Cooking Light? Do you generally like their recipes? If yes, do you have a favorite Cooking Light recipe?

Mine would be a tossup between Couscous Salad Cups and Cinnamon Raspberry Filled Muffins!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stuffed Peppers



I was browsing myrecipes.com to meal plan for the week and came across a recipe for a pizza stuffed peppers. Whaaaaaaat?!

Surprisingly, I didn't make it but it did inspire me to make my own version of a pizza stuffed pepper. Remember the crispy sausage and pepper pizza I made? Well, I decided to use the same ingredients more or less and make it into a different kind of meal.

Ingredients:

4 bell peppers (obviously I only used three but I had tons of stuffing left over)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
3 turkey sausages (you're going to have to take them out of the casings again)
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Hollow out bell peppers.


You can do this by cutting the tops of the peppers and then lift the center and core should come with it. Cut out the white membrane and scoop out any rouge seeds. You'll also want to cut the bottom of the pepper so that it can sit in the baking pan, so create a flat bottom.

Saute sausage in pan. No need to use oil!


Make sure to break up the sausage into little pieces.

In a saucepan, mix 1 cup quinoa and two cups of water. Bring to a boil and once it bubbles up, lower heat so it's simmering and COVER.


Once the water is all evaporated, fluff it up with a fork.

Add the cooked quinoa into the sausage pan and add diced tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. I used about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stuff the mixture into peppers and sprinkle with cheese.

Put in oven for about 15 minutes...


And it comes out like this!


DElicious!

I apologize for the presentation being awful. I put these guys immediately into tupperware for my lunches so it never stood a chance of being presentable.

That's the thing about meal planning. You don't always get to eat it right away. Of course, if I planned properly, I would've eaten one for dinner but by this time I had already eaten a ab&j. Ah well!

These were delicious as "leftovers" and were so much healthier than the pizza I had eaten the other week! It could probably be a bit more nutritious but I didn't have the energy to go to the grocery store to pick up more veggies to put in it. STILL GOOD!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cafe Zaiya

Spencer was in town this weekend so we went to Cafe Zaiya for a quick lunch. This place is quickly becoming one of my favorite places. They have great food for super cheap! Things like bento boxes for $4.99, lovely Japanese desserts, a bakery with sweet and savory breads, onigiris...etc.

After contemplating my lunch for a good 10 minutes, I decided to get a spicy chicken sandwich for $3.75! It had spicy mayo (which tasted like the sauce from spicy tuna sushi), chicken, lettuce, tomato, and cabbage.


It was super tasty and for my price, you can't go wrong!

For dessert, I got another melon pan because I couldn't stop thinking about it since the last time. It was even tastier because it was fresh!

Spencer got a cinnabon which he kindly shared.



Whoa! It was soooooooo good and not too sweet!

We ended our outing by sitting on the steps of the library. The last time we were here together was with Flat Sarah!


Love it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Seriously?! MORE pizza?!

Oops, I did it again!

Yes folks, I ate pizza AGAIN. I'm now contemplating going on a cheese fast for at least two weeks and see where that takes me. It doesn't help that I totally had an enabler whose favorite restaurant is a place that specializes in pizza.

Yesterday, Katy and I walked over to 122nd and Amsterdam to Sezz Medi for lunch. I've been hearing about this place ever since I came back to Barnard. Katy RAVES about their pizza with mozzarella bufala. So clearly, I HAD to check it out!


Upon entering, we were greeted by this:


A giant pepper mill and wine bottle!!! This was going to be good...

We started with freshly baked bread (or so I assume) that we dipped in olive oil and a tangy, tomato-flavored oil. Katy got a shirley temple which was one of the prettiest I've seen!


We then ordered the Filetto pizza with mozzarella bufala, vesuvian cherry tomatoes, basil, and parmigiano. Yum!



It was amazing! The dough was chewy and soft and the cheese, of course, was fresh and amazing. I do wish there was a little more basil but that's okay!


It wasn't as big as this picture makes it seem!

I also got a salad on the daily specials menu which was fennel, arugula, blood orange, parmigiano, olives, and roasted red peppers.


Yum! The olives were really green and quite large! You can't see the oranges hiding underneath, but they were there and went perfectly with the fennel.

The service was really great and our food came out super quickly. The pizza was $15 and the salad was $9 (!!!!!!) so it wasn't too bad, price-wise.

I would definitely go back. I highly recommend it if you're in the area!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fast Food

The other day I was quite famished from a hard workout at the gym and all I could think about was eating RIGHT AWAY.

I contemplated getting Subway again and I have to admit, Wendy's even crossed my mind, but I knew that I would regret it later on. Instead, I went to the local produce store and picked up some kale for kale chips which was as close to the french fry-taste I could get without the guilt. I love the feeling of re-fueling after a hard workout with healthy foods so I did all that I could to steer myself away from the fast food restaurants.

Growing up, my mother hardly ever let us eat fast food. In fact, the only time we would eat it was when she was away or working late and my dad would bring us there for a treat. We would then have to hide the evidence by throwing out our trash in the garage so my mom wouldn't see it. :) By now, you all know how healthy my mom is and while I greatly appreciate it now, I didn't always eat my veggies with a smile on my face. Thankfully, because of all this, I don't usually crave fast food but there are always those days where I feel like I can't go on unless I eat satured fat. Gross!

This was one of those days but I put my mind over matter (well, perhaps food cravings are mostly psychological rather than biological anyway) and didn't succumb to my cravings! Well done, Shion!

But I did try to make sure whatever I cooked wouldn't take too much time.

I settled on bbq tofu and kale chips.

First, I preheated the oven to 375 degress and cut up extra-firm tofu into manageable slices.


Then, I poured bbq sauce over it. Maybe 4-5 Tablespoons total.


As much as I can go on and on about how preservatives are bad and that you should eat whole, fresh foods as often as you can, I can't resist Kraft Honey Barbeque Sauce. I actually don't like any other kind of barbeque sauce. This is sweet with a tiny bit of kick and all around delicious!

The beauty of this meal was that it took me about 8 minutes to prepare what goes in the oven.



And then while they baked, I took a shower and got ready for bed. :) Note - there's no reason to grease the tofu pan because some of the liquid from the tofu comes out.

15 minutes later...


I had a lovely meal!


The kale chips discolored a little bit because I normally bake them for 11 minutes instead of 15, but it still tasted great! I also may have added a bit more bbq sauce to some of my tofu pieces. :)
This was a surprisingly filling meal and of course, fast and easy!

I still have four pieces of bbq tofu left so I think I'm going to eat it cheeseburger-style. I'll let you know how that goes...


Guest Blogger: Beth

Foodie Wednesday: Giada Challenge, Chicken Parmesan

Hi everyone, I’m Shion’s friend Beth! I have a blog called Getting By, Dreaming Big and on Wednesday’s my blog entries center around Food, hence Foodie Wednesday. I write about recipes that I’ve tried, I review restaurants & products, really I just write about anything that has to do with food.

I like to set challenges for myself to complete. The book/movie Julie & Julia (although I haven’t read or seen either) inspired me to challenge myself to cook every recipe in one of my cookbooks. I chose Everyday Kitchen, by Giada De Laurentiis, mainly because every Giada recipe I’ve ever tried has been so delicious. You can’t go wrong with a Giada recipe, especially if you love Italian food, which I do!

My husband and I recently got back from a 10 day trip to Europe. When we got back we were craving a good home cooked meal (and preferably something not German). So I decided to whip up a Giada recipe. I chose Chicken Parmesan.

Ingredients 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves Salt and freshly ground black pepper 8 (3-ounces each) chicken cutlets 1 1/2 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, or purchased marinara sauce 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 16 teaspoons grated Parmesan 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Stir the oil and herbs in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the cutlets with the herb oil. Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the cutlets and cook just until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the skillet from the heat

Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Sprinkle the butter pieces atop the cutlets. Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.


I didn’t make her marinara sauce; I just used a jar sauce. On the side we had Giada’s Caprese Salad (for whatever reason I was craving tomatoes that night!) I have to say that when the recipe called for tabs of butter on top of the cheese while it baked I was more than a little nervous, but the end result was amazing. My husband, Jon, said it was easily one of the best chicken parmesans he’s ever had and that it was restaurant quality. I have to say I agree with him. The herbs flavored the chicken so well. The dish was much lighter too, without the bread crumbs; however you didn’t lose the flavor you might get from Italian seasoned bread crumbs because of the herbs rubbed into the chicken.

The dish was pretty easy, the most time consuming part was chopping the herbs to rub into the chicken. Once that was done it was very easy to complete.

Another amazing dish provided by Giada :)


Post in Comments:
Who is your favorite Food Network Chef? Obviously mine is Giada, but if I had to pick someone else I’d say the Barefoot Contessa!

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I went down to Philly this weekend for a Barnard reunion with friends I've known since I was a first-year. The gang included me (obviously), Erica, Jen and Colette (our lovely hostess). We have gorgeous weather, fun times, and lots of eating :)

We got to Philly at around 10:30 on Friday and immediately headed over to Tin Angel for a Pat McGee concert! Thankfully, Pat was almost half an hour late and his 1 1/2 hour set turned into a 2 1/2 hour one. Yessssss! We all know I love my Pat McGee and this was the perfect way to start the weekend.

We woke up early to walk around Philly to see some sights...



And then headed over to Max Brenners for brunch. As much as I love chocolate, I couldn't bring myself to eat it as my first meal. Instead, I had coffee with soymilk...


...and a lovely vegetable omelet with swiss cheese, home fries, and a biscuit.


Well, I guess I did have a chocolate because I did smear a bit on my biscuit...


The omelet was nothing to write home about but it did give me a new idea to cut down on my cheese consumption. Instead of putting cheese inside the omelet, if you melt a little bit on top so you still get the taste without all the calories.

Erica, though, got a brownie sundae for brunch:


Very impressive! I think that's the biggest sundae I've ever seen. You go, girl!

We then headed over to the park to throw around a rugby ball.


We went back to Colette's and then had a workout in the pool. We may be 26 but we can still enjoy water aerobics. I didn't realize what a hard workout it could be until the next day when I woke up super sore!

After working up an appetite, Colette took us to one of her favorite restaurants - El Vez. Amy and Milan even stopped by!



Erica and I started with the guacamole and chips. YUM!!!


It tasted really fresh and had big chunks of avocado in it. It wasn't too lime-y or too salty -- just right!

For my main meal, I got an appetizer because I had filled up on guac. It was a red snapper ceviche.



The description on the menu did not describe what it actually was. Essentially, it was raw red snapper that was maybe marinated with a ponzu sauce and had shredded radish and cucumber on top..and a bit of cilantro? The green is avocado puree and it also had orange slices as an accent.

Here's what the menu described it as: "guajillo citrus, avocado puree, crispy plantains."

Right. WHERE WERE MY PLANTAINS?!

It was delicious though and I highly enjoyed it. Although if I did have a small complaint, it would be that the ponzu overpowered the red snapper a bit and you couldn't really taste the fish that well.

I'm trying to hold true to my new philosophy: "don't order something you can make at home." It's working pretty well so far because it's making me go out on a limb and explore new culinary territory.

Here's what Erica got:


Erica always gets the fun dishes! I tasted a bit of it and it was AMAZING! Next time I'm in Philly, I'm getting the nachos!

For dessert I ordered churros with chocolate sauce...


...but they turned out to be undercooked so I just ate the ends of each one. A bit disappointing!

The rest of the weekend included late night dancing in the apartment, waking up EARLY to watch Ryan Hall in the Philly Half-marathon, seeing Amy's new apartment, more park, and more fun!

The city itself was so pretty and CLEAN! Coming back to New York was a bit hard but it does have its charm, I guess.

Thanks Colette for having us!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sonoko!

Today is my sister's birthday!!!
Happy Birthday!

She may not look like much here, but she was a baby model! ;)


On one of the happiest days of her life!

What an exciting year she's had! She adopted her first child/pet Peanut, bought a condo, got married, got a great promotion...the list goes on and on! Can't wait to see what this next year holds. Great things, no doubt!

Hope you have a great day! Wish I was celebrating your day with you :) MWAH!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crispy Sausage and Pepper Pizza

I seem to have not filled my quota of pizza last month because all I can think about this month is - pizza. So much so that the other night I smelled pizza on my walk home but was too cheap to shell out $3 for a lackluster slice so had this for dinner:


I'm not proud of what I had to do, people, but when a girl needs melted cheese, a girl needs melted cheese.

Moving on...

I did make a legit pizza the other day to satisfy my pizza craving. What's the best part of making your own pizza you ask? It's that you can eat the leftover for DAYS.


Ingredients:

refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup of diced tomatoes (you can used canned or fresh...cherry, grape, beefsteak...whatever you've got)
1 green pepper
3 turkey sausages
2 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (feel free to use less. 2 cups will do just fine. possibly even 1 1/2 cups depending on how much self-restraint you have)
black pepper

I started with refrigerated pizza dough.


This was a Pillsbury pizza dough. It's not necessarily the best pre-made dough but you can find it anywhere and I'm pretty comfortable experimenting with it since I've had it so often.

When it comes out of the can it looks like this so you have to use your fingers and just spread it out to the thinness you want. I like to maximize my pizza experience so I filled it pretty much to the edges of my large baking sheet. If you want it softer and thicker, just straighten it out so that it looks pretty but don't knead it out too much.

I also like my crust pretty crispy so I pre-baked it for about 8 minutes before doing anything to it.

I preheated the oven to 450 degrees for the pre-baking and then lowered it to 425 for the rest of the baking.

Okay, this picture looks gross but I had to show you that I took the casings off my turkey sausage.


You can use any type of sausage (pork, beef, soy...etc.) but just make sure to take the casing off. In fact, some stores (like Fairway) sell sausage meat by the pound so you don't even have to bother taking the casing off. The easiest way to take the casings off is to freeze the sausage (which I do anyway if I'm not cooking it right away) and when it's about 75% thawed, peel it off. It's easy and you don't need a knife or anything. Don't worry about it looking messy though because you're going to...

Saute in pan until brown or in my case...crispy and blackish...

Slice up green peppers and then throw those in the pan when the sausage is looking pretty cooked.


Add 2 cups of mozzarella cheese onto pizza dough. Add sausage, pepper, and tomatoes. Sprinkle rest of cheese on top of everything and then finish by adding a bit of pepper.


I put my pizza in the oven for about 18 minutes but again, I like my well done, so feel free to take it out sooner.




I think I finally feel satisfied and I won't crave pizza for at least another...two weeks. ;)