Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reasons to Eat Up Goat Cheese...

I LOVE goat cheese. Dairy has been getting a lot of flack in recent years. Why? It's difficult to digest, full of fat (hence the deliciousness) and contains casein, a protein that causes many allergic flare ups including swelling and bloating. Do I still eat dairy? Yep. I have however been trying to cut back a bit and have pretty much cut cow's milk out of my diet. Cutting out cheese...a whole different story. Lucky for me (and other goat cheese lovers), goat's milk is much easier to digest and super flavorful so you don't need to use as much to add good texture and flavor. You can use it on anything where you use regular cheese-pizzas, tacos, sandwiches, on crackers, with get my drift. For those of you that don't love the taste of goats milk (yet), it does come in different levels of flavors. Some are much more mild than others. Fun Fact: Mild goat cheese comes from farms where the males and females are separated. When they're housed together, their hormones are flaring which causes the milk to be more pungent. Just ask your dairy counter dude and he/she should be able to tell you whether the cheese has a more mild or strong taste. Kinda crazy how EVERYTHING effects our food huh?

Go ahead and eat up some goat cheese! MMMmmmm.

Creamy, salty goodness

I love putting goat cheese on my salads, especially with dried cranberries...YUM!

A perfect appetizer. Pair with olives and/or crackers and you're good to go! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Quality Time at Quality Italian NYC

Fourth Wall Restaurants, founded in 2007, is fairly new in the NYC restaurant scene. Included under the Fourth Wall umbrella is Quality Meats which has been one of Ryan and I's go-to steakhouses over the past few years. When I heard they were opening up an Italian steakhouse called Quality Italian, I was psyched. What's better than an amazing steakhouse? An amazing steakhouse with an Italian twist. What does this mean exactly? For starters, Italian steakhouses tend to make use of all of your favorite Italian herbs and olive oils. They often have garlic bread to start, a wonderful selection of fresh fish (this is sometimes lacking at regular steakhouses) and of course, homemade pastas! Lastly, the after dinner drinks tend to include Grappa and Limoncello which of course makes my night.

Allow me to walk you through the awesomeness that is Quality Italian...

First of all-NOT an easy reservation. I had an easier time getting a prime dinner ressie at Eleven Madison Park then I did for this joint. The best I could do? 5pm on a Saturday. Hello early bird special! The couple we were meeting up with really wanted to go and I knew I wanted to blog so we went ahead and prepared for a 5 o'clock dinner.

Ryan and I arrived early for a cocktail. To my absolute glee they have a bar area right when you walk called The Standing Room. They serve fabulous wines by the glass, beer and fresh Quality Coolers which are homemade teas and lemonade. They have small bites like Parmesan Deviled Eggs and Lobster Rolls if you just wanted to snack AND sell take home goods such as Reese's Peanut Butter Biscotti and Housemade Nutella (say whaaaaa?!?!!) . They also have a bar upstairs on the main dining floor but we decided to hang here for a bit. I actually opted for one of the fresh Coolers-the Peach Basil Iced Tea. Ryan got a Manhattan. My tea was fantastic! It was beautiful (I love a good presentation) and so refreshing with the perfect hint of sweetness. 

Once our friends arrived we went upstairs to be seated. The space is pretty massive. We were escorted into what looked like it could be a private dining area for special events. The room was lovely, dark and romantic with lofty accents. Being that I work in the industry, I saw a lot of press on their Chicken Parmesan Pizza (It's actually called The Quality Italian on their menu). It's a massive chicken parm served like a pizza but there's no actual crust-just juicy fried chicken, saucy, cheesy goodness. I asked our server, Thomas, about his favorites. I loved that he was not only very friendly but honest. He advised us The Quality Italian was delicious but that he really suggested that the pastas, steaks and fish were his favorite menu highlights. He said we should return with a larger group and get the monstrous chicken parm as an appetizer. Done and done. The four of us proceeded to order the following-

Assorted Oysters for the table-fresh and crisp. Served with four house-made sauces. I'm a standard cocktail sauce fan but it's always nice to have fun options. 

Baby Kale Salad-I didn't order this but it looked great and was actually quite large. All of the salads could easily be shared between two people. 

The Beef Steak Tomato with Stracciatella-Stracciatella is a soft, creamy mozzarella-like cheese so the salad is very similar to a caprese BUT they also add a pesto like sauce & roasted tomatoes for a little extra flavor...heaven.

The Chopped Salad-Ryan got this and raved! Again, it's huge and filled with crispy onions, salami, mozzarella and more. I plan to try this next time. 

The Porterhouse-40 oz's of perfectly cooked and seasoned meat. A classic fave. Like Quality Meats, these guys served their tender steaks with a signature, homemade steak sauce. So good.

The Balsamic Filet with Crispy Bone Marrow-this was my dish. I have to say it'll be hard for me to return and not order this. My filet was absolute perfection and the crispy bone marrow (also presented beautifully) shoved me right into sheer bliss. 

The Grilled Branzino-My friend Emily ordered this and said it was amazing. It certainly looked it. The fish was also filleted which is a huge plus. 

ALL of the sides were amazing. We ordered the Grilled Mushrooms and Tuscan Fries which were great but just to add a little more glee to the evening, they sent out extras! Not sure why to be honest. I didn't drop any names or mention I was in the industry so I assume at Quality Italian the early bird really does get the worm (aka. extra goodies). Thomas sent us the Baked Rigatoni with Meatballs (OMG) and the Corn Creme Brûlée (again...OMG). As much as I loved the mushrooms, the sides he sent out are must-trys.

Ryan's the big dessert guy but being that we were all stuffed we just opted for a few after dinner dranks, the aforementioned Grappa and Limoncello did us in nicely. 

Quality Italian rocked. It just shot up to being one of my new favorite NYC restaurants and we plan to return soon. The service was just impeccable. We sat for 3 hours and never felt rushed through one of the best meals I've had out in a long time. Ryan agrees. I don't know that we'll be returning to Quality Meats as I am completely sold on the new Italian version. 

In short-get to Quality Italian stat and make those ressies WAY in advance. EAT UP!

My Peach-Basil Iced Tea in the Standing Room

Fluffy Garlic Bread with Savory Olive Oil

My Beef Steak Tomato and Stracciatella

Assorted Sides-Baked Rigatoni, Corn Creme Brûlée and Grilled Mushrooms

My image of the Porter House didn't come out so well so I pulled this from Yelp's Food Spotting
A meat-lovers dream.

Since we didn't order this, I also pulled this from Yelp. We're def getting this next time. 
It looks too good to be true...Nom Nom.

The best Limoncello. I know my Limoncello and theirs is unreal. It's homemade and not too sweet and syrupy like many tend to be. The perfect ending...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Recipe Alert! Ryan's Savory Bacon Chicken Salad

Get ready for the most flavorful, best ever chicken salad recipe. This concoction came about because Ryan and I had a left over roasted chicken breast and bacon from dinner last Saturday night. We were having a nice, lazy Sunday and didn't feel up to going out. The result-Ryan pulled out the left overs and threw together the easiest, most delicious chicken salad. We made open faced sandwiches with whole grain bread and topped with avocado but you could serve with crackers, over greens or just scope out with a spoon!

Ryan's Savory Bacon Chicken Salad
makes 2-3 servings

1 bone-in roasted chicken breast, shredded or chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 celery stalk, minced
1/2 one small onion, minced
2 strips nitrate-free bacon, chopped
1 to 2 T mayo (depending on how creamy you prefer your salad to be)
The juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients above well and serve cold! Great on whole grain bread, your favorite crackers or over greens. Eat up!

I love Hellman's new olive oil mayo

All the yummy ingredients. We even had a little extra left over for Ryan to take for
 lunch the next day! 

Add avocado! It's one of my fave super foods and great on everything. Amazing, creamy goodness.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Haven-A Manhattan Vibe on the Rivers Edge

My husband heard about this spot opening up through some friends who live in the area. A new restaurant with Manhattan Chef Peter Larson (think Artisinal & Marsielle) and city views? I was down. Haven Riverfront Restaurant & Bar is the jam. A hip Manhattan vibe, with Manhattan quality food and prices to match. One thing I love about this restaurant is you have a fantastic view from almost every table. The cocktail list is spectacular. They have my favorite Lychee Martini along with a dozen other signature and seasonal cocktails. The bar and lounge area is great, a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail before going to your table. They even have happy hour! Woo hoo!

On to the food...where do I begin? We've been there twice and I've enjoyed every bite of everything. Menu stand outs include-

Pretzel Crusted Calamari with mustard scallion remoulade and spicy marinara-One of the best calamari dishes I've ever had. The calamari is cooked to perfection, not the least bit chewy and the crust is nice and crunchy. I loved both dipping sauces.

The Pan Seared Sea Scallops with chorizo and potato foam-The scallops were great but I have to say I was super impressed with the potato foam. It was like airy, buttery mashed potatoes. OMG.

The Caesar Salad-I know this may seem a little ridiculous as it's just a salad right? WRONG! First of all, it's huge and includes quail eggs and olive tapenade toast good.

The Spice Crusted Filet and Miso Glazed Sea Bass are a must as main dishes. Ryan and I couldn't decide which one we liked best! A bonus-the presentation of all the dishes was stunning. I love pretty food:-)

Make a reservation and get there early to request a table right by the window. Then go enjoy a drink at the bar before the feast begins. Have fun kids!

Dranks-My Lychee Martini and Ryan's Manhattan

The most heavenly Caesar Salad...yes, those toast points are covered with a savory olive tapanade. Yum.

Delicate Raw Oysters...

Buttery Miso Glazed Sea Bass

Chocolate Bread Putting made with fresh, homemade crossiants...Omg.

Eat up!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Recipe Alert! The Best Ever Chicken from the Legendary Jacques Pepin!

Jacques Pepin is a legend in the foodie world. An internationally renowned French chef with countless awards and accolades. Chef Pepin has an arsenal of recipes to choose from but on of my personal faves is his Quick Roasted Chicken with Mustard and Garlic. The recipe is SO easy but incredibly impressive. Your dinner guests will think you spent hours and hours slaving away in the kitchen. I love recipes like this. My father-in-law (Chef Jerie!) prepared this dish for me and sent me the link to the recipe (see below). Chef Pepin recommends serving the chicken with mashed potatoes but you can literally serve it with anything. Crispy fries, healthy greens or a savory sweet potato-YUM! Another little perk is chicken bought whole is a bargain compared to other meat and seafood options. This recipe happens to be easy on the wallet as well...Bonus!

Jacques Pepin's Quick Roasted Chicken with Mustard & Garlic

serves 4

  1. One 4-pound chicken
  2. 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  3. 2 T Dijon mustard
  4. 2 T dry white wine
  5. 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1 T soy sauce
  7. 1 tsp Tabasco
  8. 1 tsp herbes de Provence
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Using poultry shears, cut along each side of the chicken backbone and remove it. Turn the chicken breast side up and press on the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Using a sharp knife, cut partway through both sides of the joint between the thighs and the drumsticks. Cut partway through the joint between the wings and the breast.
  2. In a bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients. Turn the chicken breast down and spread it with half of the mustard mixture. Set the chicken in a large skillet skin side up; spread with the remaining mixture.
  3. Set the skillet over high heat and cook the chicken until it starts to brown, 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for 30 minutes, until the skin is browned and the chicken is cooked through. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cut it into 8 pieces and serve.
***The chicken can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. 

Juicy, tender, garlick-y goodness...

Me and the man himself! A perfect gentleman.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Lobster Tails for Dessert?! Yes Please!

A popular Italian dessert called a Sfogliatelle is a crisp, layered pastry filled with sweet cream. These babies are also known in the states as "Lobster Tails" due to their triangular shape and happen to be one of my favorite desserts.

You can get these anywhere, I believe they even sell them at chain markets around the country. But when you find a good one you can tell the obvious difference in texture, taste and sweetness. When you find the best, you know it. Lucky for me I have and pretty much everyone in the tri-state area or anyone who has visited agrees. This famous Italian bakery is not on the island of Manhattan or it's Brooklyn borough, but across the river in...Jersey. Rispoli Bakery has been around for over 75 years baking up homemade Italian recipes passed down from generations. Just google them-there's even YouTube video 's about how amazeballs they are.

My in-laws buy everything from Lobster Tails to Cannolis from this spot and introduced me to the goodness about 4 years ago. The texture is crisp and fluffy at the same time (I know, crazy right?) and the cream is perfectly sweet. Even if you live in the city or are just visiting, you should make a day trip to Jersey for these guys and one of the many blogged about Jersey gems. Plus the views of the city from Jersey, Queens and the BK are just sick. Don't be a Manhattan snob-go out & explore!

Food porn.

Lobster Tails and homemade Cannolis...nom nom.

Eat up and enjoy!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Recipe Alert! Let's Warm Up Down South at The National!

For those in the tri-state area you know we've been dealing with some seriously cold temps (10 degrees?! WTF?). The weather is one of the many things I miss about the south. Let's warm up and head back down to Athens, GA for one of my fave restaurants-Chef Peter Dale's, The National. I love everything about The National. The area, the decor, the chefs (Chef Huge Acheson from previous 5 & 10 post also collaborated with Chef Peter on the concept), and most importantly...the food! My favorite menu stand-outs include but are not limited too...

Being that The National is inspired by European and Mediterranean flavors, their Hummus rocks. The texture is perfect and it's served with chewy flatbread-YUM!

The Crispy Brussel Sprouts are amazeballs. They're super rich due to the savory herb crema which is an amazing addition to the crispy brussels. They are a must order.

The Seared U-12 Maine Scallops. OMG. These babies are served with carrot hummus, brown butter and pomegranate. One of the best scallop dishes I've had anywhere. 

The Lamb Meatballs. I don't believe these are on the current menu but thanks to Chef Peter Dale being awesome, he decided to share this insanely flavorful recipe for all of you not living in the Athens area. If you find yourself within a 3 hour radius of Athens, I suggest making a pitstop;-)
There are many other delectable looking dishes on the menu that I have yet to try but looking forward to doing so on my next trip down south... Athens Locals=Lucky Dawgs.

Lamb Meatballs with a Dried Cherry Sauce

4-6 servings

2 c dried sour cherries 
2 c warm water 
2 lbs marbled boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of sliver skin and gristle, meat and fat finely ground (or use ground lamb from your butcher) 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp ground cumin 
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
 1/4 c plus 1 T vegetable oil 
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped 
3 T fresh lemon juice 
2 T flat-leaf parsley leaves 
cinnamon to taste 
Aleppo pepper to taste (optional)

In a bowl, soak the dried cherries in the water until softened, about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, spread the lamb in an even layer. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, allspice, 2 ½ teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Sprinkle the spices over the lamb and knead them in. Form the lamb into 3/4 -inch meatballs; you should have about 60. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook over high heat, shaking the pan, until lightly browned outside and rare in the center, about 4 minutes. Drain well.

In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 12 minutes. Add the cherries and their soaking liquid and the lemon juice and simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and any accumulated juices and simmer over low heat until they are slightly pink inside and the sauce has reduced slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with the parsley and serve with pita.

"I discovered this dish on a trip the Middle East and instantly fell in love. I love the savory spice of the lamb with a touch of sweetness from the cherries. About 20 miles south of Athens, the Stewart’s of World Shepherd Lamb Project are raising beautiful lamb in pristine meadows. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful supplier of lamb on our doorstep." - Chef Peter Dale

Photo Credit-J.P. Bond


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! Top 5 Must Eat Foods for 2014...

Happy New Year to all! Sorry I've been missing in action for the past week but I've been making merry, traveling and spending some quality time with my nieces back down south. Now that I'm back home I've decided to start off 2014 with a post about health. The most talked about New Years resolutions refers to "being healthier" or "losing weight". As this blog is about eating and drinking, I decided to write about my top favorite health foods and beverages I think everyone should enjoy in 2014. It's basically Eat Up, Drink Up's top 5 super foods. Sometimes it's not about how much you eat but what you're eating. Like I always say, life is about balance and I love to enjoy yummy, healthy foods especially if it means I get to eat MORE! ;-) Enjoy eating up these good and good for you super foods with recipes to boot!

1.) Dark, Leafy Greens-
We all know we need to eat more dark greens, the darker the better. The best (and my favorites) are Kale and Spinach. Particularly Kale. Kale has...
Amazing cancer-fighting antioxidants
Vitamin A for great eyes and skin
The ability to strengthen the immune system
As much Vitamin C as an orange per serving
What's not to love? One of my favorite Kale recipes (PS. I love bacon!)...

2.) Chia Seeds-
This super food is definitely getting more notoriety these days. Chia Seeds are great for weight loss as they retain water making you feel more full and curbing cravings. They're also rich in Omega 3's, a great source to help reduce blood pressure and easy to digest. I've started to sprinkle them in my smoothies but they're also great in day to day recipes. You can find Chia Seeds at health food stores and online. If you're a fan of PB & J (like myself) give this spread a try with organic peanut butter and whole grain bread. YUM!

3.) Dried White Mulberries-
This is a new food for me as I just recently heard about these little guys on the Dr. Oz show. White Mulberries are insanely high in antioxidants and low in sugar (unlike most dried fruits). After a little research, I found out they're very high in protein and fiber and also come in a tea form. I have yet to try these magic berries but I've got my order of the fruit and tea on it's way! I hear they have a similar taste to raisins or figs so I plan to use them in the recipe below...

4.) Avocado-
One of my favorite foods hands down. Full of good fats for amazing skin and hair plus they're known to promote heart health. You really can't go wrong with an avocado. Slice it up on salads or meats, make homemade guacamole or add to your favorite salsa recipe (see recipe below). I also like to use it instead of mayo on a sandwich or toast. So.Good.

5.) Lemon- 
If you read my blog regularly, you know I LOVE lemon. So fresh and cleansing for the body and full of Vitamin C, there's no reason not to include lemon in your diet. As you may know I cut it up in my water/tea and use it as much as possible in dressings and on my meats. I just recently found this great recipe and plan to make it stat. I'd never thought about adding lemon to lentils but this concoction sounds like a winner to me!

White Mulberries

Make 2014 the BEST year yet! Eat & Drink Up everything it has to offer. Enjoy!