Cheaters Anonymous

Every foodie has a few choice recipes they are willing to accept, are best not made from scratch. A-Tooch whipped up a batch of her Aunt’s famous dip recipe for a superbowl party last night. It was consumed by the beer-guzzling guests in about 10 minutes flat. Success? I think so.

Knorr Spinach Dip (a slightly modified version from what’s on the back of the box)

First, let me start by saying that using Knorr instead of Lipton dip mix makes the difference here. Seriously.

Ingredients:
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
16 oz. sour cream (light sour cream preferred)
1 cup mayo (can sub light mayo here too if desired)
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 package Knorr Vegetable recipe mix

Blend all ingredients in bowl. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

I recommend serving in a soft bread bowl alongside John Wm. Macy’s Original Cheddar CheeseSticks (website is: cheesesticks.com…how awesome is that?!) If you haven’t discovered the variety of cheesesticks out there, you need to.

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The Most Underpriced Event In Manhattan

Last night, A-Tooch and friends may have found the most underpriced, underpromoted, fabulous wine/foodie event in Manhattan. So good, I hesitate to give away the secret. Ok, so maybe it’s not that secretive. There were hundreds of people there.

Sensofwine New York 2010, an annual Italian wine + food event sponsored by epicurean society Alta Cucina Inc., packs dozens of the top Italian wine producers in one big ballroom for a 4-hour wine tasting event. Alta Cucina essentially opens the doors to one of Manhattan’s premier venues, Cipriani 42nd Street, for industry peepz and the general public. Combine the delicious wine with prosciutto, extra strong parmigiano reggiano, taleggio (meh, not a personal fav) fresh panettone and pasta, and the result is a very happy group of people.

We spent two hours frolicking around the Cipriani ballroom alongside some trendy looking Italians. We had flights of red wines, glasses of Prosecco and a delicious moscato to finish. (Azienda Agricola Fejoia’s Moscato Di Scanzo DOCG – from Lombardy, highly recommended) Some of our other favorites of the night were:
  • Sant’Isidoro Corithus – a flavorful red blend
  • Farnese Collaine Teramane DOCG – out of this world montepulciano d’Abruzzo
The best part: tickets for this event ran a mere $35, $30 if you are an Alta Cucina member. Let me put this in perspective here people: A ticket to New Year’s Eve at Cipriani with an open bar and food, lame DJ and probably tons of shady characters ran somewhere near $150 last year?!

You can bet we will be attending Sensofwine next year. Seriously, you can barely buy a good bottle of wine with your dinner in NYC for $35.

Una buona notte!
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Fried Green Beans

It’s not always easy to eat vegetables. Miss Yunks knows this. And she’s pretty sure frying veggies does not take away from their nutritional value. If you know otherwise, keep it to your self.

To make my green beans more exciting I decided to fry them. And it worked! They tasted awesome! And it’s very easy:

Ingredients:
green beans – I used a few handfuls of frozen green beans. Fresh, thicker beans would be better
1 egg
Panko breadcrumbs
Grated Parmesan cheese
a tsp butter/oil for fry pan

1. Heat oil/butter in medium sized fry pan

2. Crack egg into small bowl. Beat.

3. In a separate bowl, mix Panko breadcrumbs and Parm cheese

4. Dip green beans, 1 at a time, or more if you used small beans like I did, into egg.

5. Roll wet bean around in the breadcrumb mixture until coated.

6. Fry!

It only fries for a few moments so watch carefully to avoid burning. I had leftover breadcrumbs/cheese after I used up all of my green beans, so I fried the mixture by itself! Delicious! Substitute your favorite veggies for a fun treat!

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The Best Mac & Cheese

Miss Yunks likes to cook one big meal at the beginning of the week so she has something to eat for the whole week without cooking every day. Not to toot my own horn, but it’s a very good idea if you work all day and are busy at night!

So, what’s a meal to cook that has enough protein and veggies? Macaroni and Cheese with veggies!

I made my own baked mac & cheese once before but I couldn’t remember the recipe I used (shows how good that was) so I began my search again. I headed to smittenkitchen.com because I love her photos and recipes, I thought she must have a great mac & cheese recipe! Well, I was right. She blogged about Martha Stewart’s Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics.

I adapted this recipe to fit my needs and cut it in half because little Miss Yunks does not need 12 servings of mac & cheese, as good as it is.

Here is my version of Martha Stewart’s Creamy Macaroni and Cheese:

4 tablespoons margarine (half stick)
2 2/3 cup regular soy milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 1/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
4 oz grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (half box)
3 average size heads of broccoli, chopped
1/2 box frozen spinach
Panko breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.

2. Heat milk and melt margarine in medium size pot over medium heat.

3. When it bubbles, add the flour. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cheddar cheese, and most of the Pecorino Romano; set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Add macaroni, broccoli, and spinach. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, pasta should not be fully cooked. Transfer the macaroni and veggies to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining any leftover Pecorino Romano, and enough Panko breadcrumbs to generously cover the mac & cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool for a few minutes then serve! Put leftovers in individual portions in tupperware for the rest of the week.

I got 4 servings out of this. Could have been 5 or 6 but I like to eat a lot…

And the verdict? SO GOOD! I had Roomie try it and she loved it too. After she said she loved it I told her I used soy milk – she totally had no idea. If you prefer to use soy milk too, your guests won’t be able to tell the difference. I chose this recipe because smittenkitchen said it reheated well. She was right. The leftovers are almost good as it was fresh out of the oven. This dish is great for you, your family, or to bring to a party!

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Shirley Temple Cake

Miss Yunks thought of the idea to make a Shirley Temple cake a while ago. Sprite? Gooood. Grenadine? Gooood. Cake? Gooood.

After seeing La vie J’aime Jaime’s post 6 months ago (wow, long time!) on Diet Coke Cupcakes as a Weight Watchers friendly recipe, I thought if diet coke can make a cake, why not diet sprite? I did some more research to see if Shirley Temple cupcakes have been made before. They have, but not often. I ended up combining a few ideas for my own recipe.

I found a cake recipe that seemed pretty similar to the dry ingredients in cake mix + Sprite Zero. Instead of measuring my own flour etc, I used Valentine’s Funfetti Cake Mix because I thought the red sprinkles would look great with the pink grenadine frosting. I used half the mix, since I was experimenting I didn’t want to use it all. I mixed it with 6 oz Sprite Zero (does Diet Sprite not exist anymore?) and enjoyed the fizzing sound as the Sprite mixed with the cake mix. I poured the batter into a buttered 9 in circular cake pan and baked for 25 minutes. I should have baked for 5 minutes longer.

I got my grenadine frosting recipe from Kaitlin in the Kitchen‘s blog. Since I used half the cake mix, I used half the frosting recipe. In a medium sized bowl I mixed the following:

half a stick of margarine
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon grenadine

My cake was slightly undercooked; I’m impatient about a lot of things, especially cake! And I also didn’t let it cool long enough before I frosted. However, this cake was so awesome. The cake didn’t really taste lemon-lime but it did taste a little fizzy. The frosting was perfectly sweet and had just a hint of grenadine flavor. I could have used more. Roomie and I enjoyed slices last night and I can’t wait to eat the rest!

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Designer Salads… Oo La La

So A-Tooch just came back from her usual, mundane lunch “break” – aka picking something up within a 2 block radius and returning to desk to eat it. Today’s result: a Do-It-Yourself creation from chop’t.

My interest has peaked lately as all of these “salad boutiques,” as I like to call them, have popped up all over NYC. chop’t and Just Salad, the two big names, offer a salad bar with just about any ingredient you want (seriously…wheatberries?) A team of about 4 people pull together said salad and, of course, chop it. The catch? They come at a boutique price, of course. Today I went with spinach, red onions, grapes, almonds and blue cheese. Take a guess? I bet you wouldn’t guess $8.38? Imagine if I added chicken onto that?

The cool bit, though, is some of the unique salad dressings invented in-house (my favorite: Just Salad’s Horseradish Chive). You can also get your salad ingredients made into a wrap, if you’d like. (I might add that Chop’t brands themself as the “creative salad company.”) Hmm…

Of course, the irony in this are the people who think anything to emerge from a salad place must be healthy – and end up with the fried chicken, ranch dressing and crouton deluxe! (Hey, not knocking the high-cal salads, I have my days too.)

I’m undecided on these designer salads? What do you think?

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Happy Friday Foodies!

A-Tooch and Miss Yunks took a real cook-cation this week! Back again on Monday.

By the way, has anyone tried the new Domino’s pizza recipe? Is it really that amazing and different?

Domino’s Mea Culpa and America’s Pizza Passions

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Poles make good food

No, not THOSE poles, silly.

A-Tooch’s neighborhood is known for it’s historic past population of Slavic immigrants. While most of that history has disappeared, a few great landmarks still remain. Among them: Veselka

This awesome restaurant is diner-like and serves up only the best pierogies, borscht, and cheese blintzes. YUM! On top of that, there are a ton of other Polish specialties, meats, etc.

I’m headed there tonight, wahoo :)

Check it out for yourself: 144 2nd Ave. (at 9th St.) NY, NY

(A great place for brunch, too!)

Veselka on Urbanspoon

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  • Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis
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