Hurricane Sandy Pizza Night

As everyone knows, the east coast is recovering from Hurricane Sandy. New York is without subways and busses just started running today. Unfortunately a lot of people are without homes, cars, or are dealing with flooding. My neighbors and I are fortunate enough to still have our homes and electricity, but can’t go much further than anywhere within walking or biking distance of our neighborhood, much like a lot of other people around the city. So, a lot of eating and drinking is happening in pockets throughout New York.

The other night my neighbors made fried pickles and mozzarella sticks in their deep fryer, and chili. Tonight I made 5 different pizzas. Pizzas are so easy because you can top them with whatever you want, and they’re usually always delicious. You can even make them gluten free and vegan friendly, using the right ingredients, which I did for some of these because of my guests’ dietary restrictions. I also prepped some of the toppings in advance, making dinner even easier.

Tonight I made:
– Pesto, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella
– Sauce (that’s tomato sauce), roasted peppers, caramelized onions, mozzarella
– Green apple, caramelized onions, bacon, cheddar cheese
– Sauce, spinach, mushrooms, bacon, mozzarella
– Brie, half green apple, half red grapes, honey

All were pretty good. My picky friend even liked the apple/bacon/cheddar, and the Brie “dessert pie” was simple but good combo of ingredients. Yum.

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M

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Things That Made Me Smile Recently

A day at the beach

This photo and story of Obama

Booking a trip to Charleston, SC

Cake made out of cheese. Genius.

Eating empanadas

Walking Race for the Cure in support of breast cancer research

Spending time in DC with good friends and beautiful weather herehere, and here

These cute and funny fake tattoos

M

Banana Bread

Banana bread is one of my favorite recipes to bake because it’s so easy, allows for creativity, and doesn’t let food go to waste, since you can use bananas that aren’t very good for plain-old-banana-eating anymore. This recipe is so easy – you probably have most of these ingredients in house, and you can do it all by hand, without a mixer.

perfect bananas for banana bread

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Optional mix-ins: cinnamon (my go-to because it’s always in the cabinet), nuts, peanut butter, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (yes, this is as amazing as it sounds), chocolate chips, any combination of the above or anything else your heart desires – get creative!
ready for the oven

ready for the oven

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl
  • Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla
  • Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in
  • Add the flour last, mix
  • Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour
  • Cool before serving
banana bread

yum

M

“Ice Cream”

I’ve had this “ice cream” recipe bookmarked for months, which I found via Pinterest, and finally got around to making it this week. It’s only 2 ingredients, and with one being bananas, it’s much healthier than real ice cream. If you need more reasons to love bananas, check out this post.

icecream

  • Freeze some* bananas for at least a few hours. I recommend peeling them first, as I found out the hard way that they’re very difficult to peel when frozen.
  • Throw the bananas in your food processor or blender, along with whatever added ingredient you want. The recipe I found uses cocoa powder, but I used peanut butter. You can get creative and throw in nuts, fruit, or anything else you can think of.
  • Blend until smooth, and you have a low calorie, delicious, dairy free dessert with the cool, creamy texture of ice cream!
*1 per person
M

The Great Googa Mooga Festival

The Great Googa Mooga Festival went on this past Saturday and Sunday in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. What is Googa Mooga? The definition according to the event’s website:

The Great GoogaMooga: n. an amusement park of food & drink; adj. something wonderfully great; excl. “oh my goodness!” or “how bout that!”

Googa Mooga

General admission tickets were free, but you had to register for them, and choose one of the 2 days to attend. Or you could pay $250 for “Extra Googa Mooga,” which included free stuff. It was the first time this festival went on, but the hype was huge, proven by the press both leading up to and at the event (a Food Network interview happened right next to us), and the high number of well known eateries, breweries, wineries, musical artists, and well known contributors (Anthony Bourdain!). I attended Saturday, along with thousands of other people looking for food, drink, sun, music, and fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were a LOT of complaints by some of the attendees, especially voiced on the Googa Facebook page, mainly about the crowds, extremely long lines for food and drink, confusion about having your ID checked, how to purchase drinks, and the sparse cell phone service. My friends and I experienced all of this – it took us awhile to figure out where to go just to purchase a drink, and we moved lines 3 times before figuring out we were in the right place where we then waited over an hour to get a beer, the whole time not receiving phone calls, and our text messages taking extra long to go through.

Fun for all ages!

But it didn’t really matter to us; we were there to enjoy each other’s company, the (very) warm weather, and the experience. We also know there are kinks to work out, some of which they even did for the 2nd day. While in the beer line, we took turns waiting in the food lines. Once we finally figured it all out and got our drinks and food, a couple hours after arriving, we set up shop on our blanket next to some other friends. For the next few hours we enjoyed some of the best things of summer – being with friends, playing cards, eating and drinking, listening to live music, and soaking up the sun. If a couple of us dared to go wait in another long line for drink or food, at least we knew we had a home base.

The day turned into evening and ended after an awesome hour long performance by The Roots. Overall, a great day and way to get the summer going.

 

 

M

Things that made me smile this past week

Sitting outside with beers, Jenga, and $1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup S’mores with good friends at a beer garden in Philly

Celebrating Mother’s Day with my family

Weekly Zumba class

Grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s

Making beer bread for potluck night with my neighbors

This website and this website, make me laugh everyday

Hearing this song for the first time in awhile, which brought back memories of Buenos Aires

Baby elephant at the beach, so cute

And things I’m looking forward to this weekend…

Cheering my friends on in the Brooklyn Half Marathon

Googa Mooga Festival in Prospect Park

More spring weather

M

No yeast? Use beer!

375 F oven

1 large mixing bowl

3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 oz beer

1 non-stick bread pan

1/2 cup melted butter

+

mix dry ingredients in bowl
add beer to dry ingredients and mix
add mix to bread pan
pour butter over bread mix

bake in oven for 50-60 min

take out and let cool 5 min
put bread upside down and let cool 30 min
put bread right-side up and enjoy

🙂

M+P

Risotto

Risotto holds a special place in my heart, not just because it is delicious, but risottobecause my brother taught me how to make it. My brother, 2 years younger than me, spends his days and nights in the challenging and exhausting, yet exciting and creative position as head chef at a restaurant. I could not be more proud of him for finding a job that is also his passion. Food, and love of it, runs deep in our Italian and Irish family, and he’s turned this into something he gets paid to do.

He’s usually working when the family is eating dinner, and if he’s not, he’d prefer to go out or eat someone else’s cooking. Who can blame him after working in a kitchen all week? But since the rest of the family enjoys cooking also, we’ll sometimes all prepare a meal together, with his expert tips and suggestions. One night at my parent’s house a couple years ago, he and I made risotto together I watched him make risotto. I had never made it before and was excited to learn how, especially from him. It’s energy consuming but definitely worth it for the delicious outcome. My brother taught me to stay on top of the pan, just the right moments to add the wine and then the butter, and the difference between when the boil is simmering and “smiling.”

Since then, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made risotto, probably because I like to multitask and all the attention it takes doesn’t allow me to. Two of those times were actually with the other gringo of dosgringos, and one of those two times we had to make do with what we could find at the only store open in Madrid on a Sunday night, which meant using paella rice. Hey, when in Rome, right?

onions, mushrooms, asparagusThis week counted as the only time I’ve made risotto for myself. I had a little bit of risotto rice left, white wine, and some time. Since I like to get creative in the kitchen, rarely following a recipe, one of the things I love best about risotto is that you can put whatever you want in it. Risotto rice (Arborio rice), onions, butter, and white wine are the main ingredients and the rest is completely open. This time I included shrimp, asparagus, and mushrooms. The risotto gets very creamy on its own, but I also added smoked Gouda, because I prefer to live life by the motto “there’s always room for cheese.”

In the light of not following recipes, here is a risotto “guide” to serve about 4 people:

  • Bring 3-4 C chicken broth to a boilpan
  • In a pan sauté chopped onions and garlic in olive oil
  • Add whatever other “toppings” you want (meat, veggies, etc.) and season with salt and pepper
  • Once veggies are soft, add 1 C of rice, stirring so it doesn’t burn but letting it toast a little
  • Add about ½ C of white wine and let it evaporate (You add this now so the alcohol has time to cook off)
  • Slowly add a ladle of chicken broth, stirring until it is evaporated. Repeat this step until the rice is soft
  • Stir in 1 t or so of butter
  • Remove from heat and serve hot

 

M

Morning Cookies

What’s the first thing you think of on a Saturday morning in Crown Heights upon opening your eyes to curtain-filtered sunrise in host Meghan’s Brooklyn abode but three ingredient peanut butter cookies of course!  So you kick her out of the house and make her run around the block anxiously to the point where she only does 2 miles of a 3.5 mile run “by accident” because she knows there will be warm and chewy cookies waiting for her upon her return.  And voila, after mixing a cup of smooth, creamy peanut butter with a cup of sugar (yes, equal parts) with a single egg and rolling them up into little balls and placing them on a baking sheet and setting them in an oven at 350F for until then smell done, you have yourselves some great little scrumptious morning cookie accompaniments to coffee in NYC.

P