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Lunch & Dessert in NYC

On our recent long weekend in NYC, we spent a fun day strolling from SoHo to lunch in Greenwich Village at Minetta Tavern to dessert at Milk & Cookies.  It was the perfect way to recuperate from the overindulgence of the night before (and I will speak for myself in that department…) and to get a little bit of fresh air.  Although maybe we should have started with lunch and the restorative cheeseburgers and fries and ended with shopping because, really, our hearts and heads were just not into the shopping…

Cozy interior of Minetta Tavern.  It's probably never this empty except when closed!

Cozy interior of Minetta Tavern. It’s probably never this empty except when closed!

Minetta Tavern looks unassuming from the exterior, but the inside was hopping and full to the brim.  It seems that reservations are crucial–at least at noon on Saturday.  The menu is stocked with delicious brunch items and one person in our party veered from the cheeseburger/fries to experience the ham/grits/eggs combo.  The beverage menu looked worth exploring–but Diet Coke is such a perfect complement to a cheeseburger that I couldn’t resist.

Next stop:  Milk & Cookies!  I love this cookbook and was so excited to actually enter the bakery that chef Tina Casaceli put on the map.  It was quaint and adorable and evidently a stop on many walking tours.  It was rated 4.8 out of 5 on the Foods of NY Tours by over 180,000 guests!

We're Open!!!!

We’re Open!!!!

Too many cookies, too little time!

Too many cookies, too little time!

Now that I’m home, I plan on getting out my cookbook to savor some memories from last weekend.  I love the way the cookbook leaves room for some creativity–by providing recipes to five different base doughs, then having examples of how to elaborate on them.  I’ve gotten fond of throwing in my own mix of goodies, depending on what’s laying around, into the various bases.  Try it on a cold winter day!

Happy 100th Birthday Grand Central Station!

On a cold, cloudy day, it was warm and toasty inside!

On a cold, cloudy day, it was warm and toasty inside!

I had never been to Grand Central Station until last weekend.  What was I waiting for?  Even though we weren’t catching a train, we made a pitstop at Grand Central to admire the beauty and grandeur of the structure.  Got treated to a quick flash mob singing Bob Marley’s “One Love.”  It was a perfect Valentine’s Weekend moment!  My only tip would be to plan your visit around the hours of the Campbell Apartment–we missed it by a couple and it sounds like a heavenly place for an old-timey cocktail!  There’s always next time!

Happy 100!  They just don't build them like this any more....

Happy 100! They just don’t build them like this any more….

Easy, Impressive Winter Meal

We’ve had some friends in from Chicago the other evening who are total foodies.  We love to eat, drink and be merry with these guys and their visit was coming mid-week, so going out and about didn’t seem like the preferred option.  While I consider myself a good cook, there was the added pressure of coming up with something delectable and special for these two.  Also, cooking mid-week doesn’t lend itself to anything too elaborate.  It seemed like an impossible challenge–find some quick to prepare, easy to execute recipes that are impressive AND delicious.

Ina Garten and Ree Drummond to the rescue!

I must say I love each and every cookbook I own that these two have published.  They are my go-tos and my fall backs.  Here is the menu I ended up making:

From “The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  Food from my Frontier”:  Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cornmeal Cakes and Roasted Vegetables.  For the vegetables I roasted chopped carrots, parsnips and butternut squash. I used fig preserves for the sauce and while I did use the 1 cup of water called for in the recipe to make the sauce, I then needed to boil it WAY down to get the consistency I wanted.  In the future I will start with 1/2 c and see how it goes.

Image via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

Image via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

I also made her Crash Hot Potatoes, from the same book.

Crash Hot Potatoes via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

Crash Hot Potatoes via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

My friend commented that the cornmeal cakes reminded her of her grandmother’s mush she used to make her for breakfast with maple syrup!  I only made half of the recipe called for, but what we didn’t eat on our plates, got gobbled up just by dipping them in the sauce!  Any leftovers would have made a great breakfast treat, but we had none!  I will make the entire recipe next time.

For dessert, one of my all time favorites is Ina Garten’s Brownie Pudding, found in “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics.”  The recipe garners 5 out of 5 stars on the Food Network web site.  Need I say more?

Buy this cookbook now!  If you like autographed cookbooks, Ina sells them from her web site!  Fun!

Buy this cookbook now! If you like autographed cookbooks, Ina sells them from her web site! Fun!

The intense chocolate dessert has the best consistency–the top forms a somewhat crunchy crust that yields to an amazing gooey delicious mess of chocolate.   My husband and son rose to the occasion and plated the desserts with fresh raspberries and drizzled chocolate syrup on the plates. I wish I would have thought to take a picture of them, but we gobbled them up so quickly that their artistic efforts weren’t memorialized.  Still, it was a perfect end to another memorable evening of friends and laughter.

Ice Cream or Gelato makes a nice accompaniment to the Brownie Pudding

Ice Cream or Gelato makes a nice accompaniment to the Brownie Pudding

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