Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Giada De Laurentiis' Frittata with Asparagus, Tomato & Fontina Cheese
Have you ever cooked everything in any of the cookbooks that you own? For a couple of years I've thought about it...and now I've decided I'm going to do it. Yes, I'm going to cook every recipe in one of the many cookbooks that I own.
I chose my Everday Italian cookbook by Giada De Laurentiis for a couple of reasons. 1) As I've said again & again, you cannot go wrong with Giada, everything I've cooked from one of her recipes has been delicious! 2) Her cookbooks are smaller than some of the other cookbooks I own.
So the other night when I was looking for a new recipe to try I immediately took out Everyday Italian and flipped through it deciding which recipe to pick. I chose a Frittata! I haven't made many Frittat's in my life but the few I have made I've enjoyed. It looked nice and light and like it would re-heat well as leftovers so I decided to give it a go.
The Frittata was delicious and so easy to cook. I would use a smaller pan next time because it came out thin but the flavors blended together perfectly! I love asparagus and the crunchy pieces that were all throughout the Frittata gave the meal a good texture. And it re-heated well the next day for dinner and the day after that for lunch at work. I would definitely recommend this dish it was easy to cook, flavorful and delicous! (Also, as a side note, you could really put anything in this frittata: canadian bacon, onions, mushrooms, etc.)
Frittata with Asparagus, Tomato & Fontina Cheese
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons of whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 pieces
1 tomato, seeded and diced
3 ounces fontina cheese, cubed
Preheat the broiler. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper to blend. Set aside. In a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat the oil and butter over a medium flame. Add the asparagus and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato and saute 2 minutes longer. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and sprinkle the cheese over. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 mintues. Place the skillet under the broiler and broil until the top is set and golden brown, about 4 mintues. Let the frittata stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from the skillet and slide the frittata onto a plate. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve.
Post in Comments:
What are you favorite frittata ingredients?
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
If I had to pick a favorite section of the Haupt Conservatory I would say either the desert or the Season Flower section. Either way the Haupt Conservatory is a neat place to explore and walk through.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Eclipse, Stephanie Meyer
629 pages, @2007
Elipse is the 3rd book in the Twilight series:) In Eclipse, Edward is back in town and him and Bella are as inseparable as ever, much to Jacob Black's chagrin. It becomes apparent that a vampire is creating "newborn vampires" in Seattle without monitoring them and they are on the loose killing people. The Cullens realize that the only way the are going to win the upcoming battle is to pair up with Jacob and "his friends". This forces Edward and Jacob to work together to (once again) save Bella. Will they be able to?
Breaking Dawn, Stephanie Meyer
754 pages, @ 2008
In the 4th and final book, Bella has finally made her choice between Edward and Jacob (thank goodness!) Looking forward to her future and joining her new family. On her honeymoon something shocking happens no one ever though possible. Soon the wrath of the Volturri is upon them and Bella and her new family once again have to fight to protect themselves.
Meyer's once again weaves a great story in both books. I will say the whole Edward or Jacob decision in the 3rd book was a little wearing...you can't love them both and have them both you have to choose! I was glad that the decision was made at the end so that in the 4th book the characters could move forward. In addition, I will say that I felt that the 4th book was too long. It was 100+ pages longer than any other book in the series and it felt longer. There were just some "waiting" parts and I wish Meyer had shortened some of those scenes up. However, I thoroughly enjoyed and devoured both books (finished them in 3 days I think!)
I would definitely recommend this series for someone looking for a brain break and to escape to another world via a book! I definitely escaped reality for a couple of days.
The only other comment I have about the whole series was that I thought that Meyer's writing was pretty atrocious. She's lucky she weaves a good story because if these books were at all judged for her writing effort it would not be nearly as positive. I say that only because as a serious reader, you will need to adjust your literary perception and just get over it from the beginning and remember that you're reading the book for the story not for her literary prowess, otherwise you might not get through them!
Storytelling: 4 stars Writing: 2 stars
Post in Comments:
Did you read the Twilight series?
Did you enjoy all 4 books? Which was your favorite?
Friday, May 22, 2009
Bourbon Street Bar & Grill has a great raised back section that we reserved for the night. It's part of the bar but separate enough as well. Every night Bourbon Street has $5 hurricanes - can we say danger, danger, danger.
It was a great space, a great atmosphere, really fun music (REALLY FUN MUSIC!!!) It is definitely a place I would go back to!
Post in Comments:
Have you been to Bourbon Street Bar & Grill?
Do you love hurricanes (the drinks, not the storms)?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The 10 genres are: Animation, Romantic Comedy, Western, Sports, Mystery, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Gangster, Courtroom Drama and Epic. I think it is realistic for us to finish this up in 2-3 years (that would be about one movie a week...OK maybe 3-4 years...we'll see how it goes!) We are going to re-watch any movie that we have already seen unless we've seen it within the month that we started the genre. We are starting off with the Gangster genre (that wouldn't have been my 1st choice but we recently just watched The Godfather and The Godfather II so we figured 2 movies down let's just start there...unfortunately we watched the out of order but I'm going to review them in order.)
So here we go....
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Arthur Avenue, is the heart of The Bronx's Little Italy. My mom had heard a lot about it and wanted to go try it out. She had done her research which landed us at Ann & Tony's restaurant. We were probably the only "non-regulars" and non-Italian people in the place! They literally had to put a table together for us towards the front of the restaurant. It was pretty cool!
We started off with a bottle of Chianti (yum!) and bread with olive oil. The olive oil was only the best dipping olive oil any of us had ever had. From what we could tell it was a combination of olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper. It was divine. They had to bring us seconds because none of us could stop eating it!
It was a prix fixed menu so for our appetizer they brought out for the table: eggplant parmesean and fried mozzerella cheese. They were both delicious although I perferred the cheese because I'm not quite an eggplant lover yet. Then they brought out our pasta. We had a choice of two and I chose the penne in vodka sauce. It was delish! I should have bought some to bring home it was that good. Even though I knew I had another dish coming I just could not stop myself from finishing the bowl!
My entree was chicken parm (of course!) and it was huge. I brought 3/4 of it home for Jon for dinner that night so he got to enjoy a taste of Arthur Avenue as well. Lastly, we all had a small bowl of ice cream for dessert. We had wanted gelato but their freezer had been left over and their basement was covered in gelato so that was not meant to be.
The meal lasted about 3-3.5 hours! It was a lot of food but it was over a lot of time and it was so good. I came home and immediately changed for the gym and was down there for 90 minutes. I felt fine the next day!
Overall, I loved eating on Arthur Avenue. I would definitely return (with reservations again of course.) I would know to eat light before going next time:) It's a hidden gem and next time I would love to look in the Italian Deli's and Gourmet Food Shops to see what unique ingredients I might be able to pick up.
Post in Comments:
Have you ever eaten on Arthur Avenue?
What's your favorite Italian restaurant?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Dragonfly in Amber, Diana Gabaldon
961 pages, @ 2001
A couple of months ago I started the Outlander series. Dragonfly in Amber is the second book in the series.
In Dragonfly in Amber, Claire Randall returns to Scotland with her 20 year old daughter, Brianna, who has flaming red hair! She is there to do some research on the Battle of Culloden. She then flashes back and picks the story up from where it left off with her and Jamie Fraser arriving in Paris, trying to thwart the Bonnie Prince Charles from taking the thrown in order to protect Scotland and it's people.
Dragonfly is a good 2nd novel. It dragged a little bit in the beginning because there was not as much "action" more plotting and a lot of characters to get to know! However, once past page 300 it was back to what one expects from Gabaldon - action, romance and suspense! I could not put it down. And I cannot wait to start on Voyager the 3rd book in the series.
If you are into romance, action and light on historical fiction then these books are for you!
New Moon, Stephanie Meyer
Ok, I have already warned you in my last Monday Bookworms post that I have become totally addicted to the Twilight Series.
In New Moon, Edward decides that the best thing for Bella would be him leaving. She is upset beyond belief and turns to Jacob Black for comfort. The friendship blossoms until all of a sudden he won't return her calls or see her. Soon she learns his secret. Towards the end of the novel Edward is in danger and Bella has to go rescue him and she has to choose: Jacob or Edward.
Once again, Meyers weaves a great story together. I liked that this book focused on Jacob Black's character. It sets up the 3rd book nicely. I would say that Meyers writing is a little better here or maybe I just thought the story was better and didn't notice the writing as much! I'll review the 3rd and 4th book in the Twilight series next Monday....bet you can't wait.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Our first outing back in March was at Arctica Bar & Grill. I had never been there even though it's in my neighborhood. There were not that many "A" Bars to choose from.
The owner of the bar was awesome. We were able to use the private room in the basement level of the bar for free and he extended the Happy Hour for us till 10PM. Can't beat that!
I definitely like the upstairs part of the bar (in the above picture) better - it has a lot of character and there is this great seating in the back with big couch type chairs and a fireplace, which would be cozy for a cold winter night. I love the decor. The downstairs room was big, had a couple of high top tables, a pool table and of course TV's! It was the perfect spot for an event for 40 people.
Arctica Bar & Grill is definitely a bar I would return to most likely during the winter months! If you haven't been you should check it out.
Arctica Bar & Grill
384 3rd Avenue (between 27th and 28th Streets)
New York, NY 10001
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Then we decided to stay in town, since then, we go back every opportunity we get. It's definitely one of our two favorite neighborhood restaurants.
Last Wednesday, I went to Penelopes with Shion, Christina & Emily after book group to celebrate Shion's new job. I suggested it because it was close to our book group meeting and close to the 6 train, so easy for everyone to get home.
We only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, so we each got a drink at the bar, and ended up brining them to our table. We ordered the artichoke & spinach dip for an appetizer. This is THE BEST artichoke & spinach dip I've ever had. They serve it in a bowl and toasted pieces of homemade bread are what it is served with to spread the dip on. It is divine. (Hopefully everyone else liked it!)
For dinner I was debating between trying something new and getting my "usual". Shion suggested that we split our dinners so that I could try something new and she could try two different things. So she ordered the Hummus and Avocado sandwich (description: Hummus and Avocado with tomato, red onion, arugula, and a drizzle of balsamic dressing on somun bread). I went ahead an ordered my usual the Veggie Burger. I am not a vegeterian by any stretch of the imagination but their Veggie Burger is out of this world! (description: Veggie Burger Heaven flame-grilled garden burger on a toasted english muffin with pesto mayo, sliced red onion, greens, and tomato). It is so flavorful and after our dinner Shion & I both agreed that the Veggie Burger Heaven was the better sandwich.
Next time I go I'd like to try one of their salads...but I don't know that I'll be able to pass up the Veggie Burger....we'll see! If you're ever in NYC and looking for a real kitchy, eccentric, low key, neighborhoody place with good prices and great food, Penelope Cafe is definitely worth the visit.
159 Lexington Avenue at 30th Street
New York, NY 10016
Post in Comments:
Have you ever eaten at Penelope's? Did you love it?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Twilight, Stephanie Meyer
498 pages @2005
OK, so I know that I have been MIA from my blog and this book, no this series, is the reason why. IT IS SO ADDICTING!!!
When my new co-worker started 6-8 weeks ago she recommended the series to me and brought the first book in the series in for me, therefore making it more likely I would read it. I had a gazillion books home from the library that I needed to get through before I could pick this up. Finally once I finished all the library books I decided I would just read this real quick so I could return it to Christina.
I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into. Twilight is the story of Bella Swan. She moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington (?) to live with her dad because her mom is getting remarried. On the first day of school she sees Edward Cullen from afar and is instantly drawn to him. She doesn't understand his hositility to her at first but then as she discovers what he is she begins to understand. But can she help herself from falling in love with him? Even though she knows his secret?
This is totally a PG romance novel for tweens (at least so far...). Meyer's writing is not at all impressive and I found the 1st book a little repititive at times but her storytelling is pretty addicting. She's certainly weaved a good story, one that keeps you turning the pages, and continuing on with the series.
I'm currently on book 3 and hoping to finish the 4th book by this weekend. Then you'll have my take on the entire series (so far I can say that each book is getting better in my opinion.) I would recommend the series, especially as a good summer, brain break.
Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
202 pages, @1961
On to more literary books! Franny and Zooey was Emily's book group pick for May. I was excited to pick it up because I'd read Catcher in the Rye and remember liking it so I was looking forward to getting to read Salinger again.
The book is broken down into two shorter stories. The first story, titled Franny, takes place in a small college town. Franny is meeting her boyfriend Lane Coutell for lunch and a football game. However, over lunch as she listens to him talk on and on about his most recent essay that he's written, she begins to have an unexplained mental breakdown.
In the second story, titled Zooey, Franny is back at home at The Glass Family home in NYC. Zooey, one of her older brothers, and Bessie, her mother, are trying to figure out how they can help Franny. During this part of the book you get a lot of background information on The Glass Family.
This was definitely a piece of literature. One that at times I felt was a bit over my head. I was glad that I was able to make it to book group to discuss the book because I felt it helped me to understand it better. Themes in Salingers's book are: family, defining moments in life, intellectuals, religion and perhaps even the meaning of life.
We all agreed during our discussion that the character of Zooey was probably an accurate portrayl of Salinger himself. And while I didn't love the book, I definitely would be curious to read, The Nine, by Salinger. I've heard that some of the short stories in that book are about The Glass Family and I'd be curious to learn more.
Post in Comments:
Have you read the Twilight Series? If so, what did you think of it?
Have you read Franny & Zooey? Which character did you like best?
Friday, May 8, 2009
The place was a decent size and we had this little section up in the front to ourselves. We didn't get as big a crowd as we had when we hit up the bars in midtown and downtown. People felt the Upper East Side was a bit far.
While the atmosphere of the bar itself isn't anything to write home about their drink specials certainly are. Every Thursday you can pay $15 and have an open bar from 7-10PM. Granted the open bar only consists of Bud Light and Well Drinks. But hey, I'm a Bud Light kinda of girl, so this is my kind of deal!
They have a juke box and so there is always a good selection of music playing and it definitely gets more crowded the later it gets. I wouldn't go out of my way to go hear again but if I found myself on the UES on a Thursday night I would certainly take advantage of the drink specials.
For more information you can click here to visit their website.
East End Bar & Grill
1664 First Avenue (between 86th and 87th Street)
New York City, NY 10028
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Randomly Jon and I got this movie off our Netflix queue. OK well, it wasn't that random, I mean I had put it in our queue, but it was pretty random we chose to watch it.
I had remembered hearing about it in high school and I remember the soundtrack well! I was excited as I felt this was kind of a movie that everyone my generation had seen.
Boy, was it bizarre. Essentially the plot is that this group of men are going to rob a jewelry store and something goes wrong, the cops come, people die and a few of them end back at the meeting spot. Everyone jumps to conclusions and it's basically a long drawn out conversation with flashbacks as to what they should do next.
I can't say that I really enjoyed it necessarily while we were watching. There were a lot of long drawn out scenes and at times I was like, "What is the point of this movie?" But the ending was so enjoyable...in a weird way...but I liked the way it ended and it brought the whole movie together for me. So I found that redeeming. I can't say that I would outrightly recommend it but I'd be curious to hear what other people thought of this movie (Quentin Tarantino's first!)
Post in Comments:
Have you seen Reservoir Dogs?
Did you like it?
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
One of the items on our list of things to do in NYC was to bike around the entire island of Manhattan. Now we didn't quiet accomplish that on Sunday, April 26th when we headed up to the Upper East Side to rent bikes & helmets, but we still had fun. We rented our bikes from Bike Heaven on East 62nd between 2nd and 1st. It didn't take that long and we were off on our way.
I'm not an incredibly strong biker, I probably bike once a year, and it's always a challenging experience for me, yet I continue to suggest these crazy bike riding ideas and end up doing them. Last year when we biked Valley Forge (another one of my crazy ideas that almost got us killed when our bus driver dropped us off in the wrong spot on the side of an almost highway that we had to cross...but that's another story for another time) I broke the bike (chain fell off) and didn't learn how to use the gears until we were almost done (and let me tell you those hills at Valley Forge without bike gears - really tough!)
So needless to say, you can imagine how nervous I was about biking in NYC. I informed Jon that I was going to walk my bike to the path about 3 blocks away along the river because I wasn't comfortable riding next to the taxis on 2nd Avenue. He met me there opting to ride.
We biked up the east river to about 116th street where the path ended. We opted to just go straight across the island as opposed to going North and going all the way around. I made it across the island biking in the road with the cars although it wasn't nearly as congested up at 116th street. When we got to the West Side Highway or River Side Park we biked down to about 67th street.
At that time we decided to be adventurous because Jon really wanted to bike in Central Park. We biked part way across Manhattan in a pretty congested area to Central Park and entered at 72nd Street (and yes, we survived and it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be but I was also feeling more comfortable on the bike having been on it for about 2 hours). We biked down Central Park and exited on the Southeast corner and then rode in the streets again heading back to the bike shop.
It was definitely an adventure. It was such a great way to see NYC in a different way. It was calming, relaxing, there were a ton of other people out on the paths enjoying the perfect NY day, and we just really loved every minute of it.
Next time I think we're going to rent bikes down by the Seaport and bike along the path towards the Southern part of the island! I'll make sure to blog and let you know how it goes....:)
Monday, May 4, 2009
The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe
685 Pages, copyright 1987
Ahhh...at long last (and a good 3 months late) I finish the New Classics Reading Challenge. The Bonfire of the Vantities was the 6th (and final) book that I read for my very first Reading Challenge. Even though I finished late, I finished. The New Classics Reading Challenge was the reason I picked up this book, although it has always been on my list of "must read" books.
The Bonfire of the Vanities takes place in New York City in the 1980's. It follows Sherman McCoy, a bond tradesman, at Pierce & Pierce; Peter Fallow, a British ex-patriate, who works for The City Lights, a local tabloid newspaper; Larry Kramer, an assistant district attorney in the Bronx; and Reverand Reginald Bacon an activist.
One incident that occurs in the book will bind all of these characters together. Bonfires of the Vanities tackles the issues of GREED, social class, racism and ambition. The title literally means a huge fire of the vanities/conceits of all the characters in the book. I don't want to say what the incident is because I do not want to give away too much of what happens, so you'll just have to read the book to find out.
I have only read Tom Wolfe one time prior to this, I Am Charlotte Simmons. Wolfe's strength is taking everyday life and filling it with the most despicable, unsympathetic characters. There are few characters I have hated more than Wolfe's. He takes it to excess.
The first half of this book Wolfe works in great details to build these characters, to make you the reader understand each of them and what makes them tick. Then the incident occurs and the book really takes off. While I criticized what I felt was his excessive character development I understood why he did it as I was reading the 2nd half of the book.
I felt that the 2nd half of the book redeemed itself. Wolfe certainly makes you think. When everyone's motives are wrong then who is right? How many of us every given day are motivated by truly selfless motives? What would we have done if we were in the shoes of any of these different characters (well, I hope a lot - because like I said they were pretty despicable!)
Overall, I would say this book is a take it or leave it purely based on the length. It was a long haul and a real commitment to read and I'm not sure at the end I was satisfied. I was certainly happy that I had read Wolfe's most beloved and well known novel but I can't say I would enthusiastically recommend it. If you told me you were reading it though I'd be interested to discuss it with you.
Perfect Match, Jodi Picoult
352 pages, copyright 2002
I decided it was time to pick up another Jodi Picoult book because I hadn't read her in awhile.
The premise of Perfect Match is, Nathaniel Frost, a 5-year old boy, is sexually molested and his parents decide to take justice for their son into their own hands. The book makes you question what makes a good parent and what would you or wouldn't you do to protect your child?
I did not think that this was one of Picoult's stronger novels. I just felt too much happened, once you got over one hurdle something else went wrong and so on and so forth. Most things that went wrong centered around the mother, Nina Frost. She was not a sympathetic character and it was hard for me to get behind some of the decisions she made. I found her incredibly selfish, claiming to do the things she was doing for her son, but it seemed like she was doing them more for herself and what she could and could not live with. Now granted I'm not a mother so maybe I would have felt differently if I had a 5 year old son and I was reading this novel.
In addition, I found child molestation a very difficult topic to read about. It's not very uplifting and you really do not want to know the details. Thankfull Picoult was not too graphic. I will also say that I was displeased with the ending of this book...but I won't say more about that because I do not want to give it away.
With all that said I did not hate the book. I thought her writing was strong and she once again tackled a very timely issue. This book was published in 2002 during the Catholic Church scandal. I would not outright recommend it but if you were to pick it up I wouldn't say it was a bad read, it was just OK.
Post in Comments:
Have you read Tom Wolfe? Do you like his writing style?
What's your favorite Jodi Picoult book?