Archive | August, 2010

Chocolate Salty Balls

30 Aug

I had read about cake balls in just about every food blog I touched for a few months, so when a co-worker’s birthday came up, I had to try to make them. 

The idea is that you bake a regular cake, break it up and combine it with cake frosting so it becomes a fudgy texture, roll it into balls, then dip it in melted chocolate and let them harden.  What could be bad about that?  I actually chose to do brownies and combined it with cream cheese frosting.  Here are the rolled balls:

I had read that the dipping process could be hard as the balls are heavy and fall off a toothpick, so upon exploring candy dipping advice, I saw an ingenious idea.

It’s simply a plastic fork with the center two tines removed.  Easy peasy!  I made sure the balls were big enough to sit on the outer tines and then you just dip and scoop them out. 


One of my favorite things with chocolate recently is to add some sea salt.  (One of my favorite all-time recipes is chocolate covered toffee with salt). 

I know some people don’t love salt with chocolate, so I made some sweet versions.  The salted ones were GONE before the sweet ones were even halfway eaten. 

But they made for such a fun birthday treat!

Next time I really want to try red velvet cake + cream cheese or banana cake + vanilla frosting.

The recipe is really simple, but if you need some tips, here are two links:

http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/cake-balls/Detail.aspx

and

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/how-to-make-cake-pops-078637 (they feature the cuter version of putting them on lollipop sticks!)

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Tir Na Nog

16 Aug

We met up with some family friends who were in the city from Upstate New York before a Yankees Game.  We had very little time and they were coming to Penn Station.  There aren’t a ton of great options near Penn Station, but Tir Na Nog (on 8th Ave at 33rd Street) has offered up some decent meals for me in the past. 

First up was the quiche du jour.  I can’t recall what it was, but I know it was enjoyed.

The open face steak sandwich came on Toasted Rustic Bread with Sweet Onion Jam, Melted Boursin Cheese, French Fries.  I know this was a hit and I was lucky enough to try the fries.  These were AWESOME fries! Perfectly crispy on the outside, just the right seasoning, and potato-y on the inside.

Both my dad and sister ordered the Vanilla French Toast with Maple Syrup.  My dad declared it “the best French Toast” he ever ate.  Stacey said it was good, but not that good.  I agreed with Stacey.

The burger looked tasty, too. But it was on the other side of the table so I’m not sure.

I chose the Smoked Salmon Benedict and it was DELICIOUS.  Perfectly cooked eggs, great light hollandaise, deliciously smoked salmon, and perfectly cooked potatoes.

Mmm Mmm Mmmm.

I was actually really impressed by the brunch here.  I wasn’t expecting much seeing as though it is near Penn Station and many Irish places in NYC come out with very run of the mill, bland food.  This was all the classics done right.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Weight Watchers Recipe- Rosemary-Grilled Pork Chops with Potatoes and Zucchini

13 Aug

Usually dinner is planned based upon what is in the fridge that day.  This day we had pork chops, yellow zucchini (not summer squash… I wonder what the difference is), and potatoes.  What luck that Weight Watchers has a recipe entitled “Rosemary-Grilled Pork Chops with Potatoes and Zucchini.”

Unfortunately, NYC living does not provide us with a grill, however, our apartment stove luckily provides us with a griddle top!  Usually works pretty well (besides the smoke alarm factor). 

I love mini potatoes, and when they get crispy and brown, they are my favorite.  I haven’t found any healthy way of making them as delicious as when you fry them up, but it’s a fine alternative.

It was easy to use the same top for the pork and zucchini.  The rosemary is key in this.  

The assemblage was delicious and everything went really well together.  It was incredibly easy and, though the potatoes take a pretty long time, it was quick to throw together!

It wound up being about 1.5 servings each based on the pork weight (the recipe called for 4, 4 oz portions but we had 2 6 oz. portions), so the point value was about 9 for the whole meal (would have been 6 with the 4 oz. chops).  To get a full meal this delicious for 9 points? I’m in!

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RECIPE
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Ingredients:

  • 1/8 tsp lemon zest, or to taste  (I used lemon juice only, but I think the zest would have been nice)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, juice of 1 large lemon  
  • 2 Tbsp rosemary, fresh, chopped  
  • 3 clove(s) garlic clove(s), crushed with a garlic press  
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, extra-virgin  
  • 16 oz lean boneless pork chop, center-cut, trimmed of all visible fat, 4 (4-ounce)  
  • 1 tsp table salt  
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground  
  • 1 pound(s) Yukon Gold potato(es), or any baby potatoes, scrubbed and halved  
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1⁄8-inch-thick slices

Directions:

  1. Combine the lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle the pork with 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the pepper. Rub half of the rosemary mixture over the pork. Put the pork on a plate, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to several hours.
  2. Spray the grill rack with nonstick spray; prepare the grill.
  3. Toss the potatoes with the remaining rosemary mixture,1⁄4 teaspoon of remaining salt, and 1⁄8 teaspoon of remaining pepper in a medium bowl. Lightly spray the potatoes with nonstick spray, then place on the grill, cut-side down. Grill the potatoes 5 inches from the heat, turning once, until tender, 45 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl; cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Sprinkle the zucchini with the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper; lightly spray the zucchini with nonstick spray. Put the pork and zucchini on the grill. Grill the pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the pork chops registers 160°F for medium, about 4 minutes on each side. Grill the zucchini until tender, about 4 minutes on each side. Put the pork and zucchini on a platter. Drizzle the lemon juice over the zucchini. Serve with the potatoes. Yields 1 pork chop with 1⁄4 of zucchini and potatoes per serving.

La Masseria – Theater District

11 Aug

So after the miss at Scarmella’s, Mike’s family redeemed themselves in my foodie heart when they chose La Masseria.  I wasn’t expecting much as they are in the theater district (on 48th near 8th Ave), however, we walked in to a lovely setting and then it just kept getting better.

I can honestly say that I have NO idea what I ordered.  I know I enjoyed it and lopped up every last drop with the delicious bread… but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it was.  It must have been a special. 

(Side Note: I have remedied this recently by buying a little pad of paper that has a metal cover… to avoid breaking apart… and a pen that latches in… to avoid losing of the pen.  Thank you for the inspiration Lori!)

The tagliatelle alla bolognese was fantastic.  All the flavors were so fresh and the pasta was obviously JUST made.  Delish.

Mike ordered the prawn.  And it was the biggest freakin prawn I have EVER seen.  I did a terrible job at showing the size, however, consider that this is not a small dinner plate.  Oh no… that is an average sized dinner plate right there.  It was at least the length of a remote control.  Oh… and it tasted awesome!

I was so impressed with this place.  Everything just tasted so. damn. good.  A great little find in the middle of a typically sub-par food neighborhood.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Scaramellas – Dobbs Ferry, NY

9 Aug

So there are complications with writing a blog and people knowing about it.  Mainly, when a review isn’t so good and it’s your boyfriend’s family that chose the location.  So, in advance, I’m sorry Mike’s family!

For fathers day, we took the train to Dobbs Ferry to eat at Scaramella’s. They  have a nice menu and we ordered some items that sounded quite good.  First was a special.  I believe it was seafood and gnocchi in a pesto sauce.  The pesto was bland. How do you make pesto bland?

I chose the veal marsala.  All I remember was “chewy” and “bland.”

Which came with a side of ziti in (runny) tomato sauce (that tasted right out of a jar… or worse).  Now there is no excuse for bland tomato sauce.  You can always make a tomato sauce taste good (though making it taste great is an art).  This was blander than bland.  It gave me flashbacks of eating food in a hospital where they add no salt and no seasoning to be perfectly reasonable to a palate without taste buds.

They did do a nice job on the capucchino though…

Overall, just one word comes to mind for this place: Bland.  Don’t bother. (Sorry again Mike’s fam!)

Total Nom Points: 4 out of 10

Just Desserts

6 Aug

The one prized possession I received in what I inherited from my Grandmother (beyond the awesome furniture, jewelry, and art) is her recipe folder.  There are recipes in here torn out from newspapers from decades ago and scribbled notes from friends (and friends of friends).  Some of them are so stained by butter that they are nearly translucent and the ink is almost impossible to read. 

 I have only just begun to explore the treasures in this folder.  The first one I sought out, however, was the famous brownie recipe.  I made these first thing when the family was getting together to celebrate my Grandmother’s life.  I have made them about a dozen times since and introduced them to friends and coworkers.  They are ALWAYS a hit.  They have even been called “the best brownies I’ve ever tasted.”  Thanks Grandma.

The batter is “old style,” using Baker’s chocolate (and none of that new age, chip stuff!)  It’s actually quite hard to find sometimes… but I try to keep a stash for the days I want to make a treat for someone.

The cook up so perfectly.  Crispy on the outside and on the top, fudgey on the inside.  Every time. 

And I’m sure you’re all licking your lips for the recipe, however, I am a terrible tease and will not be sharing it.

Though since I’m not ENTIRELY mean, I’ve also included the easy rugelach recipe I made a few weeks ago.

The secret to this is Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations, which is the same as their crescent rolls but without the pre cut slits.  (I used them before on the delicious chicken tarts).  You can roll it out thinner to use as the basis for rugelach.

I mixed up the classic filling, fruit and nuts.  I went with two variations.  The first was blueberries and nuts.

The second was strawberries with mini chocolate chips and nuts.

You slice the dough into long triangles and fill it with a thin layer of fruit.

Then you roll them up from the big end to the little end.

I layed them all on a Silpat and then sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar.

They baked up very nicely, though next time I would back them a little more so they get a little crispier.  They tasted DELICIOUS, however.  Great and easy treat to bring to a picnic.

And they are only 1 Weight Watcher point per cookie! Not bad!

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RECIPE
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Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations Rugallach

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray (or silpat mat)
  • 1 can of Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations
  • ~1/2 cup fresh fruit (your choice)
  • ~1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1 Tbl. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbl. flour
  • 1 Tbl. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbl. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with a Silpat
  3. Combine fruit, nuts, and granulated sugar in a separate bowl
  4. Roll out crescent rolls to 1/8” thickness on a lightly floured surface
  5. Cut into about 16 long triangles (a pizza slicer works best for this)
  6. Spoon about a teaspoon of filling into center of triangle, leaving ends free of filling
  7. Roll the dough from the wide edge to the point
  8. Place rolled cookies onto cookie sheet
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown
  10. Let sit for about 5 minutes
  11. Dust cookies with cinnamon and powdered sugar (if you push them all together, it makes this easier, but I never bother)

NYC Nom Nom is on Vacation (again)

2 Aug

Fear not loyal readers… I will be returning at the end of the week.

I am currently back in Maine, this time with the family.  Expect more fun Maine posts soon!