Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Tree at Bryant Park

Last Friday, we went to see the Christmas tree lighting at Bryant Park. It's been a while since I was there but the park has turned into a beautiful area for holiday shopping, eating, and ice-skating. There was a Christmass show featuring operatic singing and ice-skating performances by a future Olympian in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Here is a picture of the 76 foot tree donated by a Connecticut family.


And here is a picture of a comparable tree! Still looks pretty good from a few feet away!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey in a Bag

This year was our first attempt to cook a Thanksgiving turkey and it was surprisingly easy and quick to make! I wanted to rave about the oven-bag method for cooking a turkey because it turned out juicy and plump. Yum!

Thanks to Reynold's for selling their oven bags and making turkeys delicious for families across the country. Seriously. We had a 14 pound turkey that cooked in about 2 - 2.5 hours. We let it rest until ready for carving and it was perfect. And for those that worried about the beautiful browning of the skin, it wasn't a problem for us!


Here are some tips that we incorporated into our turkey making process:
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed out! Wash and dry the turkey at least a few hours ahead of the cook time so that the skin has time to dry out (for better browning). Rub the turkey with a herb butter rub consisting of one stick of melted butter, dried spices such as sage, thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper. I also added sprinked paprika all over the turkey to enhance the brown color. Most importantly, we stuffed the cavity of the turkey with an orange, lemon and onions to enhance flavor and juices. Finally, we made a large bed of vegetables on the bottom of the bag consisting of onions and celery stalks - it also helped that we had a large bag of onions to use up!

The only negative to this cooking process? We were too lazy to take the entire turkey out of the bag so we simply carved it while it was still inside the bag. It made for less messy cleaning but we lost some of the OOOH and AHHHing effect of seeing the whole turkey.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Thanksgiving is here and gone (except for the leftovers inside my refrigerator) but I had to share a recipe for the two delicious pumpkin cheesecakes that I made for my own dinner party and also at my friend's party. It was the perfect ending to a turkey-stuffed meal especially since almost everyone is a fan of cheesecake. And pumpkin cheesecake is even more appropriate for the holiday's, right?? My best compliment of the night was when someone said that it tasted better than a Junior's cheesecake!!!

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Cheesecake:

9 inch graham cracker crust
2 packages of 8 oz cream cheese (I used a lower-fat version)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (or a little more for more pumpkin flavor)
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
2 eggs
Optional: vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the spices/salt/vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Beat in the eggs until the mixture is creamy. Pour the batter into the crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center comes out clean with a toothpick. It should poof up a little like a balloon when it is done. Let cool before decorating with whipped cream.

I made my own whipping cream by beating heavy cream, sugar ream and vanilla extract. It was really easy to decorate by creating my own piping bag with a ziploc bag and cutting the tip off the corner. Voila!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Curry Beef Pastries

I finally baked! Well actually I baked chocolate chip cookies last weekend to get my oven ready for the holidays. And I was inspired again this weekend to venture into something different, a world of pastries. It is not that impressive since I purchased the pastry from Pillsbury - but I had to make the filling that goes inside of it!

Here are some general tips for making the filling that I found from reading different recipes. It starts out with a basic 1 pound of ground beef, 1/2 onion chopped, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 tablespoons of curry. Simple enough. I actually used an entire small onion because I like to have different filling texture in my mouth. Plus I love the taste of curry, so I added in an extra tablespoon of curry along with dashes of garlic powder and pepper.

Lastly, and here is the secret, adding a binding ingredient such as mashed potatoes or bread crumbs to the filling makes a world of a difference. We mashed two small potatoes and cooked it with the beef mixture. It was fantastic! This prevented the beef from becoming too crumbly. Others have used added yogurt but I wanted to keep it similar to the Indian samosa.

And here is a picture of the making of the beef pastry. Spoon in 2 tablespoons of the filling on one side of the dough. I cut the pastry dough into squares and folded them into triangles. Don't worry about overstuffing the pastries since it is always better to have more meat inside than less. I used a fork to help seal the edges and give it a nice look.


And here they are, all finished and ready to be frozen in my freezer! We cooked some right away at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, which was not necessary (almost got a little burnt). But watch your oven carefully since it just needs to be reheated. You may want to brush the pastries with an eggwash before putting them in an oven, for a nice pretty golden color.


Enjoy! I can't wait to enjoy my pastries in the upcoming days!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yankees Parade Pictures

Okay, so by now it is old news that the Yankees are 2009 World Champions. But let's face it, they are still milking their win. So I figured I would post pictures of the parade down the Canon of Heroes in downtown NY....here is my view of the parade. Please note: I didn't leave for the parade until 10 minutes after it started. I *might* have to leave earlier for the next Yankees parade.

Look! Ticker tape! Er....your old tax forms.

The last float in the parade. It was hilarious that it collapsed before it went down the parade line.


The crowds! This is my only chance to view the players....by jumping up and down through the heads and cameras.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ritter Sport Chocolates

Today I took a lovely stroll around lunchtime today with some coworkers when we were stopped by a woman who asked us "Would you like a piece of chocolate?" Of course I said YES! She also took a picture of us and posted it on their website, Ritter Sports Friends. As it turns out, this near 100 year old chocolate company has a great social networking presence on facebook, twitter and myspace.

We were given a solid square of chocolate and a short pamphlet on the different chocolate varieties. Mine was milk chocolate in a butter biscuit, my absolute favorite. There are different sizes in their chocolate bars, with the standard size being 100g while a king-sized bar is 250g.

Here are some of their enticing flavors: Cornflakes (how freaking neat would that taste?!), Cappuccino, White Whole Hazelnuts, Caramel Nuts, Butter Biscuit, Marzipan, Peppermint, Raisins & Hazelnut, Whole Almonds, Yogurt...Oh which one should I try first?!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kodak Gallery Coupon Code

I've been an avid user of Kodak Gallery since 2000, but I have to admit that I've ventured off to other photo sharing sites in recent years. However, Kodak has made some impressive changes to their website which I am very excited about. Mainly, it is now easier to view and preview my photos in albums! I also love how easy it is to tag and edit the photos. If you haven't used Kodak Gallery in a while, here's a little incentive to try it out again.

Purchase your Holiday Cards, Photo Books, Mugs and hundreds of other products at Kodak!

Here are coupon codes for 40% off your order at the Kodak Gallery. If none of them work (only one per order), please leave a comment and I will post up additional codes. Expires 12/1/2009.

PARTAULIN2UY
PARTACCK2AYQ
PARTAFAHMWIY
PARTAJXACK7I
PARTAIFD2XNA
PARTAPVGJI2I

Restaurant Review: Ed's Chowder House

Ed’s Chowder House at The Empire Hotel
44 West 63rd Street (btwn Broadway & Columbus)
New York, NY 10023
212.956.1288

Ever since our weekend trip to Boston, we have been searching for equally delicious seafood restaurants in Manhattan. Forget the chain restaurants (aka McCormick's and Red Lobster)! We want good chowda, raw bar and grilled lobster!! So did Ed's Chowder House deliver?? Hmm it came pretty close. Read the following review closely before your first visit!

Pros: With the name 'chowder' in the restaurant name, we *had* to eat the chowder. And based on previous reviews and the waiter's recommendation, we had to eat "Ed's loaded shellfish chowder." This is a New England based chowder and then filled with a big chunk of scallop and shrimp! There were unmistakable chunks of clams as well and it made it all delicious! We were almost full from just eating the loaded chowder. Almost. Next, we tasted the Scallop Ravioli with white wine sauce & herbs ($12). Normally, I'm not a fan of scallops but the wine sauce and herbs made this dish absolutely to-die for!! I am definitely going to eat this again in my next visit. Our next appetizer came from the bar-menu. We wanted to try the jumbo lump crab cake from the entree section but we didn't want to order it as our entrees. So luckily we knew (from reading other reviews, hehe) that we could order ONE crab cake which is from the bar menu. Omigosh, this was also delicious - chunky crab meat over a delicious sauce. Sigh, heaven.

Cons: The cons are mostly relegated for our entrees. And it's only because we were so full from our appetizers that we couldn't really enjoy our entrees. I ordered the peppered tuna steak frites with herb butter ($28). Did not love it but only because they overcooked my tuna - I wanted it rare. Jander ordered the moist grilled lobster over a bed of julienned vegetables ($16 per pound with a minimum of 1.5 lbs). According to previous reviews, this is a very popular dish. However, they failed to warn us about the amount of butter used in the dish. They must have melted at least 3 sticks of butter in that one plate!!! And the worst part is, even the vegetables were cooked in butter. Seriously...I could feel my pores oozing with butter after tasting a bite of lobster. I would recommend trying the simple lobster.

Note: The entrees in the menu are divided into 'simple' and 'composed.' The composed items are cooked in a sauce and come with vegetables. And the simple are without sauce/vegetables. Given our experience with the sauces in their entrees, we will go with SIMPLE in the future!

Overall, we found the food delicious and the patrons in the restaurant a bit pretentious. It's definitely a fancy type of restaurant with the average age in the 40's range. Previous reviews have noted the lack of food knowledge by the waiters. Luckily we did not experience that...but I did notice that there were many 'hosts' in the restaurant. At first, I mistook them as guests in the restaurant because I've never seen so many male 'hosts' in a restaurant. They wore blazers and nice pants so I figured they would be patrons. Last observation, since the restaurant is inside the Empire Hotel, I had to 'leave' the restaurant to use the bathroom. I cannot wait to go back here and try their other appetizer options!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shecky's Girls Night Out 2009 - Part 2

So here are some additional details from my fun night at Shecky's Girls Night Out. One of the fun things that we got to do was attend a mini beer and food tasting event sponsored by Budweiser. I am not a personal fan of beers. And in fact, my de factor beer of choice is a Corona. So American lagers are not my cup of tea. But it turned out to be quite interesting....who knew that a Kirin Light compliments Asian foods such as edamame? The darkest ale was delicious with chocolate. But then again, everything tastes good with chocolate!

And to those that follow my blog, I am a huge Yes To Carrots fan! Here they are at the Shecky's event. Their booth was quite large and full of information regarding their products. They offered free hand massages with their nourishing hand cream.

As promised, here are pictures of the jewelry pieces I purchased from Sara G. Strauss. She is a local designer based in Brooklyn and makes unique whimsical pieces. Her style is to infuse a twist to traditional style. Here is the necklace that caught my eye. It was a bit short for my neck and I did not want to wear it like a chocker (do I have a thick neck? haha). But Sara was super nice, she asked me how long I wanted the necklace and then whipped out her tools to add in 2-3 inches of extra chain. Voila! Won't it look absolutely fab against a neutral v-neck sweater?


And here is the pair of earrings that caught my eye...there is actually a third link to the pair of earrings (another bellflower and stone) but I thought it was too long so I asked the designer to remove it. Again, customized jewelry! As my friend said to me "That is totally you! And the original length is totally me." I am so glad I purchased these two pieces...and I wish I brought more because the prices were so good!! (Shhh, don't tell my husabnd that).

Okay, and here is a picture of the goody bag that we received. It technically cost me $20 and I've heard that in the past, the items were really awesome. But...I was disappointed with the products. As you can see here, the quality is just so-so. I only say this because my Girl On Top goody bag was totally FREE for me! I was hoping for an awesome make-up product. Sigh. But instead, we received body lotion, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, Lindt chocolates, lip balm, tampons, razors, hair ties, veggie chips, teeth whitening, betty crocker chocolate dessert.....

Next year, I plan to attend the event sans the goody bag ticket! I would take the shopping and drinks over the goody bag anytime!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shecky's Girls Night Out 2009


This is actually my first year attending the Shecky's event but I've heard about it from my beauty friends for the last couple of years. So for those that are clueless about Shecky's...it is an online and event destination for all things beauty, fashion and shopping! And Girls Night Out is an opportunity for attendees to enjoy an evening of shopping with fabulous jewelry and clothing designers all while drinking (free) beer and vodka.

The best part of the night for me was all the jewelry shopping that I got to do!! I felt like I *had* to shop because I've never seen so many unique and beautiful pieces in one place! And indeed, many of the designers only make one-of-a-kind jewelry that are just exquisite looking. My favorite designer was Sara G. Strauss for her whimsical and fun designs! I loved her so much that I brought a pair of earrings and necklace from her. Check out the last picture for some of her unique designs.

Here are some notable highlights from my night out.





Want to hear more about my fun night? And see pictures of my jewelry purchases? Oh and did I mention the awesome beer and food pairing event? Stay tuned for my next post!

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Girl on Top" Book Tour in NYC


I attended the "Girl on Top" book tour when it came to New York City last Thursday. The book is written by career expert Nicole Williams who applies 20 tried-and-true dating rules to your career. She applies tactics used to land a guy (for example, Rule #8 Play Hard to Get) in handling work situations and coming out on top. The event was held at a pop-up The Limited Store in the SoHo area so there was plenty of opportunity for the guests to mingle, shop at a 40% discount, sip champagne and munch on cookies and truffles.
Here are a few pictures of the beautiful outfits at The Limited.




And the best part of the event for me? It was free and there was a gift (swag) bag worth over $100! Here are some of the notable items: animal print purse, glam business card holder, tarte eyeshadow, day moisurizer, Tepper Jackson card wallet among other coupons such as a $50 make-up consultation at Paul Labrecque salon & spa.


Click here to see future tour dates! The GOT book tour may be coming to a city near you!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brunch at Cafe Orlin

Here's a restaurant review of a brunch meal at Cafe Orlin in New York City.

41 St. Marks Pl., New York, NY 10003
212-777-1447

Surprisingly I didn't have my camera so I couldn't take pictures of the food, but trust me when I say...we would've finished eating everything on our plate before I take out the camera! So before I begin, the restaurant is very non-descript on the outside. There is a blackboard sign with the name of the restaurant, but otherwise it is easy to miss. This place is apparently quite popular for brunch, and it is quite easy to taste why...the food was fresh and tasty. Here is a link to a menu I found on-line but there were a few things that were not listed. Diana's Breakfast (two eggs any style with labana cheese, hummus and pita) was quite popular among patrons. My fellow eating buddies ordered the popular pumpkin pancakes cinnamon yogurt. The freshly squeezed orange juice was also a highlight at this restaurant. Yum yum. Lastly, there is a brunch option that has smoked salmon over a potato pancake and hollandaise eggs....highly recommend that as well!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

L'Oreal Color of Hope


L'Oreal Paris is taking a stand against ovarian cancer, and you can get a special day of beauty out of it!

Looking for a Fall cosmetics makeover? Visit the Walgreens Times Square in NYC this Friday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for free Color of Hope makeovers and a chance to meet L'Oréal makeup artist and Project Runway regular Collier Strong.

For goodies, or to see their product line, which, when you purchase an item, a donation will be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, go here:


Monday, September 14, 2009

Zip It Handbags

Here's an innovative twist on the traditional handbag - one that is made entirely of zippered strips of fabric! I was intrigued by the cool zipping effect that easily transformed into so many different items - such as a coin purse, tote bag, messenger bag and even a cosmetic bag. It turns out that the bags were invented by a local Boston fashion student who was working on a final art project. What a way to earn an A!

Here is what the tote bag looks like before it is assembled. Looks like quite a mess, eh?


After a few zips, the bag is fully assembled! The one on the left is a hip-banging purse and the one on the right is a messenger bag. And the best thing about this bag? If I don't feel like using it, I can unzip it roll it up into a ball. And because the zipper is so light-weight, the entire bag is very light - awesome for those travel trips.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Foodie's Visit to Boston

I recently toured Boston in search of fine seafood. I felt like a food personality host while visiting different cuisines and food spots for the best food that Boston has to offer. I've always coveted the likes of Rachel Ray whose one job is to visit different cities and eat and critique! So this was pretty close to what I always dreamed of their job's responsibilities. The only downside? I felt like I had to finish eating all the dishes and I doubt the hosts on tv do more than take a few 'bites' of their food. As a result...I had a very full tummy throughout the entire trip.

Eating pho noodles in Chinatown...

Also at the Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown. According to our tour guide, the smaller the store sign in Chinatown, the better the food and service!


Dessert at Grill 23 and Bar restaurant. While this restaurant is right next to the Salvation Army, don't let that fool ya. A dress code is probably required even though we showed up in shorts, sneaks and sweatshirts!

And here is their version of creme brulee. Sadly not the best that we've had.


Our meal at Elephant Walk (near Fenway Park). It's a French/Cambodian restaurant and it is simply delicious. I wish they had this restaurant open in NYC because I would go for every occasion! This dish is called Luk Lak, part of their traditional Cambodian menu.


This was rated the best dish in Elephant Walk by Stuff Magazine. The seared Tuna was delicious, and part of their French dishes.


This was our meal at the Union Oyster House, during our Freedom Trail walk. I had the lobster roll sandwich (picture not shown) but I thought the fried oyster sandwich was really yummy!



Finally, where is the search for delicious seafood without a picture of a lobster?!! Well here you go...run to Quincy Market and park yourself in the bar stool and enjoy a fresh steamed lobster, chowder and corn for $18.50.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My "Yes To Carrots" Party products

I recently hosted my first Yes to Carrots party and it was so much fun! Here are some pictures from the party. The first is a picture of the products that we tested. My favorite was the body butter. The smell was light and not heavy on the skin. My skin retained a nice sheeny look throughout the day as well.


Even though the name of the company is Yes to Carrots, there are other product lines that are specific to different skin types, such as tomatoes, carrots and a special one for exfoliating skin.



The last picture are the gift bags that we gave to our guests! Each one contained a lip butter (similar to chapstick), a headband used for preventing hair on the face, and samples of their cream and facial washes. According to one guest, she said her face felt "rejuvenated" and "refreshed" after using the samples!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Green Tea Cheesecake

I haven't baked a Japanese cheesecake since December of last year. Sadly, I forgot how to make it as fluffy and smooth as I remember. I knew I messed up as soon as I finished the batter. But I compensated by adding 2 tablespoons of matcha powder (green tea) and also made a quick cream topping with heavy cream and a little bit of confectionary sugar and vanilla extract. I also added slices of strawberry on top because strawberries go hand in hand with cheesecake! Yum.

Here's a picture of my half-eaten cheesecake before I realized I didn't take a picture of it! It was soon devoured after this picture was taken.


And here are the nicely sliced pieces of my cheesecake on my dining room table.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hosting my own Yes To Carrots Party!


I'm so excited! I received news that I was selected (er, I signed up) to host a Yes To Carrots party!! Yes To Carrots is a natural and organic cosmetics company which started out with basic lip glosses and lotions. But now they have expanded to include tons of other cosmetic products and for sensitive and dry/oily skin.

Want to hear the best part? As a hostess, I get to invite all my friends who will receive free samples and gift bags of their products - YIPEE!! Stay tuned for more details and pictures of the party!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Making Inari Sushi

I've always enjoyed *eating* inari sushi especially since they are served in Japanese bento boxes, but I've never actually seen it made. It's actually very simple and fun to make. Here are pictures of the ingredients and the final product:

Here is a picture of the frozen tofu pouches. Just make sure you defrost before using.


And the secret to making sushi rice? This bottle of sushi seasoning. There's no need to mix vinegar and sugar anymore!


Make short-grain rice using your normal method. Mix in 4 tablespoons of the sushi seasoning to a bowl of rice (to taste). Fan the rice while mixing in the mixture to cool the rice! Sprinkle in white sesame seeds into the sushi rice (optional).

Next, you take a mound of the sushi rice and stuff into the tofu pouch. Make sure your hands are wet to prevent rice from sticking. Fold the pouch close and that's it.


Looks yummy and is very easy to make!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

LeSportsac Sample Sale


June 9-11, 2009
Tues 4pm-9pm
Wed-Thurs 8am-9pm

Metropolitan Pavilion
123 West 18th Street(6-7 Avenues) 4th Floor
212.736.6262 Ext 2018

Just in time for Dad’s Day and Grad’s Day. A great selection from the current and past collections. Handbags, totes, weekenders, backpacks, messenger bags, computer bags, garment bags, toiletry kits , cosmetic cases, wallets...all of the classics. From LeSportsac Classics, tokidoki, Mens/Guys, Remix and Stella McCartney. All are 60 to 90 percent off. Mastercard, Visa, American Express and cash accepted. All sales final.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Prince Harry's Royal Visit to NYC

Prince Harry's visit to NYC included a stop at the British Gardens in Hanover Square, in lower Manhattan. His intent was to plant a tree to commemorate the British people who died on 9/11. The trip has been somewhat publicized in recent days especially in the local newspapers and television.

The British Gardens is quite frequented by myself. I would enjoy drinking cups of coffee while sitting on the bench. But hey, if this is what Great Britain wants to claim for themselves in lower Manhattan, whom am I to say otherwise? It's a lovely triangular piece of land that has recently been planted with trees and flowers.

During my lunch hour, I walked over to Hanover Square and accessed the best possible location for viewing the Prince. Metal railings surrounded the general vicinity for the public viewing but luckily I was able to get close enough to one side of the garden in hopes of Prince Harry walking in front of me. At approximately 1:30pm, several black SUVs were escorted by the NYPD. And in the first car, came out a man in a suit with red hair! It was him!

There was some pandemonium as the crowd shouted "Prince Harry! Look at me! Wave for the camera!" I should note that the press sure know how to take a good shot. I was able to take a few pictures as he stood in front of me. Sadly he was shaking someone else's hands. There were a few security people protecting him and they stood between me and Prince Harry. One of the men in sunglasses had his jacket open - I'm thinking, is that supposed to deflect any bullets that go towards the Prince?




The entire ceremony was brief. He walked around and shook hands with the dignitaries and representatives of the NYC Parks. After an introduction by a speaker, he gave a 30 second speech. THAT's IT!! He just said how much this meant to his family and country and blah blah blah. Lastly, he helped to plant a tree into the ground (more pictures of that to follow). He quickly left to the India House which is a restaurant across the street from the garden.


Can you spot him in this picture above? He's standing in front of the flag.
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