Monday, December 30, 2013

Queso for Dinner

I made queso or "chile con queso" for dinner tonight.  It's one of my favorite forms of melted cheese and kind of festive/seasonal with the red of tomatoes and the green of peppers.

Chopped garlic, serrano peppers, jalapeno, and onion
A cauldron of queso
Queso in on teacup, refried beans in another... Somehow, I think this is a balanced meal.
Doesn't get much better than chips and dip in front of bad t.v. on a weeknight.

I loosely followed the recipe below:


1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Serrano chile, diced
2 jalapeƱos, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1(4-ounce) can RO*TEL (or any can of diced tomatoes with green chiles)
3 cups shredded cheese, cheddar and Jack varieties recommended
1/4 cup sour cream


Melt the butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and allow roux to bubble for a few minutes, stirring often, until golden brown.

Add onion, chiles, garlic, and salt to stockpot; stir to coat well. Cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Pour in milk and whisk well to combine. Add RO*TEL.

Once mixture is mixed and warmed through, turn heat to low. Slowly begin stirring in shredded cheese, one small handful at a time. If the cheese sticks to your whisk or spoon and doesn’t seem to be melting evenly, turn up the heat a bit. Make sure each batch is completely melted before adding more.

After all cheese is melted and mixed well, stir in sour cream. Taste, adjust seasoning if desired, and serve hot with chips and lots of napkins.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Chair Story

I have had a lot of luck buying furniture from Housing Works (e.g. painted Peruvian armoire, Neo-Classical wood/upholstered armchair, and glass front cabinet to store wedding china/glassware), but I recently branched out and tried Furnish Green.  You can visit their website at if you're interested in checking out their stuff.  For the longest time, I have had a shoddy Target swivel chair at my desk that probably cost me $50 back in 2007.  I have been on the prowl for an affordable, masculine desk chair.

I liked this Pottery Barn swivel desk chair, but it cost close to $400 before shipping and would require assembly.
I saw this photo on Furnish Green of the "Tiger Oak Banker's Chair" and for several weeks coveted it.  Finally, I decided that I needed to buy it.  It was around $200, required no assembly, and could be picked up for the cost of a $20 cab ride and $5 freight elevator fee at Furnish Green.
Here it is at my desk.  I love it.
Rather than pay for delivery (I'm cheap), I went to Furnish Green in person.  It's couple of blocks away from Macy's Herald Square, and picked it up.  After standing outside in the cold and rain for 10 minutes trying to hail a cab, I finally got one that could fit the new chair in the back.  Once I got it home, I cleaned the chair vigorously with pledge and warm water (it was pretty gross underneath).  Now it looks as good as new, and I'm sitting in it and loving it.  I highly recommend Furnish Green for solid, good quality, vintage furniture.

Some of My Favorite Children's Books

While I was home, I went through some of our childhood books.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Best Friends for Frances
Any and all of the Frances books are excellent.
Gregory, the Terrible Eater
It's about a goat who wants to eat real food and not garbage like his family.
Gus was a Friendly Ghost
At some point Gus makes cheese croquettes that look adorable.
Little Bear's Friend
All of Maurice Sendak's books are great; this is just one.
Mrs. Pig's Bulk Buy
In the age of Costco and Sam's Club, we an all relate to this one.
Owl at Home
He makes tear water tea at some point.
The Runaway Bunny
A story of a mother's unconditional love and a child's need for constant reassurance.
Strega Nona
Unlimited pasta, yes please.  Tomie de Paola is amazing.  I love most; if not all of his work.
Tales of Amanda Pig
I like books where the protagonist is a pig... what can I say?
Weeny Witch
Such a pretty book.  Probably why I insisted on being a fairy or fairy princess pretty much every Halloween.

Back from Christmas - Ready for the New Year

We just got back from Illinois, where we spent Christmas with my family.

As always, my mom decked out our banister for the holiday...
And gave each of her kids and grandkids matching pajamas from Target.
Despite living on the East coast for over 10 years now, I still have a Midwestern dialect.  Thank you New York Times.  Roly poly bug and my pronunciation of cot vs. caught solidified it.
We had sushi one night in land-locked Illinois, and it was pretty damn good.  My usual: shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, and Alaska rolls.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sushi for Lunch

Working in the Bronx can be hard for food options. My friend and I made a field trip to pick up lunch from Aoyu Sushi in Riverdale last week, and it was sooo goood.

Sushi for lunch at my desk.
I ordered an Alaskan Roll and a Shrimp Tempura Roll.  They were so damn good.  Food desert nothing.

Friday Night "Lite" Dinner

Tonight's dinner was Quinoa, Black Bean, and Avocado Salad from a Women's Health Magazine recipe.  
Quinoa, Black Bean, Avocado, Grape Tomato Salad on a cooold winter's night
Clean, fresh, eating that's yummy


In a bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups precooked quinoa, 1 can (10 oz) black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved), and 1/2 avocado (chopped). In a food processor, pulse 1 cup cilantro leaves, 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss with quinoa blend and chill for 15 minutes.
I paired this "lite" summery dinner with a glass of wine from a bottle of Avvotore 2009 that I received for free at a holiday party earlier this week.  I just googled it, and it's a $40 bottle of wine.  Classy.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Spuyten Duyvil

Back in September, I had dinner with a girlfriend after work in the Bronx.  Afterwards, I went to the closest train station, which was Spuyten Duyvil.  I had never been there before and as I waited alone on the platform, I was struck by how peaceful it was and how bizarrely close the tracks were to the water.
I was so struck by the eerie peacefulness that I snapped this photo.
On a routine train ride into the city, you don't expect anything to go wrong.  Praying for the people on that train and the families of those who lost their lives.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I finally used the pie crust cutters we got from our Williams-Sonoma wedding registry.
Autumnal leaf on top of pie
Pie cooling on our stove top

Pumpkin pie and whipped cream
I used a pie crust recipe I found here:
It turned out great.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sushi, Box Wine, and a Cupcake

Dinner tonight was an Alaskan roll and a rainbow roll.  

Ko Sushi Alaskan roll and rainbow roll
My first time having the rainbow roll, and it was delicious

I have finally given in to box wine.  It's hard to limit yourself to the U.S. guidelines of one glass a night and seven a week at most.... My week started Monday (I'm not counting the 2.5 glasses I had Sunday).  The Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon is potable, and now I want to try the Trader Joe's Shiraz and Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the above photo, you might notice my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  My mom used this cookbook to bake all of our cakes and cupcakes growing up, and my favorite basic cakes still come from this cook book.  Sunday evening, I made a dozen (I had to half the recipe) white cake cupcakes with chocolate butter frosting.  My husband and I had the last two today, and they were till pretty good.  Homemade cake is so superior to box mixes.  Your preference might depend on what you grew up with though; so it's probably relative.

Do cupcakes count as portion control?
As good, if not better, than the Magnolia and Crumbs equivalent

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Self Magazine Sweet and Spicy Peanut Noodles

Asian recipes and recipes from health magazines intimidate me.  Well, last night, I decided to make a healthy Asian recipe.  Self Magazine recently had a "Sweet and Spicy Peanut Noodles" recipe that looked delicious.  Here it is:

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1/4 cup natural chunky peanut butter
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Asian chile paste (or to taste)
6 oz cooked linguine
1/3 cup sliced scallions

In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until just soft, 1 minute. Add 3 tbsp water, peanut butter, soy sauce, hoisin, sugar, vinegar and chile paste; cook, stirring often, until sauce is thick, about 4 minutes. Toss in noodles and scallions; serve at room temperature.

191 calories per serving, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein (Serves 6)

I doubled the recipe; so that my husband and I could eat it for a couple of meals.  The results were yummy!
Wok full of noodles
Side by side comparison

The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites: A Review

Our neighborhood is not hip.  There are not any cute little gastropubs serving craft beers to hip people hanging out and enjoying good conversation.  Or at least there "weren't" until we got The Jeffrey on 60th Street near the Queensboro Bridge.
Liquor selection on wall behind the bar
We popped in the other night to have a drink after work and both loved it.  It's one part adorable copper-topped bar, one part restaurant, one part beer garden, and one part coffee bar.  The staff was enthusiastic, charming, and knowledgeable.  Now that I've had the bar happy hour experience, I want to come and try their coffee bar some morning.  They said they are starting brunch soon too.
We tried the Sixpoint Stout, which was part of their Happy Hour selection.
We also had warm soft pretzels with pub cheese and mustard.
The Jeffrey is a great haven for our neighborhood, and it is just hipster enough that you feel cool, but not so hipster that you feel out of place. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Homemade Lasagna

I've been making huge dishes lately, which is dangerous for a two person household.  Last night, I made lasagna.
We've been buying DeCecco since Barilla CEO, Guido Barilla, said he would never feature a gay family in his ads, because it doesn't fit with his concept of family. 
Homophobia is not cute, and there are plenty of other and better pasta brands.
An entire ball of Trader Joe's mozzarella, most of a block of Emmental from Gourmet Garage, and some Trader Joe's Parmesan.
I'm becoming a huge fan of Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic Marina sauce (used 1.5 jars).
Layers of sauce, pasta, and cheese ready for a 350 degree oven.
After 25 minutes, I put tin foil over the lasagna and baked it for another 15 minutes. 
Melty, cheesy goodness.
Slice of lasagna.  Yum.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Going to Bed and Waking Up to Cats

Sometimes when I go to bed, my side has been completely taken over by our cats.

I've been replaced.
In the morning before work, I usually throw my outfit options on my side of the bed and often come back from the shower to find one of our cats lying on my clothes.  This time it's our gray and white.

Hmm, which outfit should you wear today?  I chose the dress on the left (Ann Taylor hand-me-down from a colleague).
If not for sits, why made of warm?  This cat loves sitting on my clothes, especially warm materials like this wool j.crew pencil skirt, anything corduroy, and my puffy NorthFace jacket.
Now that it's cold out, I often wake up to this little guy, our tabby, sleeping on my feet.  This was from this morning.
Look at his little tail and his bunny-like paws.  I love these cats more than words.

Magic Cookie Bars Redux

I tried making Magic Cookie Bars again this week, and they turned out much better this time.  I took out the butterscotch morsels and nuts that I used last time.

Blurry photo of magic cookie bars
My version of portion control
Here's the recipe I followed:
1 stick of melted butter
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of chocolate chips
1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes 

You put the melted butter and graham crackers together, flatten that mixture in a 13x9 inch pan, pour the can of condensed milk over that, add the chocolate chips and coconut evenly over that, press down, and throw it in 325 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Sooo yummy and decadent.