Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Favorite Christmas Day Tradition....

A favorite tradition that our family loves to do every Christmas is Chocolate Fondue. Unfortunately, we do not own an actual fondue no long forks. This one is on next Christmas present I suppose. Hint* Here is our favorite recipe.

Chocolate Caramel Fondue
3 chunks of unsweetened baking chocolate
1 can of condensed milk
1 jar of caramel sauce
marshmallows, dried apricots, strawberries, apples, bananas, oranges, pretzels, graham crackers, pound cake, sugar cookies... (Anything that goes well with chocolate!!)

Combine in a saucepan on low heat until the chocolate is melted. ENJOY!! No double dipping allowed!!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Naughty and Nice Drinks For Your Waistline

Calorie Culprits to Avoid:
This yuletide favorite is heavy with calories and fat -- containing eggs, sugar, brandy or rum.Six fluid ounces of eggnog without alcohol has 257 calories and 14 grams of fat (more than a Snickers bar). Add some distilled spirits and your holiday drink has more than 300 calories.

Hot Toddies
A glass of this drink will warm you up and loosen your spirit, but the calorie count will leave you cold.A hot toddy with 2 ounces of liquor (brandy) is about 200 calories, and that's without the whipped cream.Creamy liquors like Baileys, Kahlua, amaretto and schnapps are particularly dangerous, averaging about 100 calories an ounce.

A fruity martini is a fattening fright. Lemon drops, appletinis or cosmopolitans -- their sweet taste is bad news for the hips."Most martinis have 2 to 5 ounces of liquor, and the sugary syrups they're made with can add up to more than 800 calories in one drink,"

What could be more festive than a margarita -- frozen or on the rocks?A regular margarita bright with flavor -- and sugars -- has about 400 calories. Couple it with a heavy Mexican meal and you have a recipe for diet disaster.

Mixed Drinks
What's your potion of choice? The fancier the drink, the faster calories add up.Remember, one and a half ounces of 80-proof spirits is 65 calories. Add six ounces of calorie-laden soda or a variety of syrups and you're well over the calorie count for a "light" drink.

Lighter Choices: Champagne
Ringing in the new year with a traditional toast of this bubbly beverage won't wreak havoc on your waistline. At 100 calories a flute, you can drink to your weight-loss resolution without feeling guilty.

Wine Spritzer
Ease into the holiday spirit with this light beverage. Wine spritzers are half wine and half club soda. With three ounces of wine and three ounces of club soda, wine spritzers top out at about 60 calories and zero grams of fat. But oh so boring!

Red Wine
Recent studies show the benefits of drinking a glass of red wine for your health. Opt for red and you'll get a healthy dose of disease-fighting flavonols and age-defying reservatrol too.A glass of wine typically weighs in at 100 calories. I approve.

Light or regular, a bottle of beer is a much better option than most cocktails. The drink has a bad reputation associated with the "beer belly." But the calories in beer versus a martini might shock the most diligent dieter.Regular beer has 150 calories to the bottle, while light has about 100. But not my cup of tea.

Vodka (or Gin) with or without Soda
Sparkly mixers -- like gin and tonic or a vodka cooler -- can keep you light and merry at the same times. Most mixers with 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits and diet tonic or club soda have less than 100 calories and no fat. Top this refreshing drink with a wedge of lime or fruit and we are in business.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How to Make the Perfect Cosmopolitan

1 oz vodka should be a top-shelf vodka. (very important)
1/2 oz Cointreau do not use triple sec, no matter what anyone else will tell you.
1/2 oz Rose's lime juice
1/2 oz cranberry juice

Shake vodka, triple sec, lime and remember just a drop of cranberry juice, we don't want this drink to be too sweet, shake vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge on the rim, and serve.
To your Good Health

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sugar Cookies

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This is a family favorite...we always look forward to making these every year with the children. The cookies are soft and they melt in your mouth...

1 cup of butter or two sticks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 T vanilla
2 egg yolks
4 cups of flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in yolks, one at a time. Add sour cream, and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients...then mix all ingredients together. Put in the refridgerator to chill...I put some on cling wrap and flatten...and then put in the fridge. After it has chilled a couple of hours...roll out and cut out with cookie cutters. Bake 10-12 minutes. Mix together ingredients for the frosting. Frost the cookies when they have cooled.

8 oz room temperature cream cheese
1 stick of butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 T vanilla
food coloring and sprinkles (optional)


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Balthazar Restaurant Soho, New York

Balthazar Restaurant Bistro Located at 80 Spring St New York, NY 10012 (212) 941-0364
What makes New York one of the very best restaurant Cities in the World? Places like Balthazar. This is a place that makes you feel exactly like your in Paris. I’ve been to many, US States and Cities, places like Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, and of course New Orleans. But take it from me, NY has the edge on them all. And places like Balthazar are as unique as they come. You are going to feel like you've just stepped off the Rue Montmartre and into a nouveau monde. If you're in the mood for a quiet romantic dinner, I suggest going some where else. This is not that kind of place, in fact it’s just the opposite The very minute you walk in you are going to have to walk through a maze of tables and busboys and waiters and waiters stands etc. And when you finally get to your seat, after waiting about anywhere from a half an hour to a hour, you're practically in the lap of the couple sitting at the table next to you. But don’t get put off by that, it’s not really a bad thing, not here. By the end of dinner you're certain to know where they're from and what they're doing that evening. Trust me, this is one thing that usually puts me off as well, but here, it’s part of their charm.
The food and service are well worth the wait and the cramped in feeling at your tiny table. And once you look at that menu of delicious brasserie standards like frisee au lardoons, pan bagnat, steak frites, and a glistening raw bar built for royalty, this is my all time favorite. It’s a three teir platter of ice with all kinds of shell fish goodies, like shrimp, stone crabs, a variety of maybe 4 types of oysters, clams, mussels and some things that you won’t even recognize. And then there’s the selection of fresh baked bread from the Balthazar bakery next door. A basket of about 5-6 kinds from black bread to raison bread to scones and more. Be sure to pick up a bag of croissants, a couple of baguettes, and a dozen rolls on your way out for breakfast or lunch (or a midnight snack). Balthazar is fun, and loud, and in its own electric way, it's flawless.
A meal here with a great bottle of wine, and you are all set for a great evening.....
A Votre Sante, (to your health)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chocolate Martini

Chocolate Martini
A Great Holiday Cocktail
4 ozs.Godiva Chocolate liqueur
3 ozs Kettle One Vodka
1 oz semisweet Chocolate, grated
Combine the chocolate liqueur and the vodka in a cocktail mixer full of ice.
Shake it up real vigorously and strain into two chilled martini glasses. One for you and one for your significant other.
Trim it with chocolate grated shavings, and serve.
Warning: Don't try to drink more than 2

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Here's a new Rub...

It's been awhile since a post has appeared here from Ms. A. -- life is busy and stressful. But that doesn't mean a gal doesn't have to eat. Even entertain...dinner guests pictured here...

On Sunday, we had dinner guests. To keep the meal economical, I made a roasted chicken. The meal was simple, but it turned out very well. I used a fall/winter type of approach to seasonings. It just seemed appropriate -- comfort food just seems right for an informal gathering this time of year!

I love serving sweet potatoes with a roasted chicken. I started with one of my favorite ways to make them -- an oily rub. Just mix brown sugar, kosher salt and extra virgin olive oil in a small dish. Take a basting brush and coat the sweet potatoes.

For the chicken, I used the same rub as I did for the potatoes -- but with an added dimension. I added minced garlic from a jar, and a healthy dose of "Soul Food Seasoning." That was a cheap condiment from the dollar store that I like to use for rubs, stews, etc. I also added in some honey. This was brushed liberally on the bird (doesn't she look nice?).

Once the bird was in the pan, I added equal parts of broth and apple cider -- so that there was about a cup of liquid. The bird cooked at 450 for about a half hour, then I turned the temp down to about 375. The potatoes went in at that time. For the spuds... be aware that the oil in the rub will cause some drippage. These buggers taste best when baked directly on the rack -- so to avoid messing the oven too much, place a sheet of foil on the rack beneath.

For veggies, we had left-over "yuppie carrots" -- that's what we call the pre-washed cut variety that cost a bit more. Into the mix, I added sliced red peppers and onion. This was seasoned with dill, garlic, olive oil, and the remains of a can of candied ginger. I started it off in the microwave, then finished it in the oven while I let the chicken set (prior to carving).

The meal was very very yummy. Even though we had plenty to serve four, there was enough meat left over to add to a crockpot of "stoup" (my hybrid of soup and stew) I had going. It was my "lunch for the week" project.

I know this is a simple meal, but I like to post about comfort foods and unusual ways of bringing flavors of the season into the things we make. I don't know if anyone else has ever roasted a chicken using apple cider -- but it works!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chola Indian Restaurant, New York City

Located at 232 E 58th St New York City, Chola has it all. Incredible food, hospitable, friendly service, clean, warm atmosphere and reasonable prices.
A must if you like indian food but you better beware, all the others will seem only so-so after this.
They have an excellent variety and quality of food. More creative menus than most other Indian restaurants, and a chef that really knows his business.
On my last visit, if I remember correctly I had the daal, that was very good as was the chicken Chutneywala and the extraordinary Lamb Vindaloo. Ah just mop up the Vindaloo sauce with a side of Onion Nan

and you just can't ask for more. If your forehead don't start to sweat, then something went wrong.
I'm telling you, I've been to all of them and there just ain't none better. By the looks of this wonderful place your going to think that it's expensive, but my friends, you will be suprised when you get the check. So give Chola a try, your in for an night of a culinary experience. There is a very good reason that this restaurant has been in business for so long. By the way, they claim that they are Martha Stewart's favorite Indian restaurant.
The food is so fresh, the nan (bread) so hot, the service is very good. I come here often to have lunch at their eat at the buffet, where they lose money on me: I can easily go back 3 times to the buffet table

Monday, December 3, 2007

There are not too many places anywhere that you could say "This Is The Best" especially if you are talking about restaurants. I've seen it refered to as The Temple to the Gods of Japanese food. If you put the two words New York and Japanese Restaurant together into a search engin, I would bet the result would be Masa. Located on the 4th floor in the Time Warner Building at 10 Columbus Circle, New York City, NY. This great restaurant is run by Owner and Chef Masayoshi Takayama who does magnificent things with Sushi. This is a place where there is no menu at all the Chef adjusts his meals to available seasonal ingredients. This elegantly designed Japanese restaurant with perhaps the best Japanese chef in America has only about 25 seats, so you can only imagine how hard it is to get a reservation.Now I’m going to ask you to hold your breath because I’m going to tell you about the prices. I have very little doubt that this place is most likely the most expensive restaurant in New York City. A dinner at Masa starts about $400 per person, yes i did say starts, drinks and any other beverages are additional , an automatic 22 percent service charge is added directly onto your check and then there is a 81/4 percent sales tax. So figure about $500 per person.Now Mesa is not by any means a Sushi restaurant not at all. He does so many wonderful things such as shredded, pickled seafood , his tuna belly tartare with a touch of caviar is to die for, the fish's pristine quality will drive you to crave another bite and another and another. . But Masa also has other ideas: Sea bass with sprouts, and vinegar and salt which sushi chefs call namino hana, or flower of the waves, a dish that leaves a tingling sensation on the tongue, which lingers for minutes. A little bowl of Foie Gras and eel called hamo comes in a delicate soy broth, a signature dish here at Masa. If you have ever tried and you like it as much as I do. This is a place where you are going to say, "no body does it better"Sabu-shabu is a very famous Japanese dish that you kind of cook yourself at your table. The waiter will bring you a hot pot of broth wih sides of beef, (in this case Kobe Beef) very thinly sliced with a few different kinds of japanese veggies. You put the beef and veggies into the steaming hot broth and cook it for only about 30 seconds and take them out and savor the flavor.If you like Sushi as I do, try his Akagai (red clam) sushi, Aoyagi (orange clam) sushi, Aji (horse mackerel) sushi, Grilled hotate (scallop) sushi, Grilled shiitake sushi, Saba (mackerel) sushi, Sayori (needlefish) sushi, Wild unagi (freshwater eel) sushi, Akami (lean tuna) sushi, Grilled o-toro sushi, Nori-wrapped uni sushi, Nori-wrapped baby hotategai, Hokkigai (surf clam) sushi, Ama ebi (sweet shrimp) sushi, Anago (sea eel) sushi, O-toro and chutoro (marbled tuna belly) name a few.. But if you are not a Sishi fan, go anyway, there are so many other things to experience. just tell your waiter what you like or disklike and you will be well taken care of. .If you've got money to spend and are interested in splurging at one of New York City's best and probably most expensive restaurants, look no further than Masa. But like I told you before, Reservations are not only required but almost impossible to get. A place like this is usually book up a month or two in advance. Call the restaurant, see if I'm kidding. Tell them that DD2 sent you. 212-823-9800

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Located at 75 9th AveNew York, NY
I could eat here every night . When you check in for reservations--a half dozen cute chic’s all dressed in black are behind a long counter. And one will escort you to their nice large bar area, where it’s going to cost you a small fortune for a few drinks...LOL.
The hardest part of a visit to Buddakan is deciding what to eat. The menu has so many good choices that we always seem to over-order by at least one dish. A group of four is perfect because you can taste a wider selection as most dishes are perfect to share. If you're dining as a couple you'll have to make some hard decisions. But you really can't go wrong in our experience. I have been lucky enough to have dined here 4-5 times and sampled probably 15 of their appetizers and entrees. I never had a disappointment. Admittedly, I like Chinese food a lot. E would say that even in Hong Kong Buddakan would be considered a top restaurant. On my most recent visit around Thanksgiving week our waiter advised us to try some kind of pumpkin dumpling special he said had been very popular was that great. The things that will keep me coming back is the food always seems to arrive hot, straight from the kitchen as Asian food should; the service is super, the atmosphere is beyond belief, and the restaurant really succeeds on the details: the jasmine tea is excellent, the rice is top quality (if you think all rice is the same, try a chopstick of plain white rice at Buddakan - it must be high grade Thai rice) I always seem to have one of the BEST meals ever. The edamame dumplings are to die for, as are the rock shrimp & the sliced beef .I highly recommended the Taro Puffs. Two entrees to share, sweet and crispy shrimp were great as well as the sizzling short rib. As were the chow fun noodles. I highly this wonderful restaurant and as i said before I recommend the edamame dumplings it will knock your socks off, and the sauce is heavenly. Their great food as well as their very courteous and attentive wait staff will make you want to return often.. Don’t forget your Credit card.