Monday, September 26, 2011

Breakfast Cups

Again....I apologize that I've taken so long to post something.  Sometimes a girl's plate can just get too full and things start slipping through the cracks.  I've still been cooking and trying recipes and restaurants so I have some new stuff to share.

This is a great one to start with.  My husband has deemed these "camping cups" because they are perfect for taking camping.  Its a breakfast casserole cooked in individual portions using a muffin pan.  This is perfect because you can get 1 or 2 out and microwave them.  Great for during the week to have a hot breakfast in a flash or to go!  You could also change up the meats and cheeses or even take this idea and create a non-breakfast version.  Click here for the original recipe I found.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Cups

1lb sausage, crumbled and cooked
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2c cheddar cheese
1 can flaky Grands biscuits (8 biscuits)

Lightly spray a 24 muffin tin.  Separate each biscuit into 3 layers and place 1 layer into each muffin tin.  Combine sausage, beaten eggs, and cheese.  Scoop filling (about a 1/4 cup) into each muffin tin.  Bake according to biscuit can directions.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

French Cooking 101 - Croque Madame

Well its been too long since I last blogged.  Summer schedule, kitchen renovations, and other hindrances have taken over.  But no more!  Time to get back blogging about yummy restaurants and great recipes!  I'm almost to 100 blogs!!

You are gonna just love this!  It is a french version of a ham and cheese that is unbeatable!  This sandwich can be served two ways.  A Croque Monsieur (without a fried egg on top) or a Croque Madame (with fried egg).  Go for the egg!! 

It is typically served on thick white bread but I used Publix's multigrain which was excellent for this.  For this sandwich you make a bechamel sauce (milk, butter, and flour) which is harder to spell than to make.  Add some Gruyere cheese (french swiss cheese) and now you have mornay sauce.  This is a french classic not to be feared.  Great for breakfast, lunch, or supper!

Croque Madame

Sliced loaf of bakery bread (white or multigrain)
4t Dijon mustard
1lb shaved ham
1 1/2 c shredded Gruyere cheese (find in the deli section)
5T butter (plus some for griddling the sandwiches)
3T AP flour
2c milk
1/8 t nutmeg

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Cook for just about 30 seconds to remove the raw flavor of the flour.  Whisk in the milk removing any lumps.  Add 1/2c of the cheese, nutmeg, and then salt/pepper to taste.  Set aside.  (By the way, any leftover sauce can be refrigerated and used again)  Make four sandwiches dividing up the ham and cheese.  Add mustard to one slice of breach and the sauce to the other slice.  Griddle the sandwiches in butter until nice and toasty.  Place the sandwiches on a cookie sheet and top liberally with the sauce.  Put under the broiler until bubbly and browned.  Fry an egg to top each sandwich.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fruity Baked Oatmeal

I came about this recipe searching for a crockpot oatmeal recipe.  I found several but all of them said that the oatmeal burned if it cooked past 5 hours.  I don't have a programmable crockpot so I won't be doing crockpot oatmeal anytime soon.

Fortunately, instead, I found this great recipe on Taste of Home's website.  You can view the recipe on their website here.  I was afraid that this recipe would result in a dense gummy oatmeal but it was suprisingly light.  I think the baking powder keeps it from becoming dense.  It is a little dry but I think that makes it perfect for topping with milk.  The leftovers were delicious as well.  The second time I made it I cut back a little on the butter and brown sugar by about 1/3 and I didn't see a noticeable difference.

Fruity Baked Oatmeal

3c quick cooking oates
1c brown sugar
2t baking powder
1t salt
1/2t cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1c milk
1 stick butter melted
3/4 c chopped, peeled apple
1/3c chopped peaches
1/3c blueberries

In a large bowl combine the first 5 ingredients.  Add the next 3 and mix well.  Add the fruit and pour into a 8 inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 35-40 mins or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Double Chocolate Filled Strawberries

I get several emails from Kraft with recipes.  One of them has diabetic friendly recipes and that is where I found this little gem.  You can go here to see the recipe posted on their website.  I was looking for a low sugar dessert for Easter that everyone would like.  My boys love strawberries so this looked like a great choice.  We gobbled them up and then I had to buy more strawberries to make more!  You could defintely play with the pudding flavor used in this recipe to change it up too.  I may leave the cream cheese out next time too.  It was such a little amount added that I don't think it would make much of a difference.

Double Chocolate Filled Strawberries

2lbs strawberries
1/4c of 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1c cold milk
1 pkg of sugar free white chocolate pudding
1c sugar free cool whip
1/4 of a chocolate bar or mini chocolate chips

Wash and dry berries.  Cut the stems off and cut an "X" in the end of the strawberries and spread it open to hold the filling. Whisk the cream cheese and a 1/4 of the milk together until well blended.  Whisk in the remaining milk and pudding mix.  Stir in cool whip and fill a ziploc bag with the filling.  Cut of a corner of the bag to create a small opening.  Pipe the mixture into the strawberries.  If you have any filling leftover, just keep it in the fridge till you get more strawberries!  Melt the chocolate bar in a ziploc bag in the microwave.  Just for a few seconds or you will melt your bag!  Cut a corner of to create a small opening to drizzle chocolate over the strawberries.  The second time I made this I just topped the strawberries with mini chocolate chips.  Refrigerate the strawberries till ready to serve.

Peanutty Chocolate Banana Bread

Sometimes you just can't improve on an original.....sometimes you can!  Add chocolate chips and peanut butter to banana bread and it gets better!   Don't get me wrong, I love just plain ol' banana bread too.  This is a great, just a little bit different, version of an original.  This recipe from Pampered Chef is a great bread to give and freeze too!  Bake up a loaf!!

Peanutty Chocolate Banana Bread

2c AP flour
1c sugar
1T baking powder
1/2t salt
1 c mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
1/3c milk
1/3c peanut butter
3T oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1c milk chocolate chips (I've used semi sweet too)
1/3c chopped peanuts (optional for top)

Preheat oven to 350 and spray loaf pan with cooking spray.  Combine all of the ingredients down through the egg.  Mix just until moistened then add 3/4c of the chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into pan and top with remaining chocolate chips and chopped peanuts.  Bake 1hr or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 mins then remove from pan to a cooling rack.

I've also cooked this in 3 mini loaf pans for 35 mins.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I just love pizza and so does my husband.  The only problem is that he is diabetic and pizza always raises his blood sugar too high.  So I decided to try to find a whole wheat pizza crust recipe that would be simple enough to do and still taste good.  I found it!  This recipe is soooo easy and makes such a delicious pizza...actually two!  I found this recipe in my Fleischmann's Yeast cookbook.  You can find other recipes on their website here.  A little tip...keep your whole wheat flour in the fridge or freezer.  Because it still has the wheat germ in it, it will go rancid quicker than regular flour.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

1c whole wheat flour
2c AP flour plus a little more for rolling
1 pkg rapid rise yeast
3/4t salt
1c very warm water (120-130 degrees)
2T olive oil

In a large bowl, combine 1c of WW flour and 1c of AP flour.  Add yeast and salt.  Stir very warm water and oil into dry ingredients.  Add enough additional AP flour to make a soft dough.  Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic for about 4-6 mins.  Cover and let rest 10 mins.  Lightly oil two 12 inch pizza pans.  Divide dough in half and roll/stretch dough to cover pans.  Top pizza as desired and bake at 400 for 20-30 mins.  Baking time will depend on toppings and thickness of the crust so keep an eye on it.

Cafe de Paris

Well I visited this restaurant about 2 months ago and I'm just now blogging about it.  I've been a little behind the past couple of months but I'm hoping to get back to some steady posting.

Bill and I visited Cafe de Paris on a date night.  I had heard some good things about it and we were both pleased with our meal.  They started us off with an appetizer that was essentially cheese grits balls breaded and fried topped with a french cocktail sauce which tasted just like Zaxby's sauce.  I had the french onion soup which was just ok. 

 For my entree I had a breaded chicken cutlet with ratatouille and oven roasted potatoes.  The ratatouille was so delicious.  Bill had a pork chop with the ratatouille and sweet potato gnocchi.  The gnocchi was not good but rather very gummy.

For dessert we shared the bread pudding.  They add a little rosemary to their bread pudding which adds a little different twist but it was very good.

Overall, I like Cafe de Paris and will be back.  I would definitely like to go back and try their crepes and Sunday brunch menu.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lentil and Sausage Soup

It has taken me a long time to try lentils and I regret that I've missed out on them for so long!  What a great staple to have in your pantry.  Although they are dried, they don't require the lengthy soak that other dried beans require.  In this recipe you just rinse the lentils (make sure you look for little pebbles!) and then cook them in the soup for 2-3 hrs.  I found this recipe on which is a great resource for recipes. You can find the original recipe here.  Enjoy!

Lentil and Sausage Soup

1/2 lb italian sausage
1 onion chopped
1T garlic chopped
16oz package of dried lentils, rinsed & checked for pebbles
1c chopped carrots
8c water
two 14.5oz cans of chicken broth
28oz can diced tomatoes
1T garlic powder
1T chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4t dried thyme
1/4 dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook sausage in large pot until browned.  Add onion and garlic and saute until tender.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender about 2-3 hrs.

Friday, April 8, 2011

French Cooking 101 - Beef Bourguignon

This is the first installment of a series of classic French recipes that I want to try.  Usually my recipes are quick and simple but this little adventure may take me to some recipes that are more difficult.  I decided to start out with the iconic Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon.  Of course I did make some changes to suit my preferences.  This became a wonderful beef stew that I would definitely try again but it didn't live up to the high expectations I had put on it to be the best thing I would ever put in my mouth. 

Beef Bourguignon

6 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into strips
3T olive oil
3 lbs lean beef, cubed into 2 inch pieces (I used a round roast)
1/2 c sliced carrots
1 sm onion sliced
salt and pepper
2T flour
3c red wine
3c beef broth
1T tomato paste
2t chopped garlic
1/2t thyme
1 bay leaf
3T butter
1lb quartered cremini mushrooms
Rice or noodles

Saute bacon in oil in large dutch oven.  Remove bacon from oil once crisp and save.  Pat meat dry with paper towels and brown in batches in oil and bacon drippings and set aside with bacon.  Brown the vegetables in the oil.  Return the meat to the pot and toss with salt, pepper, and flour.  Without lid on pot,  place in oven at 450 for 5 mins.  Toss meat and return to oven for another 4 mins.  Reduce oven heat to 325. Remove pot from oven and stir in wine and enough broth to just cover the meat.  Add tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer on stove top, cover return to oven at 325.  Simmer pot in oven 3-4 hrs until meat is very tender.  Saute mushrooms in butter and add to pot before serving.  Serve over rice or noodles.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cincinnati Style Chili

There are several differences between my typical chili and Cincinnati style chili.  First of all you cook the ground beef in liquid rather than browning it up before adding liquid.  This makes the chili a finer texture rather than chunky.  Because you don't get the chance to drain the meat, you need to use a lean ground beef, or use ground turkey, so that you don't have a chili that's too greasy.  Also some of the spices are a little unusual too....cinnamon and cocoa powder.  Don't let this scare you away!  The difference that it adds to the taste is pretty subtle and you could always cut it back some.  Cincinnati chili is typical served on spaghetti and topped with a mound of shredded cheddar cheese.  The cheese really makes it yummy in my opinion!

The chili by itself would be considered one-way, on pasta is two-way, on pasta topped with cheese is three-way, with beans or onions is four-way, and with beans & onions is five-way.  So you could set up a chili bar so that everyone could have their chili the "way" they want it!  This would also be awesome on a chili dog!

Cincinnati Style Chili

1lb ground lean beef or turkey
1c onions, small dice
2T chili powder
1T cocoa powder
1t cinnamon
1/2 ground cumin
8oz canned tomato sauce
1c beef broth
1/2 T apple cider vinegar
16oz thin spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

shredded cheddar cheese
diced onions
canned kidney beans, rinsed and reheated in water
oyster crackers

In a medium saucepan, add broth and meat.  Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until meat is no longer pink.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer on med-low for about 10 mins to blend flavors.  Serve chili over pasta with toppings.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


On my current quest of trying unfamiliar but traditional mexican fare, I started researching, that would be googling for me, posole recipes.  If you are not familiar with this, it sounds like you are saying ole with a poso in front of it.  This is a pork and hominy stew that can be red or green depending on whether you use dried chiles or tomatillos.  I decided to try the red version first.  Hominy is a type of corn which is also used to make grits.  I've never used hominy before but fortunately you can get it canned in the Latino food section so it is very accessible and easy to try.  My recipe is my own version of picking the things I liked out of the recipes I reviewed.  Toppings varied as well from sliced radishes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, sour cream, and crunchy tortilla strips.  We tried a little shredded lettuce and crushed tortilla chips.  I think the sour cream and radishes would be nice to try next time.

I used a chipotle pepper in my posole and I have a tip for you about them.  A chipotle pepper is a smoked jalepeno that is canned in a tomato sauce called adobo sauce.  You can buy a small can that has about 6 or 8 peppers in a can.  To cut down on the heat of the pepper, you can cut it open and scrap out the seeds,  which is what I did and the heat was just right for my family.  I then took an ice cube tray and seperated the pepper with a little of the sauce, one in each well, and froze them.  Once they were frozen I popped them into a freezer bag.  Now the next time I cook chili or even taco meat, I can thaw out a pepper to add to it.  Chipotles add a very nice smoky taste and well worth the additon.

2lb pork roast, cubed in big chunks
1/2 onion diced
1t salt
1/2t pepper
1t garlic powder
1t dried oregano
2t chili powder
1 chipotle pepper (to reduce heat remove seeds)
29oz can hominy corn, drained and rinsed
toppings: sliced radishes, shredded lettuce or cabbage, crispy tortilla strips, sour cream

Add onions,salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano to pork in a large pot.  Add water just to cover pork, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs until meat is very tender.  With some of the cooking liquid puree the chipotle pepper in a blender and add back to the pot.  Add chili powder and hominy and simmer for 30 mins.  Serve with toppings.

Chez Lulu

I've been meaning to try this little restaurant in English Village for while.  Chez Lulu was a nice change for Sunday lunch!  They offer soups, sandwiches, pizzas, and on Sunday a great brunch.  The owners also run Continental Bakery next door so, of course, the breads and desserts are wonderful too!  I was very pleased by their kid friendly menu as well.  It is a 3 course meal that offers choices such as ants on a log, apples and peanut butter, bagel cheese pizza, and several other choices.  Then they get the choice of a cookie or ice cream for dessert.  For $6 I think its more impressive than the $4 or $5 choices you get at other restaurants and really my two boys could have shared it and I just order another cookie.

We started with a fruit and cheese plate to share that had brie, blue cheese, and a soft, I think goat, cheese with several fruits.  I chose the Brunch du jour which was a spinach, ham, and roasted red pepper frittata; homemade applesauce, and stone ground garlic cheesy grits.  It was soooo good!  The applesauce was served warm, a little chunky, and had some plumped up golden raisins in it.  I would love to get that recipe!  The frittata and grits were great too and made a great combo with the applesauce.

Of course I couldn't leave without trying a dessert!  I wanted to try a strawberry crepe but they were out so we decided to share a chocolate bread pudding.  So delicious!  Before we left I peeked into the bakery to gaze upon their croissants, scones, cakes, and cookies.  I'm glad they are not in my neighborhood because that would be dangerous to have such good food so close.  It will however now be a favorite Sunday lunch spot.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Middle Eastern Rice with Black Beans & Chickpeas

My friend Kristi found this recipe on the All Recipes site.  It is great website to search for recipes.  This is a nice one-pot dish.  It calls for several spices that may seem intimidating but once you try them you'll probably go looking for more recipes to use them in!  You can find All Recipes' original recipe here.  I cut the recipe in half and adjusted some of the ingredients.  I also thought it was even better the next day.

I have another little tip for you too.  I don't frequently buy fresh parsley because once I use it for a recipe the rest goes bad before I can use it again.  Solution: I found these tubes in the organic section of the produce area that have 3 bunches of chopped parsley in one tube.  You just squeeze out the amount you need and put the rest in the fridge.  It worked great and doesn't cost much more than the fresh parsley especially considering that you don't have to do the chopping and there is no waste!  They also had other herbs, ginger, and chili peppers.  A real find!

Middle Eastern Rice with Black Beans and Chickpeas

1lb ground turkey, browned
1T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1c instant brown rice
1t ground cumin
1t ground coriander
1/2 t ground turmeric
1/4t ground cayenne pepper
1c chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1T chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over med heat.  Stir in garlic and cook 1 min.  Stir in rice and spices and cook for 5 mins.  Add broth, bring to a boil and cook for 10 mins.  Add cooked turkey, beans, and parsley to rice.  Cook for 5 more mins and add salt & pepper to taste.

Fettuccine with Prosciutto and Sage Cream

This recipe came from Publix.  They feature a recipe every week in their flyer and also feature recipes on the packages of their brand of products.  I have tried several of their recipes and they are great simple recipes.  You can go here to their website to explore more of their recipes.

I had never cooked with fresh sage before so that was why I was interested in trying this recipe.  It really had a very subtle taste in this dish so I may have to try it again where it has a more center stage appearance.  I followed the recipe as it was written, except I left out the mushrooms (which I like but the family doesn't).  We also had sauted broccolini, also called rapini, with this.  It's kinda like a cross between broccoli and greens.  It has some bitterness to it and wasn't my favorite side dish.

Fettuccine with Prosciutto and Sage Cream

1lb chicken breast, cooked and sliced into strips (I grilled mine)
10 sage leaves
12oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 slices of prosciutto (2oz), cut into strips
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
1 3/4c chicken broth
8oz fettuccine pasta
1c Alfredo sauce (I just used the whole jar)
2/3c roasted red pepper
olive oil

Cook pasta according to directions.  In a large saute pan, heat a tablespoon of oil on med-hi heat.  Add mushrooms and saute 2-3 minutes until browned.  Add red peppers and chicken and cook 1-2 mins.  Reduce heat to med-low and add chicken broth and alfredo sauce.  Simmer 3-4 mins.  Stir in cooked pasta, prosciutto, and sage.  Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oven Round Roast

This roast will forever be the Rachel Ray roast to me.  I was fortunate to get to visit her show on a recent trip to NYC and this was the recipe that she did.  I have always done chuck roasts in the crockpot and was very unfamiliar with other cuts used for roasts.  By the way, a chuck roast + cream of mushroom soup + carrots, onions, & potatoes in a crockpot for 8 hrs will probably always be my favorite roast beef dinner but I'm always game for trying something different.

I will say that a round roast is a more expensive cut of meat but it is much leaner than chuck and we ate 3 meals plus some on about a 3lb roast.  So you do get your money's worth out of it for sure!  This again is more of a technique than a recipe that I learned so you can change up the seasonings and veggies to your liking.  This produces a medium rare roast so if pink meat is not your thing, stick to chuck roast in the crockpot.  Like I said, it is a very lean roast so if it isn't pink it will be grey and dry out of the oven.  But you could cook your roast this way and then once it is sliced use it in recipes where you cook it a second time.  We sliced up our leftover meat, sauteed it with onions and created some awesome steak sandwiches.  Then what I still had leftover I cubed and created a great chili.  So the meat was cooked again and not tough at all.

Here is Rachel Ray's original recipe that includes a tomato gravy too.  It pretty much creates a gravy with the pan drippings plus some tomato paste.  She recommended serving it with gnocchi.  Gnocchi are potato dumplings, an Italian staple, and they are readily available in vacuum sealed pouches in the pasta aisle.  I like them and think they are a nice switch from the typical potato or rice side dish.  They are bland so you definitely have to top them with something.  Enjoy!

Oven Round Roast

3-4 lb round roast
olive oil
steak seasoning (I used the Montreal steak rub)
1 onion quartered
1c chopped carrots

The roast needs to be at room temp.  Preheat your oven to 500 or 550 if it will get that hot.  Rub the roast with the oil and cover with the seasoning.  In a roasting pan, create a bed of the onion quarters and carrots for the roast to sit on.  Place the roast in the oven for 30 mins.  Turn off the oven but DO NOT open the door for 2 hrs.  Slice and serve.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rice and Corn Casserole and Mojo Chicken

When I first thought of a rice and corn casserole I didn't think it sounded very good.  Something about two starches together, but it really made a great side dish.  This recipe came from my friend Lee Ann that she had put in our church's Christian Academy's cookbook.  Perfect side dish to take to a potluck.

I also wanted to let you know of a great marinade for chicken.  If you look in the latin foods section of your grocery store you'll find Mojo marinade.  Its a garlic and citrus marinade.  I took a family pack of chicken legs and marinated them all day in it and then grilled them up.  So delicious.

Rice and Corn Casserole

1sm pkg yellow rice (I used the Vigo brand)
1 can mixed corn drained (I used frozen shoepeg corn)
1 can cream of mushroom or chicken
1/2 stick butter melted

Cook rice according to package directions.  Mix remaining ingredients with rice bake in casserole dish at 350 for 30 mins.

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

This recipe was originally from my friend Terri.  I have changed it a little from her recipe such as using just white meat chicken instead of a whole chicken and leaving out the mushrooms and green peppers.  It makes a huge 9x13 casserole and it is a very affordable meal to make for a crowd when served with garlic bread and salad.  This is a real kid pleaser too, kinda like spaghetti meets rotel dip with chicken.  It also freezes well so it makes a great dish to take to someone or to split it and eat one half and freeze the other.  Needless to say, I've made this several times!

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

1lb cooked chicken (white or dark), chopped
1lb thin spaghetti
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 can cream of chicken
1 lb velvetta, cubed
1/2 c milk
1c shredded cheddar cheese

Boil spaghetti in a large pot and drain.  In same pot, add rotel, cream of chicken, velvetta, and milk.  Heat this mixture over low heat until velvetta is melted and everything is combined.  Add pasta and chicken to mixture and pour into casserole dish and top with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 until bubbly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

Ole!  Why didn't I try making this sooner?!  I didn't really have a recipe I followed.  I just looked at  different recipes on-line and made my own combination.  So you should really just take the idea from this post, pick your ingredients and run with it.  You need crunchy corn tortillas, red or green chile sauce, beans, cheese, and eggs.  This is such an easy meal for b'fast, lunch, or dinner.  Cheap too!

Huevos Rancheros

tostados (that's the 6 in round crunchy corn tortillas but you could substitute tortilla chips)
green enchilada sauce, heated
1 can pinto beans drained
1 can refried beans
mexican cheese blend
eggs, fried
tomato, diced (I substituted salsa the 2nd time I made this)

I mixed my pinto and refried beans together and heated them.  For one serving I used 3 tostados (really 2 is plenty).  This is how I layered it...tostado, beans, cheese, tostado, beans, cheese, tostado,  and 2 fried eggs.  Then top with green sauce and tomatoes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

NYC Day 7

Last day in NYC!  It has been a great trip and we have a little more sightseeing to do before we head home but I'm ready to get back south!

We started out the day with a late breakfast at the Carnegie Deli.  We were both kinda craving corned beef hash again so we split an order.  The portions here are huge!  I had hoped that it was going to be better than the hash we had the day we got here because they cure their own meats.  Unfortunately it wasn't.  Overcooked, dry, and greasy.  We definitely liked the other better.

We got on the subway and road the 1 down to Battery Park to catch a ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island.  At Liberty Island, they are currently not allowing entrance into the statue except for special ticket holders and they only allow 240 per day of them.  I was pretty sure that we may not be able to access the top of the statue but I was really surprised we couldn't go into the museum in the base of the statue either.  So all we could do was walk around it and then get on the ferry to go to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island is alot bigger than I thought and there is so much to see there!  We only had about an 1 hr before we had to get back to catch our plane.  I didn't realize that this island had not just the main building but also a ferry station, hospital, powerhouse, and dormitories.  Only the main building is currently in use but you could easily spend 3 hrs in it!  Definitely a place I need to go back to.

We were starting to get into a pretty big hurry once the ferry got back to Battery Park.  We had about 2 1/2 hrs to ride the subway back to midtown, get Jack a gift at FAO Schwarz, get our bags, and get to the airport before the plane took off.  Jack has a fascination with trash trucks and can you believe that we found a NYC trash truck at the store!  We darted down 5th Ave on foot stopping once for a hotdog to eat while running! 
When we got to our hotel, our street was closed because they were piling up the snow to be removed.....using a bulldozer!  That's just too much dang snow!  So a taxi can't come to the hotel to pick us up and we have to go down our street to 6th to hail one.  Now another is 4:15 and all of the taxis change shift at 5 and no one wants to take us to LaGuardia because it will put them past their shift!  After being turned down by about 5 taxis, one finally takes us!  I wasn't sure what we were going to do if we didn't get one.  The subway doesn't go to the airport but I was about to see if there was a bus route to it.  It shouldv'e been about a 30 min trip but a little traffic congestion made it about 45.  We got there about 5:15 and checked in with no problem before our flight at 6.  Nothing like ending a trip with a little unexpected excitement!

All in all, NYC was a great trip.  I was on my own most of the time since Bill was in school.  I never felt scared to be out on my own because where we were was a big tourist destination.  I was out there with other tourists, people who worked around there, and police.  I saw very little panhandling and never felt like I was somewhere unsafe.  I kept a little map with me and we paid $27 each for an unlimited pass for the subway and buses.  The subway didn't feel unsafe either.  I really want to go back and take the boys next time.  They would just love so much of it!

Top 10 Things I Learned on My First Trip to NYC
1.  Mass transportation rocks!  How else could a city like this function?
2.  There is a Starbuck's on every corner!  I thought it was pretty funny when the directions to one place I was looking for said that it was across from Starbuck's!  What isn't?
3.  Finding a grocery store in the city isn't easy.  I don't know why they eluded me!
4.  Eating out can get very expensive so it helps to do your research to find some cheaper options.
5.  Duane & Reade is the NYC drugstore and there are just as many of these as Starbuck's.
6.  You can easily walk 8 miles a day walking around sightseeing.  But don't look up too much!  You might just walk into an intersection or crash into another pedestrian.
7.  Research, research, research you trip!  You could waste alot of time figuring things out while you are there if you don't have some idea about what you want to do and how to do it.
8.  If it's winter, take boots!  It would have been a life saver for my feet the last couple of day we were there.
9.  Seeing at least one Broadway show is a must!  It is affordable too.  We got 2 weeknight tickets for Wicked the night before the show for only $56 each.  Our seats were labeled as having a "partially obstructed view" but they were totally fine.  Didn't miss a thing!
10.  Stick with yellow taxis.  Other taxis may take you for a pun intended.  We took yellow taxi to the airport for about $35 and Bill's coworker to another unmarked cab and paid $10 more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

NYC Day 6

I had intentions of getting up this morning and going to Regis and Kelley but after my day of marathon walking yesterday and getting to bed at midnight.....I just couldn't pull myself out of bed.

I had to go out by lunchtime though because I didn't have anything but granola bars in the room to eat for lunch.  I decided to go back to the little french restaurant, La Bonne Soupe, that we had the steak au poivre.  I had their Quiche Lorraine which had ham and swiss cheese.  It was an individual sized quiche, which was nice because I think you get a little more crust :), and a side salad. 

I also tried their apple tart which I didn't like quite as much as good ol' apple pie but it was nice.  It had very little apple and more of a thick custardy filling.  I believe it is called a frangipane which is made of butter, eggs, sugar, and ground almonds.

I then headed to St. Patrick's Cathedral.  That is one massive cathedral!  It is free to visit and worth stopping by to see.  From there I went to do a little gift shopping at the Lego store at Rockefeller center before going to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  It costs $20 to visit the MoMA but on Fridays 4-8 Target sponsors free access.  It was very crowded, which was expected, so I limited myself to checking out just 2 of the floors of the museum.  

Monet's Water Lillies

They have well known artists on display such as van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Polk, and Warhol.  I would like to go back and do the audio tour sometime.

That evening we had planned to have supper from a local, very popular street vendor, The Halal Guys, on the corner of 53rd & 6th.  Apparently this vendor is open 7:30 at night till 4 in the morning.  They serve chicken and lamb plates that are suppose to be the best.  Well, it was cheap (about $6 for a plate) and filling but it was far from being the best thing I've ever had. 

Chicken & Rice

Yellow rice topped with chopped chicken and a little lettuce.  They give you a side of white sauce and hot sauce.  The white sauce was essentially white bbq sauce and the hot sauce was so outrageously hot I couldn't stand it.  We definitely could have split a plate...we both threw away about half our food.

I also stopped by the same bakery I got my black & white cookie to get a cannoli.  It was very good but not better than the black & white which is now my favorite Yankee cookie.