Thursday Cocktail Night: Butter

IMG_3681

It’s been a long week, and this particular Thursday has taken an especially long time to come around.  So, for those of you who are with me and may be on the hunt for a way to unwind with a good cocktail, I have a recommendation for you.

NYC delivers up some solid cocktails and as long as you stay away from Times Square and Murray Hill, you’re usually able to get a really quality libation.  One of my strategies for getting a good cocktail (i.e. yummy, smooth and won’t floor you in one sip) in the city has always been to visit the bars of upscale restaurants or hotels.  They usually have some of the highest quality bars and a quieter atmosphere.

It’s usually hard to get the Mr. to go out in general, but this weekend Ben and I were in midtown for a show (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – P.S. GO!) and stopped by Butter for dinner before heading home.  Butter is one of my favorite restaurants for a nice dinner (the work of master chef Alex Guarnaschelli).  But after seeing and sampling thier cocktail list, I’m definitely going to start frequenting the bar section of the restaurant even if I’m not sitting down for a full meal.

Some pluses:

  • It’s not crowded:  Most people are there for dinner, so  are just waiting to get their spot at the table.
  • It’s a non-scene scene:  It’s got the swanky atmosphere and touches of comfort that I need to feel good about a $17 cocktail, but without the scene-loving people (read: hipsters and tourists) that makes scenes so annoying.
  • The winter cocktail list is delicious:  I’m usually more of a wine girl, but Ben and I devoured their savory cocktails.

My recommendation in The Holy Basil, which is a delicious combination of gin, muddled cucumber, basil, canton and black pepper.  For those who fall on the whisky and bourbon side of life, I tried Ben’s Tall, Dark and Handsome and it was one of the smoothest drinks I’ve had in awhile.  Ben refused to order it by name, but liked everything else the drink had to offer – a combination of aged bourbon, chocolate bitters, stout, and carpano antica.

For those who work in midtown and are starved for a bar with personality and without crowds, Butter should be your jam.

See what I did there?

&d

 

My Superbowl Spread

chili

February. The most hated month of the year. There are really only a couple of bright spots and one of them is Superbowl. Even if you aren’t into football or your team never makes it (goddamn Jets), the Superbowl is more about good food, fun commercials and of course the puppybowl.

My friends had their annual Chili Cook-off last weekend. This is easily one of my favorite parties of the year. These people are from Kansas and take their chili very seriously. They get really creative and always delicious and lucky me I get to be a judge :). This year I am taking my favorites from the Chili Cook-off parties and translating it into the perfect Superbowl menu.

Last year’s chili winner, a White Chili,  is hands down my favorite chili ever (sorry Mom). I am obsessed!!  Kellie kicked it up by using ghost peppers and made it amazingly spicy.  So delicious. Great now I’m hungry.  I’ve been threatening to make this chili for the past year and never got around to it.  This weekend is the perfect time to finally make it and really impress people.

buffalo

 

This year for the party I entered my Buffalo Chicken meatballs in the sides competition.  Buffalo anything is usually a huge crowd pleaser.  These meatballs are no different and they are a healthy and easier version of wings.  That is until you dip the whole thing in ranch.  This is my go to recipe because it has about 3-4 ingredients and takes a little over two hours.  Just make sure to make enough because people love them and 24 meatballs go quick.

 

Now that I have my menu down the only thing to do is decide between Panthers or Broncos.  The Panther colors are much better but I love Peyton! Decisions, decisions.

&t

Sunday Detox: Granola!

granola

I love living in NYC, but it can be overwhelming and downright toxic for your health if you’re not careful.  I’ve always used Sundays as a day to reset – whether to recover from a long weekend of fun nights out, or to prepare for a long week ahead of work and travel where healthy meals are far and few between.  A little time spent on detoxing on Sundays has gone a long way to combat the madness of city living.

I’ve never been able to be too extreme in my approach.  Days straight of drinking only juices and concoctions or severely limiting my diet or behavior has never worked for me or has felt particularly healthy.  So, instead, I just try to set myself up for low-sugar, low-flour, low-alcohol weeks, kicking it off on Sunday.

Some Sundays are more successful than others.  Life is life.  But, I’ll plan to share one approach a week with you guys to try to keep myself honest, and hear how you all keep yourselves healthy.

First up:  my favorite granola recipe!  I grabbed and adjusted from Cookie + Kate, a fantastic whole foods cooking blog that you should check out.  I make it in bulk, and then try to pack it with me for breakfasts or snacks during the week.   It is naturally sweetened with honey (or maple syrup, if you prefer), instead of the pounds of white sugar you’ll find in the grocery store variety.  I also sneak in a little ground flaxseed for some extra Omega-3 and fiber. That, along with whatever combination of dried fruits, nuts and seeds I have in the pantry that week, and I’m done.  Couldn’t be easier.

The recipe below will yield about 5-6 servings, so I typically double it to have a stockpile.

Homemade Granola

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1½ cup raw nuts and/or seeds (I use a combination of chopped pecans, walnuts and sunflower seeds)
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup dried fruit (I use a combination of cranberries, blueberries and cherries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together all of the dry ingredients except the fruit.  Pour in the honey, oil and vanilla and mix it until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.  Throw it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and into the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring once about half way through.

Once it’s out of the oven, I let it set for a few hours.  I like my granola clumpy and it tends to stick together better than way.  Mix the dried fruit in once its chilled and set.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some granola to chomp…

&d