Wine AND Pasta Time!

New York Vintners is a modern and boutiquey wine shop in Tribeca/NYC. This past weekend, the boyfriend and I took a class at the shop where we sampled Italian wines and we also learned how to make fresh pasta with Chef Meeker!

The Wines
(prices may vary depending on vendor)

This Prosecco was dry, light and the perfect amount of fruit. I think it might be one of my favorites actually. I think I've had it before, but now I will definitely remember it!

Rosé has a bad rap, but White Zinfandel is really to blame! Rosé's are great Apéritifs in my opinion. I've never really enjoyed them with an entire meal just yet. Fruity and dry, this is notBeringer's! No offense... but there lies the culprit!

I'm not a huge fan of Pinot Grigio, however this one was not too bad. It was light and crisp and just what a good Pinot Grigio should be.

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite whites... I suppose second to Prosecco! This wine is very floral and citrus. Like a nice juicy grapefruit!

One of the two reds we tasted. I preferred the last but not because this one was not the least bit enjoyable! It's spicy, yet light, and if you let it breathe you'll have a pungent yet smooth glass!

Ah, my Chianti! At last, you've found me! This is a great Chianti. Juicy and lush. Again, let her breathe. The lady needs some time calm down! An interesting tidbit- this wine is grown on an estate that also harvests pears... this highly impacts the flavor of wine. It's all about it's surroundings!

Now for the yummy pasta. Unfortunately I don't know when I'll be able to afford an apartment with a big enough kitchen to house a juicer, blender, Cuisineart, AND Kitchenaid. But we'll see... To make fresh pasta you need a Kitchenaid and the pasta attachments, but here is the recipe to get you started!

4 cups flour
6 eggs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt salt

-Mix the above ingredients until they form a ball.
-Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
-Cut into 6 equal sized pieeces to be fed through the pasta machine.
-Roll to desired thickness and cut or shape into desired pasta.

Cook pasta in at least a gallon of salted boiling water per each pound of pasta until just done- al dente! This will only take a minute or tow.

After we played around with the dough and made our own little farfalle and tortellini shapes, we were served a delicious bowl of freshly made pasta and marinara. By far the tastiest, simplest Italian dish I've ever had! So, if you have the space and money, make your own pasta. If you don't, take this class, sample the wine, then bon appetito!


Turkey in the Straw!

This weekend, the boyfriend and I went for a stroll through Battery Park. Battery Park is a great place to have lunch while gazing at the Statue of Liberty, you can also enjoy festivals, and if you feel up to a boat ride, you can even take the Staten Island Ferry FOR FREE and get a tour of NYC Harbor. But before we got on the boat, we came across the tasty looking fellow in the first picture to the left... that's right a turkey in NYC! While we left him to roam freely, he did give us an idea as to what to make for meals this weekend! All kidding aside, for my vegetarian friends, I do balance my carnivore days with a more herbivore friendly menu too.

Now for the recipes! You'll notice that both meals include some form of turkey, white cannellini beans, and canned tomatoes. However, some differences in spices and herbs make for two delicious, yet very different, meals!

Turkey & White Bean Chili (slow cooker or stove top)
-1lb lean ground turkey meat
-2 small yellow onions (or 1 large) diced
-1 shallot minced
-2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 limes (juiced and the zest)
-1 8oz (or 12) can diced tomatoes with chili's
-1 12 oz can of cannellini beans
-1 hot pepper (or 3 little chili's) minced (take out seeds!!)
-1 tbs cumin
-1 tbs olive oil
-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 scallions chopped
-24 oz fat free chicken broth
- 1/2 cup shredded 2% Mexican flavored cheese
-salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add onions and garlic to hot skillet for 2 minutes. Add turkey, cumin, hot pepper, a little salt and pepper and let meat brown for about 4-5 minutes. When meat has browned, place the mixture in a slow cooker (or stew pot if you don't have). Add broth, tomatoes, beans, lime zest and juice, and cover pot. If cooking in a slow cooker on high heat, this chili will be ready in 3-4 hours. Before serving, add in fresh cilantro and scallions, and top individual bowls with a little bit of cheese. This recipe serves about 5. Feel free to add or subtract pending on the number of mouths you are feeding.

Spicy Turkey and White Bean Radiatore (stove top)
-1 box radiatore pasta (or your favorite shape)
-1 package hot lean Italian turkey sausage
-1 12oz can white canellini beans
-1 12oz can fire roasted tomatoes
-1 cup frozen peas
-3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 small yellow onions (or 1 large) dived
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan/Romano blend (extra for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tbs olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Boil water for pasta. In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the sausage. I took the sausage meat out of the casing and crumbled it, but you can slice it or even leave it whole. Cook sausage in onions and garlic for about 8 minutes, then add the beans, peas, and tomatoes. After stirring, add the pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cover for another 5-8 minutes (you can check and stir while pasta cooks). Cook the pasta until al dente for about 8 minutes. (make sure you salt the water before adding pasta, I even smashed a garlic clove and put it in the water too). Once pasta is cooked, drain the water and add the pasta to the sausage skillet. Once all ingredients are stirred, add in the parsley, basil, and cheese. Stir again and take off heat. Once it's cooled a bit,  it is ready to serve! Just don't forget to garnish with some more cheese.

I honestly don't measure out my spices that much, nor am I accurate on my cooking times. So just be sure that you are adding in the amounts of flavors that you like, and that your raw meat is cooked properly! These meals are also rather low in fat but they are really tasty. Health Nut tested, Boyfriend approved!


One Last Summer Salad... For Now!

I was in the mood for one last summer salad before the leaves start to turn, and the air crisps. However, this salad can really be made all year round, pending your local produce markets, and will put the perfect spring in your step on cold winter days. Sometimes, the taste of summer is just absolutely necessary on a dreary day instead of a stew!

Toss ingredients in a bowl:
-Bag/box of your favorite mixed greens
-cherry tomatoes/halved
-1 avocado/diced
-1 orange/peeled and wedged 
(ditch the white pith if you want (that's the nasty white coating) 
but it is very good for you. Yay Vitamins!
-1 red and orange pepper/diced
-1 fennel bulb/diced
-Fresh herbs/chopped and sprinkled on top
I leave that one up to you because all herbs add a fresh summery twist!

Add the dressing:
Kris's Dressing
-1 part Champagne Vinegar per 3 parts Olive Oil
-1 tbsp Agave Syrup or Honey
-1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
-1/2 lemon squeezed
-1 tsp soy sauce
-2 gloves garlic, minced
-salt and pepper


It's been a long month...

I haven't been my usual posting self these past few weeks. Just last Thursday, Vh1 Divas returned to TV and I was a big part of the promotion process for the past two months. I am a writer/producer at Vh1, and if you watch the channel and watched the show, I worked on many a commercial for the Divas! The show was great, and now I am back to cooking my dinners, exercising, reading and more importantly blogging! This is going to be an exciting season, what with fall festivals, pumpkins, holidays, wine and pasta classes, and even a European adventure in October! Thanks for sticking around, and I hope to tickle your palettes daily this autumn!

I also want to share with you, my favorite piece that I worked on for Vh1 Divas. It's a mini-bio that I directed, wrote, and produced on the actress Naturi Naughton from the new movie FAME and it aired during one of the commercial breaks on Divas. Are any of you planning on seeing the film? It looks like an entertaining retelling.
This video is property of VH1/Viacom- DO NOT DUPLICATE!


Wine Time!

Cavatapo Wine Bar is one of my regular joints where I like to sip new wines and some of my favorites. This past weekend, I tried 2 reds that were the perfect compliment to a rainy day that finally turned into a cool dry night.
The ’06 Chianti -Coli, Tuscany is the perfect light red wine.
Nothing over-the-top about its flavor and strength.
And moderately marked up at $28.00.

At first taste, the Confalonieri Pinot Noir comes across as a hot mess wine.
Tangy, a bit overbearing-
you know, the wine that makes you twitch but you drink it anyway.
However, once we let the wine hit the air for a good 10 minutes,
the tannins faded away and we were left with smooth full bodied goodness.
In the restaurant the wine goes for $32.00 smacks per bottle.
In the store it's only $8.99.
Talk about a smack in the face!


Simply French

My last trip (or attempt rather) to Brasserie Julien ended up being for the dogs, but last Friday I made it there after work for a dinner with my father and le boyfriend. There were some surprises and some mishaps, but you can't win em' all can you?

Brasserie Julien is certainly an experience. With live jazz, no cork fee's on Sundays, a 'kids eat free' schedule, trivia, wine classes, and a psychic one can have a good time there. The food is also very good. The mussels are delish (enjoy the free refills!), the escargot is melt-in-your-mouth fantastic, and the crepe with Nutella for dessert? I've died and gone to Paris!

On this recent trip, we enjoyed the cheese plate and the special frisée shrimp salad for appetizers. For le entrée, we opted for the Grilled and Confit NY Free Range Chicken, the Salmon Medallion with Seafood Crust, and the Lamb Special with Cous Cous. Alas, contrary to taste, the lamb was stringy and fell short of what should be expected there. This meal was paired up with a great bottle of the 2007 Sancere Domaine La Chatellain and, for the most part, hit the spot!


The Sights and Tastes of NYC's Feast of San Gennaro

The 82nd annual Feast of San Gennaro is in full swing on the streets of Little Italy in NYC right now. From September 12th- September 20th, the Patron Saint of Naples is celebrated with over 300 licensed street vendors setting up shop with international treats, jewelry, clothing, souvenirs, games, booze and so much more! Enjoy outdoor entertainment including Italian folk songs, rock bands, and of course the festival's annual cannoli eating competition! If street meat is not your thing, fear not, there are 35 indoor and outdoor Italian bistros and eateries. Most of these restaurants serve the more Americanized Italian fare (like Chicken Parmesan)... so if you are in the mood for something truly from The Boot you'll have to be selective. Unfortunately, I need to work on this one because I don't have a suggestion. I've only eaten at the more Americanized establishments (like Puglia's). They serve decent grub for the price, but I am still in search of a hole in the wall that feels like I've been transported to my ancestor's land. And don't be fooled by maitre'ds who practically beg for you to give their food a try. There's a reason for their acts of desperation! Diners beware!

On September 19th, the official Saint Day will start with Mass at the Most Precious Blood Church, and will be followed immediately by a religious procession in which the Statue of San Gennaro will be carried from the church and throughout the streets of Little Italy (Mulberry Street, between Canal Street (south) and Houston (north).

Here are some of the sights and tastes that you can all enjoy if you are able to take a stroll through Little Italy by September 20th!


Last Days of Summer....

cat naps
summer salsa...

...and I bet you want that Summer Salsa recipe!

Throw these elements all in a bowl and give it a toss:
1 Mango (diced)
3 Peppers (red, green, and yellow- diced)
2 limes (juiced and zest)
1 chili pepper (diced/seeded- add more if you like it spicy)
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 fresh roasted ears of corn (cobbed)
1 handful of freshly chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 teaspoon cumin (add more if you like the flavor)
1/2 red onion (finely chopped)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Enjoy with fresh or store bought tortilla chips. I enjoy lime and chipotle flavored varieties.


First Blog Award!

I am so excited to be receiving my first blog award from one of the first blogs I ever became a follower and reader of! The lovely Herrad has given me the Moonlight Award. The Moonlight Award can best be explained by Celeste, who gave the award to Herrad. By the by, please check out Herrad's blog, you won't regret being swept off your feet and into her inspirational arms!


Moonlight in this case represents the glorious brain-sharpening, mood-enhancing experience one feels when reading or seeing something inspirational in other blogs. Something that sets the tone for the rest of your day, puts a smile on your face, stimulates your work, or makes you feels awesome about life. It is not often one feels wonderful. But some days, some blogs do just that.

I want to give “moonlights” to all the special blogs I encounter.

There are no obligations attached to the recognition. But if you feel like it, you can pass it on to whoever has also given you that something special, what in Spanish they call “eso”, or “it”. Whatever “it” is that lifts your spirits and helps you to up your mental game.

Ok, so now it's my turn to pass the award out. This is a tough one. There are so many to choose from but I'm going to go with:

Gaia from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for her beautiful pictures and well, adventures!

Deborah from The Peach Tart for her humor.

The New England Girl for her off-the-beaten-path sightseeing and stories.

Erin from inkOBSESSION designs for her fun stories and awesome designs!

Char from Ramblins... for her beautiful photography and storytelling.

Awesome Sarah for being awesome!

Danielle from Ginger Rose for her extravagant recipes and delights!

If I missed you and you are mad at me, just take the blog award because I thank you all for following this blog, and for posting comments. They (meaning you) make my day!


Wine Time!

Stumbled upon a très tasty french bistro on the Upper West Side called Citron. There was to be had a deliciously dry, crisp, and floral wine: The Les Belles Vignes Sancerre. Reasonable with the mark-up at a bistro, even better when bought at the store... $23.99!


Stuffed Nation!

Currently at the Foodie Blogroll there is a giveaway for author Hank Cardello's book Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat. In order to enter the contest, participants must blog on their ideas on food policy and why they think obesity is such a problem in the US. Well, I certainly have some ideas on this issue. Although not an expert by any means, I think that my feelings on obesity span an even larger scale than just food policy. So, here goes my entry:

Mind, Body,  & Soul Food:
3 steps closer to a healthier life

Step 1: The Mind
In order to really grasp the reality of obesity in America, one must start with the Mind. It's a terrible thing to waste as they say, and our relationship with food and what we put into our bodies can both poison the mind greatly. Let's start at the core of the problem, our body image. Plastered across the media are underweight women (and men) with fake boobs, too much make-up and photoshopped portraits. Sure they all look great, but they are paid to look that way and THEY PAY to look that way. And who really knows if these models and performers are even the least bit healthy? If I were a millionaire, I'd be able to afford a personal trainer, liposuction, and a personal chef too. Why we obsess over what the media claims to be attractive is a mystery. The key is to just not care. Sounds easy enough but it takes a lot of effort and believing in ourselves to just let it go. Sure, I'll never look like Jessica Alba... but I know for a fact that I'm a better actress so that's enough for me!

Other obstacles that we need to overcome when striving for a healthier mind has a lot to do with exercise and what we are actually eating. More on these topics as we move on to Step 2.

Step 2: The Body
The Body Beautiful. Getting into any exercise routine is tough, but worth every second especially if we are having fun. But if we only think that the benefit of exercise is weight-loss, then we are missing the point entirely and here's where obesity kicks in. I know for a fact that many people don't exercise because they don't care about losing weight. But what if they knew that by exercising they could also:
Strengthen muscles and bones, improve skin tone, release stress, boost the immune system, and feed the brain? It's a fact that the more in shape you are, the faster your brain waves kick in for quick thinking. There's the importance of feeding the Mind again. Don't want dementia when you get older? Go for a walk!

Step 3: Soul Food
Now that we've covered our minds and bodies, it's time to nourish and replenish the soul with food. That is the first element of eating healthier. We can't nourish our bodies with Cheetos and Budweiser. Sure, the advertisements are cute and funny, but what good is this junk? Before we get into food policy, lets first master one rule: Eat Clean and Eat Seasonally. Throw out all of that processed food! If the main ingredient in our orange juice is not an orange, then we need to rethink the brands we buy. It's called good nutrition for a reason. We actually need nutrients to feed the soul! And those sugar-free additives we buy to lose weight? Think again. They do more harm to our bodies than the real stuff.

In a mass produced world, it's incredibly easy to fall into the government's trap. It's all about money, not our health. A sicker nation leads to a richer (and more corrupt) medical industry: Sick World! But once we throw out the processed nonsense, we are not in the clear. What about exports? Lean protein is incredibly good for us but if our chicken has been imported from China? Chances are it's loaded with pesticides, bacteria and steroids! America the Beautiful got a heavy dose of reality when the meat industry bloated along with our waistlines. Deforestation anyone? There are tons of websites that one can research on all of the dangers that are caused by food policies in America. If the bottom line is money, then only buy food that is organic, and more importantly, know where it came from and what's in it. If we keep on buying the steroid filled chickens that always go on sale, then those poisoned specimens will always be the cheapest option. Only we can control the food that we put in our mouths. The simple concept of supply and demand is tried and true, and we're the only ones that have the power to reverse it.

Bottom line: Educate the Mind. Strengthen the Body. Feed your Soul.

What are your thoughts on food policy and/or obesity in America?


Put the Lime in the Coconut...

Coconut Water (Vita Coco) is all the rage these days and I understand why. It's natural, low (ish) in calories, contains more electrolytes than water, and is a great source (and I mean grrreat!) of Vitamin C. Just one 11 oz box (juice boxes for adults!!) is 230% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin C. It also contains 680mg of Potassium. The taste I would say is acquired, but mind you it does not taste like coconut! It actually tastes like slightly diluted apple juice. But Vita Coco also has different flavors like Pineapple, Mango, etc... I enjoy the plain variety. I've been drinking one box in the morning and one during the 4 o'clock drag or as pre-workout per day. It really keeps your energy up in a natural way. No jitters! And in the approaching flu season, I would recommend that you give this a try because of all the benefits! In NYC, they run about 2 bucks per box (ouch!) but just imagine how much I could be spending at Starbucks.

There are other brands of Coconut Water: O.N.E. and Zico.