Lazy Saturday Afternoon: The Cornelia Street Cafe

The last couple of weeks have been hectic, and that has included busy weekends. This was the first time in about a month that I haven’t had any plans for either Saturday or Sunday. Last night was game night with the fam, and today I caught up with a friend for a leisurely brunch at The Cornelia Cafe.

This was my first brunch here, and I didn’t have any expectations , bust as it turns out the cafe is a well-know hang out space that boasts many activities. The downstairs area hosts live music, readings and other fun events, but going here for brunch was such a treat. The staff is very warm and inviting, and because we arrive on the early side (11:15) we were seated immediately. As you can see in the picture, arriving later guarantees a wait in line.

The Cornelia cafe has a variety of food and drink options that are reasonably priced, but when you take into account that a mimosa is $9, the brunch prix fixe make sense and it’s pretty wonderful. To start there was a choice of bread which included blueberry muffin and pumpkin bread, followed by breakfast entree which included the staples of buttermilk pancakes, french toast, omelettes and eggs any style, as well as some breakfast specials. Also included were coffee or tea and an adult beverage. I had a greyhound, made with pink grapefruit juice and it was very tasty, but they also offer screwdrivers, bloody marys, mimosas, and sangria. I was tempted to get eggs, because it was hard to think about getting pancakes after the bread course, but I saved my pumpkin bread for later and yielded to the temptation of buttermilk pancakes.

If you are looking for a cute place to grab a bite to eat and catch up with a friend, I would recommend The Cornelia Cafe. In addition to having a warm and friendly atmosphere, great service and good food, it’s also conveniently located around the corner from public transportation. It’s in the West Village, so it’s a great starting point for a day of shopping and sightseeing.

I had hoped to get a bunch of reading done today, but when I say lazy day, I really mean lazy day. I ate and watched tv, all day.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Master of Love by Catherine LaRoche   Book Review

The Vampire Diaries – Episode 2.3: Bad Moon Rising Discussion

I know I’m all late, but as I explained in my post on Bones, I was at the Baltimore Book Festival for the past few days, however, I must share a few quick thoughts on Bad Moon Rising.

The werewolf story has finally moved along a little bit.  I still have mixed feelings about this show choosing to bring in werewolves.  I don’t know what story started that linked the two together, but it seems that it pops up frequently enough in movies and television to be a little annoying to me here.  Mason grew on me a little bit in this episode.  I don’t know where they are going with this, and I am pretty sure that he and Damon will be at odds at some point – especially since we have learned that a werewolf bite can kill a vampire, but what can I say  - he is easy on the eyes, and he had enough sense to try to restrain himself during his transformation.  He needs a little help in that department seeing that he was able to break free and almost eat Stefan, and a newly day walking Caroline, into dinner.

And speaking of Caroline, she continues to be my favorite of the bevy of women on this show.  Bonnie is as snarky and mean as ever, but at least I see that she has real reason to be a little bitchy and standoffish with Caroline.  And as for Elena, she holds no currency with me these days after the emotional smackdown she delivered to Damon.  But, my Caroline is in her glory as she tries to master the vampire thing, even though her every neurotic and jealous tendency is threatening to destroy the relationships which are so important for her to hold on to her humanity.  Now that she has her ring she has a better shot at hiding her situation from her mom, but I am looking forward to see what other effects her change will have on their already tense relationship.  And what about poor Matt?  Is she really going to be able to stay away from him.  I am sad about this, but she makes Stefan so much more palatable that it is ridiculous.  They need to get together.  I will love Katherine forever is any of her evil deeds pave the way to that happening.

I think I have to go back and listen to the mythology a few more times.  I got lost when they started talking about why vamps had to creep around at night and werewolves are bound to the moon and eat vampires.  The doppelganger angle is appealing to me, and I want to know more about that and thankfully Alaric got himself together and kissed Jenna.  Now where in the world is Jeremy?  In class?  In his room moping?  It would be nice ti get the tiniest bit of face time with characters, even if they have no storyline at the moment.

Tyler was hilarious when Amy so bluntly told him that she liked Matt.  I laughed out loud for way too long when he said, “Ouch.”

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Next time … Katherine is back!

This Just In! Top Secret Recipes Unlocked, by Todd Wilbur

Top Secret Recipes Unlocked Book CoverYou can only imagine why I was interested in reading this book- recipes of famous food that I can play around with in the comfort of my own home- sweet!  January is usually the time where we pull out our resolve to eat more healthfully, exercise more and generally be better people.  I have a feeling that this book is like having a little devil sitting on my shoulder, and it has already given the little angel on the other shoulder a beat down and kicked it to the curb.

There are many recipes that I am looking forward to testing out for comparison with the original.  I was overjoyed to find that they have several recipes from Starbucks listed- my fave being the Lemon Loaf (lemon poundcake).  I think I might make that for book club next month and take a few piecs of the original to try out as well.

Candace, Vasilly and Dawn are deprived children this month as they attempt to get through this round of their Game On Diet.  But the end of the month is drawing near and I figured that I would throw them a bone and give then something to look forward to on February 1.

Lemon Loaf Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of booking  baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Lemon Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus tablespoon of powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Directions (which I will invariably modify, but I’m giving you the real thing)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To make the loaf, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Use an electric mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.  Add the oil and mix well.
  5. Pour the ingredients into a well-greased 8 1/2 X 4 1/2- inch loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes , or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Make the lemon icing by combining  the ingredients in a small bowl with an electric mixer on low speed.  When the lemon loaf has cooled, remove it from the pan and frost the top with the lemon icing.  When the icing has set, slice the loaf into eight 1 inch thick slices.

Makes 8 slices.

Other recipes of interest are:

  • Nuts 4 Nuts Candied Nuts
  • Starbucks Coffee Cake
  • Starbucks Carrot Cake
  • Popeye’s Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Popeye’s  Cajun Gravy
  • The Soup Nazi’s Mexican Chicken Chili
  • Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla

There are many others, but since I can’t list the entire TOC, I will stop here.

This post might eventually wander over to the Weekend Cooking feature over at Beth Fish Reads.  You should check that out.  It’s yummy!

Dinner Is Served: The Complete Progressive Dinner Party

One of the great things about the holidays is the way that we take the time out from busy lives and schedules to celebrate and appreciate our family and friends. Dinner parties are a time honored way of sharing good food with good friends. I am so pleased to present the complete collection of the wonderful recipes gathered by our book blogging friends.  Be sure to take a look through these delicious recipes.  Believe me, you don’t want to miss a thing!
Cocktails & Hors d’oeuvres
Angel’s Kisses – Cinnamon Apples

Soups & Salads

Entrees

Desserts

Progressive Dinner Party: Cornbread Stuffing/Chicken & Dumplings

progressivedinnerbutton

Today the Progressive Dinner Party is shifting over to entrees.  So far all of the drinks, appetizers, soups and salads have been wonderful.  For a complete list of all the dishes head on over to Book Blog Social Club to get a look at all the goodies.

Stuffing is a dish that I am very particular about.  It’s not one of those things that you get to eat all the time.  Typically I only have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas so I don’t have the opportunity to eat it a lot, and as a result my taste buds for it are heavily skewed toward my mom’s stuffing.  (We call it dressing when I’m in Alabama).  The preparation of it can be a little bit labor intensive.  It’s not hard, just takes a bit of time, but I feel like it’s well worth it if you make your own cornbread.  It really gives the stuffing a full flavor and a rich texture when mixed with the breadcrumbs and other seasonings.  And what can I say about homemade chicken and dumplings besides the fact that it is one of the best things on this planet!

    Sage Cornbread

    Ingredients

  1. 1 cup cornmeal
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh sage (chopped) or 1 teaspoon dried sage (chopped)
  6. 3/4 cup soy milk(or buttermilk , or whole milk – you choose)
  7. 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
  8. 2 eggs (optional)
  9. 3 tablespoons olive oil

Do It Up

  • Take as many liberties as you want with the cornbread. It will be added to other ingredients and baked again anyway.
  • Sift the first four ingredients together and add sage.
  • In another bowl beat soy milk, maple syrup, eggs and olive oil together.
  • Add to dry ingredients and stir only enough to moisten.
  • Pour batter into a 9 x 9 greased pan.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cornbread Stuffing

Ingredients

  1. Sage Cornbread (see above)
  2. 3 cups soft bread crumbs
  3. 4 ounces canola oil
  4. 2 cups onion, chopped
  5. 2 cups finely chopped celery
  6. 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  7. 2 cups chicken, diced, (optional)
  8. 1 heaping tablespoon dried sage, crumbled
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons dried leaf thyme, crumbled
  10. 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled
  11. 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped
  12. 1 teaspoon salt
  13. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  14. 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Do It Up

  • Heat oven to 400ºF.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornbread and bread crumbs.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and celery in canola oil until tender. Do not brown.
  • Combine the sautéed vegetables with the bread mixture. Stir in chicken broth, using enough to moisten.
  • Stir in the diced chicken, if using, and the seasonings and beaten eggs, blending well.
  • Spread the mixture in a large shallow baking or roasting pan measuring about 10″ x 15″. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

Chicken & Dumplings

Ingredients

  1. 2-1/2 to 3 lb. Chicken (whole or parts, as you prefer)
  2. 4 Cups Water
  3. 2 Cups of  Chicken broth
  4. 1 Carrot, roughly chopped
  5. 1 Medium onion, cut into quarters
  6. 1 Stalk of celery, roughly chopped
  7. 1/2 tablespoon Salt
  8. 1 Cup water or milk (I use water)
  9. 1/4 tablespoon of black pepper

Dumplings:

  1. 2 Cups All-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
  3. 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  4. 3 tablespoons of oil

Do It Up

  • Place the chicken in a Dutch oven, and add the water, broth, carrot, onion, celery and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat. Simmer for 60 to 70 minutes, or until tender and chicken is done. Remove chicken and allow it to cool enough to handle. Remove the carrot, onion and celery pieces from the broth and discard. Reserve the broth.
  • Bone the chicken, discarding all skin and bones, and cut meat into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Dumplings:

  • Combine the flour, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cut in the oil/shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture is consistency of coarse meal. Add the buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times — no more.
  • Roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness, and cut into 3″ x 1″ strips.
  • Bring the chicken broth to a boil, and stir in the water/milk and pepper. Correct seasonings, if desired.
  • Drop dumplings, one or two at a time, into the boiling broth and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir from time to time to make sure dumplings do not stick together.
  • Cook dumplings 8 to 10 minutes. Add the boned chicken to the mixture and simmer until heated through.

Be sure to stop by My Friend Amy to get some Potato Casserole and Ham and go by Notes from the North for some yummy Meatballs with Lingonberry Jam.  Check out all the of the Progressive Dinner Party Dishes at Book Blog Social Club.

Recipe: Ginger, Chicken & Coconut Soup

Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking

Beth over at BethFish Reads has started a wonderful new way for us to link up to all the fabulous posts about food that us book lovers post about throughout the blogosphere.  I am so excited to have a collection like this all in one place.  That makes it easy for me to live vicariously through all of you who are posting about food. Yay!

Now food is one of my favorite topics.  I absolutely love to read about food in books.  That’s why last week during the Read-a-Thon,when hosting a mini-challenge, mine was all about the food that you run across in books.  Check out some of the entries, they are fabulous.  Yummy!

Ginger, Chicken and Coconut Soup

This week I will be sharing a recipe that I absolutely love.  My friend and I love to go to thisThe Soup Bible, by Debra Mayhew Thai restaurant near my apartment, and every time that we go we get the same thing- Tom Kha Gai Soup.  It is so yummy and I can seriously just eat it by the potful.  So  I got to thinking why not make a whole pot for the two of us!  I had found a recipe on the Internet and we made it one night and it was delicious, and recently I wanted to make a soup for a friend coming over to have dinner.  I was flipping through The Soup Bible and was reminded of my favorite Thai soup.  They call it Ginger, Chicken and Coconut Soup, but it’s the same thing.  Sweet!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of coconut milk
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 4 lemon grass stalks, bruised and chopped
  • 1 inch piece of galangal, finely chopped
  • 10 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1o kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 1 oz. skinless boneless chicken, cut into thin strips
  • 4 oz. button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of baby sweet corn
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 red chilies, chopped
  • 3- 4 spring onions
  • chopped fresh coriander

Bring the coconut milk and chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan.  Add the lemon grass, galangal, peppercorns and half the kaffir lime leaves, reduce the heat and simmer gently for ten minutes.

Strain the stock into a clean pan.  Return to the heat , then add the chicken, mushrooms and baby sweetcorn. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce to taste and the rest of the lime eaves. Serve hot, garnished with red chilies, spring onions and coriander.

What I Did

As I have mentioned before, I am biologically incapable of following recipes.  I love reading them, I love looking at the pictures of them, but I am not so good at following them.  I will usually do quite a few things a bit differently.  This time was no exception.

This recipe called for peppercorns but the one that I used another time called for green chilies, and I opted again for the chilies.  I thought about the peppercorn but I just thought it had a flavor that wasn’t quite compatible with the soup.  I also ditched he baby sweetcorn, and used the portobello mushrooms that I had in my fridge over the ones they mentioned in the recipe.  I have never been able to find kaffir lime leaves, and I admit that I haven’t looked very hard, so I ditched them too.  It still tastes the same as it did in the restaurant so that particular flavor might be very subtle.

If you decide to use the chilies you might not want to let them cook in the coconut milk and chicken stock for ten minutes if you don’t want it to be too, too spicy.  I like spicy food and I think I had to yank mine after five minutes!   This soup can be eaten plain- served  before your entree, but often I will just have it with a salad and mix brown rice in with the soup to make it more of a meal.  It is delicious!

If the thought of fish sauce gives you pause, it shouldn’t.  It really brings out the soup.  Just add slowly and taste along the way so that the flavor is to your liking.  And another tip- save the items that you strain out.  They freeze well, and are strongly flavorful, so you can use them for a very easy second round at some point down the line.

What’s your favorite soup?

Fall Festival Recipe Exchange: Black Bean Brownies

Fall Festival Recipe Exchange

My friend Amy is hosting a fabulous and hopefully, annual, recipe exchange.  Yay! Exciting! Click on the button to see a list of other participating blogs and yummy fall recipes.

Black Bean Brownies (gluten-free)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 (15.5 oz) can of black beans, rinse and drain
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of instant coffee (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (optional)

What To Do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Grease an 8×8 square baking dish.
  • Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, sugar, and instant coffee in a blender; blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.
  • Eat the whole pan while standing over the oven. Enjoy and share with others! (Makes 16)

How I Did It:

I know  that baking is supposed to be a science, but it is hard for me to make a recipe without any modifications.  I don’t know if I have ever done it.  This recipe was no exception, though I did try to control myself since this dish was a little foreign to me and I didn’t know what baking brownies with beans would be like.

I had organic black beans which I picked up from the farmer’s market, so instead of canned beans I boiled the black beans (plain), which took about 5-6 hours.  That was very easy because I didn’t have to season them.  I substituted canola oil for vegetable oil, and then pretty much followed the rest of the instructions. I was thrilled by how easy it was and super excited that they tasted like real brownies because my mom needs to eat gluten-free as much as possible and I like having a dessert recipe that she can eat. Yay!  Now I just have to have her over for some.

What’s your favorite fall meal? Recipe? Favorite food in general?