Donna Bell’s Bake Shop!

 

Attention NCIS fans – did you know that Pauley Perrette – aka Abby Sciuto on CBS’ NCIS owns a Southern style bakery in the middle of midtown Manhattan? And it’s amazing? The treats are fabulous, and prices are very reasonable for New York City. I What I love the most about the little shop is they do not brag about their famous proprietor and only have a few photos of her in the store.  It feels much less like a celebrity owned tourist trap in NYC, and more like a hometown bakery a few blocks from Time Square. Take a look at how the store got started, it’s pretty cool!  
 

the shadow-y window sign photo attempt

Adam and I stopped by there for a quick snack last week, but I decided to post about it today in honor of a new NCIS episode (I’m a dork, I know) – It’s also No-Eat-Outober so if we stopped here together, we’d be  breaking our own rule!

 

ginormous cookies and candy filled brownie bars! You can see a corner of Adam's favorite lemon bars in the corner of the photo 🙂

He had the lemon bar, which he loved. I tried it, and while I’m not normally a lemon fan, this bar provided a perfect mix of tart and sweet. I tried the jalapeno corn bread, which was also amazing, but came in a GIANT piece. I ended up only eating part of it. While it was that good, I didn’t want to eat my day’s calories in corn bread (although, I totally could have – so yummy!) I didn’t get the best photos of our treats, but I promise, next timeto get some good ones.

One of my favorite foods that I’ve tried from Donna Bell’s is their Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Parsley biscuit. I’m not usually a huge biscuit fan,  but these things are amazing!

 

how much is that bac-on in the window?

 

Donna Bell’s is close enough to my office that I sometimes stop by for a cup of coffee – which is also tasty, and not too strong. If you’re in the area stop by Donna Bell’s – it’s so much better than Starbucks and Magnolia combined 🙂

Yankee Post Season Game

This weekend we had a great time

We made stuffed peppers. I used lean ground beef and barley instead of ground turkey and brown rice. They were delicious. We had a little date night watching Harry Potter 2 rented off of itunes. Adam just started reading the books, and we’ve been watching the movies as he finishes the books up.

Barley and Lean Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers

We went to the Yankee’s second ALDS game against Detroit. It was so much fun (Even if they lost, and played like the Mets – Sorry Adam, they were not on their A game)!

Silly face, for silly plays

For all you people visiting the city, or not huge sports fans here are my clift notes on getting on making it through a game.

Hip - Hip - Jorge!

How to Survive a Yankee’s Game

  1. Take the 4 or 5 subway to Yankee Stadium (Avoid eye contact with all the crazy fans. They do bite).
  2.  Look for healthy salad options at the stadium. If you’re looking to splurge, the Nachos are said to be less than 800 calories and are quite tasty!
  3. Suppress any urge to cheer for the other team. Yankee fans will start an “Assss-hoooollleee” cheer throughout the stadium, and you feel like an idiot.
  4. Talk to the people sitting around you. Drunk Yankee’s fans love to make conversation.
  5. Don’t be afraid to sing YMCA with the grounds crew during the fifth inning.
  6. Hip-Hip-Jorge, is one of the most fun cheers around – Do it!

How do you survive Yankee Stadium?

Healthy Salad Tips

Today, I got to start off my morning with a fabulous NuGo slim bar. I first tried the NuGO bars when they were in my Healthy Living Summit swag bag – and loved them!

Remember me?

NuGo sent me the slim bars to try, and I love these even more. They’re 180 calories, 9 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein – and just 2 grams of sugar.

I’m a big “bar” person, because I love how easily I can grab one in the morning, (running around in New York City, make its way tooooo easy to just grab an egg on a roll at a deli, so I like to have a “bar” on hand) but often I don’t feel full long enough. I love that these have a high amount of fiber, and protein, but don’t have a lot of other junk – and are coated in real dark chocolate. Love! I’ll definitely be ordering more!

like a candy bar - but filling!

 

One of the things I love about NYC is that it’s SO easy to grab food on the go – but it’s also one of the things I hate.  My favorite lunch time item is a good hearty salad. I had a friend once tell them that they only eat salads when they go out at lunch time to keep the options under control, as well as the calories.

 

salad bar line at the Food Emporium in midtown

I thought I’d give you guys some of my tips to making a healthy salad

Shosh’s Healthy Salad Bar Tips

1.       Avoid any type of protein with mayo – ie Tuna or Egg Salad

2.       Pick LOTS of colors. Do not just stick with the basics. Go for fun toppings like beets, corn,  or sundried tomatoes.

3.       The darker the better – I love dark greens like spinach, but I often mix it up for fun. Like today, I went with a Romaine lettuce base. But, know that you get more vitamins if the lettuce is dark – and definitely avoid iceberg lettuce.

4.       Ask for egg whites – not egg on your salads. A lot of “make your own” salad places will chop up an egg for your salad – ask for just the whites, and you’re eliminating the fat from the yolk. A bonus plus, is they do not charge as much for “egg” as for other proteins, so you’ll get more bang for your buck!

5.       Don’t be afraid of fruit! I love adding sliced fruit to an already veggie heavy salad. The combo of the sweetness of an apple with the boldness of blue cheese,  makes for an ultra-delicious flavor.

6.       Pick one “hefty item” – for example, chose almonds, mozzarella, or avocado – but not all of them. If you do one more than one, feel free to tell the person making the salad to go light on these items. I usually order avocado, but pick some of it out – Don’t get me wrong, I love avocado (You can’t trust people that don’t love it), and a portion size amount of It is good for you, but a lot of is not great

7.       Avoid anything fried – Do not get the fried cutlets, the fried Chinese noodles, or the bacon toppings. The tase is just not worth the fat/calorie content!

today's salad - romaine, bleu cheese, corn, peppers, beets, asparagus, apple slices - YUM!

 

Biggest Tip!

8.       Loose the dressing. My favorite trick is to get a sprinkle of a strong cheese (parmesan or blue cheese) and add some balsamic vinegar. This brings out a strong flavor with a lot less fat (and more protein!)

What’s your favorite way to top a salad?

Rainbow Cookie Cake

Grandma, Adam, and Shosh (photo credit "The Sister"

 

My grandparents used to own a bakery in Queens, and when we were little girls, my grandfather used to make us “Rainbow Cookies.” And whenever we’d visit New York City, our grandparents had these cookies waiting for us. It’s a very special Italian cookie – that’s cake-like, made with Almond paste, died pink, yellow, and green – and finally covered in chocolate. These cookies are special because they are not just delightful as a kid, but they are still appreciated as adults (think about how good spaghetti-o’s tasted as a kid – Do they still taste that good? Nah!)

Rainbow Cookies = Childhood!

We stopped by to visit “the grandma” (she says “the google,” so she’s “the grandma”) with my sister to celebrate our engagement.  When I called her from the boat last weekend to tell her that we were engaged, she told me she hasn’t been this happy since her husband (my grandma) proposed to her – and then asked if she could go make her phone calls. Activating the Jewish Grandma phone tree is one of the most important aspects of Jewish Grandma life.

And if you were not already convinced my grandma is totally awesome, take a look at her photo booth photos from a recent shul event!

At the Walbaums (yes, just a typical grocery store) by her apartment, we found the most amazing cake ever – a Rainbow Cookie Cake! I had no idea that this could be purchased. Such a find, and we knew we needed this for our celebration with “the Grandma”.

 

look at the rainbow cookie on top!

Doesn’t it look festive? It was perfect. A great call back to our childhood (funnily enough, Adam’s mom used to get them for him, and he ate them all the time too!)  And so moist. We were really surprised at how good it actually tasted.

just like a GIANT rainbow cookie!

How to be a freelance writer….

Tonight I went to my first Fall semester class with Sue Shapiro. I love her classes. This is my second one with her, and I can’t wait to get started. I’m taking the class with my friend Layla (she blogs over at Glass of Rose – amazing food blog, check it out!) and I’m just so excited to get started. Sue does a really good job of teaching her students not just how to write, but how to pitch, and place pieces in NY publications. I won’t give away all her tips on her, but if you’re in NYC you should definitely take one of her classes or attend one of her panels.

Layla and me at my birthday party last year

The first assignment is write a humiliation piece – and last semester,  I wrote about having a pacemaker at 25 as part of this assignment. If you remember, the piece was published on xoJane.com.

 

I’m still debating what to write about for this assignment, there are just so many humiliating things about me 😉 The hardest part about this assignment is writing something embarrassing that I wouldn’t be afraid to show everyone – But Sue does say you know you’ve found your voice when your family doesn’t like your piece!

Since I was out late, Adam made a lovely dinner of brown rice, and grilled shrimp. So easy, and so perfect for tonight!

If you were writing a humiliation essay, what you write about?

 

 

“Surviving” Hurricane Irene

The big story of almost anyone on the East Coast this weekend, was Hurricane Irene.

Adam and I did what any normal people would do … Friday night we stocked up the house. And because it’s Manhattan,  we waited over an hour in line to pay for our water, cereal and peanut butter. It’s amazing what city dwellers consider hurricane essentials!

Supermarket Line - That woman's face cracks me up (sorry woman if you're reading))

 
I also went with my sister to capture our adorable grandmother and bring her into the city. She lives too close to a zone A for comfort, and we all wanted to make sure she was away from any flooding areas. She however, was a little feisty, saying she survived kristalnacht – she could survive a hurricane. It is hard to argue with that. I love that woman, but nonetheless she came into the city to party at my sisters.
 
Saturday morning before the storm, Adam and I waited again in an hour-long line. This time, for apocalypse bagels. Again, it’s amazing what New Yorkers consider essential, and bagels is definitely one of those things. Bagel Works typically has some sort of line, and has amazing bagels, but it’s never this long …
 
 

BAGELS! BAGELS! BAGELS! WE WANT BAGELS!

 
The rest of the day was spent held up waiting for the storm –  I got bored with the ABC Family and Criminal MInds (weird combination, I know) marathons … and so did the cats, but we created our own party
 

Is it over yet?What is that whirling noise?

 
Over Christmas, Adam bought a funnel cake kit for like two bucks at Bed Bath and Beyond. And we love it! (Seriously, though, you can make your own, with a funnel and a pan) It’s actually very yummy, and guests love it – an amazing party trick! Since they’re horrible for your waistline, we typically only make the delicious treats for very special occasions – we figured the NYC hurricane, was special enough.
 

Funnel Cake! Look at ALL that powdered sugar!

 
Today we woke up to …. nothing! Which is great, we totally survived the hurricane sans any damage. Our street did not have any downed trees, and was not flooded woo-hoo!
 
We were even able to venture out to one of our favorite Sushi places around lunch time. Fuji is good place for cheap sushi in Manhattan – and they were open, which makes them even better. Take that Hurricane Irene! We decided to avoid seafood based food, just in case it was left over from Friday.
 
 
What did you do while waiting for Irene?

Sweet Potato, Avocado, Rice, Soy Sauce, what could be better post - hurricane?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Veggie Dinner!

Good Morning Central Park!!

I was able to walk to work this morning,which is my favorite way to start the day. A little bit of excersize, and lots of people watching! New Yorkers – What’s your favorite walking path in the city?

I’ve been hammering through my Swag bag from the Healthy Living Summit pretty consistently the past two days. I’m a sucker for a good protein bar! I’ve given the Nugo bars a try for breakfast the past two mornings.  And they’re great. I really loved the pretzel dark chocolate bar. The combination of salt, and chocolate is definitely a favorite of mine, remember?  

mmm pretzels and chocolate and sea salt!

And today – I tried something else, the Trenta  Iced Coffee from Starbucks , which was huge, and I did not finish (shhhhh, don’t tell anyone I was not woman enough to finish the largest ice coffee in midtown. My street cred would be ruined).

Giant coffee = Jumpy Shoshana!

Anyways, yesterday I was determined to make something plant based for dinner (a la Dawn) and set out to make Mushroom burgers – but, got a little sidetracked.

I purchased a pretzel baguette from the bakery at Food Emporium (which is the best bread ever.  It’s a pretzel, you put things on!) And decided to make it into a pretzel pizza (of sorts), and I added a side of roasted asparagus and spinach bites.

YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretzel Baguette Pizza

Pick any type of “baguette” bread. I chose pretzel, and scooped out the middle of the bread to cut out some of the hefty calories.  It’s easy, and yummy! Make them!

Yields 4 Servings (or 2 servings for really hungry people)

Prep time: 10 Minutes
Cook time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients

2 Portobello Mushroom Caps, sliced

1 clove of garlic

Olive Oil

1 Baguette

1 small can of tomato sauce

½ small ball of fresh mozzarella
1. Sauté mushrooms, garlic and olive oil
2. Cut the baguette in half length wise, and cut each piece in half width wise
3. Scoop out the middle of the bread, and sprinkle with olive oil
4. Spread sauce on the bread, and top with mushrooms, cheese
5. Broil in the oven until crispy

empty baguette and filo shells

Pre-Melting of the Cheese!

To make the spinach bites, I just filled the Filo pockets we got in our HLS swag bag with spinach, sprinkled with mozzarella and salt/pepper and broiled with the pizza.  They were delicious. Three of the filo pockets have 45 calories so it was a nice little side dish, with few added calories.

Filo Shells!

A Wrap The Size of My Arm

one word - AMAZING

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
While a ton of fun, the late night out at the Journey concert did not leave a lot time to pack a healthy (and cheap) lunch, but it did provide a reason for me to go to my favorite lunch spot. One of my biggest pet peeves in the city is that getting lunch out usually cots more than 10 dollars. For not much. There are more salad bars and delis than anything else in NYC, but they cost more than 10 dollars for salad. Then I found Wrapido. I love this place. I used to walk 20 minutes from my office to get there – and last month open opened within a minute walk – YAY!
 
I love toppings. Wrapido has unlimited topings. I love condiments. Wrapido has unlimited condiments. It’s a match made in wrap heaven. It’s also less than 7 (yes, you read that right New Yorkers) bucks for a yummy wrap!
 
 

these are just some of the toppings

 
Wrapido can be overwhelming. I have co-workers that will not step foot in the brightly colored restaurant because it’s too many choices (read: they lack creativity – but I’m biased. See above). However, it’s pretty easy to do. They make the wraps as you watch, and if you do not want one, you can also chose a pita or a salad and put the toppings on there. You get one protein (Portobello mushrooms, rib eye, humus, falafel, grilled chicken, shrimp, etc.) and then can load up veggies, israeli pickles (best.food.ever), guac, salsa… It’s so versatile  you can creat a Mediterranean or Mexican type wrap. I realize that I’m gushing, but I just cannot get enough of this place. It is deserved.   
 

humus + some veggies

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Today, I had a basic whole wheat wrap with humus and added lots of veggies.
 
 

Veggie Overload!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
They pile so much in there, it’s often better to save half of it for later – unless you’re starving. I’m also really impressed with how fresh everything is – which in NYC, is hard to find.
 

a wrap the size of my arm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I really enjoyed my humus wrap today – it was a special treat!
 
What’s your favorite place to grab a healthy lunch?

Autumn Leaves in August? Yes.

To finish out Alicia’s visit to the Big Apple. we visited the famous Iridium Music Club in midtown. She and Adam are both big Jazz fans, so we were looking for a place in the city to see live jazz… I have a little gripe with “jazz” and “comedy” clubs in the city
(and in general).  I hate paying a ticket fee and then being asked to buy two drinks, or spend a minimum at the bar. I’d rather pay more for the ticket!  What if I don’t want to drink or eat? Sheesh! Nonetheless, after doing a lot of research, there really is no way to see Jazz in the city without this caveat. The tickets were only $25 bucks, but they require you spend $15 bucks on food or drinks, which is not hard – drinks run between 12 and 15 bucks alone. The City can be done cheaply – but Jazz cannot be done cheaply!

The Iridium is a really unique place and is known as the home of Les Paul. He used to play there every Monday night for 12 years. They continue that tradition and have special guest guitar players every Monday night to honor them. (FYI – Tonight’s special guest is Steve Stevens from Billy Idol’s band – but with my lacking knowledge of music legends, I know him  from the E! show Married to Rock where he had a pink wedding to Josie Stevens, and is reason enough to go back!) Since I’m dating an amazing guitar play (no, I’m not biased at all) it was really special for us. 

Adam rocking out at Joe's Pub in NYC last year

We saw “David Garfield & Friends featuring Oz Noy, Buddy Williams & Stanley Banks” and they were a lot of fun! It definitely was not the type of Jazz that we were looking to see, as it was more of a fusion band with smooth jazz tendencies (I’m definitely not a music critic – to give you an idea, my idea of an amazing show is Bon Jovi with Kid Rock opening. I leave the real musical details to my partner in crime). The BEST part of the show, was by far Stanley Banks – The bass player. That guy can really move! He danced around the stage and gave a lot of energy to an otherwise low-key show. I wish I had taken a video of it because words cannot do his wonderful dance moves justice (In case you missed it, my favorite part was the dancing bass player, my music reviews are clearly very high brow)

The night ended on a request by Alicia for the band to play Autumn leaves, and they really sounded fabulous!

Ready to go home after a long night out!

Saturday Night Done Right

Saturday night Alicia, Adam and I headed to the theatre district, which is not always my favorite. As most New Yorkers will tell you, the best place to be is away from Tourists (not that we do not love you tourists, please come visit, it’s just that sometimes it’s nicer to be in less crowded places!) and the theatre district, while rich with culture, is swarming with lots of people, especially on a Saturday night.

We really had no direction for dinner, and just wanted to try something fun. My mother has always wanted to try a restaurant ran by Lidia Bastianich from Lidia’s Italy on PBS, so her restaurant, Becco, located on restaurant Row is always on my list of places to experience. It was a huge surprise that it only had a 30 minute wait, and the menu pricing was comparable to the other less noteworthy restaurants – so we decided to give it a try it. (Mom, if you’re reading this, I promise I’ll bring you here next time you’re in town)

Becoo - Love the Duck!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Most of the establishments in this area of the city have a prefix menu or pre-theatre dinner option. They usually have an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for about $25-30 dollars. I do not usually go for these options, because then I feel obligated to eat all those things and I have a harder time special ordering items steamed or with sauce on the side (Read: I’m a difficult patron for wait staff) – However, Becco‘s special menu wow-ed me! For $23 bucks you get a choice of an Antipasto or a Caesar Salad and unlimited portions of three of their house pastas – check out their menu here. I decided to go for it – and ordered the “Sinfonia di Paste” aka, their prefix choice. Adam and I split the anti-pasto, which could have been dinner by itself. The grilled/seasoned veggies were great, and so were the cheeses. However, while I’m an adventurous eater – The thought of baby octopus really got to me, so I did not eat much of the seafood portion of this appetizer
 

Griled Veggies - Perfecto!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Peas and Ricotta with Honey!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monk fish and Baby octopus

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The pastas of the day were a penne a la vodka with shrimp, a pesto pasta, and a mushroom ravioli with truffles. They wait staff came through the restaurant with hot bowls of these pasta and passed out large servings to anyone that ordered this special menu. While the pastas are all unlimited, I have to admit, I definitely just tried the pesto and shrimp options because the mushroom ravioli was amazing. Living in the city, we get a very spoiled on the quality of Italian food we can eat out, order in or purchase (we even have a mini-Italy in midtown – Eataly) so I think it takes a lot for me to love a dish. And let me tell you, these pieces of stuffed pasta were fabulous!

Take a look at all that pasta! And they try to serve you seconds, and thirds and ... more, if you want them

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alicia's stuffed peppers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is definitely a good place to go if you’re looking to gorge yourself – or just try a bunch of different things. Alicia ordered the stuffed peppers, and they were so large, that she was only able to finish half of it. What I enjoyed, was I was able to sample different dishes, and only eat bits and pieces of what I wanted. For NYC, Becco really provides a good meal, and is worth the price -Two thumbs up!