Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemade Gnocchi

I'll be honest.  I had never even heard of gnocchi until we moved to New York. And I'm still not sure how to pronounce it. But I have learned that it's absolutely delicious. I've been fortunate to test a variety of gnocchi, from plain old potato gnocchi with marinara sauce, to gnocchi with an incredible blue cheese sauce, to pumpkin and spinach gnocchi. It's easy to buy in the grocery stores up here, but it seems a bit overpriced....I mean really, it's potatoes and flour. So I decided it was time to try making it myself, from scratch.

I looked at a variety of recipes online (101 cookbooks, The Italian Dish, Epicurious, and some random blog by a girl named Christine)  and then mashed them altogether to come up with a game plan. From the onset, I could tell this was going to be an ordeal, so I decided to go ahead and double the recipe so that I'd have some leftover to freeze. This is the recipe I ended up with:

4 russet potatoes
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
a pinch of salt
additional flour for rolling

I boiled the potatoes for about 45 minutes, with the skin on as this was recommended in order to keep the potatoes dry - apparently gnocchi is finicky. I let the potatoes cool for a few minutes and then carefully removed the skin. Then I mashed them all up, stirred in the egg yolks, salt, and flour. That formed a nice dough that was actually very easy to work with, not sticky at all. I then rolled out the dough into long snake-like rolls one portion at a time and chopped them up into little gnocchi-size pieces with a Pampered Chef tool. This was my first time using this tool and I have no idea what it's purpose is, but it seemed like it would do the job. I was too lazy to make individual ridges in the gnocchi with a fork like some of the recipes called for, so I figured this PF tool would be good enough.

I took about half of the gnocchi, arranged it on a plate, and froze it for 15 minutes before moving it to a freezer bag. This way it wouldn't all stick together in the freezer.

To cook the gnocchi, I took about 20 pieces at a time and boiled them in salted water for about 5 minutes, and then moved on to the next batch. All of the recipes said that they will float to the top when they are ready or about a minute before they are done. Well, my buoyant little gnocchi floated to the top after about 1 I'm not sure what went wrong there.

Then the sauce. The sauce is important, and I couldn't decide on I made two. I made a mushroom and shallot sauce similar to the Epicurious recipe and bought a jar of Newman's Own vodka sauce as the backup.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out. The gnocchi held together very nicely and the texture was perfect. It was quite a lot of work, though, so I'm glad that I have some in the freezer ready to go for next time. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Governor's Island

On Saturday we took our second trip to Governor's Island for our friend Cara's birthday. This year we opted to take the ferry from Brooklyn, which was great - I'm a sucker for free things. Instead of renting bikes this year, we just walked around the island and were able to take in a bit more - I'm also a sucker for reading historical and informational placards ha.

The island has seen many changes over the years from being one of the first settlements of the city, to a US army post, to a coastguard base, to a national monument.

On our walk, we met a man who had lived on the island when he was in elementary school while his father was in the Coast Guard. He was showing his wife and teenage daughter around, telling them about life there.  What an experience that must have been.

This year, some lucky high school students will have the opportunity to attend New York Harbor School in a renovated building on Governor's Island.

Personally,  I think it would be an ideal location for a college campus. The old military buildings built in the 30s are just beautiful and very reminiscent of university buildings.  And seriously, how awesome would it be to go to college on an island with views of the statue of liberty and the Manhattan skyline? Apparently NYU agreed with me...and have been in talks about a satellite campus on Governors Island...dangit, Chris, you went to grad school too soon!.


The island will be changing even more in the coming years, with plans to create a waterfront park and encourage development. I think great things can be done with this special place, but I sincerely hope that they preserve the historical landmarks and maintain the serenity of the island.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu - Week of August 8th

I'm starting to get lazy with the menu planning again, but here it is for this week:

Sunday: Spinach salad

Monday: Eggplant sandwich

Tuesday: Chickpea Chicken

Wednesday: Spinach Salad / Mozzarella Panini

Thursday: Dinner out and a movie

Friday: Veggie Bowls

Saturday: Homemade Gnocchi

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Along the Hudson

I work just a few blocks from the Hudson River, so when it's nice outside I like to walk over there with my lunch and a book and enjoy the sun and water.  After doing this for a while I got an itch to walk the entire length of Manhattan along the can be done (almost) entirely by walking either through a park, on a walking trail, or on a boardwalk. Some of the parks, such as Riverside, have been around forever.  But a lot of the amenities have been part of a recent effort to renovate the waterfront and make it more pedestrian friendly.

So one Saturday I took the subway up to 96th street, walked over to Riverside Park, and then walked down the island all the way to Battery Park.  Here are a few photos from my journey.

Riverside Park and a pretty sweet place to play little league baseball

The Intrepid and tennis courts at Hudson River Park

Free kayaking and an amazing view

Some kids playing ping pong in Battery Park City. The new ferry terminal, on the right, is just gorgeous.  Seriously, this picture looks like a rendering to me. 

I took a break to go inside the World Financial Center (yay public restrooms) and peeked at the progress on the World Trade Center Site.  The tower is coming along, albeit slowly

Pretty hydrangeas south of the WFC, and finally I'm able to see the Statue of Liberty!

Woohoo!  I made it to Battery Park and took the subway home with very tired feet.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nutty Barley Bake

We tend to cook the same things over and over again so for the past few weeks we have been trying a couple of new recipes each week. We usually look for recipes either online or in magazines even though we have about a dozen cookbooks on our shelf.  Well, last week Chris found a great recipe in our Taste of Home cookbook, Nutty Barley Bake.

It's a really easy recipe, but quite flavorful, combining barley with onions, nuts (we used pine nuts and almonds) and beef broth. It's a very pretty meal too because the parsley and green onions rise to the top when it bakes...unfortunately we didn't take any pictures. We ate it as the main meal for dinner one night and then reheated the leftovers the next night as a side to chicken. Like most things, it tasted better the second day. I would definitely recommend the recipe and we'll likely make it again soon.

The recipe is available from the Taste of Home website here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu - Week of August 1st

For the most part, last week's menu planning was a success.  The only day we deviated from the plan was on Friday when we opted for Joe's pizza instead of Le P'tit.  Swell Season, the couple from the movie Once, was playing a free concert in Prospect Park and we didn't want to miss any of it, so  we took our slices of Joe's to the park.  Here is the plan for this week...with a couple of repeats:

Sunday: Salad (Same as last week - spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, capers, roasted red peppers, red onions, and chick peas.)

Monday: Pulled pork - cooked in the crockpot and served on rolls

Tuesday: Nutty barley bake - new recipe from The Taste of Home cookbook

Wednesday: Chicken stuffed with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and pesto

Thursday: Grilled cheese with bacon, avocado, and tomato

Friday: Dinner out at Le P'tit Paris Bistro (Since we didn't make it there last Friday)

Saturday: Bean Burritos

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Marathons, Half Marathons, and 1/26 Marathons

Last weekend Chris ran the Queens half marathon...yep...Queens. Believe it or not, aside from the tar plant that he had to run by in the July heat, he said the course was rather beautiful. Ever since running the Brooklyn half marathon in May with his brother Zac, Chris has been considering a full marathon. Tomorrow he's going to sign up for the Kiawah marathon in December...which is pretty crazy! I'm very proud of him and how well he's done!

Inspired by Chris's success, I've been attempting to run myself. I hate to say it, but I couldn't even run a full mile when I first started. The loop around Prospect Park is just over a 5k and it's marked by every 1/4 mile. I started out running a 1/4 mile and walking a 1/4 mile around the loop. On Wednesday I was able to run the 1st mile, which was very exciting! I hope to be able to run the entire loop someday.

Here are a few pictures of Chris and Zac before and after the Brooklyn half. I should note that Zac ran that thing in 1:23:12...absolutely insane!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Menu - Week of July 25th

Once again, we are attempting to menu plan for the week. Chris did a great job last week and we even tried out a new recipe that I found in Real Simple. Evidence can be found on Chris's blog. So it's my turn this week and in keeping with the spirit of trying new things, there are three new recipes on this week's menu. So here it goes:

Sunday: Salad (New recipe inspired by a salad that Chris had at a restaurant last week, this salad has feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, capers, roasted red peppers, red onions, and chick peas.)

Monday: Rigatoni Peperonata (New recipe found in Real Simple that uses many of the ingredients used in Sunday's salad. It should also pair well with white is The Bachelorette night after all.)

Tuesday: Chicken Paprikash (New recipe given to me by our friend Emily that uses the crockpot! And smoked paprika!! Also, it's reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally..."waiter there is too much pepper on my paprikash.")

Wednesday: Bean Burritos (The Jaynes household staple.)

Thursday: Hamburgers and Baked French Fries (It's been a while since we've braved using the oven in this heat, but I'm craving fries, so be it.)

Friday: Dinner out at Le P'tit Paris Bistro (This cute bistro opened up at the end of our block last fall and we have yet to check it out. So we will on Friday.)

Saturday: Veggie Bowls (Sautéed veggies from our farmer's market mixed with chickpeas and topped with goat cheese.)

Yay I did it!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chris's Graduation!

The day has finally arrived! After two years of hard work, Chris graduated from New York University with a Master's of Arts in Cinema Studies! Hooray!!!

Chris's mom flew in on Mother's Day and stayed through the week to attend graduation. It was quite possibly the worst May weather ever, but, despite the bitter cold, I think she had a good time. A little side note: she read four books while here...the Jaynes' reading ability never ceases to amaze me.

On Tuesday the 11th, Chris had a mini graduation (only 1,200 graduates) just for his college at Madison Square Garden called the Tisch Salute. Wednesday morning was the big NYU graduation at Yankee Stadium. We were so pumped about the graduation being at the new Yankee Stadium and hearing Alec Baldwin speak. But then the temperature plummeted to 45 degrees and it started raining.

So Chris's mom and I are now the proud owners of Yankees ponchos ha!

And we couldn't have been more relieved when we got a text from Chris that he was leaving after Baldwin's speech. At that point, we could barely feel our fingers! After graduation, a bunch of Chris's classmates and their families got together for lunch at Becco and enjoyed incredible all-you-can-eat pasta.

I am so proud of Chris for completing his master's degree and I can't believe how fast the time has flown by! Congrats Chris!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Russell and Renee Visit

Back in April, Russell and Renee came back to New York for a second visit at Hotel de Jaynes. Our AMAZING neighbors were away for the weekend and offered their apartment to us. It was incredible to have literally twice the space for the weekend. Whenever the Pattersons visit, we know that we will be eating well that weekend...they always know the good places to go! And this weekend did not disappoint.

We also enjoyed a lovely picnic in Riverside Park and saw the garden from You've Got Mail. We completely skipped over where Liz Lemon and Joe Fox live time. Here's a cute picture of the Russell and Renee at Riverside.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meal Planning Ugh

Chris and I both really enjoy cooking. However, meal planning...not so much. It is always "What do you want for dinner?" "I don't know. What do you want?"

I keep telling myself that I am going to get better at this. I have tried several different things. We have a white board on the wall to keep track of has been known to keep the same meal plan for a month or so at a time. I even created a separate G-Cal for menu planning. But I never check my G-Cal, so that didn't work.

So...I'm going to attempt to blog it. This may be the only meal planning post ever. But who knows, maybe it will be my meal-planning savior. We shall see. Yeah, I procrastinated doing this for 2 hours.

Meals for the week of April 25 - May 2
Sunday: Mushroom Barley Soup
Monday: Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Panini w/ Strawberry-Spinach Salad
Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken, Wild Rice, & Peas
Wednesday: Bean Burritos
Thursday: Pork Tenderloin w/ Baked Sweet Potatoes
Friday: Roasted Veggies w/ Chickpeas & Goat Cheese
Saturday: Freebie! Dinner with the Pattersons somewhere in the City

My Parents Visit!

My mom and dad came to visit over Easter weekend and we had a wonderful time! The weather was beautiful for once, although they were a bit disappointed to be leaving the 90 degree weather in SC.

On Saturday we ate at Grimaldi's and wandered about the new Brooklyn Bridge Pier 1 Park that just opened. That night we went to see a Behanding in Spokane, which I have to say I would definitely NOT recommend, but it was fun to see Christopher Walken at least.

Sunday we went to Easter services at Redeemer and then to the Easter bonnet parade on 5th Avenue. We ate very well Sunday...Hill Country BBQ for lunch and Enzo's for dinner. Mmmm Enzo's.

Monday we spent about 2 hours walking around Central Park, which was beautiful because everything had just started to bloom. Then we met Chris in Bryant Park and ate lunch in the park.

It was such a nice visit and I'm so glad that they decided to come back to NY!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Poor Panda

Today I was assigned the wonderful task of taking pictures in Lower Manhattan for work. I decided to give my legs a little rest and sat down on a bench in Battery Park. It was then that I witnessed this hilarity. The video is a bit small, but basically this kid comes up, hits the panda, runs around the statue, then comes back and makes some kind of ridiculous face. Poor panda.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday from John Stamos

For my 25th birthday, to ease the pain of the quarter-life crisis, Chris took me to see the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie starring John Stamos. Like every other girl I know, I am a huge fan of John Stamos, going back to the Full House days. So, of course I was thrilled. The play was so fun and lighthearted and was a perfect end to the week. We were lucky we were able to see BBB, as it closed the following Sunday. Plus, we had great seats near the center of the theatre in about the fourth row.

After the play, Chris had the fabulous idea of going to the stage door to see if we could sneak a glimpse of John (Chris is such a great husband). We had to wait for about an hour, but he eventually came out and said hello, signed autographs, and whatnot. I told him something cheesy like "Thanks for making my birthday special." He looked at me and then yelled "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" He asked how old I was, and when I told him 25, he was like wow you look so young! It definitely helped to ease the pain of a quarter-life-crisis to hear that from John Stamos!

So thanks Chris for giving me the gift of Uncle Jesse :)


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Months of Catch-Up

Two months have passed since I have updated this blog. So much has happened in that time: Thanksgiving, a trip to Boston, a great big blizzard, Christmas, New Years, and a ski trip. I simply cannot go back and blog about it here it is, in eleven sentences.

1)The leaves in Prospect Park and all over the City turned happy shades of yellow and orange.

2)We flew home to South Carolina, ate turkey, spent time with friends and family, went shopping really early in the morning, and watched the Clemson/Carolina game.

3)We took a weekend trip to Boston with Russell and Renee in which we enjoyed walking around the historic city, sampling some cheese and tea, eating at the delicious Flour cafe, slushing through the snow, and spending time with great friends.

4)I did lots of Christmas shopping in the City including this trip to Grand Central and Penzey's.

5)All of the little lights in New York City were sparkling for Christmas.

6)Chris, Scott, Nicki, and I fell victim to the New York thing and went to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, which was...spectacular!

7)We said goodbye to our favorite German friend, Adrian.

8)And on the same night, we experienced our first blizzard in NYC...12 inches of snow in one night.
9)We flew back to South Carolina for Christmas to spend quality time with family relaxing, indulging in great food, playing Wii, fishing, and just having a generally great time.

10) We drove up to Greenville to see some dear friends from college.

11)We rang in the New Year with friends in Banner Elk, North Carolina where we were able to catch up with dear friends, attempt to snowboard, test out our new photography skills, break Andy's car, and avoid getting frostbite.