Lo and behold, the custard menu was upon us. But not just any custard menu. The holiday flavors.
For every day of the week last month, you could try one of these 7 unique flavors:
Egg nog, figgy pudding, Christmas cookie, chocolate orange chestnut, gingerbread, candy cane crunch and apple spice cake.
I must say, ALL of these flavors sounded fantastic to me. I’ve heard about egg nog frappuccinos at Starbucks from a friend of mine, so I’m sure milkshake form would be incredible! I’ve always wanted to try figgy pudding after the famous Christmas song spoke highly of it. I’m a huge fan of gingerbread (and gingerbread lattes at Starbucks) so I know that’d make a great milkshake. Candy cane crunch sounds fantastic and if it’s similar to peppermint stick ice cream, it would definitely make a great milkshake. And the apple spice cake is making me think of the apple pie Cold Stone Creamery creation.
But as I was there on a Thursday, the flavor I got in milkshake form was the chocolate orange chestnut. This one had me really curious. Do you remember the chocolate balls the supermarkets used to sell where you whack them and it magically turns into orange-looking slices and it tastes like chocolate-orange? That’s exactly what I thought of when I was gearing up for this shake.
The addition of chestnuts I was most curious about. I’ve had water chestnuts in Chinese food, but never non-water chestnuts in my drink, or food for that matter. (I’m currently hearing the phrase “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..”). Would my drink taste roasted?
Here’s what resulted:
This milkshake was amazing and here’s why:
1) It wasn’t too sweet.
-The chocolate frozen custard mixed with the tangy orange and strong appearance of robust chestnut made it a nice balance of flavor.
2) It was not too thick, and smooth.
-You’d think mixing a bunch of chestnuts in a shake you might feel the texture of the nuts in your mouth. Wrong. This was smooth sailing.
3) It was filling.
-While the cup size may have been small, this shake will fill you up fast, along with your meal.
Which now brings me to my second topic of discussion in this post: the ‘Shroom Burger.
I made the picture bigger for you all to take a close look at this wondrous creation.
For you vegetarians and vegivores out there, this is a MUST-TRY.
I took a bite of this, and literally said “WOW!” in a loud voice to my brother and our friends.
The ‘shroom burger is not an ordinary burger. Far from it. It takes a large Portabella mushroom, some Muenster cheese, batter. Then it’s fried into that beautiful looking patty you see above. Then add juicy tomatoes, crunchy, crisp lettuce and the creamy, tangy Shack Sauce. Presto!
The mushroom is a perfect substitute for meat. It’s meaty, juicy and filling. My bite into the burger was filled with crunch from the batter, meaty/juicy from the ‘shroom and then BAM! The melted, tangy cheese soars like a rocket into your mouth. Hence why I said “WOW!” so loudly in Shake Shack that day.
My friends have been telling me to try that burger for awhile now, and I completely understand why now. Holy moly what a burger.
So, if you’re near a Shake Shack and are feeling adventurous, try one of its unique custard flavors and the ‘Shroom burger. You won’t regret it!
Have you ever turned on the TV, heard commercials and TV shows talk about a product and then all of a sudden you really crave it?
Last night this occurrence (somewhat) happened to me.
I was watching television and speaking to one of my friends via Twitter. She had mentioned how she was having almond butter with Fuji apple slices. This sounded so delicious, and we got into a discussion of almond butter and what to make with it.
I pondered the idea of an AB&J (almond butter and jelly) sandwich. And AB & chocolate.
But then the 90’s cartoon show “Hey Arnold” came on around 1 a.m., and all the characters were talking about peanut butter. My mouth started watering. I went to the cabinet, grabbed the jar of peanut butter and a spoon.
My next thought: “how can I jazz this up and not eat the peanut butter straight?”
A delicious assortment of nuts and dried berries from the cabinet.
Which inspires my recipe this morning.
One of my favorite things to eat as a kid were peanut butter balls. One of the nannies I had as a kid used to make them.
So for a great breakfast snack, why not take the nuts and PB and make a ball out of it?
And add some chocolate for pizazz and a great kick?
Here’s what resulted: a crunchy, sweet, savory, tangy ball of goodness that’ll give you some extra energy and nutrients for your day! According to an article by LIVESTRONG, peanut butter has protein to help build and repair muscle tissue, fiber to help regulate your digestive system, healthy fats that help lower your risk to heart disease and type 2 diabetes and potassium in it to counteract the negative effects of too much salt in your diet! Berries can help lower your cancer risk, according to a Huffington Post article, and Harvard Medical School researchers said that eating nuts are great for your cardiovascular health!
Eat on! And here’s my recipe for what I decided to call PBNO (peanut butter/berry, nut, oreo) balls!
1 tbsp peanut butter of your choice
1 tbsp nuts and berries mix of your choice (could be from a can or bag)
1 chocolate sandwich cookie of your choice
1. Combine peanut butter and nuts/berry mix in a bowl.
2. Crush down chocolate sandwich cookie into crumbs.
3. Roll peanut butter, nut and berry mixture into two balls.
4. Roll the two balls into oreo crumb mixture.
And be sure to have that mug of milk handy to wash it all down.
PS: Your hands will get messy from this concoction!
I’m a huge believer in everything happening for a reason.
So when my friend Alyssa headed to Port Jeff (or as many Long Islanders say, ‘Down Port’), last week to experience Long Island restaurant week, it completely worked out that the first place, a very popular restaurant, was completely booked the night we came down.
Intuitively we explored the village’s other restaurants, walking up Main St. I started naming off several places we could try that night and then we stopped in front of a place I had been to a few times and loved, Tequila Jacks.
I had been to Tequila Jacks a few times with another friend, having an appetizer and dessert with her during those times. But never have I ever had a full dinner there. So Alyssa and I took the chance to head inside to what truly is Port Jeff’s paradise.
Why paradise, you ask?
This restaurant is an upscale Caribbean restaurant, packed with tropical drinks, island-themed dishes and what was the true icing on the cake: live music from an AMAZING husband-wife group: The Next Level Band.
We waited a half hour for our table, and while we waited, we got to sit at the beautiful wooden bar and listen to the beautiful stylings of La Dawn and Tyrone Parris. I even started singing along! There were classic Bob Marley songs, Reggae/Calypso songs, R&B, and even some of the amazing top 40 hits on the radio right now, made into a Reggae/Calypso version, such as “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5, “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan, and more. We had a blast the entire night listening to these two, not only for their amazing voices and excellent guitar and steel drum playing, but because these two were so much fun. La Dawn was dancing with listeners who were dancing in the bar.
That night there was a special at the bar: $4 mojitos and margaritas. While Alyssa and I didn’t get those, we did opt for the special hand-muddled fruit drinks that we kept seeing being made in front of our eyes with a big, dark wooden muddling device.
Alyssa started out with a Reggae Punch: a blend of Cabernet, Zinfandel and fresh muddled fruits. This was delicious, an island sangria with a sweet, fruity taste.
My first drink of the night was the orange-honeydew melon mojito: Bacardi Melon Rum, muddled with sugar, fresh mint, limes, oranges and honeydew melon, served shaken. Ever since I tried honeydew flavored bubble tea up at Syracuse last year, I’ve especially become a huge fan of honeydew, in drinks. I had a good feeling about this one, and I was right: the light and sweet honeydew chunks mixed with the tangy orange chunks mixed with the melon rum and refreshing mint…It’s definitely a must try cocktail if you’re there! And check out the cool sugar cane garnish that came with it:
After finishing those, we both decided we’d get one more before we were seated at our table. I decided to get another mojito, this time getting my coconut on with the pineapple-coconut mojito: Bacardi Coco Rum, muddled with sugar, fresh mint, limes and pineapple, served shaken. This one was amazing too: think a lightened pina colada with fresh mint mixed in. Refreshing.
Alyssa decided to go coconut too and try the B.V.I. Painkiller: Dark rum, white rum, 151 rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice topped with shaved nutmeg. The painkiller was very good too: it was also like a pina colada, no mint. Definitely a must try too.
After awhile of cocktailing, chatting and singing/grooving to the live tunes, we were finally seated.
For Long Island Restaurant Week, there was a three course menu at Tequila Jack’s for $24.95.
Before I speak about the meals, however, every time you go to Tequila Jacks, the server brings over a basket of fresh plaintain and yuca chips, along with warm coconut-banana bread. These are outstanding, and come with two accompaniments: a creamy butter with spice in it (we thought it was pepper) for the bread, and a spicy tomato salsa for the chips. We loved the combination of the sweet, warm, melt-in-your-mouth bread with the savory butter. We also loved the sweet and salty chips with the spicy, tangy salsa. Great start to a wonderful meal:
As an appetizer, I started out with Jack’s Crab Cakes & Sauce Two Ways (which I added $2 to my meal price for). These were amazing: crispy, crunchy crab cakes with a creamy filling. The sauces were excellent: one was a roasted red pepper remoulade which was a sweet, spicy, creamy pepper/tomato tasting sauce. The other was an island tartar which reminded me of a creamy mayo-based sauce filled with herbs.
Alyssa started out with the marinated beef skewers with pineapple (which added $2 to her meal as well). These were amazing as well: think of filet mignon pieces on a skewer stick with fresh, juicy papaya on the ends, with a sesame dipping sauce to add to the amazing flavors already. These were outstanding.
For our main course, we each got the coconut crusted chicken breast. This was a huge piece of boneless chicken breast covered in a sweet, crunchy coconut breading. There was a coconut chili sauce surrounding the chicken, which to me was like an upscale sweet and sour sauce. The spinach and candied sweet potatoes underneath the chicken were delicious too, the spinach balancing the sweet dish. I also loved the fresh mango salsa on top, giving it the extra kick:
The desserts at Tequila Jacks are incredible too, and house-made! Me being the chocolate-lover I got the flourless chocolate cake. This was amazing: a warm, rich, fudgy chocolate cake that was just the right size after the big meal we had.
Alyssa had the coconut cheesecake, which was light and creamy and delicious too. It has just the right amount of coconut, not overwhelming, and was just the right size. The one thing we both agreed on, however, was the fruit that came with the desserts was not good that night. But please do not let that deter you from eating the desserts and all the food at Tequila Jacks.
We had a great time that night at Tequila Jacks. It was truly a paradise found in Port Jeff: delicious tropical fresh-fruit drinks, live music by a passionate husband-and-wife band, and amazing food and desserts. The portion sizes were amazing for the amount of money we paid, nice large portions.
And guess what? While the “official” restaurant week is over with, I just read on Tequila Jack’s Facebook page that the restaurant is extending its restaurant week menu until Nov. 24, so you can still get over there and try out the menu!
The restaurant also claims on its Facebook page it’s the only restaurant in Port Jeff with an “extended” happy hour until 8 p.m. Another reason to go check out paradise.
When you hear that word, what first comes to mind?
Jack-o-Lanterns, pumpkin pie, Halloween?
Or how about chocolate chip cookies?!
Today I felt like baking, and I came across the following recipe (click here!).
It was for a dark chocolate chip pumpkin cookie.
Now you may be thinking, “Pumpkin and chocolate chip cookies? Really? How does this work?!”
Well, I will tell you. Last year around this time I went to a Halloween party with my friends from my Arts Journalism program. One of my friends, Diep (hi Diep!), made these AMAZING chocolate chip cookies and my friend Samantha and I spoke about how amazing these were.
I asked Diep how she made these and she told me how the “secret ingredient” was pumpkin. There was actually no pumpkin taste to these, however, the cookie itself was more of a cake-like texture and very soft.
So I found this recipe today and baked this evening. Here are the results!
These cookies are chocolatey, soft textured, and while there is a light taste of pumpkin, you can still taste that hint of cinnamon spice! I loved making these. The cookies were very easy to make. Here’s the recipe, a huge thanks to GoodLifeEats.com! A great fall-centric cookie.
We both had meant to go for dinner together awhile back, however, our schedules have been extremely busy this semester and haven’t gotten together as much as last semester.
But this weekend was the weekend! And with coupon in hand, we headed over for a feast of fresh, delicious and most certainly delectable Pan American food. This was my second time to The Mission, with the first time only having an appetizer.
Here’s some history about the beautiful building the restaurant is in: according to The Mission’s menu, the building used to be the Syracuse Wesleyan Methodist Church and was built in the 1840s. This building also was “an important 19th century way-station on the Underground Railroad.” There is actually a “cramped tunnel” in the basement of the building.
And you can see such history when you walk into The Mission. Beautiful peach colored walls with a deep blue ceiling which has intrinsic designs. Gorgeous stained glass windows line the perimeter of the restaurant, giving the restaurant lots of natural lighting. What I learned at the end of tonight’s meal, which I didn’t know until tonight, was that there is a balcony above the kitchen if you look up, where the restaurant’s office is. The waiter told us you can only access the office/balcony by ladder, and then told us how everything in the office was transported up there through using the ladder. I actually asked the waiter too if he peers out over the restaurant while he’s up there and of course, he replied with a “yes.”
When Nandini and I walked in we were told we would have a 35 minute wait. We decided to head to the bar and get margaritas. Nandini got a regular margarita on the rocks with a salt rim for $5.50. For $6, I got a strawberry margarita:
Mmm, mmm, good. I must say it did get a little watery towards the end, but that does happen with a lot of frozen drinks. And hey, it was a warm day out today, in the 60s/70s! Hooray! The margarita had a light strawberry taste with a hint of tequila peering in, which was good. I got a sugar rim as well, which was delicious!
We were then seated probably about 15 – 20 minutes later, in a really cute circle booth in a corner of the restaurant. We were greeted by our friendly male waiter who gave us fresh-made Tostaditos and Salsa (chips and fresh-made tomato salsa). What Nandini and I both loved about the chips was that there were no signs of oil at all on the chips, meaning they were either baked or really, really well – drained. The salsa melted in your mouth with the fresh chunks of ripe red tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices and what I thought was a lemony-type taste in it as well. It was the perfect start to the meal.
We then perused through the menu and found a side dish we decided to share as an appetizer. I have had plantains before: fried plantains my friend made for me one time and then a fried plantain steak sandwich at TGI Fridays that was so obsessively-good. But never have I had the following side dish: fried green plantains with mojo.
I’ve also never seen plantains presented in such a way: these looked like potato latkes to me. This appetizer was savory versus the expected-sweet: the plantains had a rich texture and with the seasonings and salt on top, was perfectly balanced with the mojo sauce on the side: a tart vinegar-like dipping sauce with several seasonings and spices on it. These also weren’t greasy at all, even though they were fried. These were only $3, and if you want to try a great non-meat appetizer, this is definitely for you.
Thinking about what to eat I thought about my friend Jessica who was with me the last time I was at The Mission. I credit her for introducing me to pulled pork at Mexican restaurants, and I have been eating pulled pork at these types of places ever since. I remembered she had a burrito the last time we came with the ‘Puerco Pibil’ filling: “Yucatan style shredded pork with achiote and orange,” according to its menu. I decided to get this $11 burrito, and get vegetarian black beans inside it. There was a choice of salsas to choose from to put on top of the burrito as well: I chose Tomatillo Serrano: “Tangy green salsa with bits of blackened tomatillo. Bold heat.” I love tomatillo salsa: I love the refreshing taste of the green tomatoes and I love the spice the fruit gives off when you eat that kind of salsa.
While unfortunately the picture I took of my meal didn’t come out, this burrito was honestly one of the best I have ever had in Syracuse. The pulled pork was outstanding: it melted in your mouth and I actually felt like I was eating at a barbeque joint versus a Pan American restaurant. The chef at The Mission knows how to cook meat, that’s for sure! The beans gave the burrito a nice, rich flavor as well, with the salsa on top being the slight kicker. I say slight because it wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. The salsa was a little bland, I’ll admit, but I overall enjoyed the burrito. And of course I got my new obsession guacamole on the side. The Mission’s guacamole was rich, filling, creamy and very flavorful. I saw a sign on the way into the restaurant that you can get its guacamole to go anytime when you come in, so if you’re looking for the fresh stuff, definitely stop by.
Nandini let me try her $11.25 Tres Queso enchilada, which had Monterey Jack, Mexican cotija and queso blanco in a tomatillo sauce. The picture of her enchilada came out:
The cheese in the enchilada was outstanding: while it appeared rich and creamy it was actually very light, tangy and flavorful.
The Spanish rice that came on the side of our dishes was very good too. It had just the right amount of spice in it. My dish, unlike Nandini’s, came with something that looked like cole slaw on the side. It was actually ‘cabbage salad,’ and had an amazing spice to it, which Nandini told me was cumin seeds. Tasting the cabbage salad reminded me of eating Nandini’s amazing Indian cooking. (Again, please check out her blog!)
Once we finished our entree-feast, we perused the dessert menu. We ended up splitting the $5 Banana Bread Pudding.
I’m a huge fan of banana bread, so pudding of the bread? Yes, please!
It was made with macadamia nuts and Mexican chocolate, served warm and topped with rum-caramel and chocolate sauces and fresh whipped cream on the side.
This was one of the best desserts I have ever had in Syracuse as well. I must point out though that the warm bread was not really a pudding-type texture in my eyes. However, I’ll admit , I haven’t had a lot of bread pudding to know what the texture should be, so I could be wrong. The two strongest flavors of the dish were the rum-caramel sauce that heightened my taste buds, and the macadamia nuts, which brought out the savory in the dessert.
After eating all of this food, the bill came out to around $34 for the both of us, including tax. Using the LivingSocial deal Nandini had, we each spent about $5 on the meal including tip, and then $6 previously at the bar.
Thank you, Nandini, for showing me the true-story wonders of not only LivingSocial.com, but The Mission.
And a HUGE Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mother’s in the world today, especially my mom. I love you very much and am so grateful and thankful for you.
The Mission Restaurant
304 East Onondaga Street
Syracuse, NY 13202-2085
Monday: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm | Tuesday thru Thursday: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
Over the past few months I have been browsing Cooking Channel for different shows to watch on my DVR.
I had heard about the Hungry Girl T.V. show through commercials and through seeing some of my friends “liking” her page on Facebook. But it was until I sat down and watched the show did I realize how exciting a new venture I would get into! The first season of the show started in January 2011 and there will be a season two! HG is looking for input on her website right now as to what viewers want to see on the show next season.
“Hungry Girl – Lisa Lillien isn’t a nutritionist, she’s just hungry. She’s obsessed with food and wants to celebrate it…while still fitting into her pants. This apparently has struck a chord since she has about 1 million fans who get her free newsletter, with millions more who read her weekly columns on Weight Watchers and Yahoo!”
I signed up for her emails because I was curious as to what she was saying in them. Lillien and her HG team write great tips on what “swaps” to make when buying food and making healthy choices.
After watching a bunch of the episodes on my DVR, I was so excited to actually eat the food. Everything she made on the screen looked delicious and I was excited and eager to try it all!
The guacamole and the mug pie were the standouts for me of the meal.
The guacamole calls for using 1 avocado and 1 can of peas instead of using all avocado. It still had the creamy texture of guacamole and had a TON of flavor with the lime juice, chili powder and cumin mixed in. I love this recipe and I’m going to make it again this week!
The mug pie was decadent, ooey gooey and chocolatey, just as she predicted on her show. It was like eating a big lava cake in your cup. It was warm and satisfied me quickly!
The chicken was delicious as well, but it wasn’t the bigger stand out for me. I’ll admit, the recipe called for taco sauce on top and I ended up using hot sauce because I didn’t have any taco sauce. Also, the chicken I used was a little too big for what the recipe called for. It was good, but since I usually don’t eat a lot of stuffed chicken, I probably won’t be making this again anytime soon.
I also made an omelet in a mug after seeing her latest “Rise and Dine” episode. She made a “Denver Omelet in a mug”, but I decided to make it a veggie omelet (my fave!) and added tomatoes instead of ham to the recipe. It was SO yummy, I loved the fresh green peppers, onions and chopped grape tomatoes. While it was a little watery due to the water content of the vegetables, I loved this omelet, and that’s another recipe I cannot wait to make again.
I went to Wegman’s the other night with my friends and bought the House Foods Tofu Shirataki Fettuccine-style noodles. I also bought the spaghetti ones to try another day.
The recipe was very easy to make. There was a process of having to drain and dry the noodles from the bag, cook them for a minute, dry them again and then make the sauce and microwave again. I loved the recipe! The noodles were a little “meatier” and chewier than regular noodles, but the flavors were all there with the light cheese, sour cream, reduced fat parmesan and black pepper. I would definitely make this again. I felt satisfied and comfortably full after it, too.
Here’s me trying the recipe out for you all on camera, and giving you the scoop on “Hungry Girl!”
If you take a stroll through Armory Square, you will notice a new sweet spot there: Bittersweet Wine Bar & Desserts.
Its name speaks for itself. If you head to Bittersweet, wine and desserts will be in your future.
But that’s not all Bittersweet offers. According to owner Patrizia Barbieri, Bittersweet is like a one-stop shop.
“If sweets aren’t your thing, choose from an assortment of scrumptious grilled Panini or salad creations,” said the website’s home page.
Originally wanting the new restaurant to be a café, Barbieri came up with the concept after speaking with her friend.
“He said, ‘Well you should really open a place where you yourself would want to go,” Barbieri said.
The desserts on the menu are the creation of Patrizia’s sister, Lucia, who is a pastry chef. Lucia went to pastry school in New York City at the Institute for Culinary Education.
Patrizia said she added a few items to the menu as well. As far as the creation of the menu, Patrizia said both sisters wanted to tailor the menu to what customers would like.
Patrizia is the business woman of the operation. Patrizia attended SUNY Buffalo for business, and said she originally wanted to work in a big corporation. Opening Bittersweet, she said, brings her into the business world minus wearing a suit. She said she loves numbers, organizing things and being busy.
Bittersweet’s Grand Opening Event was on Saturday November 6, 2010 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. I attended with a friend of mine and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we talked, tasted dessert samples and tried some wine.
The cozy, warm colored room was constantly packed when I was there, from 7 p.m. until around midnight when I left. The bar seats were constantly filled, tables were full and there was even one table at the entrance where two ladies shared the one seat available at the table! They were quite content, however, as they shared desserts and conversation.
The atmosphere was very warm and relaxing: dim pink and white lights hanging throughout the restaurant. There were dark tables and bar counters and white stools and chairs. Pink candles were lit at each table.
The friendly staff brought several mini dessert samples for partygoers to try. These were on hot pink plastic trays with white doilies. Some of the ones I had were tiramisu, carrot cake, chocolate mousse, regular and brownie cheesecake.
While every dessert absolutely wowed me that night by appearance and flavors, the number one dessert in my book was the “Death By Chocolate” mini-cake (pictured). These fudgey, gooey little morsels melted in my mouth. It came in a white doilie, with chocolate drizzled on top.
If you love sweets, this place is for you. If you’re not into desserts, try the other selections. Wash it all down with one of the many wines or bottled beers. Regardless of what you have, Bittersweet is open into the late night hours for people to come by and relax.