Tag Archives: food and drink

Citrus Coconut Drink Two Ways: Virgin and with Malibu

16 Aug

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My alumnae book club was coming over the other day to talk about Moira Weigel‘s Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating, and my apartment was as hot as a sweatbox. I decided to whip up a variation of Kellie Van’s Le Zoe Musing’s Citrus Coconut Soda, which I’d found on Pinterest, to keep everyone cool and refreshed. It looked so pretty and sounded so tasty! There are quite a number of women in the book club who are pregnant or who just had children or who don’t drink, so I thought it would be better than offering soda or regular H2O. Plus, it occurred to me I could alter the recipe for version with alcohol in it for those who wanted a stronger drink.

A note on the coconut soda

Now, here’s where things got a little interesting. I had never heard of coconut soda, and the Le Zoe Musing recipe didn’t specify a brand or where to find it. I went to Whole Foods and considered purchasing coconut water and lime seltzer. If you can’t find coconut soda, I think that would be a great solution. Lo and behold, though, I discovered that LaCroix makes coconut soda!

I first tried LaCroix when I visited my friends in DC last summer. It’s so delightfully summery with its sparkling bubbles. It’s all natural and comes in a variety of traditional and unique flavors like peach pear and melon pomelo (cantaloupe + grapefruit). It’s also inexpensive so great to keep stocked in the fridge for whenever guests pop by. No, this is not a sponsored post. I just am excited by this new discovery!

 

Virgin Citrus Coconut Soda

  1. Wash various citrus fruits. The Le Zoe Musing recipe called for grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime. I love grapefruit but I was worried it wouldn’t fit too easily in the cups I own, so I just used orange, lemon, and lime.
  2. Slice the citrus into circles. The Leo Zoe Musing recipe put all the ingredients in a pitcher. I think this is a great way to allow the flavors to really permeate the drink. However, I was worried that the drink would lose its bubbles so I put the citrus on a plate and made each drink individually. When you’re ready to make the drink, place the citrus into the cups. I suggest one of each citrus circle. This is important to do first so that there’s less splashing and less mess.
  3.  Pour the coconut soda over the citrus slices in the cup.
  4. Feel free to muddle a bit or serve without muddling the citrus. Yamas! (That’s Greek for “To your health!”)

 

Malibu Citrus Soda

  1. Follow steps 1 through 3.
  2. Add a dash of splash of Malibu Rum. My proportions were about 1/4 Malibu and 1/4 coconut soda.
  3. Cheers! Yamas!

 

The beverages were a hit!

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Peaches ‘N Cream Barbie and a Summer Peach Parfait

19 Jul

Every summer when I was growing up in New Jersey, my parents would take my sister and brother and me on a road trip down to Maryland to see our cousins. We loved spending time with our cousins in Baltimore! They were the only cousins we grew up seeing regularly, and we were all fairly close in age. Spending time with my cousins was typically the highlight of my summer. Oftentimes, they’d come back with us and spend some time at our house too.

My cousin who is three years older than me was the coolest! I idolized her. She knew about makeup and hair and french kissing. I wasn’t as into Barbies as my sister was — I was more of a homemaker Cabbage Kids type than sexy Barbie type — but we both were obsessed with our cousin’s Peaches ‘n Cream Barbie. I loved the diaphanous peach dress she wore with the white sparkly top. It was pastel perfection. We spent hours in my basement playing with the Peaches ‘N Cream Barbie. She was the best out of all the Barbies — reigning over even Mika, the beautiful Hawai’ian Barbie, after my little sister had chopped Mika’s bangs off!

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Pinterest proves I’m not the only one who associates this Barbie with childhood

This summer I’ve been eating a delightful peach parfait for breakfast that is so super creamy and delicious!

It’s easy to make too!

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1. Scoop a bit of your favorite vanilla yogurt into a bowl. My favorite is the Brown Cow cream top vanilla.

2. Wash and slice fresh peaches. Leave the skin on. The skin is packed with nutrients:::

Peach skin is full of nutrients and contains both vitamin C and A. Some people think that the skin can irritate the GI track because of the fuzzy/hairy texture of the skin, but this is not true. Peach skin has antioxidants and it is anti-inflammatory. But as mentioned above, avoid the pit as it contains trace amounts of cyanide.

Also, I think it probably is good for your fiber intake.

3. Top with your favorite granola. This will add some crunch and keep you full longer. I’m partial to the Purely Elizabeth and Bear Naked brands.

Voilà! A peach parfait perfect for lazy summer mornings but also quick enough to make if you’re no longer playing Barbies but scrambling to get to work.

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If you like this, you might want to try my other delicious yogurt recipes:::

 

Summer Fruit Salad with Mastiha-Flavored Yogurt

12 Jul

 

The other day I spotted Homeric Mastiha in the store, and I had to try it! I’d heard of mastiha but never tried the legendary Greek liqueur. I like anything with a literary connection, and Stoupakis’ Homeric Chios Mastiha Spirit offered a unique intermingling of literature, Hellenophilia, and food and beverage.

Made from evergreen bushes found only on the Greek island of Chios, mastiha — or, gum mastic — is a Greek liqueur with a sweet and herbal finish. It’s known for its health benefits: it promotes gum health and is anti-inflammatory.

It’s a special alcoholic beverage on its own, which I’d say tastes closer to gin than ouzo. It occurred to me, though, that it would be a fun way to jazz up a summery fruit salad. I was right! I love Greek yogurt, but I have to be in the mood for it. It can be a bit sour at times. Mixing it with mastiha gives such a delightful floral taste. I’m not sure everyone would like it. It’s very Greek. If you hate loukoumi (Turkish delight), you probably won’t like anything flavored with mastiha. I, for one, thought it made the boozy fruit salad with yogurt something elegant. Here’s my recipe:::

  1. Scoop out your favorite Greek yogurt. I used plain Fage. This traditional Greek yogurt got its start in Athens in 1926. It’s known for being packed with protein and great for vegetarians, so definitely a winning combination for me!
  2. Wash and slice peaches, nectarines, and strawberries. Leaving the skins on is not only easier (yay!), but it’s also better for you! It’s got great nutrients in it. Toss the fruit over the yogurt.
  3. Douse the fruit-topped yogurt with mastiha.

It’s really that simple! I don’t have suggestions for portion size or how much mastiha I used. It’s really up to individual preference.

I packed mine in a to-go container and ate it in Central Park. It was delightful!

You may like these related blog posts:::

 

 

 

 

 

Peach Picking

5 Jul

Every summer when I was a child, my family would spend time with my cousins in Baltimore. Usually on the way to Baltimore or from Baltimore, my family would stop and go peach picking. My father would reach high into the trees to get the best, untouched fruit. We’d bring home barrels and barrels of fuzzy, squishy peaches. The fruit was so fresh and so juicy! I can remember the juices dripping down my chin and down the length of my arm toward my elbow. I remember the sticky feeling of peach juice clinging to my fingers. The peaches we picked tasted better than any fruit we bought in the sterile grocery store. But we had to eat it fast! The peaches went bad quickly, and our eyes had been bigger than our stomachs as we picked a million peaches.

Peaches are one of the fruits I most connect to summertime. These precious memories of peach picking with my family float through my head when I pick fresh produce in the grocery store as an adult and sometimes I even have the chance to go peach picking with friends.

I try to eat a lot of peaches in the summer. It’s fun to eat seasonally. I know a lot of people do it for health reasons and for the environment and because of the costs, but there’s also something special about knowing that there’s only a limited time you can enjoy something. It makes you savor it all the more.

Last summer I went peach picking at Alstede Farms in the adorable town of Chester, New Jersey, and I recently went back to the farm just to get pie and visit with the adorable farm animals. Here are some pictures from Alstede Farm. I highly recommend picking your own fruit this summer! It’s a great inspiration for eating healthier foods.

 

 

Feisty Blood Orange and Supergreens Salad

29 Mar

Nikolopoulos Blood Orange

Stephanie Blood Orange

red onions

supergreens blood orange salad

Years ago, when my mother still lived in the States, she used to purchase sparkling Italian blood orange juice. It was tangy and just a little bit spicy. I felt glamorous whenever I drank it.

The Arancia Rossa di Sicilia (Red Orange of Sicily) has protected geographical status in Europe, much like champagne can only be called such if it is actually from the Champagne region of France and how feta is a protected designation of origin (PDO) product of Greece. Needless to say, my father has just about every citrus fruit imaginable in his garden in Greece, he does not have the vibrant-colored blood orange.

It’s currently citrus season in New York, and when I saw blood oranges at the supermarket I scooped them up without hesitation. They bring such exoticism to the table. I decided to make a blood orange with super-greens salad, perfect for revitalizing energy.

Here’s the recipe:::

Wash your favorite greens or a mixture of favorites. I used Organic Girl’s Super Greens, which is a zesty mixture of five different greens:

tangy red & green chard, hearty bok choy, and spicy arugula accented with mild sweet spinach.

Peel as many firm blood oranges as your heart desires. (I used three blood oranges for one 5 ounce container of greens.) With the peel removed, leave the fruit in its ball shape. It’s okay to leave the white pith on it–in fact, it’s actually healthier to do so. Take a sharp knife and cut the blood orange ball into slices.

Next, peel a red onion and cut it into thin slices. Then, gently push the insides of each slice so that it separates into rings.

Toss the blood-slices and the red-onion rings into the super greens. Drizzle with blood-orange olive oil. I used The Filling Station’s Blood Orange Olive Oil, which a friend gave me as a housewarming gift. The oil is warm and soothing, a great complement to the tangy-er and zestier ingredients.

Enjoy! The blood oranges are a delicious source of vitamin C and the greens are excellent sources of vitamin K and vitamin A. The red onion is high in flavonoids. It’s a healthy salad with a beautiful presentation that is sure to impress guests. Invite a starving artist over for dinner!

You may also like:::

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese Is My Love Language

8 Mar

“I have gotten six different kinds of cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup,” my friend texted me, excited about my upcoming visit. Then she corrected herself: “Actually 7.”

“Cheese is my love language,” I said.

This is the same friend who introduced me to the cheese section of Stew Leonard’s.

You might also like these other starving-artist grilled cheese recipes:::

 

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese: The Perfect Autumn Lunch

27 Oct

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You know the other day how I went apple picking? Well, the truth is … I don’t like apples. I don’t hate them, but they’re just so generic. They’re the cheap fruit leftover in every gift basket. I know they’re supposed to be really good for you. I’ve even edited entire books devoted to the benefits of apples. But on their own they’re just not my thing.

In a grilled-cheese sandwich, though, that’s a different story altogether!

Growing up eating at Jersey diners, I’ve had my fair share of grilled cheese with tomato. I love it. But for fall, grilled cheese with apple is the way to go. It’s so easy, inexpensive, and delicious. Perfect for the starving artist who want to up their grilled cheese game.

I chose a hearty bread — Bread Alone’s Whole Grain Health. I first discovered Bread Alone through the Union Square Greenmarket when I worked in a publishing house in that area. Bread Alone makes their organic bread by hand. The Catskills-originated bakery is committed to remaining local — and fortunately Manhattan is included in local. The Whole Grain Health bread has sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax (a great source of omega-3, which as a vegetarian I am always looking out for!), and a healthy dose of honey.

The apple was from my apple-picking adventures at Dubois Farms. I believe it was a Gala apple, but truthfully all the apples kinda looked alike once they got in my bag. I think it was Gala and not Fuji though because it was sweet, which is what I was going for.

Usually I go with American cheese, but I wanted cheddar to go with the apple. I selected a two-year-aged cheddar made from raw milk from Grafton Village. I try not to be too picky with my vegetarianism when it comes to cheese because I love love love cheese, so bonus points for this cheese using a vegetarian rennet. The two-year-old Grafton Village cheddar was super creamy, though it didn’t melt well … though that’s probably because my slices were too thick!

I put a little margarine on the backs of the bread, assembled the cheese, then the apple slices, and then a little more cheese, and then heated them up in the frying pan. It only took a few minutes before each side was golden and warm and gooey.

I paired it with some split pea soup.

So delicious! Apple cheddar grilled cheese is the perfect light meal for a crisp autumn day.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

20 Oct

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Every year my friend organizes an autumn apple-picking trip. It’s a nice break from fighting long lines in tiny aisles at grocery stores in New York City. Also, it always makes me think of helping my dad out on the garden in Greece. I took the bus out to Fort Lee, New Jersey, to meet my fellow apple-picking friends, and then we drove two hours or so out to Highland, New York. My friend is the definite “mom” of the group — she brought me an extra jacket because it was spectacularly cold out that day, which I wore on top of my lighter coat.

The farm we went to was called Dubois Farms U-Pick (209 Perkinsville Rd., Highland, NY), which we determined was pronounced like author W. E. B. Du Bois. We were immediately greeted by the smell of grilling burgers and apple cider donuts. The employees there were also super friendly, going out of their way to help us on our apple-picking mission. We were on the hunt for Fuji apples. Or, I should say, my Japanese American friend was on the hunt for that specific apple type. Hmm… does she perhaps have a bias when it comes to apple selection? I also got some Gala apples, which I picked up because they sounded fancy. The type of apples that would know how to throw a swanky party.

What I particularly liked about Dubois Farms is that you don’t have to pay an entry fee. Some farms make you pay to pick. So basically you’re paying to do the labor yourself on top of paying by the pound. At Dubois, though, you only pay by the pound — and the pound is cheaper than what a city dweller pays for apples. It’s a win-win for a starving artist. You can have your fun, and eat your apples too!

I have to admit, though, one of my favorite parts had nothing to do with the apples. I loved all the farm animals, especially that silly goat, who kept trying to my attention. Plus, it was my first time seeing an alpaca in real life!! Remember this scene in Napoleon Dynamite?!

Have a Slice of Espresso Cheese for National Coffee Day!

29 Sep

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Happy National Coffee Day!

…Just don’t post a photo of your coffee or you might anger Rant Chic. Although, apparently there are coffeehouses that “print” your selfies into your latte with edible brown powder. The latte selfie is real!

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I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season on Sunday. Oh how I love my Barnes & Noble Cafe discount!!

What I really want to tell you about, though is that I discovered espresso cheese!! I road tripped out in Connecticut with two of my very dear friends whom I’ve known forever and ever, and we went out to Stew Leondard’s. Have you been there? It’s amazing. Maybe it’s all my city living, but grocery stores in suburbs amaze me with their wondrous wide aisle lit with bright lights showcasing jalapeño potato chips and refrigerated dog food. This one was one was particularly exceptional. They have cupcakes shaped like cheeseburgers and animatronic butter.

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The employees are all super nice too. One saw me pondering an espresso cheese. I was so curious, I immediately answered “yes” when he asked me if I’d like to try it, even though I normally bashfully say no because I don’t want to bother them or appear greedy. Let me tell you: I am so glad my eagerness betrayed me. Made by Sartori, Espresso Bellavitano is earthy and sweet, decadent, and complex. It’s the perfect cheese to impress guests. I’d pair it with red grapes, raisins, currants, and cherry chutney. A hearty red wine would go well with it.

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Here are a few of my past coffee-related posts to celebrate @NationalCoffeeDay:::

The Coffee Habit of Jack Kerouac

Kerouac Opened a Million Coffee Bars

Caffe Reggio is one of my favorite coffeehouses in all of New York City. I recommended their cup in my Beat gift guide.

Places to drink coffee in Grand Rapids

From the Ottoman Empire to Greenwich Village: Coffee Houses’ Literary History

What’s Your Coffee Personality? Get Greek-American author Dean Bakopoulos’ take

Not to be outdone by my Greek side… The Starving Artist Gulps Down Konditori’s Swedish Coffee

A habit I got from my mother.

Coffee not your drink of choice?

Stir up Kerouac’s Big Sur Manhattan

Or toast to Ernest Hemingway with a Daiquiri Recipe

Take a road trip to Monterey and visit Bargetto Winery for an apricot wine

Or hop on the subway and try the orange wine (not orange flavored!) at Brooklyn Winery

Go Greek with Pindar’s Pythagoras Wine

Speaking of lemonade… How ’bout some Champagne Pink Lemonade Punch?

Want something sans alcohol?

Hibiscus Nectarine Tea: A Trip to Hawai’i in a Glass

Holla for some Jalapeño-Infused Lemonade

Or if you’re a starving artist, Jazz Up Your Tap Water

Road Trip: Under the Balls in Washington, DC

28 Sep
I road tripped out to DC for the weekend recently to see one of my dear friends from Scripps. She and her husband are both museum people so I always get to soak in a museum with them and learn fascinating history. It was fantastic seeing the greater DC area through their eyes, as most of my previous trips have been boringly touristy. I never realized how much I liked DC til this trip!
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 Crème Brule donuts @ Astro 
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 The Beach exhibit @ the National Building Museum
 
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Veggie tacos @ District Taco
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Like the Beat Generation reader I am, I spotted Amiri Baraka’s book in the window @ Busboys and Poets (named after Langston Hughes!)
 
My friends were the perfect hosts! We talked about our mutual love of Dateline, accosted people with adorable dogs, and confided in one another about working in the arts.  
 
I can’t wait to go back to visit them.