Fall Treats: Cinnamon Raisin Loaf Topped with Sugar and Blanched Almonds

Today is just one of those days when you want stay home.  It’s grey, gross, and muggy out!  Since it’s technically fall, I decided to bake something so my husband has a little breakfast bread with his coffee every morning.  I made a cinnamon loaf with raisins and blanched almonds.  Yum!

To cut fat and calories, I substituted out the buttermilk and oil.  (For the buttermilk, I used a tablespoon of white vinegar and the rest of the cup organic skim milk.  For the oil, I substituted apple sauce.)  The consistency of this loaf is light and airy like a muffin.

The little bowl on the left is the raisins coated with flour.  If you don’t coat them with flour, they tend to sink to the bottom.  The bowl on the right is the cinnamon, sugar, almond, and butter mixture for the top of the loaf.img_4631img_4630Gently mix the raisins into main mixture.img_4632Sprinkle the topping mixture across the top:img_4633Bake and eat it warm!img_4635Look at the height on this thing!img_4634Dig in!  This is my afternoon treat 🙂img_4636.jpgimg_4637

Cinnamon Bread I recipe with alterations/substitutions

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar (I substituted 1/2 cup honey)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I substituted 1 tablespoon white vinegar and skim milk)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I substituted with applesauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons butter

I added:

  • handful of raisins dusted in flour so they don’t sink to the bottom
  • blanched/sliced almonds for the sugar/cinnamon/butter mixture that get’s sprinkled on top of the loaf


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter loaf pan.
  2. Take 1 tablespoon of vinegar and pour it into a 1 cup measuring cup.  Fill the rest of cup with skim milk.  Let this sit while you mix the rest of the ingredients together.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, honey, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt, milk mixture, applesauce, eggs and vanilla.  Pour into loaf pan.
  4. Measure out raisins to taste, and coat them with flour so they don’t sink to the bottom.  Gently stir them into the large bowl of ingredients.
  5. In a little bowl mix the 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons butter, and blanched almonds.  Sprinkle over the loaf pan, and run a butter knife through the top a few times so it looks like the sugar is marbled throughout.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.

Make sure you store this in the refrigerator since it has applesauce!  When you’re ready to eat it, cut a thick piece and toast it in the oven for a few minutes to warm up.




Sarabeth’s TriBeCa: A Reliable NYC Brunch with Traditional Food

Brunch in NYC is nearly a sport.  There are so many brunch options, twists on the traditional brunch fare, open bar brunches, and the list goes on.  However, sometimes you just want to get out of the house, and you’re not looking for anything complicated.  Sarabeth’s is classic brunch, well-executed, and reliable.  Their food is traditional, and almost on the verge of a little too plain.  However, those same characteristics are what make it a consistent experience.

I’ve been to three Sarabeth’s locations: Tribeca, Central Park South, and Park Avenue South.  The Central Park South location is very touristy and it gets extremely crowded, but I’ve still been to that one at least three times!  You may actually need to walk in with your elbows up — stand back, tourists!  The Park Avenue South location is nice inside, and has a great bar area for a drink while you wait, but it’s out of the way for me.  I love the Tribeca location!

The walk leading to the restaurant is old school New York, almost European.  Look at the beautiful cobblestone street:Here’s the view when your back is to the restaurant, all 1776 feet of One World Trade Center!During the summer these tables are packed.  It’s also a very family friendly restaurant, and in the warm months the strollers are all parked around the bend:This is the bar area to the right when you enter.  (They have a happy hour, and if you’re in the neighborhood, the free chips are addictive!  They are like the “real potatoes” type of potato chips.  They offer beer, wine, cocktails, and small food selection for munching.)The room in the back has a nice skylight, which it makes it feel really airy and open.  (The Central Park South location has a skylight too, but it doesn’t feel airy because the ceilings are much lower than the TriBeCa location.)This is the “Goldie Lox” omelette.  It’s scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and a bit of cream cheese.  All of their eggs dishes come with some sort of baked good, whether it’s toast, a croissant, muffin, etc.  Of course, you can’t forget to have mimosas!  I mean is it even “brunch” without mimosas?!One of the “appetizers” that you really should get for brunch while you’re there is the muffin basket!  (Carbs, carbs, carbs! lol 🙂 )  The muffins are so delicious, I had already dug into them, but here’s what’s remaining of the muffins to the right of the photo:Strangely, I don’t see this on the menu anymore, but I had an amazing popover stuffed with scrambled eggs, scallions, and cream cheese.Mmmmm yeah lol get in!

Links to Sarabeth’s Tribeca reviews:

Yelp 3.5

TripAdvisor 4.0

OpenTable 4.3

Eastern Europe in Astoria: Bulgarian Appetizers and Dessert, Cured Meats, Cheeses, and More at Parrot Coffee Grocery

One thing I love about New York City is the diversity of food.  Not only are there all different types of restaurants, but there are all different types of grocery stores.  You can find speciality grocery stores that carry Asian, African, Eastern European, South American, and the list goes on.  Queens, the great New York City borough, being one of the most diverse places in the United States, unsurprisingly is home to many of these shops.  One store that I love going to is Parrot Coffee Grocery in Astoria, Queens.  As per their awning, they market themselves as “European Mediterranean and Middle Eastern.”  I have mainly seen Bulgarian and Turkish products, but that’s okay with me because I go specifically for Bulgarian food 🙂  Parrot Coffee Grocery is the last stop on the N train, on the intersection of Ditmars Blvd. and 31st Street.

I buy cured meats, packaged and fresh cheeses, spread, bread, chocolates, and sweets.  Specifically I go here to purchase:

  • Lukanka
    • Pronounced: loo-khan-ka
    • Cured pork (could be beef) made with different spices
    • It’s comparable to a salami but it is a lot more dense and packed.  Depending on the brand/variety that you buy, the taste may be spicy, it may be softer/chewier, etc.  There’s a Wikipedia article on lukanka that’s kind of helpful.
  • Fillet Elena
    • Cured and dried pork, that pulls apart like a chewy salty jerky pork chop.  This is my absolute favorite, and I love the spices on the outside of the meat.  It’s a combination of black pepper and savory/salty spices.
  • Bulgarian feta
    • Bulgarian feta can be either cow or sheep milk, but the one that I buy at Coffee is sheep.  The sheep feta is creamier and softer.  It’s a little less crumbly and salty than a Greek feta cheese.
    • Note: FreshDirect and Whole Foods both actually sell Bulgarian feta.  I think the Whole Foods variety is a little better, but I buy it from both places.
  • Kashkaval
    • Pronounced: khash-ka-val
    • Soft/Semi-Hard fairly mild cheese made from sheep or cow milk.  I prefer the sheep’s milk because it’s a little more tangy.  Kashkaval has a very balanced taste, and it’s not very acidic or salty.  It goes really well with clear spirits or red wines.
  • Lutenitsa
    • Pronounced: you-te-nee-tza
    • Red pepper spread made with some tomato paste, oil, and spices
  • Baked Goods
    • Baklava
    • Kadaif
    • Banitza

Here are pictures from some of my Parrot Coffee Grocery hauls.  Obviously, there are some patterns!
img_4154img_4155They also carry Polish chocolates that come in a few flavors.  I’ve tried the cherry and orange flavors — so good!Grab your kashkaval and lukanka, and have a drink!  Here’s a plate that I made with kashkaval, lukanka, and some sesame bread.  (The white spots are because the bread got too close to the Bulgarian feta.)  Think of these plates like a Bulgarian antipasto plate that goes really well with pre-dinner drinks and wine.  You can also just have them out for an evening of drinks and appetizers, but not an actual dinner.   Bulgarians drink “rakia” which is a clear smooth brandy/grappa type drink.  It is meant for before, during, and after dinner!I make these plates about twice per week, when I have supplies from Parrot Coffee Grocery!  They’re so good for days off, when you want to hang out for a couple hours and have something to eat and drink.  Cheers!

Take the NYC Ferry and Skip the Subway on a Nice Day: Wall Street to Astoria

I live in downtown Manhattan, and I had to run an errand in Astoria today.  What better way to get there on such a beautiful day than by boat!  It was my husband’s idea to take the ferry rather than the subway.  I know…you’re probably rolling your eyes right now…  On the weekends though, getting from downtown Manhattan to Astoria, Queens is annoying and time-consuming (about 45-50 minutes on the subway).  It takes 45-50 minutes on the boat too, but better to float along the waterways than traverse the city tunnels!  $2.75 is much better spent on a scenic ride than on the subway, and you can even buy beer on the ferry!  There are other refreshments on-board as well.

This wasn’t just any old boat; this was the New York City Ferry system!  I’m sure you’re skeptical reading this, but the boat was actually clean.  On such a warm day, it was a scenic fun alternative to taking the subway when it’s perfect and 85F degrees outside.  My husband claimed he loved the boat ride so much, that if he ever had the need to, he would commute using the ferry!  (Don’t worry there’s indoor and outdoor seating!)  We took the route from Wall Street to the bottom of Astoria Park.  The stops beginning from Manhattan are:

  1. Wall Street/Pier 11
  2. East 34th Street
  3. Long Island City
  4. Roosevelt Island
  5. Astoria

Magnificent views of the Brooklyn Bridge as you leave Pier 11:Views of all of Manhattan’s major landmarks!There’s the UN!Long Island City stop right by the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign along the beautiful new LIC waterfront:Passing by the Roosevelt Island stop:Selfie time!  We’re about to get off the boat! 🙂
I highly recommend taking the ferry ride if you’re looking to enjoy your commute!

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe “inspired” sandwich on day one, and an egg scramble on day two.

I try to eat healthy, but sometimes I crave something bad!  I also really, really didn’t want to go anywhere on Friday, so made sure to get my FreshDirect order for the day before.  I came up with the idea of a Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe “inspired” sandwich.  My goal was to make it as quickly as possible, and as healthy as possible.  Although, let’s be serious, it’s difficult to make hot meat sandwiches healthy.  I made it with a frozen baguette (love the FreshDirect brand), organic ground turkey, frozen organic broccoli, and provolone cheese.

I heated up some olive oil in a pan and started cooking chopped onions and garlic:

It’s important to have a drink when you cook on a weekend.  (Not pictured, is also the frozen baguette from FreshDirect.  It takes about 20 minutes to bake, which is perfect while I make the meat.)

Onions and garlic are always so aromatic!

Time to add the ground organic turkey meat:

Stirring it around with a wooden spoon and getting it nice and browned:

I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce, so I made my own version with soy sauce, hot sauce, white vinegar, salt, and pepper:

Then the broccoli goes in towards the latter part.  I also dressed the meat and broccoli again with salt, pepper, and sauces.



Bread is out of the oven!  I kept it on the warmer until I was ready to cut it apart.

I decided to make one mega sandwich, rather than two.  So I cut the bread in half down the middle, and lined the whole thing with provolone.

Top the bread with filling and put some more cheese on top.  Dinner is served!!!!

There was a lot of the meat and broccoli filling leftover, so the next day I made an omelette/scramble out of it for breakfast.  Take a non-stick pan, put an extremely small amount of olive oil, put it on low heat, and then throw the eggs over it, cooking everything on a low temperature.  All I did was take four eggs, scramble them in a bowl, add some black pepper, and pour them over the meat and broccoli.  Sooooo good!


Next weekend, in lieu of a cheesesteak, try making this Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe “inspired” sandwich!

Everyone was in the New York Fashion Week Spirit Today

I took a walk all the way from downtown today.  I must say that everyone was in #NYFW mode.  People’s outfits were better than usual, and everyone seemed to be taking pictures.  I walked through the Flatiron neighborhood, and Banana Republic had a live show going on outside.  Fun and loud!  The set-up was interesting.  The models were walking up onto a platform and posing, facing the opposite side of the street.  Then across the street a NYC TOUR BUS was loaded with all of the photographers!  I was WONDERING why the models were facing the other direction…  At first, I thought it was a promotional fashion show put on for shoppers, like they do sometimes in big stores and malls.  However, I guess it was half promotional half campaign. 

Here are some pictures below:The tour bus load of photographers:Check out the special lighting installation they brought in (upper right corner of the photo):A little further uptown there was a model being photographed in front of the Flatiron building and it was causing a stir:I told you everyone was in the spirit.  Look at these different pairs of ladies taking glamour shots:More commotion in a tent across the street:Alright if you insist, I will take a selfie too lolLet fashion ring!  Welcome to autumn!

Lanvin Mini Sugar Handbag: A Splash of Fun

Ughhhhhh!  Where did summer go?  I was able to wear my Lanvin handbag these past two weekends in a row.  The weather is cooling down fast in NYC this year though.  Normally, around Labor Day weekend it’s still hot and summer clothes are fair game–not so much this year!

I love this little green bag.  I got it almost a year ago, and I kept forgetting about it.  The leather is so soft, and it’s such a gentle feminine bag.   Obligatory pre-departure selfies when I like my outfit:Finally out in action at a rehearsal dinner for my friend:Yep, there’s me texting summer “goodbye” and wondering where all of the warm weather has gone!See you in 2018, summer!