Cheesy Pesto Chicken Crescent Wreath with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
December 21, 2015 by Jen Balisi
Maybe it’s because I grew up making those Pilsbury break-and-bake holiday cookies, or maybe it’s just because I love carbs – whatever the reason, I always find myself reaching for Pilsbury’s buttery doughs when the holidays roll around. In recent years, I’ve upgraded from cookies to Crescent wreaths, which encase your desired fillings in flaky pastry and look totally impressive, despite actually being quite easy. I’ve made a crescent roll wreath to repurpose my Thanksgiving leftovers for the past 3 years, but decided that this year, it only made sense to make one for the holiday that actually uses wreaths. So to get ready for Christmas, I came up with the idea for this Cheesy Pesto Chicken Crescent Roll Wreath that uses a homemade pesto sauce to provide a green color as well as flavor. It also throws in dots of red from roasted cherry tomatoes that pair with Parmesan, mozzarella cheese, and grilled chicken for a delicious filling.
Freebie Alert: Macaron Day NYC 2015 this Friday, March 20
March 17, 2015 by Jen Balisi
It’s no secret that I love Macaron Day, but who in their right mind WOULDN’T love a day that features great bakeries across NYC offering 100% FREE macarons? That glorious day of the year is back on Friday, March 20, 2015, so mark your calendars and find a way to get yourself to one of the participating bakeries from 10AM-5PM for 1 free macaron while supplies last. The event is organized by François Payard Bakery – I’m lucky to have a location near my office, as well as a Macaron Cafe meaning double free macaron goodness.
As described by the event’s website, a macaron is “a classic French cookie. The soft, crunchy, delicate shell is made from almond flour, sugar and egg whites, sandwiching a smooth layer of creamy ganache. ” I personally love the lightness of a macaron, and as someone who isn’t the biggest sweet tooth, macarons provide the perfect little amount of sweetness that make for a great cap on a meal or as a small afternoon treat.
Best of all, participating locations are donating a portion of proceeds made on macarons purchased on Macaron Day 2015 to City Harvest. One of the charities I regularly donate to, City Harvest takes leftover food from restaurants and uses it to feed NYC’s homeless.
Check out Macaron Day 2015′s participating locations here for your free macaron and support a great cause as well.
Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo
March 3, 2015 by Jen Balisi
Chicken adobo is my all-time favorite comfort food. I have fond childhood memories of being in my room and perking up when the savory, pungent yet delicious smell of my mom making chicken adobo made its way from the kitchen to my nose. This happened on a weekly basis in my Filipino home, that it became instinct to immediately run downstairs to the kitchen in hopes that my mom was done simmering the chicken in the unique blend of soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar that makes chicken adobo so delicious. The best part came after the meal was over though, after I’d already stuffed myself with chicken adobo over fluffy white rice, because I knew that the leftovers the next day would taste EVEN BETTER after the flavors had more time to meld in the fridge. Now that I’m officially an adult though, I no longer rely on trips back to my parents’ house to satisfy my regular cravings for Filipino chicken adobo. Instead I’ve done the ultimate “adult” thing and have taken advantage of my Crockpot to make this Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo which I now want to share with you.
I’ve found that investing in a slow cooker is one of the biggest steps in becoming a full fledged grown up. It involves preparation and planning ahead, and it means that you are now leading a life which requires 1) meals to be scheduled and 2) every task to be as easy and time-efficient as possible. While breaking out the Crockpot makes cooking easier in general, I like to think that this Chicken Adobo is one of the absolute easiest slow cooker recipes, which is why it fits so perfectly in my adult life. Unlike other slow cooker recipes which require you to brown or even marinate meat or cut up vegetables before it goes into the slow cooker, this chicken adobo is as easy as dumping everything in and setting the timer until you have your end product of fall-off-the-bone chicken adobo. Yes, you technically need to crush some garlic, but if you really want to go for convenience, crushed garlic is totally available for purchase. And remember what I said about chicken adobo tasting better as it sits? That means you can make a ton of it in your slow cooker and pack it away for meals to come (it freezes great!).
Where to Eat for NYC Restaurant Week – Updated for Winter 2016
February 22, 2015 by Jen Balisi
I’ve written about NYC Restaurant Week plenty of times in the past, but it’s now been almost 5 years (!) since I wrote my first guide to the almost month-long annual event. While much of it still holds true (go for the $$$$’s!), I figured it was worth an update since 1) the pre-fixe dinner is now $38 instead of $35, 2) many of the restaurants are sadly no longer, but 3) there’s a bunch of new, great restaurants available! I’ve rounded up my top picks based on their Restaurant Week offerings, so make your reservations before tables get snatched up. Even if you don’t plan to dine on any pre-fixe menus, if you have an Amex card, you should be sure to register your card as you can still qualify for a $5 statement credit at each meal (up to 4 times!) even if you order a la carte.
This list is by no means all inclusive, so there are certainly other worthwhile restaurants that are part of NYC Restaurant Week. Whatever you do, just don’t do Dos Caminos. You’re better than that 🙂
ABC Kitchen & ABC Cocina
Because Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Union Square mainstay and neighboring Latin American outpost are both new to the NYC Restaurant Week list for 2016 and offering solid options including a ricotta and egg raviolo, a gorgeous beet salad, and “gooey spicy ham and cheese fritters.” Yes, please.
ABC Kitchen: View Menu | Make a Reservation
ABC Cocina: View Menu | Make a Reservation
Because Michael White makes the best pasta in the city period, and Ai Fiori is always a solid option for Restaurant Week.
View Menu | Make a Reservation
Because Andrew Carmellini also makes some of the best pasta in the city, and his Bowery pasta spot is serving up a number of options that are sure to satisfy in these frigid temps.
View Menu | Make a Reservation
Mexican Street Corn Lime Chicken Tacos
January 29, 2015 by Jen Balisi
Mexican street corn is one of my favorite things to eat. Take grilled corn, slather mayo and/or Mexican crema, cotija cheese, and chili powder, and squirt some lime to produce one of the most addictive food items created, so much so that I lovingly call it crack corn. It’s referred to as elotes when the corn is still on the cob, and as esquites when its off the cob, like the esquites with avocado I posted a recipe for a while back. For lunch though, I decided to up the protein and turn one of my favorite sides into a complete meal by making these Mexican Street Corn Lime Chicken Tacos. By doing a quick marinade of the chicken in lime juice and chili powder, and serving this chicken grilled along with grilled corn, some guacamole for an avocado-superfood injection, and cotija or feta cheese, you have a taco that mimics the flavors of your favorite elotes in a handheld tortilla.
Superbowl Sausage Kale and Ricotta Football Pizza
January 28, 2015 by Jen Balisi
Spicy Italian sausage, kale, and ricotta are 3 of my favorite ingredients to combine. I’ve prepared them in various iterations, from pasta to breakfast pizza, but when the football season started I had a lightbulb moment: football field pizza! With a little extra effort, your standard rectangular pizza gets transformed into this Sausage Kale and Ricotta football pizza with a crispy kale field, ricotta yard lines, and a spicy Italian sausage football at the center, though you could substitute for the sweet variety if that’s your jam. It’s a recipe for a successful Superbowl Sunday and let’s face it – it’s just pretty to look at (aka made for Instagram).
Easy 5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
January 27, 2015 by Jen Balisi
Freezing temperatures call for hearty, stomach-lining foods like mac and cheese and stews. Since comfort food tends to veer on the unhealthy side though, I love making turkey chili to fulfill my need for a warm bowl of food while keeping my waistline in check. Plus it’s perfect for game day, especially with the Superbowl coming up. The flavor from this easy 5 ingredient turkey chili and ease of preparation comes from using canned diced tomatoes with green chiles and cooking everything low and slow into your slow cooker or Crock Pot. The chiles mixed into the tomatoes pack heat while also allowing you to skip having to buy and prep green chiles separately. Just throw the tomatoes over the rest of your ingredients in your slow cooker, stir, and set the timer for up to 8 hours on low before you go to work or when you’re about to go to sleep. You’ll come home from work or wake up to a wonderful, healthy meal for you to eat or pack for lunch. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can easily just cook this in a heavy bottomed pot on medium-low heat until the tomatoes break down – though I don’t recommend a “set it and forget it” method since this requires an open flame 🙂
Buffalo Chicken Football Pizza with Garlic Blue Cheese Cream Sauce
November 19, 2014 by Jen Balisi
We are fully into the fall swing, and I for one am not complaining one bit. While others may complain about the cooling temperatures, fall is actually my favorite season for a few reasons including but not limited to: my birthday, Halloween, beautiful changing leaves and trees, less sweating, more sweaters, and most importantly, FOOTBALL. In honor of my favorite sport, I decided to forego my buffalo meatballs with Cool Ranch Doritos breadcrumbs and football-ify things even more by creating this buffalo chicken football pizza. Yes, shaping the dough to make a football-shaped pizza requires a bit of extra work, but it’s football: go big or go home, am i right?
To make this football pizza, I followed many of the steps for my cheesy buffalo chicken pasta with some adaptations. It starts with the same cream cheese base, but the sauce gets upgraded to a wonderful garlic blue cheese cream sauce. It’s incredibly easy, featuring simple sauteed chopped garlic that gets blended into cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, and milk to create a creamy oh so cheesy and delicious sauce that becomes both the base of the pizza and what is used to make the stitches on the football after baking. You may end up with a bit of extra sauce at the end, which isn’t an issue as you’ll end up wanting to drown your pizza crusts in it. Oh that’s just me? Well then……
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Italian Sausage
September 12, 2014 by Jen Balisi
Call it biased for being born in October, but fall is my absolute favorite season. From sweater weather to the crisp smell in the air of the fall leaves that are changing into beautiful hues of orange and red, autumn is a magical time of year. And nothing brings that magic to life more than the seasonal return of pumpkins. Yes, the return of fall means every basic chick falling in line for PSLs and posing with pumpkins in an orchard, but can you blame them? Pumpkin is one of the most unique and wonderfully rich and comforting flavors, and so I’ve found ways to include this flavor not only in satisfying my sweet tooth (helloooo pumpkin doughnuts), but in savory meals as well. I’ve made variations of pumpkin pasta several times now, but this pumpkin mac and cheese with Italian sausage is such a perfect combination of flavors that I decided it needs to be shared.
This pumpkin mac and cheese has the richness you crave as the temperatures turn down thanks to a creamy pumpkin béchamel sauce that gets a mountain of Parmesan, aged cheddar, and mozzarella melted into it to become a cheesy Mornay sauce. The nuttiness of the Parmesan perfectly complements the pumpkin purée while extra cheesiness and meltiness (yeah I’m making up words) is provided by the cheddar and mozzarella. Then there’s the bonus of savory, meaty Italian sausage to balance out the sweetness of the pumpkin. And finally it’s topped off with butter-coated breadcrumbs to provide that crisp crunchy outer layer to go with the ooey gooey cheesiness for the ultimate fall comfort food.