Ken and I love eating salads – there are so many great places for a big salad in the city that it’s difficult not to like them (some of my favorites include Chop’t's Mexican Caesar with kale and shrimp, Just Salad’s Buffalo Chicken salad, Dos Caminos’ taco salad, and Sweetgreens’ Guacamole Greens salad). If you’ve been to any of those places, you’ll know that a salad will set you back over $10! Ken and I tried to find the recipes for some of our favorites to recreate at home. We made this sweetgreen’s salad and loved it and then made it for our holiday party and everyone loved it there, too. It’s very easy to make at home so if you don’t have a sweetgreen in your neighborhood, this is a great alternative!
Start with some washed mixed greens:
And add chopped red onion and grape tomatoes:
Add chicken, avocado, tortilla chips, and the homemade salad dressing – a cilantro jalapeno lime dressing with cumin:
You can finish off with some fresh cilantro if you’re a fan (and I definitely am):
Ingredients, (adapted from Blogging Over Thyme):
Cilantro Lime Jalapeno Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 a jalapeno pepper (seeds and ribs removed), finely chopped
1/4 cup grapeseed (or other flavorless) oil
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Guacamole Greens Salad:
4 ounces grilled chicken breast, cubed
3 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely diced red onion (roughly 1 ounce)
8-10 large corn tortilla chips (1 ounce), crushed lightly with hands
1 small avocado, pitted, and cut into medium chunks
3.5 ounces mixed spring greens
lime cilantro jalapeno vinaigrette (see above–shake before using!)
Prepare Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a blender, or small food processor bowl. Puree or pulse ingredients together, until mixture just begins to come together, and cilantro is still finely chopped. Set aside in a small container. Shake before using.
In a large bowl, place the cooked chicken, halved tomatoes, diced red onion, crushed tortilla chips, avocado, and mixed spring greens. Toss the salad lightly with lime cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
One of our favorite restaurants is The Bao, a xiao-long-bao (known in English as soup dumplings, sometimes abbreviated as XLB) restaurant in the east village. My cousin’s wife initially found it from yelp reviews and Ken and I usually don’t eat on St. Mark’s unless it’s for dessert, but we gave it a try and have been going on a regular basis ever since. I think it also helps that we don’t go to Joe Shanghai anymore (1. it’s really far downtown/in the middle of nowhere in midtown and 2. it was shut by the DOH (Chinatown AND Midtown!). To get our soup dumpling fix, we just walk down to The Bao.
My mom is also a huge fan of the restaurant and has been known to go for lunch and dinner on the same day – the owner recognizes her whenever we go with her now. I think the tally for her last visit was 4 dinners (some with me and Ken and some with David or by herself). Here’s what I love to order at the restaurant.
The scallion pancake is freshly fried for you – these are better than the scallion pancakes with beef that the restaurant has because they add a sweet hoisin sauce that they can’t be removed upon request:
My hands down favorite order is the chives sautéed with pork and black beans:
This dish is salty and a little spicy but has a very addictive flavor and I like how all of the items in the dish are evenly sized. The dish pairs very nicely with rice (which has to be ordered individually – rice doesn’t come per entree).
The soup I always need to order (even when it’s hot outside) is the westlake soup – this is usually a chicken or pork based broth with pork, tofu, cilantro and egg white:
The cilantro brings all of the flavors together but it has a very strong flavor so if you don’t like cilantro, stay away!
For veggies, I love ordering the Chinese water spinach, the green beans, or the sautéed pea shoots with garlic:
And of course, you have to order the Kung Fu xiao long bao:
Six per order, the skin isn’t too thick like some restaurants, and the pork inside tastes like it’s pretty good quality.
Here are some things to know:
- the wait times are pretty ridiculous because the restaurant is popular (good for them, bad for us!)
- they don’t have hot water but they do have hot tea. I’m wondering how they make the tea?
- tea isn’t free refills (okay, but then they need to pour you a full glass if you order it!)
- the portions have gotten significantly smaller since they opened a year ago but their prices have only gone up. (the last time we went, the westlake soup container was half filled!)
Even with my gripes, I still love the restaurant and it’s my favorite Chinese restaurant in New York at the moment. Let me know if you like the dishes there – and tell me what you ordered that I didn’t mention!
· January 4, 2016
,Things to do in NYC
Since we’re in the new year and I neglected the blog all of December, I thought it would be nice to do a year in review for 2015. I was going through all of my photos in 2015 and realized that there were so many experiences I didn’t blog about, so here’s the catch up – I’ll be writing more detailed posts of some of these highlights in the coming weeks (or months!). Hope you had a wonderful 2015 and can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for all of us!
I started off the new year (2015) in Taiwan. My mom, Ken and I visited my dad and other family in Taiwan and ended up going all over the island. Here I am with Ken in Taipei in front of Chiang Kai Shek memorial hall:
Me and Ken recreating the sculptures in front of my dad’s office:
And balancing on slippery rocks after hiking in Hualien:
We came back to New York in January to a very cold winter (but thank goodness for Canada Goose jackets!) and celebrated two events – a surprise party for our friend, Anna:
And a baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law – I made a cake for my nephew to enjoy (a sprinkle cake with his nickname, Fab!):
The sprinkle cake was about five pounds of cake and sprinkles (I had to make two trips to the grocery store because I ran out of sprinkles!!)
In March, we puppysat my favorite puppy, Harlie! We took her to the puppy park and also walked her around the park (unfortunately for her, she can’t enter Gramercy Park):
At the puppy park, Harlie met lots of other dogs, even a toy Australian Shepard:
In April, Ken and I spent a few days in Las Vegas -he was golfing in Phoenix with friends and I was going to Las Vegas for a work trip so we met up in Phoenix and drove to Las Vegas together! Actually, I picked a flight with a connection in Phoenix so we could fly together from Phoenix to Las Vegas, but Ken accidentally booked his flight for the wrong day so I got off the plane and we rented a car and drove from Phoenix to Las Vegas together. We spent the weekend together and then he flew back and I spent the week with my coworkers:
The weekend we were in Las Vegas just happened to be the weekend my nephew, Fab, was born!! I couldn’t wait to get back to New York to meet the little guy:
Here he is, waving at all the gracenotesnyc readers:
April was such a great month because Fab was born – and the cuteness from him now fills up my phone’s memory.
We started off May with a move to our new home:
And lots of puppy kisses from Harlie:
Moving into our new home involved lots of packing and unpacking:
And it was also the month that I finally got around to reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Ken might think I didn’t take the book to heart, but I ended up donating 20 bags of clothes, jewelry, shoes and other items AFTER we moved (before the move, there were about 10 trips to Goodwill!)
After moving, we flew to Pittsburgh to visit my childhood home (and haunts) and also celebrated my good friend’s wedding:
Towards the end of the month, Ken surprised me with the longest roses I’ve ever encountered for my birthday:
For my birthday, we flew down to South Carolina and spent the weekend in Charleston:
We had my birthday dinner at FIG, which was one of the most memorable meals of the year:
In June, my friends Denise, Tyler and Anna took me out to dinner at Marta:
And I also spent a lot of time going to visit Fab, who grew in size and cuteness:
In July, we flew to Chicago for a quick anniversary trip (our second!) We stayed downtown for our actual anniversary and then spent the rest of the week with Ken’s niece and nephew, including a trip to Great America:
Where I learned that going on all rides that I used to like as a kid now made me dizzy and feel ill.
After our trip to Chicago, Ken’s parents and sister, Teresa, flew to New York to visit us, where we feasted on Han Dynasty their first night:
And then made a trip to EN Brasserie (and other restaurants):
In July, we also had our first meal outdoors in our new home:
And we ended the month with trips to the Hamptons to visit Anna – here I am with Denise and Anna at Moby’s:
We started off August with our first party at our home – I made boozy popsicles that were a big hit (Aperol Spritz Popsicles – in case you’re interested in the recipe):
I also went to Puerto Rico with my mom and brother for a quick weekend trip:
And we ended the month with another trip to Chicago, where we ate a lot of Dairy Bar:
In September, we took our first full family vacation with Fab to the Jersey Shore, where we thought Fab would like the ocean but he hated it so we went once for ten minutes and never went back:
In October, we started off the month with a trip to San Francisco:
To visit Teresa and Adam at Nopalito:
We drove to Sonoma after our quick trip to San Francisco and rented a house to celebrate John and Erin’s wedding weekend. At night, we would make a fire and eat s’mores in the backyard:
We also went to a few vineyards while we were there:
And then celebrated John and Erin’s wedding:
When we came back, Ken went to a playoff game with the Mets and the Cubs while the girls spent some quality time together:
And also hosted our first dinner party in our new home:
In November, we started off the month with more cute visits with Fab:
And also spent Thanksgiving in New York because Fab wanted to stay local for Thanksgiving:
For the second year in a row, I didn’t do a Friendsgiving and opted to have a holiday party (post-Thanksgiving) instead. We did, however, finally start decorating our apartment and I finally got around to framing our special menus and Ken helped me hang them:
Harlie helped, too:
We ended 2015 with a lot of fun events – first, our holiday party in our apartment:
We made cookie tablesettings with everyone’s names and also a ton of sugar cookies that Ken and I decorated:
All of us at dinner:
And then solving an escape-the-room type mystery:
AND THEN karaoke:
Then we did an early Christmas with Fab because we weren’t going to be in town for the actual holiday:
We weren’t in New York for Christmas because we flew to San Francisco (our second home!) and spent a couple nights in Napa:
Before heading back to San Francisco to celebrate Teresa and Adam’s rehearsal dinner:
We ate a lot of chocolate wedding cake at their wedding:
After Teresa and Adam’s wedding, we spent the week in San Francisco, where we walked through a life-size gingerbread house at the Fairmont hotel:
And admired Christmas trees and decorations:
We capped off the year with a visit from my mom and a homecooked meal for New Years eve:
And of course, lots of time with my nephew, Fab:
In 2015, we traveled a lot, put our roots down in New York, and had so much fun with my nephew and family. In 2016, I hope Ken and I can finish decorating our place, spend more time with my nephew, and continue to be happy and healthy. Wishing you and your family health and happiness in the new year!
Remember when I wrote about my love for Nounos Creamery yogurt with Early Bird granola and hemp seeds? (If not, you can check out the post here). The granola and yogurt addiction was getting a tad expensive (each Nounos yogurt is $2.50 and Early Bird Granola is $10.99/bag, which I try to make last two weeks but that doesn’t always end up working). Well, I looked up the recipe for Early Bird Farmhand’s Choice granola and it is so easy to make that I went to the grocery store and farmer’s market and ended up making my own! I’ve already made two batches and it tastes identical – actually, it tastes better because I feel like I’m saving money every time I eat my own instead of buying a new bag. The recipe doesn’t include that many ingredients – nuts, oats, sugars, coconut, olive oil and salt. It actually took longer for my oven to reach 300 degrees than it took for me to prep the ingredients!
To start, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (oats, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, coconut shreds, salt, and pecans):
Then add the wet ingredients and the brown sugar to the dry (olive oil, brown sugar and maple syrup):
Mix all of the ingredients together and make sure everything is evenly coated:
Place on a cookie sheet:
And into a 300 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes. You have to take the granola out every 10 minutes to stir so it doesn’t burn:
Once you take the granola out, you can add the coarse sea salt – the granola tastes exactly the same as Early Bird and it’s much less expensive than buying it in stores! Here’s the recipe (from Nekisia Davis, the Early Bird Granola creator, herself!)
Farmhand’s Choice Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
1 1/4 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove granola from oven and season with salt. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.