All Posts By

CiCi

Food Travel

New York Eats

September 29, 2017

How Steve and I travel is we eat our way through places we visit. And we eat a lot. As you can see, our eating adventures warrants a whole blog post. Here are some of our food discoveries, some well known favourites, some local favourites (One of Steve’s best friend lives in Manhattan), from Michelin starred restaurants to street food carts.

– Fast Food/Street Carts –

Shake Shack, Grand Central Station, Broadway locations  – Steve loves Shake Shack, anytime he’s home from New York he craves it. This time around, he took me to pop my Shack cherry; it most definitely lived up to the hype. We returned several times to satisfy our late night burger cravings. The Shack Stack Burger was my favorite: it’s essentially a cheeseburger topped with a deep fried portabello mushroom stuffed with cheese. Like what?? So good.

Halal Guys – These famous orange and yellow street carts serve up aluminium platters stuffed with rice, chicken and gyro meat (we endearingly call it “mystery meat” haha). Top yours with lots of white and hot sauce, find a curb somewhere to sit and stuff yo face.

Joe’s Pizza, Carmine St. – The quintessential New York slice. Super thin crust, minimal toppings. I’m still thinking of that crispy crunch.

Prince St. Pizza – Completely different from the traditional thin crust NY slice at Joe’s. This popular joint serves up thick square slices of pizza. Lots of cheese, thick pepperoni cups that curl up and hold a good amount of pizza grease. It’s heart stopping but oh, so worth it. However, we did prefer the thinner crust pizzas because back where we live, our pizzas are made with thicker crust and its something we could easily get back home.

Grimaldi’s Pizza, Brooklyn – Clearly, we ate a lot of pizza on this trip! This is a well known Pizzeria in Brooklyn. Underneath the overpass, it was dark and a bit sketchy but we were determined to get a slice. But we learnt you can’t get just one slice here, it has to be the whole pie. Challenge accepted. We bought it, caught the subway back to Manhattan and ate it all! Well, Steve ate it all and I just stared in disbelief. My husband is a bottomless pit.

The Lobster Place, Chelsea Market – I had the lobster roll. A soft white roll piled high with the freshest lobster meat. Good genuine flavour. Although, I would’ve wanted a little salt…I know, I know, salt on fresh lobster–blasphemy.

Los Tacos No.1, Chelsea Market – You’ll cram into a long time and will have no where to sit but the tacos are worth it!

– Bakeries/Pastries/Sweets –

Dominique Ansel Bakery, Soho – The home of the famous Cronut. We went early and the line was short. Got three PB&J cornuts and several other pasties. The cronut itself was too rich for me but Steve has a big sweet tooth and loved them. I preferred their popular DKA, a flaky pastry with a crunchy caramel crust.

Taiyaki – Specialty soft serve ice cream served in a warm fish shaped cone stuffed with red bean or custard. This little ice cream shop was included on Buzzfeed’s list of most Instagrammable eateries in NYC. And I gotta say, it lived up to the hype. The ice cream had good texture, flavour was mild but good. And the soft Taiyaki pastry and red bean wasn’t too sweet–I really enjoyed it! Be prepared to wait though!

Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe, Greenwich Village – Walking around the area, we stopped in to get a croissant, they were sold out. I got an almond one instead and satisfied my craving.

Tous Le Jours, Koreatown – This South Korean bakery chain serves amazing Shaved Snowy Ice. The ice is flavoured, comes with fresh fruit and a big scoop of ice cream. A great and cheap dessert option!

Magnolia Bakery, Rockefeller Center – Had my Sex and the City moment and got some cupcakes from this famous bakery. Gotta say, the cupcakes were just so so, I’ve had better. The husband really liked their Banana Pudding though!

Lady M Cakes, Rockefeller Center – They are famous for their crepe cakes. Layers upon layers of crepes and cream? Uh, YES PLEASE! And yes, it was so good and I could for a piece right now.

 



– Restaurants –

Daniel – This two michelin starred restaurant was recommended by our friend who lives in Manhattan. It is also #1 on TripAdvisor, so we decided to book it for our Anniversary. You will probably spend your life savings here BUT its worth it. The food is what you expect, amazing contemporary French cuisine. You’re coming to Daniel for a dining experience. From the classic, romantic ambience, to the well trained staff, the professionalism, all the thoughtful details, it will be an experience to remember. Certain dishes come to your table to be finished such as my fois gras. Some drinks are also shaken table side.

We ordered the 4 course meal and were prepared to grab a burger afterwards. To our surprise, the food was well portioned, spaced out through your dining time there and by the end we were stuffed. Throughout the meal, there is a selection of piping hot french bread for you to enjoy. Its accompanied by good quality butter and different finishing salts. Your meal starts with an amuse bouche and little tasting dishes are served in between the courses.

Daniel doesn’t play games with their dessert. Along with your regular dessert (and an extra anniversary dessert), a little platter of tasting desserts were also offered. And then came a basket of freshly baked french madeleines. Two tiny house made chocolates to finish your meal. And when I thought they were done, they gave us two jewelry boxes with french Cannelle to take home “for the morning after”. Dessert itself felt like a four course meal.

Yes the food was great but what knocked it out of the park was the service. Unpretentious, professional and knowledgeable. We had three waitstaff for our table and all of them were so nice and friendly and they truly made our dining experience an amazing one. Daniel is a great choice for our anniversary or any celebration.

Loeb Boathouse – This lakeside restaurant is in the heart of Central Park and was a romantic spot to have our anniversary lunch. The service wasn’t the best I’ve had but they were quick and efficient. The food was good, the crab cake appetizer was a knockout and the best part of our meal. The view is what this restaurant is known for; with a huge open window, all guests have a beautiful view of Central Park, the lake and its charming and romantic rowboats.



Cosme – Mexican inspired cuisine. The extent of my mexican food experience has been limited to tacos and the like. I have never had this level of mexican food before. And man, I have been missing out. I had the Egg Sope as an appetizer and grilled Branzino. It’s hard to explain the complexity of flavour and how well all the ingredients complimented each other. The food was so fresh and flavourful. It was one of my favorite meals during our trip. For reference, we went for lunch/brunch which is a separate menu from dinner.

Jongro BBQ, Koreatown – Our friend lives close to Koreatown, so we ate around the area a few nights. Being big fans of Korean BBQ, we decided to go to one. You sit in a booth, with a large grill in the centre and a hood fan above you. You order your cuts of raw meat and at this restaurant, the servers cook the meat for you. There are traditional Korean side dishes, rice, lettuce to wrap your meat and dipping condiments. Our one friend is originally from Korea and according to her, this place is top notch and authentic.

BCD Tofu House, Koreatown – This was our last meal in NYC. By now we were so stuffed with so much NY food we just craved home cooking. This place was perfect for that reason. We ordered their speciality Tofu stews. They serve traditional hot tofu stews in individual simmering pots, comes with a choice of side dish (I picked korean short ribs), rice, and side dishes. It felt so comforting and a perfect end to our stay.

That’s mostly everywhere we ate! NYC is the mecca of good food, its constantly changing and evolving. And it could feel very overwhelming with all its choices, hopefully this list has given you some inspiration to find some really good eats while your in The Big Apple! Happy Eating!

 

 

 

Featured Food Kids

Max and Logan’s 3rd Birthday Party!

August 14, 2017

Steve and I were debating forever if we were going to throw the boys’ a birthday party this year. As fun as they are, they are lots of work! We kept it to family and some of Max and Loggie’s best friends. We didn’t do a themed birthday like previous years. The loose “theme” was “Everything Max and Loggie Love”. Included was everything they loved eating, such as Oreos and popcorn, donuts and even cookie monster made an appearance. We wanted everything bright and colourful, essentially, fun! I did end up doing a dessert table and a cake (c’mon it’s me we’re talking about here). The dessert table may look impressive but it was very easy to set up with a lot of store bought items, just spruced up.

Dessert table: Here are a few ideas for your next party!

  • Oreo cookies dipped in chocolate and dunked in sprinkles.
  • Cookie Monster Macarons – This item is more of a specialty item. You can find your local Macaron maker and see if they will make a specialty kind. Or give it a go yourself with my tutorial here.
  • Birthday Cake Popcorn – Max and Logan love popcorn, this birthday cake version was a special treat! Recipes here and here.
  • Shortbread Dino Print Cookies – I used this recipe here (without the earl grey tea). I took a toy dinosaur and stamped its feet into the cookie before baking.

  • Store bought Timbits (donut holes), put them on a lollipop stick, dip in chocolate, dip in sprinkles. It was a favorite!
  • Little party cups filled with mini chocolate chip cookies and m&ms.
  • Cheesecake pots – Used this recipe, these pots can be made a couple days in advance, top with cherry the morning of the party and voila!

Decor: I used a lot of items we already had in our house to decorate the table. It was more of a rustic theme. Here are some decor ideas that are a bit more subdued but still kid friendly.

  • Toy Dinosaurs: I had them scattered here and there on the table for visual interest.

  • Tree cookies that we borrowed from my sister. Gave the table a more rustic edge and were neutral.
  • Dollar store stems of leaves. I cut them up and placed it around the tree cookies giving off a jungle, rustic vibe.
  • Wooden crates as risers to add height and dimension. I flipped them upside down and placed whatever I wanted on top.
  • Mason Jars, continuing the rustic theme.

Viola! Use what you have and make it work!

Entertainment
To keep the children entertained we rented a single bouncy castle for 5 hours and that alone kept the kids (mostly toddlers) happy for the entire party. Who doesn’t love a bouncy castle? Max and Logan still talk about it! We also had a piñata and lots of balloons to throw and kick around. We opened our sand pit with buckets and had water balloons as backup.

Food

  • To keep it simple, we had two camp coolers left out, one with adult drinks and one filled with water and juice boxes.
  • The main was a Taco/burrito bar. We smoked shredded pork shoulder and barbecued tex mex beef flank for the protein. There was a table with all of the fixins: shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, onions, grilled veggies, bell peppers and onions, Pico do Gallo, Peach and strawberry salsa, tortilla wraps and various hot sauces for everyone to assemble their own plate.
  • I also made a half a batch of Pioneer Woman’s Queso Blanco, threw it into a crockpot and had a bags of tortilla chips. This was my favorite food item! So so so good! Who doesn’t love melted cheese?!

Party Favorurs
For treat bags, we didn’t go with a “bag”, it was more of a treat jar. Continuing with our theme, we had mason jars filled with the following items Max and Loggie love.

  • A toy dinosaur
  • Two packaged Oreo cookies
  • A individual pack of fruit gummies
  • Avengers and Peppa Pig Tattoos
  • A mini container of PlayDoh
  • Starburst and Rocket candy to fill gaps
  • A toy car
  • We used a mason jar as a container because it kept with our theme and parents could re use the jar again!

And of course that day was so busy I forgot to take a picture of one!

Cake

I have been baking semi professionally for years. So no matter how big or small a birthday is, there will always be a cake made by me. This year to keep with the theme of “everything they love”, I made a cake with just that: everything they love. I kept the colors light but bright and all the elements on the cake are all the things Max and Loggie care about in the world. 🙂 So some trivia below for anyone who is interested!

  • Blue bus: They scream “blue bus” EVERYTIME there is an ETS bus around
  • Dump trucks: Because, well, boys. 
  • A green shower cap: Loggie has an odd obsession with shower caps
  • A bowl of random stuff: Max will make “soup” every night, he puts fake food into a bowl with a specific silver spoon and then puts it next to him to sleep…weird. We know.
  • Peppa Pig: Their current favorite.
  • Logan’s blankie: Because he will have this to the end of time.
  • Minions, Buzz Lightyear: Because they’re like every other kid.
  • Orange and Banana: Loggie and Max’s favorite fruit, respectively. 
  • Happy Meal box: Clearly, we eat there tooooo much.
  • An elephant: Logan’s favorite animal
  • Two JellyCat bunnies: Max can’t sleep without them.
  • Chocolate drip on the pastel cake as a subtle homage to Ice Cream which is their favorite food group. 😉

And there you have the cake that means so much to me!

That was their party this year. I swear it was only family and a handful of their best friends and I still went slightly overboard haha. Next year, Chuck-E-Cheese and call it a day! 🙂

Hope this gave you some ideas for your own birthday party! Team Wonger hopes you have any amazing celebration!

Kids

Birthday Adventures

August 2, 2017

After I overcame my denial and subsequent sadness that the boys turned 3 this passed Sunday, we decided to do something different for the day. Our boys have a lot of toys and was not in need of anything new. A gift of experience would be a wonderful way to celebrate! We wanted to take them somewhere they’ve never been before and decided on our local zoo. It was by far the smallest zoo I have ever been to but it was the perfect walking distance for my tiny humans. We didn’t even bring our stroller, our boys are big boys now and we believed they could make the walk and they did. Oh god, I’m going to go ugly cry in this corner.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo was a good place to introduce younger children to animals. There was a small train, carousel, petting zoo and multiple ice cream kiosks. And if you’re children are ice cream demons like mine, they will love this place just for that point alone.


The walks are short and easy for toddlers to trek the whole place as it’s small. The downside is the zoo is rundown and in desperate need of renovations. The animals seemed content but I personally felt the zoo was too small for the animals they did have. Honestly, I was a bit sad. I’ve never felt like that at any other zoo so I don’t think we would make another trip back. But with that said, it was a good, different outing for my little ones, who didn’t seem to notice anything besides how fun it is to see animals in real life.


That was our day! What do you like to do with your toddlers? Fire off in the comments so I can have ideas for next year!

Food

Cookie Monster Macarons

July 27, 2017

These were such a hit at the boys’ birthday, I thought I’d share how I made them! There are quite a few components to such a tiny little cookie but the effort is well worth it.

The cookie base is a French Macaron. Finnicky by nature and not for the super amateur baker but give them a go anyways! There is no satisfaction like baking your own Macarons! I used the Duchess Cookbook recipe (the “french” method)  but there are tons of youtube videos and online tutorials. Indulge with Mimi is an amazing Macaron artist and her troubleshooting FAQ is out of this world helpful.

Some Macaron Tips:
– I dye my Meringue with several drops of Americolor gel colouring in Sky Blue and one drop of Black to get my Cookie mMonster colour. You can also use Navy or royal blue if thats what you have. I always dye my batter during the meringue stage before I add sugar and almond flour.
– I combine icing sugar and almond flour and pulse it in a food processor to grind the mixture finely. Blending almond flour with icing sugar prevents clumping, the sugar absorbs some of the nut oil. I found that grinding the mixure made for smoother macaroni tops.

Filling:
I used Chocolate ganache. I used the ratio 1 part heavy cream to 2 parts chocolate. I used milk chocolate as it was a children’s party but feel free to use dark, bittersweet for more mature tastes.
– Scald whipping/heavy cream in a pan until its hot just before the boiling point. Just as you see bubble about to break the surface, remove immediately from the heat.
– Pour hot milk over chopped chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes. Start from the centre and mix, the chocolate will slowly absorb the liquid and become smooth.
– If there are still chunks of chocolate, I throw my bowl into the microwave at 10-15 second intervals and mix until smooth.
– Sit ganache in a cool place until it is thick and full set before pipping them into your shells.


Assembly:
What you’ll need: Macaron Shells, Ganache filling, piping bag or ziploc bag, Candy eyes (I used Wilton brand), mini chocolate chip cookies (I found mine at Bulk Barn).

1. Pipe a small dollop of ganache to the bottom of one shell, closer to the back of the cookie.
2. Cut a mini chocolate chip cookie in half then stick it on the ganache, making sure part of the cookie hangs off the Macaron shell so it will look like cookie monster is eating the cookie.
3. Pipe the tinniest amount of ganache on the chocolate chip cookie to help the top Macaron shell to stick easier.
4. Put the top on and close the Macaron.
5. Pipe two tiny dots and stick on the candy eyes.
6. And your done!

Give them a try and thanks for reading!

Food Lifestyle

lemonade 3 ways

May 31, 2017

The weather is getting warmer and that means freshly squeezed everything in this house, oranges, limes, lemons. You name it! Nothing really speaks of summer quite like a glass of fresh lemonade. Here are three varieties. Three ways to spruce up your lemonade. Fresh is always best, however if you are in a rush or making a large batch for a party, I’ve used powdered mix before as my base. Hey, I’m a mom of twins, sometimes I need the shortcut! Continue Reading

Lifestyle Motherhood

6 toddler wardrobe pieces i love

May 23, 2017

Some lovely people have commented saying my children are stylish. Albeit very flattering, its not as complicated as people might think. I don’t spend much time “styling” them, we keep a pretty basic, mostly neutral wardrobe which makes matching easier.

Here are my top 6 items I’ve purchase over and over. Continue Reading

Confessions Motherhood

much to be grateful for.

May 18, 2017

Parenthood. It’s never easy. Young children will undoubtedly strain a relationship. People never say that because it doesn’t sound pretty. It’s not politically correct to say children are the cause of discourse in a marriage. Children are supposed to be the light of your life, a blessing. And they are. But the truth is, children change your reality, as they should. It’s life altering and comes with many bumps, learning curves and loads of disagreement. When severe exhaustion hits, in the wee hours of the morning with two screaming newborns, you’ll fight. Trust me, sanity starts slipping when you don’t sleep. You’ll fight over how to load a diaper genie and ask redundant questions like “why are they not sleeping?!” and everything your spouse does at that point will annoy every nerve in your body. I’m surprised me and Steve made it. But we did. Continue Reading

Food

beef kabob marinade

May 15, 2017

The kitchen is not my husband’s area of expertise. He has difficulty making instant noodles. They’re instant, all you need to do is add water. I don’t understand either. But this mother’s day, he ventured into relatively unknown territory. He decided to be the best husband ever, refused to let me do anything on the day. I admit I had the take out menus ready on standby justttt in case something went awry and we needed dinner fast. To my surprise, I never needed to use them!

He made these to die for beef kabobs that had our whole family clamouring for more. Sure he had to ask me what measuring cups were, where we kept our soy sauce and now to cut an onion… But other than that, he knocked my socks off with this dish. This man can do whatever it is he puts his mind to — and then beat anyone at it!He cut up cubes of sirloin steak, marinaded the meat, along with all the vegetables for the better part of half a day. Skewered them up and grilled on the BBQ for 10-15 minutes. Because of the lemon juice, it gives a good tangy note to the beef, which to me was unusual in a beef marinade. But it was so good!

He modified a version of this All Recipes Recipe

Marinade Recipe
1/3 cup grape seed oil (or use Veg. Oil)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice (he juiced two lemons)
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
He omitted the worcestershire from the original recipe because we didn’t have any on hand.

– Whisk all together, combine marinade, meat, and veggies into a plastic bag to coat.

– This marinade is good for about 1.5-2 lbs of meat. We used sirloin steaks cut into cubes. You can put whatever you want on your skewer. He used mushrooms, red and yellow bell pepper, white onion. We marinaded all the vegetables with the beef before skewering everything up.
Some other good skewer options are: pineapple, zuchhini, bacon slices, eggplant.

I might have to re make these for father’s day, hopefully I’ll do a good job or I’ll hear about it for the rest of my days. 😉

Enjoy and hopefully everyone had an amazing Mother’s Day!

Food Lifestyle

strawberry shortcake

May 11, 2017

Summer may not be here yet but that’s not going to stop me from making summery desserts! Are you a strawberry shortcake cake kind of person or a strawberry shortcake biscuit kind of person? I am most definitely the latter. I prefer a biscuit construction for the base of this dessert. Slightly dense, crumbly, with a crunchy top. For those who like strawberry shortcake cake, I have included a link to a recipe I love for that down at the end. But this one here is my favorite recipe for strawberry, biscuity (not a word) goodness! Continue Reading

Lifestyle Motherhood

new mom & baby gift basket

May 9, 2017

Before having children of my own, I would buy the typical stuffed animal or a cute nursery decor item for a new baby. After having children, I realize how unpractical and kind of useless (sorry! >_<) stuffed animals are. When the boys were born, a girlfriend of mine assembled a basket filled with practical items most people wouldn’t think to give. Things like infant Tylenol and diaper rash cream. When you have a newborn, its incredibly overwhelming, there are a million products geared towards babies and a million brands that make them. It’s nice to have someone with experience buy items to give you a starting point and the new mom can slowly take her time and figure out which exact things she prefers for her own child. Continue Reading