Healthy Home-made Pumpkin Cheesecake

hot off the presses

hot off the presses

I am always on the look-out for healthy alternative desserts. Sometimes I buy chemical-laden products straight off the shelves of a supermarket, but I prefer to create my own. When it comes to calories coming from dessert, I’d like to know where they are coming from and what ingredients are involved. Enter my attempt at a Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Here’s a view of all included items:

Plus some whipped egg-whites:

separate and not equal

separate and not equal

whip it

whip it

After everything is incorporated into one bowl, this is what we’re dealing with:
Without any specific measurements, the final product came out better than expected. It was smooth-ish, but also has a semi-pudding consistency that was best used as a yogurt topping, rather than a slice of pie. You can’t expect the best cheesecake when substitutions are widespread, but this was one of my best efforts – :)

Mythos: authentic hellenic cuisine – Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 4)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

It’s been FAR TOO LONG since I’ve visited my own blog. Attempting to ease back in after my 3 readers demanded a new post. This dates all the way back to November, but since I want to finish this eating series, well……. I am (plus I already have the pictures ready to go.)

On my way to the La Guardia airport, my dad took me to lunch in Flushing for some self-proclaimed ‘authentic’ hellenic cuisine. Hellenic (it’s all Greek to me) food is probably one of my top 2 favorite cuisines (tough match with Japanese) and Mythos had fresh and well-prepared food.

We started with a variety of dips with pita and cucumbers:

eggplant, red pepper, yogurt, fish roe

eggplant, red pepper, yogurt, fish roe

We also shared grilled calamari and octopus – I definitely dominated the octopus portion:

simply grilled with fresh lemon

simply grilled with fresh lemon

And there you have it. Let’s see if I can make this a habit….

Mythos Authentic Greek Cuisine (names vary per review site)

19629 Northern Blvd
Flushing, NY 11358
(718) 357-6596

Would you eat this…Greek delicacies?

Octosquid is still out of town, but let’s give a warm welcome to the next guest blogger, OctoSis (the one who bought macarons, not the one who ate at Mother Kelly’s):

Hi Octosquidlets! Even before this baby blog was born, Octosquid loved to look at pictures of food. So last summer, when OctoBrother-in-Law and I went on our honeymoon in Greece, I made sure to document many of the delectable meals we ate so I could share them with my sister. Today, I will share two of the more unusual ones with you, and it seems appropriate to ask — would you eat this?

The wedding diet is OVER.

The wedding diet is OVER.

On our first night in Athens, OctoBrother-in-Law dove right in and went for a big, juicy octopus. He was kind enough to let me taste it. Like most of the Greek delicacies we would come to know and love, the octopus was prepared simply — grilled with olive oil and seasoned with simple salt, pepper and other spices — to allow the succulence of the octopus meat to shine through.  OctoBrother-in-Law recalls, “It was grilled nicely and was squishy on the inside.  The suction cups were sticky on my tongue, and the olive oil had fresh citrus notes.”  As you can see, it was served over a salad of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

A few Greek islands later, I tried an adventurous meal of my own:

Way too good to be canned.

Way too good to be canned.

We were on the island of Naxos, dining Aegean Sea-side, so seafood was a no-brainer. This lunch of sardines was perfect! Grilled in olive oil and served over a bed of arugula, their flavor was reminiscent of whitefish.  (As any self-respecting New York Jew knows, this is a good thing.)  The fish meat was white in color and flaked easily off of the bone.  The sardines were accompanied with a light vinaigrette and some lemon for the diner to use as desired.  Since the best way to eat these little fishies was to use my hands to pull the meat off the bone, the lemon served an important second purpose of cleaning up my sardine-scented fingers when lunch was over.

Foreign slimy octopus and bony fish that require you to get your hands dirty — would you eat it? (I would. And did!)

Bounty from the Sea

I’m heading out of town for the next week (Florida for pleasure and New York for work). Octosquid must live on during the interim, so please give a warm welcome to the guest bloggers that appear in the coming days. First up, we have Octosquid’s mom!

If you love seafood (and who doesn’t?), and you live near Hewlett, NY, then it’s definitely worth a trip to the Hewlett Fish Market. Here you can find a vast array of both fresh fish and seafood, as well as a plethora of delectable prepared salads, soups, main dishes, and vegetables.
Recently, I purchased some of my favorite “ready-mades” to have for lunch and/or snacking.
The marinated mussels are rich and flavorful – swimming in olive oil, loads of diced garlic, chopped scallions, and a touch of red pepper.

Savory specialty from the sea

Savory specialty from the sea


The calamari salad is a particular favorite. Not only is it chock full of firm calamari rings, but there is always a multitude of yummy tentacles as well. The fish is dressed in a light garlicky vinaigrette, and combined with crunchy celery, sweet red pepper, and black olives.
What more could you want?

What more could you want?


Picking out the best parts


While at the market, I decided to buy some fresh fish for dinner. After vacillating about the many tempting choices, I decided to go with the tried-and-true tilapia (St. Peter’s). At home I concocted a zesty marinade of olive oil, orange juice, ginger, tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. The fish rested and soaked up the marinade for about an hour.

Waiting to be fired


The fish was then grilled, and quickly devoured.

I may not be pretty, but I am delicious!


Hewlett Fish Market has been a mainstay in our family for years – I think it’s clear why!

Beyoglu Lunch: Upper East Side Lunch – Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 3)

Part 1
Part 2

captivated

captivated


Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had a special lunch planned with friends. We met in big, ‘ole New York City, and I had no idea that octopus would be in my future. It wasn’t until I was stared down by the menu item above that my meal fate was sealed.

We went to Beyoglu on Third Avenue and 81st Street; a short walk from their abodes. The waiters are friendly and the atmosphere is casual and laid back. The restaurant achieves it’s goal of transporting the diner into a lively, European meeting place. The decor is adorable, with tiled tabletops and an inviting bar at the entrance. There is some confusion about the type of food that is served at Beyoglu, but not of the quality. Whether you call it Turkish or Greek, the Mediterranean cuisine is top notch.

After sitting together and gabbing for a bit (as girls do), we noticed beautifully large rounds of bread delivered to each table. We instantly decided to share dips to put the bread to good use:

starting off right

starting off right


Just look at that hunk of bread! It was soft and pillowy in the middle, with charred edges and sesame seeds on top. It was the absolute perfect vehicle for the fantastic dips. The hummus was made of chick peas & tahini seasoned w/ cumin & garlic. The portion was large and made for a cozy snack. I can’t seem to find the spinach dip on the online menu, but I remember it the taste well enough. It was chopped spinach topped with homemade yogurt and spices. There was garlic in there, maybe some shallots? We didn’t leave a bite of either one.

While the girls munched on gorgeous, fresh looking salads:

salad one

salad one


salad two

salad two

I opted for a protein-rich salad for myself:

my kinda salad

my kinda salad


Listed as an appetizer on the menu, my main course at lunch was – Ahtapot Salatasi: char-grilled octopus marinated in olive oil & balsamic vinegar. The octopus didn’t exactly show any signs of ‘char’ or ‘grill’ but I have no complaints about the flavor and texture of my 8-legged friend. It was softer than the octopus at the Greek Corner, but that’s just because of the lack of heavy grilling. With a sprinkling of lemon, the small salad was an excellent lunch for me!

Thanks friends, for picking an awesome place :)

Beyoglu on Urbanspoon

Beyoglu
1431 Third Ave.
at 81st St.
New York, NY 10028
212-650-0850

Holiday Gift Idea Confirmed by New York Magazine

ny times macaron pic

Last week I blogged about a wonderful Thanksgiving gift that my sister presented to me. This week, she sent me a New York Magazine article outlining just how great of a gift macarons can be. (you don’t have to convince me of that!)

Check out the article below, and if you want to give your friends and family something special, go with French pastries. You will be loved.

NY Mag Article link

Mother Kelly’s in Cedarhurst – Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 2)

Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 1)


A family owned business with a loyal following, Mother Kelly’s is a five towns restaurant that is never empty. With a huge menu, mainly focused on home-cooked Italian food, there is a dish for anyone who visits. Whenever I travel home, a visit to Mother Kelly’s is usually in the itinerary. The consistently great food makes it a go-to place for everyone who lives within a 5 mile radius.
Time to look at the food, but before we get into the main courses, I would be brain dead if I didn’t mention the complimentary garlic rolls and bean salad every patron receives:

complimentary starters

complimentary starters


The rolls are spiral shaped and filled with garlicky butter and herbs. I pick around the basket for the crispy pieces (like my mom), while my sister and Lauren go for the softer pieces. Regardless of the type you prefer, these rolls are insanely good. It is a near to impossible to refrain from downing the bread basket before the real food comes along. If you have zero will power and are full of garlic bread fear, it’s a good idea to stick with the bean salad. Varying types and colors of beans covered with a vinegar-y dressing make my palate scream in anticipation for a hot meal.

After a few plates of the bean salad and around 10 minutes of deliberation, Lauren and I decided to split a meal. The portions could feed 2-3 people as it is, so I was not worried about going hungry. Here’s what was delivered:

makes me melt

makes me melt


Calamari and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce over spinach (instead of pasta) – there is nothing bad to say about this enormous plate of seafood. Some adjectives that come to mind: homey, comforting, filling, healthy. This dish doesn’t force you to think too hard and that is appreciated – I just tucked into the plate of goodness and finally felt like I was home.

Per usual, I saved the best bites for last – in this case, the calamari tentacle-y pieces:

to me, this is art

to me, this is art

And my sister decided to test out her camera skills with my last beautiful specimen:

squiddie

squiddie

My family ordered envious dishes and I made sure to taste each one:

Mom's shrimpies

Mom's shrimpies


Shrimp marinara over spinach
Quote from mother: “it was an explosion of flavors in my mouth – the shrimp were plump, firm, salty, with just the right amount of fishiness; the marinara sauce was sweet with a touch of basil; the sauteed spinach was delightfully garlicky.” I think she liked it!
steroid clucker

steroid clucker


My sister (lovingly known as Poop) had the chicken francaise – the white meat chicken (or many chickens) had a wonderful meaty texture I don’t often enjoy.
I'm a beautiful chick

I'm a beautiful chick


My stepfather, Ricardo, ordered another chicken dish, but this one was stunningly glazed with a balsamic sauce. I loved this sweet masterpiece – a real knockout.

As if that wasn’t enough food, the Mother Kelly includes a side of spaghetti:

don't ignore me!

don't ignore me!

If you can possibly manage it (and I never can), the desserts look like they are worth a food coma:

this pic does NOT do me justice

this pic does NOT do me justice

Forget the 5 mile radius, if you can get your butt in a seat at Mother Kelley’s……..GO!

Mother Kelly’s
490 Chestnut Street
Cedarhurst, New York 11516
(516) 295-5421