D and I are on a budget because we:

a) are both actors (that you’ve never heard of)

b) don’t have trust funds

c) sometimes don’t have jobs

Many of our friends and family members who live elsewhere often wonder how we can afford to eat here; a place where The Olive Garden is crazy expensive and a box of cereal goes for 6+ dollars. I tell them how I believe that NYC has to be one of the easiest places to eat on a budget. Whether you live here or you’re coming to visit and want to save some cash, I hope you find something helpful here. These are a few ways that we manage to do some good eatin’ on the cheap:

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No-Mayo Potato Salad

July 10, 2011

My oven died last week while roasting the potatoes for this salad. I should probably go ahead and get that fixed. Clearly, there hasn’t been any baking going on around here. For this salad, roasted potatoes aren’t even required; I think it’s just as tasty when you simply boil the potatoes. My sister shared this recipe with me a few months ago and I’ve made it several times now.  It’s an easy, fresh and light alternative to your typical mayo-based potato salads and it makes a great summer side dish.

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Happy 4th!

July 4, 2011

I’ve had a rough week in the kitchen. I made some chocolate sandwich cookies (homemade Oreos) that tasted like salt. I ruined a perfectly good pound of fresh strawberries by turning them into dense, soggy cupcakes. And then I brought them to a party because I just couldn’t bring myself to buy something after all of that effort. At least they looked pretty (although I don’t have any photographic evidence to support this). Tonight I’m going to a cookout. After looking dozens of flag-cake pictures, I settled on a berry tart, an apple pie (super American, right?) and some patriotic potato salad. Here’s a preview (recipes to follow):

Red, white and blue potatoes! They were just begging to be turned into a 4th of July side. If we want to get technical, the potatoes were actually purple hued…but whatever.

Patriotic berries.

I love this apple pie recipe. I’ve made it several times, but this is the first time I made my own lattice crust. When I opened the oven to bake it up, I realized that my oven was dead. Arrrgggh! Bad timing, oven. I’ll just have to tote it to Brooklyn and bake it up in my friend’s kitchen.

I hope you’ve had a relaxing and festive holiday and that your baking adventures are going better than mine.

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An Easy Strawberry Tart

June 24, 2011

I’ve kind of dropped the ball on my blog posting lately. The truth is, I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. As we move into summer, I’ll be doing less baking and more ice cream churning, popsicle freezing and salad assembling. I’ll also be checking out new places to grab a cheap bite and exploring new food trucks/carts and al fresco dining spots. Thus far, the focus of my blog has been on recipes and home cooking. As much as I enjoy creating things in my little kitchen,  I’m just as passionate about trying all of the other amazing eats that this city has to offer (on a budget, course). Before I launched this blog, I had intentions of including a “favorite places/things to eat” section but I didn’t get around to it because generating content for the recipe portion was much more time consuming than I’d anticipated. While I’ll still continue to share recipes, I plan on expanding this site to include more “out and about” eating adventures…so expect new and (hopefully) exciting content in the coming weeks!  Annnnd now onto the tart:

I decided to make this tart after scoring a few pounds of strawberries for around two dollars…what a deal! A tart seemed like an easy and delicious way to use up a bunch of strawberries that were hours away from biting the dust. After I failed to locate a recipe that looked simple enough for my lazy mood, I created this one. I thought it was awesome enough to share and I’ll be making it again.

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Two years ago today I was at the River Palm Cottages and Fish Camp in Jensen Beach FL. I woke up the morning of June 13th and frosted five dozen red velvet cupcakes that I’d made the night before (with the generous help of family and friends). A few hours later, I put on a big white gown and married my best friend (this would be D). Best day ever.

To prepare for the creation of my homemade cupcake-wedding cake, I baked up countless batches of red velvet batter in an attempt to replicate one of my favorite versions of this vibrant/southern/odd/somewhat mysterious and much debated cake recipe. I wanted my cupcakes to taste just like Amy’s Bread’s red velvet cake…and while they didn’t end up being dead-on, they were close enough.

I haven’t had the desire to make red velvet for two years (although I’m happy to eat it if someone else makes it). I became red velveted out the summer of 2009. I briefly considered making one in honor of our 2 year anniversary, but truth is-I just don’t feel like it. As a matter of fact, I haven’t been in much of a baking mood at all lately. It’s hot out there and I don’t want to turn on the stove. I’m all about salads and recipes with minimal ingredients these days…which brings me to these cookies.

There are 3 ingredients. They taste great. I needed something to take to a last minute Tony Awards-watching party last night and these did the trick. Today I made some more because I had some leftover ingredients and I wanted to play around with the recipe. Along with these flourless peanut butter cookies (which I also brought last night), these are the easiest and fastest cookies, ever. You do have to turn on the oven to make them, but only for 20 minutes or so.

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Blackberry Pie Bars

June 7, 2011

This recipe is all over the food-blogosphere. I spotted it while back and had been waiting for the right occasion to make them. A cookout invite and a sale on fresh blackberries were perfect excuses to whip up some of these tasty bars, which I’d describe as a cross between a cake, a cobbler and a fat, chewy cookie. Although I love a fresh berry pie in the summer, the portable shape of these guys makes them easier to transport and serve/share.

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Hummingbird Cake

June 2, 2011

This cake was the result of my first cake-baking attempt. Well…sort of.  I’d made cupcakes and sheet cakes but I’d never baked and assembled the real deal: a big ol’ layer cake. D’s birthday was last week, and since he’d mentioned how much he loved the Monkey Cake from Amy’s Bread I decided to make him my own awesome version; only I didn’t have time to run downtown and pick up a copy of their book (couldn’t find it elsewhere) so I settled for a hummingbird cake (because it’s pretty much the same thing). I tromped around in the rain in search of pans, pecans and ripe bananas (I’m not such a great planner) and got to work.  If you’re not familiar, a hummingbird cake is basically a banana spice cake containing pecans and pineapple pieces and covered in cream cheese frosting. It’s reminiscent of carrot cake. Apparently, this is the most requested recipe in the history of Southern Living magazine and I can see why. This cake was incredible! It was also pretty easy to make. The birthday boy was a big fan (as was everyone else who tried it).

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This banana pudding is very special. It’s D’s mom’s banana pudding and it’s pretty famous (in our world, at least). Throughout the years, it has showed up (and been devoured) at countless parties, family gatherings and important life events. It is insanely good and I think it’s about time that you know how to make it. It will help you make new friends. People will think that you can do magical things in the kitchen. You don’t even have to tell them how naughty it is or how easy it is to make. As far as I know, I’ve never proclaimed anything on this blog to be the “best ever” but here I go: this is the best banana pudding, ever.

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Homemade Froyo

May 26, 2011

This is frozen yogurt that tastes like real yogurt; it’s a little tart and very different from the sweet TCBY-style treat that frozen yogurt is often associated with. The first time I had this natural style yogurt (which apparently originated in Korea) was in the form of Pinkberry, a popular chain that has expanded  to locations all over the country since its 2005 debut. For me (and many others) it was love at first bite. I was instantly addicted to this tangy, overpriced concoction. It was a great novelty at the time, and I would dole out way too much money for it on a regular basis. My obsession lead me to seek out alternatives such as Red Mango, 16 Handles, Yogurtland, and 40 Carrots. Over the years, more and more froyo joints have popped up and I’m able to pass them up more easily these days. Since they’re over the place now, I suppose that the novelty is gone…plus it’s sooo expensive. What I’m wondering now is…why?

It’s so easy to make. You need: an ice cream maker (mine was around 40 bucks with a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon), some Greek yogurt and a little bit of sugar. That’s it. I was both thrilled and peeved to learn this. I could have saved so much money if I’d had this knowledge 5 years ago!

I’ll be eating loads of homemade froyo over the summer.

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I spent my supposed last day on earth eating a ridiculous quantity of these chocolate chip cookies. I ate one for breakfast and from there I just couldn’t stop.

Guys…we’re still here. Phew.

Earthquakes, floods and zombies would have prevented me from trying out my new ice cream maker (among other things), and that would have sucked. I celebrated humankind’s good fortune by eating some more cookies.

To me, this recipe produces a chocolate chip cookie that is everything I want one to be: thick, buttery and crispy around the edges but chewy in the middle…pretty perfect if you ask me. As a bonus, these are a cinch to make. If you don’t have a fabulous chocolate chip cookie in your repetoire, definitely try this one out. If you aren’t the baking sort…you should find someone to make these for you.

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