Happy Valentine’s Day from #SCBD Team!

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The #SCBDAnniversary Dinner at Sotto 13, NYC

Last Friday, I met up with two of the SCBD team members at Sotto 13 in NYC to celebrate the anniversary. Sotto 13 is an ideal space for a night out with the girls or for an intimate date. Everything at the restaurant is meant to be shared whether it be one of their artisanal pizzas or crostini. They also have an awesome cocktail program with a great and affordable wine list.

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In order: Jessica, Sara Monica (Founder of SCBD), and Tiffany of SCBD at Sotto 13!

I started off with glass of wine and chose the ‘1’ Argentinian Malbec that they offer while I waited for the team to arrive. Once everyone was settled in, had a glass of water, and a cocktail of choice on hand we were ready to order our tapas. After finishing my wine I decided to try their signature Acai-Lychee Martini which was perfect!  We started off with the Ricotta, Lemon, and Truffle Honey Crostini and the Wild Mushroom PIzza. I was really impressed with both of those. We were unsure what to get next so the manager decided to send out crowd favorites which included the Crispy Shoe String Zucchini, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Rosemary Thyme & Garlic Shrimp, and Fennel Sausage & Roasted Pepper. My favorites were the shrimp, pizza, and the crostini. They all had a great amount of flavor and were perfect shareable servings.

Just when I thought I couldn’t hold anymore we were asked if we wanted dessert. Since it was the anniversary dinner we figured why not, so they sent us out this very, rich chocolate dessert which was delicious but a bit too rich for my taste and cream puffs which were my favorite.

If you are looking for a hot, modern, and innovative date spot then Sotto 13 is the place for you. It was perfect for our celebration and I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

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That was just what I thought but here is what Tiffany and Jessica point of views of our team anniversary dinner…

Tiffany’s POV:

The amount of flavor in every dish was continuous while visiting Sotto 13. From my initial cocktail to the Wild Mushroom pizza that we ordered, the flavor just kept coming. The Wild Mushroom pizza made me a believer in Sotto 13 because I am not a huge mushroom person due to my preference with texture, but their touch on mushrooms in this pizza was a winner! I was amazed in how flavorful the pizza was and even had a second slice. Now that I’ve gushed about the flavor of the food, lets talk aesthetics. Sotto 13 is nothing like your “mom and pop” eatery. In fact, the decor was very modern and perfect for a New York location. From the outside, the touch of a red awning doesn’t fully prepare you for the beauty inside. The use of details shows in the decor of the restaurant as their were cracks in their walls, a mix of booths and expandable wooden tables. As a New Yorker who appreciates a traditional “mom and pop” location, a part of adores a well decorated locale with non expensive prices. This restaurant would be ideal for a night out on the town with your gals or guys, friends or date. The tone is intimate and inviting and the flavors will keep you yearning for more!

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Jessica’s POV:

What a great night out with the team of SCBD!  We were all happy to celebrate the one year anniversary of the blog and we’re excited about what the next year will bring!  Sotto 13 was a great place to celebrate with its unique atmosphere and menu!

The restaurant is separated into 2 main sections with a bar and some seating in the front, and a bigger dining room in the back.  One of the highlights of the design is a huge skylight over the dining room, which only adds to the tasteful and modern interior design.

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Sotto 13 serves tapas and pizza family style – which means everyone gets to try a little of everything!  Family style dining can pose some issues for a vegetarian dining amongst meat eating friends, but Sotto 13 had a great variety of meat free dishes that everyone wanted to try!  My personal favorite was the Ricotta, Lemon, & Truffle Honey Crostini.  They didn’t stay on our plates very long!  Another favorite was the Crispy Shoestring Zucchini which was served with a sliced lemon to squeeze on the zucchini.  The lemon gave the zucchini that extra punch of flavor making them hard to resist.  I was a little more hesitant to try the Roasted Brussels Sprouts, but I was pleasantly surprised.  They were browned to perfection making them much more appealing than your usual Brussels Sprouts!  And last but certainly not least I sampled the Wild Mushroom pizza.  You can’t go wrong with this selection!  The mushrooms are cut up finely, so if you are not a fan of the texture of mushrooms, you may like this pizza more than you think! We finished up our celebration with a sampling of Sotto 13‘s desserts.  I really enjoyed the cream puffs which were light, airy, and not too sweet – this blogger’s favorite kind of dessert!

I will definitely visit Sotto 13 again – whether it’s for another SCBD event, or with my own family and friends.

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*Disclaimer: The PR team paid for part of our meal. We were not required to write about these experiences and my opinions are our own and unbiased.*

Happy 1st Anniversary Small Chick Big Deals!

1 year anniversary note

 

Looking back I cannot be happier than I am today with the decision and commitment I made to post weekly from this day last year on to Small Chick Big Deals. I’ve had the opportunity to meet, speak & interview my idols in the food world, share some recipes, reviews of the latest and greatest restaurants that won’t break your budget in the tri-state area and have opportunities many people my age, could only imagine. I am also so thankful and incredibly proud of the team I was able to take on this journey with me this year. Of course, my biggest thanks to all my readers near and far– SCBD wouldn’t be as successful as it is today without your continued support and viewership!

I am looking forward to your tweets @smchickbigdeals with your favorite posts with the hashtag #SCBDAnniversary today!!

Cheers to a great one year anniversary, what 2013 has in store for #SCBD and many more!

Crazy for Yonanas!

photo credit: unclutterer.com

Say bye-bye to Red Mango, 16 Handles, and PinkBerry, there’s a new froyo in town and you don’t have to leave home to get it. Introducing Yonanas, a do-it-yourself ice cream maker. Using frozen, overripe bananas, you can make your own soft serve ice cream…and best of all, it’s healthy! I just got one of these and it’s amazing. Pick any or all of your favorite fruits, add them into the Yonanas, and out comes ice cream! You can even add chocolate for some extra oomph. AND it barely takes up space on your counter.

photo credit: yonanas.com

This is the best way to curb your dessert cravings by having a dessert that is actually 100% fruit. If you don’t want to use bananas, you’ll get a refreshing sorbet. One of my favorite aspects of this kitchen gadget is that whenever I buy bananas, I am always left with one or two that are too brown and bruised to eat. Now I can just throw them in my Yonanas and out comes ice cream and I’m not wasting money. It even comes with recipes you can use to make the most delicious flavors…from pineapple mango, to mint chocolate chip, and even apple maple walnut. You can purchase a Yonanas for $49.99 here. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, you’ll love this machine.

See the video to how it works, here.

What the #SCBDTeam is Thankful for…

What are you thankful for?

This year more than ever I have so much to be thankful for, so does my team. After surviving Sandy about three weeks ago, things have really come into perspective for us. On that note, here is what the SCBD team & I are thankful for.

“I am thankful for, my family and friends, seeing my family on Thanksgiving, my job and getting to meet many interesting people through it, NYTimes bestsellers list, living in nyc and alcohol.”- Amanda Mactas

“There is so much to be thankful for. First and foremost, I’m thankful for my friends and family.  They have given me the inspiration and drive that has led me to where I am today. For those that have told me “no”, I am thankful for those breaks in my heart. They have made me stronger.  I am thankful for the opportunities that I have been given and to call NYC my home.  For each day that I have lived and those days that are awaiting my embrace, I am thankful.” – Julianna Bilton
“Electricity! After having NO power for a week post Sandy, I realized how often we take the invention of electricity for granted.” – Lia Giachino
“I am thankful for my friends, family, and food.” – Kelsey Jelling
“I am thankful for my amazing boyfriend, friends, and family.” – Jill Rosenfeld
“I am thankful for my family, friends and the great food we share together.” – Dawnmarie Birch Tranni
“This thanksgiving I am especially thankful for life. As weird as that may seem, I have grown such an appreciation for life’s journey this past year. Life is accompanied by the joys of  experiencing love, happiness and even sadness and though each of those moments have their own way of leaving lasting imprints in our lives, it’s especially remarkable that each instance can become greater than the last. In addition to my being grateful for life, I am also grateful for any and all things received tomorrow, specifically food as my appetite has grown this past week with the aroma of stuffing and oven roasted turkey running through my apartment.”  – Tiffany Salisha
“I am incredibly thankful this year. I am thankful for my team of supporters: my boyfriend Jason, my parents & sister, my family & friends. I am also thankful for my SCBD team who are taking this ride with me! I promise it will be fun and filled with tons of food! I am thankful for my job, I continue to learn more and more everyday from it. I am also thankful for all my readers, SCBD wouldn’t keep going if it wasn’t for you. I am also thankful for all my foodie friends I have met this past year– you guys rock and are a blessing to have in my life. Last, I am thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had this year, good health and the simple things, that keep me humble.”- Sara Monica, Founder of SCBD
On behalf of the entire SCBD team and I we’d like to wish you all a happy & healthy Thanksgiving!!! Have a great time & don’t forget to dig in! 🙂

The Lost Holiday: Thanksgiving and Traditions

It seems that every year when the Holidays roll around we start the season off with eerie Halloween decorations followed directly by Santa, his elves and Christmas wreathes through out our towns, but what about the turkeys and the pilgrims?! It feels like with each year the Thanksgiving holiday and all of its meaningful traditions die a little more, it has grown to become somewhat of a lost holiday. I’ve even noticed this year that it seems black Friday has gained more attention with airtime on TV and in commercials than Thanksgiving has!

I would say that this year, especially in light of Sandy and the snowstorm that followed, we have A LOT to be thankful for. Thanksgiving happens to be one of my favorite holidays and there are a lot of traditions in my family that have not yet been ‘lost’ like the Holiday feels it has been.

I hope that in sharing some traditions we celebrate during our Thanksgiving everyone will remember to appreciate all of their own and truly celebrate everything we have to be thankful for!

‘Italian Wedding Soup’

In all of my 22 years we have never had a Thanksgiving without it and it’s absolutely delicious! It started with my great grandparents and now four generations later my cousins and I have helped in keeping the tradition alive. We make everything from scratch, starting with the tiny hand rolled meatballs right down to the vegetable infused chicken broth. We usually get together a few days before Thanksgiving to start prepping, here are some pictures from this weekend while we were making the meatballs for Thursday’s batch of soup!

We have about 18 people coming for dinner this year so we made way more meatballs than if it was just for one of our Sunday dinners. The average recipe for our homemade meatballs includes:

-2 lb. ground beef

– 2 large Spanish onions (finely chopped)

– 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)

– 1 Egg (beaten)

– ½ loaf of day old bread (soaked in water)

– 1 bunch fresh flat Italian parsley

– 1 c. Parmesan & 1 c. Locatelli Cheese

– Salt/Pepper/Italian Seasoning (to taste)

First sauté the onions in olive oil adding the garlic once the onions start to brown. Set aside and puree the soaked bread for a few minutes in the food processor (or any other device you have to get the job done!). Finally, add the onions and bread along with all other spices and seasoning to the meat and mix.

Once everything has been blended together, fry a few in a pan with olive oil for a taste test incase you need to add anything else before cooking them all.

Once we know they taste amazing, we roll alllll of the mixture in to small balls before pre-cooking them in a simple chicken broth.

They sit and boil for few minutes and are then stored in the freezer until Thursday when they will be added in to the actual soup broth with vegetables to make our traditional Italian Wedding Soup!

Check back after Thanksgiving to see the complete and finished product!

Another fun tradition we have each year is drinking fabulous wine and listening to the song, ‘Alice’s Restaurant’, at least once during the night. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmyXTOHC3w8

What are you looking most forward to celebrating this year? Take pictures during your Thanksgiving and share with us your favorite holiday recipes and family traditions! Hope that everyone has an awesome Thanksgiving holiday!

Lia Giachino

Hi I’m Lia and I’m a born and raised Jersey Girl from Bergen County. I come from an Italian family, where food is everything, and have been a food lover ever since my first visit to Il Mulino in NYC when I was a mere two months old. My whole life I’ve frequented restaurants in the North Jersey area as well as in Manhattan. I have always enjoyed cooking myself trying recipes passed down from my Nana and mother as well as my own new creations. I recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island with my B.A in Communications/Public Relations with a focus on Social Media Marketing. I have experience in sales and marketing for the food service industry, hotel and hospitality public relations as well as social media marketing and public relations for start-up companies and someday hope to own my own boutique PR firm. When I’m not working I’m usually out in NYC visiting family or on adventures with friends. I love taking pictures, am very passionate about music and often go to live shows, I try to travel when I can and am a huge make-up junkie! Follow me on Twitter @lmgiachino! 

Skuna Bay Salmon Unlike Any Other

I recently attended a dinner at the renowned James Beard House, which featured chef Nicholas Elmi from Pennsylvania’s Rittenhouse Tavern. The James Beard House has adopted Skuna Bay as their official salmon and hosted the elaborate dinner to highlight it, along with other seafood. I was seated with Skuna Bay salmon farmers, as well as representatives from their local distributor, Gotham Seafood. While chatting with these dedicated men, what struck me was their enthusiasm and passion for their trade.

Unlike all other salmon companies, Skuna Bay truly has a personal touch. The craft-raised salmon company based in Vancouver raises their fish in their natural environment – the first year to year and a half in fresh water and a year or two in the ocean. Once the fish are fully grown, only 6% are chosen by the company’s salmon experts to be Skuna Bay salmon. Any fish with blemishes or imperfections are nixed from the mix. But one of the most impressive aspects of this company is that once the fish are packed on ice and boxed, the next person to open that box and touch the fish is the chef who’s going to prepare it. Their philosophy is that if the salmon farmers themselves can have the freshest salmon, why can’t everyone else? Skuna Bay allows its customers to experience that same fresh fish. Furthermore, the salmon is never flown, but driven right to its final destination.

I never imagined the process of cultivating salmon to be quite so meticulous and learned that it was really fascinating to learn about the lengths to which this company goes to ensure quality salmon to their customers. After hearing all about it, I was excited to try it! And luckily, I was not disappointed  Skuna Bay truly was the freshest salmon I have tasted and it was prepared excellently. Some of the best chefs nationwide are using this salmon, including Ed Brown and David Burke. If you want to see for yourself what all of the fuss is about, dine at the James Beard House or any of chef David Burke‘s New York restaurants to try it out! Best of all, right now Chef Burke is donating a portion of the proceeds from all his salmon dishes to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New Jersey. So not only can you eat well, you can do something good for others while you do it!

Amanda Mactas

Amanda originally hails from Connecticut, but has lived in the Big Apple for two years now. She has since scoured the bouroughs for the best food and cocktails she can get her hands on. As a contributor to Joonbug.com, SheckysNightlife.com, and SocietePerrier.com, she has a taste for all that is NYC – whether it be a good restaurant, an awesome cocktail bar, or a unique fashion show. When she is not exploring the city, she can be found reading a good book, cheering for the Yankees, or quoting Harry Potter. You can follow her @NYCNightlife411!