#SCBDFavorite: Quality Italian at Cafe Luna in Old Bridge, NJ!

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As I mentioned in my 10th Ave Burrito piece earlier, I’ve been taking a few short & long trips home this month. On one of my short trips home when I was there for basically a day, my mom decided to take me and her boyfriend out to a late lunch. I was craving a tartare (I still am) and really wanted to go to a nice, restaurant that wasn’t a typical bar. Nick, my mom’s boyfriend suggested we go to Cafe Luna in Old Bridge, since he heard tons of great things about it. I checked out the menu, which looked amazing so we did.

Cafe Luna has a great location and is right off Route 9 North, the dining room is spacious and seats were comfortable.Our waiter greeted us and took our drink order. I ordered the sangria, which was good and had tons of flavor. Since we were hungry we decided to order appetizers, we ordered the bruschetta and calamari (on bottom of pic below).

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The calamari (pictured above) was delicious, not as crispy as I’d prefer but it still had good  flavor and breading. The bruschetta was delicious: fresh tomatoes and onions on big pieces of crostini, it hit the spot. For an entree I got the Filetto di Pomodoro (middle), my mom, Arlene got the Anneletti (left), and her boyfriend Nick got the Linguine Nere (right). We all enjoyed our meals and had some leftovers, but they were pretty filling. I really like that Cafe Luna makes their own pasta, which is a rare find in restaurants in that area.

16510_10151263599230588_586002293_nOf course, our meal would not be complete without dessert. We decided to try their homemade tiramisu which was delicious. It had just enough alcohol flavor in it, and it was so light, one of the lightest I’ve had. Heck, I’d go back just for that with cappucino.

Next, time your in the Monmouth County area and looking for homemade Italian I highly recommend Cafe Luna in Old Bridge, NJ!

Buon Apetito!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

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SCBD’s Boyfriend #Budget #Friendly Recipes: Jay’s Big Deal Small Chic-ken Recipe

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My boyfriend & home chef, Jason!

Hey readers, it’s me Sara the founder of SCBD! So, I love the fact that my boyfriend Jason is a foodie like me! Weekends are always fun whether we are going out checking out a new spot or we’re cooking together. When we’re not cooking together, him and I take turns on who cooks. So every time he cooks I know I’m in for a treat and I love it, he’s my chef! He’s really good at cooking hearty, budget-friendly recipes. This weekend, along with many other delicious dishes he made this awesome chicken, better known as Jay’s Big Deal Small Chic-ken. He wanted me to share his awesome recipe with you all. I’m sure you will love it too!

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Jay’s Big Deal Small Chic-ken

–INGREDIENTS-

  • 1 chicken (halved)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 3 Tbs. Fresh rosemary (chopped)
  • 1 lemon zest (shavings of 1 whole lemon skin)
  • 1 whole lemon (squeezed)
  • 1-3 garlic cloves (chopped) and according to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup oil

   For heat add Jalapenos or crushed red pepper according to taste

Top Pic- The finished productLeft- MarinatingRight- When it came out of the oven

Top Pic- The finished product
Left- Marinating
Right- When it came out of the oven

–STEPS–

  1. Place halved chicken open side down in pan (be sure you buy a whole chicken and have it halved but NOT separated into two different pieces).
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken. 
  3. Combine cilantro, parsley, rosemary, lemon zest, lemon, garlic, salt,  pepper, and oil to make the marinade.
  4. Once all ingredients are mixed, spread/pour marinade over top of the chicken (it is recommended that it marinate for 24-hours).

–COOKING–

(Recommended) 

  1. Turn grill on to medium-high heat.
  2. Place chicken open side down on grill for 15-20 minutes. (Do not dump marinade over top as it will cause your chicken to flame up.)
  3. GENTLY BASE THE CHICKEN WITH A BRUSH!
  4. Flip over and grill for another 15-20 minutes and your done!! 
  5. Let cool and enjoy!

OR

(Baking) “A healthier option!”

  1. Pre-heat oven to 415 degrees
  2. Place chicken in pan with marinade into oven for about 45 minutes or until a golden brown.
  3. Remove! Cool and enjoy!!!
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Our leftovers, even better the next day!

The recipe is definitely one of my new favorites and I hope he makes it again! The marinade is so delicious and compliments it so well! That’s the basic recipe but you can add cut red potatoes to the pan (in picture above) that make a great side & complete the meal! A huge plus is that you’ll definitely have leftovers to eat the next day, if they last that long!

Look out for more of Jason’s and my recipes up on the blog, as he has more to share with you and I’ll be taken pictures as always next time he cooks! 🙂

Stay tuned for more of SCBD’s Boyfriend #Budget #Friendly Recipes!

Happy Eating!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

Homemade Vegan No-Bake “Thin Mints”

As much as I love eating out, I hate not knowing exactly what ingredients are used in a recipe.  It’s a weird quirk of mine and most likely the reason that I love making food at home.  That being said, it was only a matter of time that I made my own Thin Mints.  I can’t afford to purchase enough Thin Mints to last me until the next Girl Scout Cookie season, so I am excited to have this insanely easy recipe in my book.  If you like Thin Mints, you’ll like these!

Note: Although I am not Vegan myself, I did quite a bit of research on the ingredients to be absolutely positive that they are Vegan.  Ritz Crackers? Who knew!

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Ingredients

  • 1 box Ritz Crackers
  • 1 package Ghiradelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tbsp Crisco All Vegetable Shortening
  • 1.5 tsp peppermint extract

Instructions:

  1. Put your chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl with the crisco and microwave until melted.  Mix well.
  2. Add in the peppermint extract.  Taste the mix to be sure it’s enough, and if you want it even more minty, add some.  Just be careful that you don’t add TOO much or your cookies will taste like mouthwash.
  3. Dunk your Ritz Crackers into the chocolate until they’re completely covered.  Lay them out on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil.  Once you have a whole tray filled up, stick them in the fridge to harden up. The Ritz Cracker turns into a cookie once it firms up! 
  4. After the chocolate is firm, I placed all the cookies into a tupperware container and threw them in the freezer for easy storage.

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For St. Patty’s day, I am planning on making some Thin Mints with green sprinkles on top for a fun addition.

What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?

#SCBDExclusive: Behind The Scenes & Lunch at DBGB Kitchen & Bar

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A saying I’ve learned to live by and well have always lived by is: when a good opportunity comes around, you should take it. Well almost two weeks ago, I was invited to go see the prep kitchen and get a behind the scenes look to the charcuterie and pastry program to Daniel Boulud‘s restaurants in New York City. I was invited to go with a guest so, SCBD team member Kelsey Jelling came with me. We could not put down this once in a lifetime opportunity and it was definitely a day to remember.

When we arrived to the prep kitchen in the East Village we were greeted by Lauren, who does the pr for all of the Daniel Boulud restaurants in the city. We were welcomed to enjoy some complimentary coffee & pastries before our tour began. I made sure I tried a croissant and some coffee and it did not disappoint. I was ready for the tour to begin.

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Our tour began by seeing where all the breads are made and packaged including making our own baguettes (which was the best baguette I ever tasted thus far). We also where the pastries are made and maintained before the charcuterie part of our class began. I was definitely starting to crave all the sweets I was seeing.

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Next, it was time to see the charcuterie department. We started off by seeing where some of the casing was done but then we went into the ‘cold’ room where all the important stuff goes down. We saw a how they make their famous rilette which we also got try and it was a delicious! A rilette is a mix of braised pork shank that was slow cooked for 48 hours, roasted vegetables, oil and seasonings.

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After we finished with the charcuterie part of the class, it was time for my favorite part, our lunch on the house at DBGB Kitchen and Bar. I’ve heard so many great things about Daniel Boulud‘s cooking and after attending the class I knew what I wanted to try. We started off with cocktails, since Kelsey and I both liked fruity cocktails, our waiter recommended The Dicken’s which was fruity with a bit of spice but was delicious and I’d definitely get it again.

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While we were looking over the menu and picking out our appetizers, we also got to meet Daniel Boulud, we were so in awe we didn’t take a picture with him but it was surely an honor. For my appetizer, I  tried the Fried Egg and Wild Mushroom Appetizer which was delicious and creamy, it was a perfect balance of egg and mushrooms. I decided to try the famous DBGD Dog, especially after learning about how all their hot dogs & sausages are made in-house, I was crazy not to! It certainly did not disappoint and was served with some delicious homemade fries. We also got a complimentary sausage de jamon sent from the kitchen, which was great!

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The Chocolate Only Cake

We were getting so full, but could not turn down dessert so I decided to get the ‘Chocolate Only’ Cake which is by far the lightest, most heavenly piece of chocolate cake I’ve ever had. It was a fun-filled, food day that I would never forget and I would love to come back and eat at DBGB Kitchen and Bar again!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

These Are a Few of Katrina’s Favorite Things…

Like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, I happen to fancy the art of baking. I get my jollies by going to the local grocery store and taking my time walking up and down the isles, until I find the best deals for the best brands of fresh food. I am not a big fan of processed food (or “crap” as Jillian Michael’s calls it), so to me, I like to bake and cook from scratch most of the time. While others see nothing wrong with buying cookies and cupcakes, I prefer to bake them myself.

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I started baking back when I was about 10 years old; after I checked out the All American Girl Cookbook from my local library. I immediately wanted to try Samantha’s Blueberry Muffins and Felicity’s Scones…you catch my drift. And there I was…not even a teenager, but I was washing fresh blueberries, sifting flour, and cracking eggs in a bowl. To this day, I LOVE to bake. I love the feeling of patting the homemade crust on the top of an apple pie, or sprinkling sugar into chocolate chip cookie dough. The smell that floats through the air as my banana nut bread bakes is one that not only makes my family all hover around the kitchen, but makes me eager to try a piece too.

Tonight after working a full day in the office, I came home and baked. And baked. And baked. I have a function the next evening and promised I would bake, so I did! chocolate chip-walnut cookies, Banana Walnut bread, and an apple pie. Yes, call me crazy, but it was fun! Although time-consuming, I enjoyed it and my treats look decadent and are just waiting to be gobbled up.

Pappardelle Pasta with Lamb Ragu {Perfect for Valentine’s Day Dinner!}

Hey readers! I’m Elizabeth, your new culinary contributor. I’m a Hamilton College and French Culinary Institute graduate, and a longtime NJ resident. Even with my highbrow culinary education, I still enjoy a bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese and a slice of Funfetti cake as much as the next food lover (my French chefs would cringe!). You’ll find me sampling and creating all kinds of food from all types of cuisines; cooking, baking, cocktail shaking – the works. I also write healthy living recipes for insurance companies; so I’ve got lots of gluten-free, dairy-free, and veggie-laden recipes in my repertoire. I love traveling, spicy food, farmer’s markets, champagne, and throwing dinner parties for friends and family.

This Valentine’s Day, why not forgo the expensive pre-fix menu and overcrowded restaurant in favor of a delicious dinner at home. This pappardelle pasta with lamb ragu comes together quickly and makes your kitchen smell delicious. Its light on your wallet but still packs big gourmet flavors to celebrate the night. Serve with a green salad and red wine, and you’ll be sure to please!

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb (you can use ground beef in a pinch)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in puree
  • 3/4 pound pappardelle (get fresh pasta if you can)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

  1. In a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and the onion and cook over medium heat, five minutes or until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and cook for a minute more.
  2. Next, add the lamb, parsley, fennel, cinnamon, rosemary and thyme. Cook for five minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and the wine and cook until mostly evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their puree, and bring everything to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low, cover your pan partially and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, 25 to 30 minutes. If your ragu gets over-reduced, add a splash of chicken stock to thin it out again. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, per package directions. Save 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce, along with the butter and toss over low heat. Thin the ragu with a splash of the pasta water if needed. Serve the pasta and ragu in bowls, topped with a scoop of the ricotta and a sprinkling of the chopped mint.

As a bonus- toast the night with a festive fizzy cocktail. Pick budget friendly Prosecco over pricey champagne, and mix it with 1-tablespoon pomegranate juice per glass. Serve in champagne flutes with a squeeze of lime juice and enjoy!

#SCBD ‘Spiked’ Adult Chocolate Milk Recipe

Ever have one of those days when you need a nightcap? Bailey’s Irish Cream has to be one of my favorite liquors, it’s flavorful, creamy and can be used in many cocktails & desserts. It can also be used in cocktails like spiked chocolate milk.

Adult Chocolate Milk

Here’s my recipe for simple yet delicious ‘spiked’ adult chocolate milk…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Milk of choice (you may need more or less depending on your glass size)
  • 1 shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 teaspoon of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

Instructions:

  1. In a glass of your choice pour milk, shot of Bailey’s, & chocolate syrup.
  2. If you have a stirrer, stir to your liking if not use a spoon and mix it together so it looks like chocolate milk. Feel free to use or more less chocolate syrup and Bailey’s depending on how strong & chocolate tasting you like it.
  3. Once it’s the way you like it– sip & enjoy!

This recipe is so simple and delicious, perfect for dessert or a nightcap. Next time you think of buying a bottle of Adult Chocolate Milk, think again, the recipe is simple and only requires three ingredients!

Cheers!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited