A Gluten-Free Valentines Day: Sugar Cookies

Last year when my boyfriend Luke and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day, I decided I would bake him cookies instead of giving him a gift. Since he loves the Marvel comic book series, I went straight to work in finding a Spider-man cookie how to. Thanks to this tutorial, I was able to re-create his favorite web-slinging superhero fairly easily! This was the result:

spiderman

Since last year was such a yummy success, I decided that every year from now on I would give my boyfriend the gift of cookies along with his Valentine’s Day present! So this year, I decided to bake him sugar cookies again for the big day! Even better – these cookies are gluten-free, so I can have a bite of one if I want to!

For the dough, I used the Wegman’s box recipe but from then on out I channeled my inner Buddy Valastro for the decorating! The cookies say “I love sleepy bears” (that’s my boyfriend’s pet name, I know, cheesy) as well as “Happy Valentines Day, I love you.”

this years cookies

Needless to say, Luke loved them (as expected)! He was also really impressed with my cookie bear!

Here is the recipe straight from the Wegmans box if you want to try them yourself this Valentine’s Day weekend! Let me know if you come up with some cool creative designs for your significant other!

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies(via Wegmans):

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Wegmans Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Mix
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 6 TBSP of Butter
  • Frosting of your choice / Cookie cutters

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In an electric mixer, add 1/2 cup of Wegmans Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix and Butter, stir on medium until dough is crumbly.
  3. Add rest of mix and 1 beaten egg. Stir again until all components are mixed in.
  4. Flatten dough and place it on plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1-1/12 hours.
  5. Take dough out of refrigerator, roll it into balls and separate it onto the cookie sheet, about 1-2 inches apart.
  6. Bake cookies 11-14 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  7. As far as decoration goes, I used the cookie cutters when the cookies were soft after it was cooked. You can use the cookie cutters when the dough is raw and it will have the same effect.
  8. Add frosting and designs.

#New #SCBD Jersey Bites Post-Enjoy A Date Night at Chakra in Paramus


Enjoy A Date Night at Chakra in Paramus (via Jersey Bites)

Before the holidays, I was invited to go to a media dinner at Chakra, a restaurant and lounge located centrally off Route 4, in Paramus. Since Chakra has such a romantic atmosphere, I felt it was only right to bring along my boyfriend, Jason. Chakra, certainly lives up to its romantic reputation with…

Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Cocktails

Valentine’s Day comes but once a year, and when it does, make sure you are prepared to woo your beau. We’ve rounded up some of the most delicious V-Day libations, which are sure to impress whoever you are romancing. We’ve even thrown in a naughty wine that you can try at a NYC hot spot! Check out the list below, whip one up (with love, of course) and have a Valentine’s Day to remember!

Cupid’s Kiss

Cupids Kiss

Cupids Kiss

Served at The 40/40 Club

  • 3oz of D’USSE
  • 1oz watermelon pucker
  • Splash of simple syrup
  • Splash of sour mix
  • Muddled lemon wedges

Shake and serve in martini glass

Pink Cosmo 

Pink Cosmo

Pink Cosmo

Served at Sotto 13

  •  2 oz. Tito’s Vodka
  • 1 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 3.4 oz. Cranberry juice
  • 1 Squeezed lime wedge
  • 3 Dashes of Rose

Shake & garnish with lime wheel on glass

The Purple Heart
The Purple Heart

The Purple Heart

Served at Spice Market
  • 1 3/4 oz. Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 3/4  oz. Hibiscus Base
  • 4  dashes of Cherry Bitters
Combine all ingredients and shake well. Pour into a highball glass. Enjoy!
Valentina
Valentina

Valentina

Created by Mixologist Esther Gonzalez at the Bryant Park Hotel Cellar Bar

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Cherry vodka
  • 2.5 oz. Tres Leches Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Cherry Morello Puree (blend with simple sugar half & half)
  • 1 oz. Valrhona white chocolate (melted)*
  • 2 oz. Valrhona  dark chocolate (melted)*
  • Pineapple juice
  • Red sugar crystal  – glass rim
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Supplies:
2 small plastic dispenser bottles with a narrow spout for melted chocolate sauces
Cold Martini Glass – place martini glasses in the refrigerator overnight

Directions to melt chocolate:
Set up a baine marie (double boiler). Place the chocolate in small pieces in the pot and stir very slowly  With a wooden spoon. Make sure the temperature is kept at medium heat .  Do not overheat the chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted put it aside, but still on top of the baine marie.  Place chocolate sauces in the containers while still hot.

Directions for cocktail:
In a shallow bowl or plate, place the pineapple and rim the martini glass. Place the red sugar crystals  in a plate and very slowly coat  the rim of the martini glass. Give a second or two for the sugar to adhere to the glass rim.

Slowly pour the white chocolate sauce around the middle of the glass. Creating a belt like look. Slowly pour the dark chocolate sauce right on top of the white chocolate sauce, do not mix together. Slowly pour the dark chocolate sauce under the red sugar crystals on the rim of the glass. It might be easier to turn the glass sideways. Place the glass back in the freezer  to keep cold and have the chocolate sauce set.

In a shaker mix the Tres Leches  and  Cherry Vodka with ice. Shake once. Take the glass out and pour the Morello Cherry Puree up to the rim of the white chocolate. Using a spoon, pour the mixture of Tres Leches and Cherry Vodka slowly to keep the puree. Separate. Garnish with Mint leaves.

Midtown

Midtown

Midtown

Served at Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel

  • 5 fresh raspberries- muddle
  • ¼ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice (or juice from half a lemon)
  • 2 oz. sweetened chamomile tea
  • *1½ oz. bourbon (Maker’s Mark or Woodford)

Serve in a snifter glass without ice. Garnish with a rose petal or lemon wheel.

Rose Gimlet
Rose Gimlet

Rose Gimlet

  • 1.25 oz rosehip-infused gin*
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice (or substitute 1 oz Rose’s lime juice for simple syrup and fresh lime juice)
  • 3 drops rose water
  • Edible rose petals (for ganish)
  • *1/2 cup dried rosehips
  • *1L bottle of your favorite gin
Pour gin in a large pitcher, add dried rose hips and cover pitcher. Leave in a warm place (on the counter should work) overnight. The infused gin can then be returned to the bottle and kept for future use, or can be strained and used immediately.
Shake infused gin, simple syrup, lime juice, and rose water with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with edible rose petals.

G-E-M 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

G-E-M

Served at Alobar

  • 1 oz. Rye
  • 1 oz. Silver Rum
  • 1 oz. Ramazzotti Amaro
  • ¼ oz. Luxardo cherry syrup
  • ¼ oz. sweet vermouth

Serve chilled in a martini glass. Garnish with Luxardo cherry.

Cupid’s Kiss 

Cupid's Kiss

Cupid’s Kiss

Courtesy of Pucker Vodka

  • 1 1⁄2 parts Pucker Vodka Raspberry Rave
  • 2 parts Pomegranate Juice
  • Splash Lime Juice
  • 3-4 dashes Orange Bitters
  • 1 part Lemon-Lime Soda

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and pour into rocks glass.

Cranberry Caviar Cocktail

Cranberry Caviar Cocktail

Cranberry Caviar Cocktail


Created by Canard, Inc. 

  • 3 oz. of sparkling vodka
  • 1.5 oz. of triple sec
  • splash of white cranberry
  • lime wedges (for garnish)
  • 5 grams sodium alginate
  • 500 grams cranberry juice
  • 10 grams calcium chloride
  • 1500 grams cold water
  • 1 syringe

To make Cranberry Caviar, mix sodium alginate and cranberry juice and blend well with hand blender. Let liquid sit for 3-4 hours to release any gasses. Whisk together calcium chloride and water in large bowl until well combined. Fill the syringe with the cranberry mixture. Begin to push droplets from the syringe into the calcium-water bath. Keep in mind, the longer the droplets sit the less juicy the “caviar” will be. Gently remove caviar from bath with slotted spoon, and place in another dish/bowl filled with cold water to gently rinse them off. Combine vodka, triple sec, and white cranberry and shake with ice to chill. Pour into a martini glass, garnish with cranberry caviar and lime twist, and serve straight up.

Soffocone

Soffocone

And if none of those fun recipes strike your fancy or you’d rather be pampered than do the pampering, head to A Voce for a fun and very flirty treat. The restaurant will be serving 18 L bottles of Soffocone Di Vincigliata Toscana by the glass for $25, quartino for $37.50, or the carafe for $125. Soffocone translates to fellatio and the oversized bottle is the only one available in the US. The bottle wasn’t even permitted across the border until the X-rated label of this Blow Job Wine was revised. Naughty, naughty!

 

Valentine’s Day & Weekend Dinners in NJ & NYC

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and there are tons of ways to celebrate! Interested in taking your Valentine out for special dinner, or better yet out during Valentine’s Day weekend.

love

Here’s a few places to take your sweetheart out to:

Maura’s Kitchen in Nyack is buying every lady their first Pisco Portón Cocktail on Valentine’s Day. Feel the love with their great Peruvian grub and cocktails.
They will have a few specials for the night including, back by popular demand, their Peruvian Osso Bucco. Call 845-535-3533 to make a reservation.

11172_463905796997998_1118781952_n

Dine at Zinburger for Valentine’s Day (2/14-2/17, while supplies last) and receive a special gift with purchase when a table purchases a bottle of wine or two glasses of wine: Zinburger Wine Corkscrew, chocolate flower and a coupon for a free shake on next visit. Available at both NJ locations – Clifton and Paramus.
zinburger

Triomphe, the hidden gem in the historic Iroquois hotel in Midtown Manhattan has designed a decadent four-course Valentine’s Day tasting menu. Executive Chef Jason Tilmann has prepared a menu full of foie gras, caviar pearls and oysters – all aphrodisiac foods – quite suiting for this romantic holiday.  Each course is paired with a glass of wine. The first course will be a grilled corn and oyster chowder with caviar pearls followed by a roasted striped bass with spaghetti squash with a roasted cauliflower and warm tomato caper vinaigrette. Other menu items include pecan crusted pork loin and a Valrona chocolate soufflé with Grand Marnier anglaise. $125 per person.

triomphe

Jay Z’s The 40/40 Club is serving a special Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu as well as the Cupid’s Kiss cocktail for the non-conventional couple that would like to share a romantic meal while enjoying the sports bar scene. The 3-course menu includes a grilled vegetable terrine & pesto oil appetizer, four entrée options, and two dessert options. Guests may choose from the beef tenderloin wrapped with turkey bacon, fresh herb marinated roasted French chicken breast, old bay style snapper fillet, or 4oz lobster tails. For dessert, guests may indulge in red velvet a la mode or a homemade cheesecake.  $80 per couple. The club recently underwent a $10 million renovation and expansion to include 5 private lounges, luxe stadium style seating and over 30 flat screen televisions.

4040

Valentine’s Day Live Jazz 5 Course Menu at Session Bistro,$139.95 for two. Limited seating begins at 6:30pm. Call (201)880-7810 to reserve your seats. 

session bistro

Blue Morel at the Westin Governor Morris in Morristown will offer a delicious 4-course menu with multiple options including oysters, hearts of romaine, butter-poached Maine lobster, rack of lamb and chocolate fondue for two. The full menu can be seen here.  It’s $75 per person. Reservations available February 14-17 from 5:30 to 10pm.

One of the most romantic restaurants in New Jersey, Chakra will celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with various events. On February 14, 15 and 16, the restaurant will serve a romance-friendly three-course menu resplendent with oysters, lobster, caviar, truffles, foie gras, lamb, 40-day aged steak, chocolate and other delicacies to ensure a delicious and memorable experience the guests will love sharing with their Valentines. Vegetarian options available, the menu is attached ($85 per person, tax & gratuities additional). Reservations: 201-556-1530.

On Sunday February 17, the temperature will rise a few degrees and the clock will turn back to the 1940s with a special dinner and show featuring the Va Va Va Venus burlesque show and a menu of 1940s classics such as Waldorf salad, beef Chateaubriand and baked Alaska. The evening will begin at 6:30pm with pre-dinner cocktails courtesy of Brugal Rum, followed by a three-course dinner and a playful show at 7pm. Reservations are required and can be made at 201-556-1530. Pre-dinner Cocktails, Dinner & Show:  Priority Seating $115  General Seating $105 (tax & gratuities extra).

chakra

China Latina is offering romantic meals – and hotel rooms. Their Valentine’s Day Weekend Party Package ($350) includes three-course dinner for two with complimentary glasses of champagne and cocktails in Executive Chef Julieta Ballesteros’ Asian-meets-Latin American restaurant, plus a room at the four-starred Hotel Indigo where China Latina is located. And the next morning, wake up to a complimentary breakfast at China Latina!  The Valentine’s Day Weekend Party Package is available from Thursday, February 14th through Saturday, February 16thReservations for dinner for two ($125) are also available, as well as a dinner that comes with an open bar from 10 pm to midnight ($165). If you’re on your own that night, head on up to their year-round rooftop bar Dragones will host a wild Singles Party for folks on the prowl. Mingle during the open bar from 9 am to midnight ($55 per person) while a DJ spins live, plus toast with champagne and new friends at midnight.

Photo Credit: FriendsEat.com

Photo Credit: FriendsEat.com

 If you and your sweetheart love feasting on Southern fare, head to Neely’s Barbecue Parlor on the Upper East Side, which will serve shareable barbecue platters for two ($79 including complimentary glasses of champagne, add $20 for a pitcher of house wine or Neely’s signature sangria) from Thursday February 14th through Saturday, February 16th from 4 pm to 11 pm. Hold court in the festive restaurant, which is laid out like a gorgeous Southern home, and go to town on Applewood Smoked Chicken Wings, Memphis-style Ribs, BBQ Shrimp, Fried Catfish and sides like Pinto Beans with burnt ends. There’s even Romance in a Bowl – a refreshing salad featuring baby spinach, strawberries, brie, sugared almonds and lime poppy dressing. And for the grand finale of this Valentine’s Day dinner, grab your sweetheart by the hand and head into Neely’s Valentine’s Day Dessert Room: Choose from decadent treats like luscious Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese icing, Pecan Pie, Key Lime Lemon Bars, Cookies, Brownies, Cupcakes and more. And for couples who prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a romantic evening at home, Neely’s Barbecue Platter for Two, which includes Red Velvet Cake or Cheesecake for dessert, is also available to go ($79). 

neelys

For a romantic dinner in the countryside, look no further than historic The Ryland Inn, about an hour outside Manhattan in Western New Jersey. This landmarked, sprawling white cottage sits on a 200-year-old estate and reopened this past fall with gifted Executive Chef Anthony Bucco at the helm. His food reflects the atmosphere of The Ryland Inn, which is like a farmhouse meets a cathedral – comfortable yet elegant. From Valentine’s Day through Sunday, February 16th, Chef Bucco will offer a sensual three-course tasting menu ($99). Start with a luscious Pastured Egg with Anson Mills-sourced polenta and black truffles, or a lighter option like Oysters with Champagne gelee and caviar. Main courses include Rohan Duck with maple-glazed turnips and duck rillettes and Butter-poached Lobster with almonds and cauliflower, among other standout dishes. The grand finale is the Sweetheart Dessert Tasting starring chocolate, hazelnuts and espresso components.

Photo Credit: Opentable

Photo Credit: Opentable

Lavish and luxurious New York restaurant The Russian Tea Room is pulling out all the stops for Valentine’s Day. Settle into one of their gorgeous red leather banquettes and enjoy a three-course prix fixe menu ($125 per person) featuring over-the-top dishes like Lobster Salad with a vanilla-champagne sauce, Octopus Terrine and Black Truffle Foie Gras Mousse. Couples can also splurge on The Russian Tea Room’s extensive caviar selection – one of the best in the city – as well as on bottles of champagne and flights of vodka. Taste four different vodkas – Russian Standard, Purity, Czar’s Village and Jewel of Russia Wild Berry for $26.

Photo Credit: NY Mag

Photo Credit: NY Mag

 Virgil’s Real Barbecue in the Theater District will offer specialty cocktails like the Chocolate Kiss ($11), a blend of Grey Goose Vodka, Crème Cacao White, and smooth Godiva White liqueur topped with shaved chocolate. But Virgil’s doesn’t just cater to the lovebirds – they’ve got your back if you’ve had a tough break up. That’s what the Beer Kir for the Broken Heart is for, made with raspberries, Maker’s Mark, sweet Vermouth, lemonade and Lindeman’s Raspberry Lambic. 

Photo Credit: NY Street Food

Photo Credit: NY Street Food

 There is nothing more romantic – or stressful – than cooking for your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Admit it; you have your favorite take-out place, just in case, on speed dial. What if I told you that you could learn how to make a Valentine’s Day feast from the master himself David Bouley? That’s right, on February 14th, chef Bouley is organizing two exclusive cooking classes in his elegant Test Kitchen. Those who wish to wow their lovers with a four-star meal can opt for the Valentine’s Day Cooking Class ($275), where they will learn how to prepare an incredible meal, and leave with the recipes, ingredients and culinary confidence of a chef! For those who wish to share this unique experience with their special someone, Bouley will be conducting a Cooking Class & Dinner for Two ($650; wine pairing $125 per person) starting at 7:30pm, where couples will learn how to prepare a sumptuous six-course meal filled with irresistibly healthy, local and all-natural ingredients, and then sit down and enjoy the exquisite fruits of their labor to the sound of the grand piano! Reservations can be made by calling 212-964-2525, but tell your readers to act fast though, as seating is extremely limited.

bouley

Interested in cooking at home this year?

Check out this awesome Valentine’s Day menu from Fairway’s own Cheesemonger, Steve Jenkins.

steve jenkins
Here’s to a great Valentine’s Day with our sweethearts! 😀
Sara SCBD Logo Edited

 

Treat Your Sweetie To These Valentine’s Day Treats

If you haven’t noticed I am huge sweet connoisseur. Does your sweetie have a sweet tooth?
Surprise them on Valentine’s Day with one of these treats:
Divine Valentine at Ivy Bakery
ivy bakery
Enjoy a special Divine-inspired menu, chocolate giveaways and more at Ivy Bakery on Valentine’s Day. Ivy Bakery created a special Divine-inspired sampler menu for you to share with your sweetie or indulge on your own! More details and you can RSVP, here.
The $10 sampler menu includes five delicious treats all made using Divine Chocolate products:
  • Mini Chocolate Whoopie Pie
  • Chocolate Butter Gooey
  • Mini Chocolate Cupcake
  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberry
  • Chocolate Truffle
Georgetown Cupcake Valentines Day Dozen:
CC_dozen_valentines
  • 3 Red Velvet cupcakes
  • 3 Chocolate² cupcakes
  • 3 Strawberry Lava Fudge cupcakes
  • 3 Strawberry Champagne cupcakes.

FYI: Georgetown Cupcake will be open regular hours on Valentine’s Day, 10 am to 9pm, and urge everyone to place orders until 7 pm the night before so they can skip the line!

image
Red Velvet heart shaped cupcakes and assorted valentines day themed cupcakes are available at Mr. Cupcakes.

Seth Greenberg’s Authentic New York Brownie Crunch, a snack-able, bagged version of the crispy edges of fresh-baked brownies. Each bite-sized piece is like a cross between a brownie, a cookie and a wafer. Greenberg was inspired to create this product by his award-winning baker father and his daughter’s love for the crispy edges of fresh-baked brownies. $3.99-$4.99 per four ounce package, current flavors available: Chocolate Chip, Toffee Crunch and Mint.

brownie crunch
Retail Stores that offer Seth Greenberg’s Authentic New York Brownie Crunch:

  • Zabar’s
  • Amazon.com
  • Food Emporium
  • Fairway
  • Macy’s
  • Grace’s Marketplace

Carmine’s Family-Style Cookbook ($29.95)

carmine cookbook

There is nothing more romantic than whipping up a delicious Italian meal for two, from irresistibly creamy penne a la vodka to herb-crusted salmon arrabiata, with a glass of champagne or a bottle of wine. Available online, here.

Cheers to a sweet Valentine’s Day!!! 😀

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

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!