Christmas Spectacular and New Years in the NYC

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!  Ours was full of fun, family, friends, and of course, FOOD.  I took the courtesy of chronicling our food adventures at home in Virginia, and on our trek to Upstate NY and New York City for New Years.  Our trips to NYC always seem to center around food, so hopefully you will enjoy my stories!

OK... Starting off with Christmas Day:  POT STICKERS  

It may sound like a weird Christmas meal, but it was phenomenal.  And since it was just the two of us on Christmas day, we can do whatever we want!  And what I want is pot stickers!!  This is the only blog post I actually wrote over the holidays, so the recipe is already up :)

Due to the incoming snow storm, we packed up the car and headed out to my parents in Upstate NY at 3AM the day after Christmas.  Stella was MUCHO excited to get in the car and go for a ride.  At least we did not hit a 4-hour traffic jam on this trip.  

We got about 2 feet of snow over the course of the week.  Mike learned how to use a snow blower, and Stella had a blast in the snow.  Just see how her fluffy ears blow in the wind!

Mike and I made some smothered chicken burritos for dinner one night (recipe here, only we sauteed the chicken instead of using a crock pot).  These got rave reviews from 3 generations.

The next meal on our wild ride was a yummy spiral ham, green bean casserole, waldorf salad, all courtesy of my Mom and Aunt Terri, and these Ranch Mashed Potatoes.   

Have you heard of these?  They are wonderful, and a great new alternative to the regular old mash.  The recipe we used is below, and  I also added about 1/4 cup ranch dressing (from the bottle, not the packet) and some additional sour cream and Greek  yogurt, otherwise they were a little dry.  The picture is not that beautiful, but they were really yummy!

1/2 cup sour cream
1 packet (1 ounce) Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer, uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes fall apart when pierced with fork.

Drain potatoes in a colander and return potatoes to the pot. Mash potatoes until smooth.

Stir in Ranch seasoning and sour cream. Serve immediately.


And that brings us to our trip to New York City!  We drove up to Albany and then took the train into the city.  Trains are cool.  We made it to our hotel room, after a minor crisis in Penn Station.  (Who knew they only took cash to buy subway tickets at this particular station, and my cash was too much!  It could not be more than $6 over the ticket cost, or you just can't have tickets.  Whatever.)
View from our Hotel Room in Manhattan

After checking into our hotel, we made our way to the Meatpacking district for our long awaited lunch.  We went to Dos Caminos, where I had an El Diablo Margarita made with 3 different chile peppers (which inspired me to make my own Spicy Pepper Tequila once we returned home - recipes to come) and El Pescado Tacos with grilled mahi-mahi, spicy slaw, smoked chile aioli, guacamole on flour tortillas.

We then wandered around the streets of NY and I worked on coming up with new ways to say "Holy Cow!" that were geared towards foodies: 

1) Holy Cannoli
2) Holy Stromboli

I came up with 2.  I was pretty proud of this accomplishment as you can tell.  Hey - I needed something to occupy my mind while the wind was blowing me all around the streets of NY.  Hopefully they catch on. 

El Diablo Margarita! 
El Pescado Tacos
Dos Caminos on the bottom floor - such a cool building!

After the freezing cold wind had its way with us for a while, we finally made it to Chelsea Market (which was only like one block away).  I had tears streaming down my face from the cold, and I have never seen Chelsea Market so packed.  It was RIDICULOUS.  If you haven't been there, Chelsea Market is a foodie's dream, and is also the home of the Food Network.  On this day, there were about 50 people hanging out in the hallways eating whole lobsters.  Yes, you read that right, eating lobster in the hallway.  WHAT was going on you ask, I have NO IDEA.  It was a sight to see though.  I always thought lobster warranted a plate, but apparently you can eat it off a piece of newspaper or a paper bag if you prefer!  Hmmmm.

Beautiful Christmas lights inside Chelsea Market

That night, we walked around the Rockerfeller and Times Square areas to see all the beautiful lights.  We managed not to get trampled at the Rockerfeller Center tree, but we did have to put up a good fight against some 7-yr old girls! ;)

Rockerfeller Center Christmas Tree

THIS is what our dog, Stella, is named after - BEER!

During New Years Eve day, we walked around Central Park and watched some ice skating. 

We then discovered the basement of The Plaza hotel.  We had never been inside the Plaza, and decided to go in to get warm.  Man were we happy to have found this place!  We didn't have much time to look around, but it is definitely on our list of things to do next time we are in NYC.  There were all sorts of restaurants, and we were most excited to try a nice hot cup of Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate!!!!  They were sold out.  What a kick in the pants.
Awesome Ginger Bread House in The Plaza

Beautiful pasta hanging in one of the restaurants - This picture was taken BEFORE our giant disappointment over the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate, so I was still in good spirits at the time.

We had to rush out of the magnificence of The Plaza to get to our lunch reservation at Burger and Barrel in SOHO.   As you can see in the picture of the bar sign below, they have won the Food Network Wine and Food Festival Burger Bash 3 out of the 4 years the competition was held.  And we're obsessed with burgers, so this restaurant was a must-try for us.  It was definitely worth it, as you can see in the pictures.  AND, we are 99.999% sure we saw Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family leaving the restaurant soon after we got there...  one of our trip highlights!

Mike's Lamb Burger - Before

Mike's "Happy Plate" After!

 After lunch we walked to McSorley's for an after-lunch beer (because the beer we had during lunch was clearly not enough).  McSorley's is NYC's oldest continuously operating saloon, opened in 1854.  It was definitely an experience - there are 2 beers on draft.  That is it.  And you get 2 beers at a time.  That is also it.

We went to a party at Eataly (another spectacular foodie spot in the city) to bring in the New Year.  It was a blast.  All you can eat, and all you can drink.  Good thing I didn't bring my camera along on that trip :)

5 extra pounds later... Christmas and New Years are over.  Now it's time to start the diet!  Blech.  Oh well... the good news is, when you like to cook, dieting isn't always that bad.  Needless to say, my blog posts will probably be carb-free, and include lots of lean meats and vegetables for a while!  Time to get excited! :)