Butcher Bar Review

BUTCHER BAR
37-08 30th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 606-8140
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Butcher Bar is an organic butcher shop that sells high quality, pasture raised, no hormone or antibiotic treated meats. They also serve BBQ to eat in as well.
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The place shop itself is very casual & clean. We were seated right away by a friendly waitress.
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We ended up ordering the Butcher’s Platter (¼ pound each of any 3 meats & 2 sides). The 3 meats we chose were the Smoked Pulled Pork, Double Smoked Burnt Ends & Smoked Pork Belly. The 2 sides: Applewood Bacon Baked Beans & Creamy Mac & Cheese.

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Pork Belly, Pulled Pork & Burnt Ends

We also order ½ rack of the Fall off the Bone Sauced Smoked Ribs which came with house slaw, pickle, corncakes & one side, so we added the Sautéed String Beans (with bacon & onions).
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The food was very good. The ribs were definitely falling off the bone & had a nice bbq sauce slathered on it. The pulled pork & burnt ends were tender & flavorful, although ¼ pound of each seemed very little for the price. The pork belly was a disappointment because it turned out very salty & it was too fatty. The baked beans, house slaw & pickle were all very good. The string beans & mac & cheese were nothing spectacular but still good.I would definitely come back here to try more of their menu items. And possibly shop for some organic meats as well.

Just a (Potato) Chip off the Old Block

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I don’t have a picture of me gorging on Potato Chips, so this Bouchon Bakery Butter Nutter giant cookie will suffice.

My name is Christina & I am a Potato Chip Addict.

My mom loves eating potato chips. Therefore, it is in my genetic makeup to eat potato chips. Ok, so I don’t have a chip loving gene, but when my bro & I were little, we’d eat a bag every Sunday with my mom. That’s how we bonded. We did this for many years, which started my love affair with chips.

I munched my way through grade school, JHS, HS & college. When I started working after college, I would buy a large bag of chips & finish it within a day or 2 & I would do this every week, for 4-5 years, maybe longer.

I stopped buying them to stop my bad habit. Keeping it out of the house meant I could keep the temptation away. At the supermarket, I would still wander into the chip aisle just to “browse.” If my favorite brand was on sale, I’d buy a bag or 2 bag, & I’d run home to indulge. 2 days later, I’d resurface from a pile of crumbs & feel the total gluttony of my own doing. I would do this every month or 2. It was a bad habit which was hard to shake.

When hubby met me, I was still shoveling chips into my mouth at speeds not recognizable by radar detection. He would have to physically take the bag away from me in order to stop.

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Mangoes – Looks delectable, tastes scrumptious & healthy too.

In October ’11, my CF box offered a diet challenge. I’ve never dieted a day in my life before. (Except, that time when I was enamored by those Weight Watchers commercials when I was 13 & I ran to the store to buy myself a container of their delicious looking powdered shakes. One sip & I threw that thing out). I’m not overweight, hefty, obese, or fluffy (well, sometimes). I just wanted to challenge myself to try to eat healthier. To be honest, it was a big mistake. It was 44 days of hell.

I was pumped at first. I started making my own foods, cooking new recipes. I was doing well. Then, week 2 was starting to drag, week 3 was worse, I became a monster in week 4, by week 5, I couldn’t recognize myself anymore (nor can my hubby or my friends/family), & week 6 went by so slowly because it was almost over but I needed will-power to get through to the end.

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I started craving Cheesecakes & sweets after my 44-day Challenge. This Martha’s Country Bakery Apple Crumb cheesecake was calling my name!

The Good & The Bad from the 44 days of dieting:
The Good
1) I read my ingredient list much more thoroughly & I’m more selective with my foods choices now.
2) Meats, poultry, fish, eggs & bacon are all my friends. Eat a little of everything to be more well-rounded.
3) Chocolate is pretty tasty (I didn’t use to like chocolate, but I’m finding myself wanting it more now).
4) I’ve cured my potato chip addiction. I no longer crave or eat bagged chips. I’ve been potato chip free since 10/10/11! Yes, it has an anniversary date. 😀

The Bad
1) Depriving myself of certain foods made me crave them more. This included foods that I normally didn’t even like (i.e. chocolate & cheesecake).
2) Removing dairy products out of my diet caused my system to go out of whack. I started getting PMS when I never had it before. This could be due to the hormones in most milk, which have always kept PMS at bay. The PMS stopped after 2 months. *shrug*
3) I felt weak, tired & sluggish. My performance at CF suffered. I had a near break-down doing front squats one day. I told the coach I couldn’t do 95# & he told me to lower it. I nearly burst out crying. I felt defeated. See item #2 above.
4) I think I may have become slightly lactose intolerant due to the diet.
5) I was hungry. I was angry. I was Incredible Hulk on steroids HANGRY (hungry+angry). It was not pleasant being around me during this time. I was irritable & frustrated. It was a very dark time in my life.
6) When dining out, I couldn’t eat 98% of the menu items. Munching on a salad while your friends are eating pizza was VERY, VERY hard to do. I resented them a little during this time. Going out was not an option.
7) Once the 44 days was up, I gorged & gorged until January 2012. I ate anything & everything. The 3lbs I lost was quickly gained back.

What I’ve learned:
Challenges are another term people use to make you think you are not dieting. Challenges are a competition to see who can do it better & get better results. Anyone can do a challenge & see quick results. But, the real challenge begins when it is over. Do you have the motivation to continue this for the rest of your life? That’s the reason why so many people go on yo-yo diets.

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You best bet I ended up eating this cookie. I needed a sugar fix after biking 6.5 miles & walking 3 miles.

This 44-day challenge messed me up mentally. I would personally discourage anyone from doing them. I think it is much better to instill a life-long change by eating more sensibly & looking for a well-balanced meal. Survey your options & pick healthy ones, but don’t restrict yourself so much that all you can think about is junk food. That is the key. Give yourself a small treat from time to time, eat that ice cream, chocolate or potato chips, but don’t indulge. Eat just enough to soothe your sweet or salty tooth. Don’t say “NEVER AGAIN” to anything because you’ll most likely want to reach for it right at this minute. It’s not about willpower; it’s about changing your habits. Once you’ve replaced a bad habit with a good one, it’s engrained in you to continue & it’ll come naturally.

A day may come when I eat potato chips again, but I no longer let my past habits define me today. As much as I loved bonding with my mom over potato chips, we can now reach for something healthier to bond over, like chocolate dipped bacon instead. Hehee Just kidding about that one, mom doesn’t like chocolate. ;-D Wish me luck on my journey into healthier eating.

Cannelle Patisserie Review

CANNELLE PATISSERIE
75-59 31st Ave.
Queens, NY 11370
(Jackson Heights & East Elmhurst vicinity within Waldbaum’s mall)
At 77th St & 31St Ave
(Abundant Free Parking)

I found this place through a friend’s check-in. That’s one of the best ways to find good eats.

So I came here with my mom for the very first visit. GPS told me I was at my destination, but all I saw were housing & nothing more. I was confused. Perplexed, I searched on my smart phone to make sure I had the correct address because sometimes my smart phone wants to act dumb. :-/ I had the correct location, so how come I didn’t see anything?!? I decided to turn right to explore. Lo & behold, I had found the strange Waldbaum’s shopping center parking lot. You would never guess an amazing patisserie existed here, but you have to take my word for it, it does!
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The simple wood design with a large window makes the outside look very unassuming. We walked in & it’s a very casual place. To your left are scattered tables & a small counter with bar stools, & straight ahead on your right are a few more tables.
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Everyone lines up to order at the counter with their brightly colored displays of their drool-worthy confections & baked goods. They have more than desserts here. They offer breakfast pastries, sandwiches, quiches, cakes, tarts & even French macarons. Your eyes will have a field day with all the offerings, which can be quite intimidating if you don’t know what it is.
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I went with the counter person’s recommendations. We tried the apple strip & an almond strip. Mom & I only wanted a snack before heading to dinner. Both were flakey, not too sweet, slightly buttery, but not overwhelmingly buttery, & amazingly light & crisp. We were surprised because many times French pastries can feel so heavy. These were perfect for snacking.
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I returned a week later with a bunch of friends so that I could try more items. This time I ordered the guava danish, peach tart, Napoleon & grilled chicken sandwich. I also took 2 almond croissants home (they ran out of the chocolate). Okay, so I went a little crazy on my second visit, but in my defense, there were just so many delicious options that I had to try them all. *sigh*
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The guava danish looked so delicious & it was! Again, light, flakey & the filling was not too sweet as well. It was a great start. Hubby was hungry, so he went for the freshly made grilled chicken sandwich with blue cheese. Everything was made to order & they make their own breads on premise, so this was a treat for hubby. He loved the sandwich since all the flavors worked wonderfully together.
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Next, came the peach tart & I have to tell you, it was AH-MAZING! The tart crust had just enough crunch but melded together well with the almond filling & the natural sweetness of the peach. Each bite was better than the first. Hubby & I were fighting over the last bite. While our backs were turned, hubby’s best friend grabbed all the crumbs. It was THAT good. This was our absolute favorite of all the pastries. Hubby’s sister came late & asked us what was good. She took a bite of the peach tart, got on line & came back with the full-sized 6″ tart to take home!
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Everything else after couldn’t compare to the peach tart, but they were still very well-made & tasty. The Napoleon was very standard with the puff pastry layers, the cream filling & the fondant topping with the tooth picked design. It was not outstanding, but it was still good.
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The almond croissants were devoured the next day. Again, as with all the other pastries, it had flakey, buttery, light dough with a filling that is not cloyingly sweet. It was the perfect breakfast. It filled you up without making you feel gross & heavy for the rest of the day.

I will definitely be making another trip there to try more of their items. I heard through a friend the French macarons are pretty good & they even took their special custom order for a bridal shower, even though they don’t normally do that with the macarons.

This is a great spot for great food & to hang out with a friend.

Just don’t talk or laugh too loudly because the older patrons might start ranting, raving & cursing at you & challenge you to a fight outside because SHE is a black belt. Yes, you heard right, an older Filipina woman threatened us because she thought we were loud & inconsiderate. She never once asked us to keep it down; she straight up started yelling at us & caused a major scene. Her friend never once turned around to look at us because I suspect she was extremely embarrassed by her friend. True story.

I hope never to have that happen again. I had to console a gf after the incident. She was whimpering & crying in the corner. Her life is forever changed by this turn of events. Semi-true story.

Visit Cannelle Patisserie. You won’t regret it.

Dill Roasted Sweet Potatoes Recipe

I was browsing Fairway market & came across some fragrant dill. I love the smell & taste of dill so I grabbed it & put it into my basket. Now what will I make with the dill? This is usually how I food shop. I never have any ideas of what I’ll be making until I see one ingredient that I love. Then, I go on a hunt to see what would go well with that ingredient. I know, I know, I’m not very efficient at this food shopping thing, but it is fun when you have time to wander. The supermarket is like the adult version of a candy store for me. I love supermarket shopping!!! I figured dill goes well with potatoes, but I chose sweet potatoes instead since they are a healthier option.

Dill Roasted Sweet Potatoesadapted from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients:
4 medium Sweet Potatoes
5 whole Garlic Cloves
4 tablespoon Olive Oil
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper
1 large bunch fresh Dill (lightly chopped) (~ ½ cup)
½ teaspoon Paprika (optional)
½ tablespoon Lemon Juice (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degree.

Line baking sheet with foil.

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Rinse sweet potatoes. Peel skin off. Dice into 1 inch cubes & place into large mixing bowl.

Mince the garlic & add to the bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, dill & toss until everything is evenly coated. Optional: Add paprika & drizzle lemon juice & mix. I like the added lemony taste.

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Lay the potatoes on your baking sheet in a single layer & bake for 35-45 minutes until tender.

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Easy, fast & healthy. That’s the way I like my food.

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ENJOY!

LÄRABAR über® Review

LÄRABAR über® Review

The LÄRABAR brand came out with a new über® Bar, which is supposed to be über delicious. On their website, they claim “LÄRABAR über® is a unique sweet and salty snack made from whole fruits and nuts. It’s big texture with big taste!” I’ll be the judge of that.

Costco offered a box of 18 for approximately $16, so I picked that up & had the hubby take ½ to try as well. They sell them for ~$1 at most places. The box offered 3 varieties: Roasted Nut Roll, Cherry Cobbler & Bananas Foster.

Roasted Nut Roll

Roasted Nut Roll

Hubby agreed the Roasted Nut Roll was the best out of the 3. It was lightly salted with sea salt. We both disliked the Cherry Cobbler. It was on the tart side & the nuttiness came mainly from almonds. It tasted nothing like a Cherry Cobbler. The Bananas Foster had a hint of banana taste from the dried bananas, but all flavors were overtaken by the brown rice syrup.

Cherry Cobbler

Cherry Cobbler

They all are very nutty, with a chewy crunch to it. There’s also a hint of sweetness from the brown rice syrup. I didn’t like the brown rice syrup. It left a strange, unpleasant taste in my mouth. All of them had this ingredient & this was the downfall of the über bars. The taste lingers in your mouth after eating them. It also made me really thirsty right before I went to Crossfit. I hated the feeling & needed to chug 16 oz of water to quench my thirst. And even then, I was still thirsty.

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster

I would not buy these again. I would rather buy the regular LÄRABAR, which are tastier & uses honey as the sweetener. I would actually make my own LÄRABAR knock-offs instead, which turns out much better. And I can make them in bulk & for a more frugal price. They are super easy to make. That will be in another future post.

Have you tried the LÄRABAR über® Bar? What do you think of them? I’d like to hear your opinions.

Where to Purchase:
LARABAR uber – Roasted Nut Roll
LARABAR uber – Bananas Foster
LARABAR Uber – Apple Turnover
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