Friday, July 29, 2016

Travel: New York Minute

I have always been fascinated by New York City and the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. People are always on the go with something new to do and exciting to see. Sitting back and watching sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and dramas like Gossip Girl make the Big Apple such a destination to be. As much as I love my city of Chicago, I'll covet any trip to NYC. A few weekends a go, I found myself on the east coast visiting family. On one perfectly warm day, we drove into Manhattan and walked the streets of the concrete jungle.

I've been wanting to visit the Metropolitan Museum for a while now. With the yearly Met Gala on that first Monday every May, I've continuously seen how grand it is through the eyes of others. The Met Gala kicks off the opening of the annual fashion-themed exhibit and is attended by celebrities and socialites alike all dressed in theme and to the nines. This year the exhibit entitled Manus x Machina illustrated the use of hand and machine to create beautiful couture designs and showcased over 170 ensembles made as early as the 1920s. I loved seen all the pieces and marveled at the exquisite handiwork and the innovative machine-work. Admission fee to the Met is suggested and any amount of money can be paid for entry.

While in Manhattan I had brunch at Jack's Wife Freda, a trendy restaurant with mediterranean flair. There we tried out green shakshuka (I've only had traditional red shakshuka prior) and eggs benedict with salmon and a hollandaise sauce made with beets. Both dishes were yummy albeit small.

During the evening, we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge for pizza at Grimaldi's. I've heard of Grimaldi's for years and it's known as one of the best pizza spots in NYC thats been around for decades. The line to enter was long but moved quickly and service was fairly quick. It surprised me that the pizza menu did not include a list of pre-designed pies. Instead each pie came with a delicious tomato sauce, cheese and basil with guests' choice of toppings from an extensive list. We chose mushrooms to top the pie and the pizza we ordered had a soft and yummy dough with a more crisp crust.

While in NYC, we made customized ice cream bars at the Magnum Pop Up shop in Soho and stopped for capuccinos while sightseeing in the Flatiron District. This cappuccino was free thanks to Popular Pays at the adorable Toby's Estate. Toby's in Flatiron was a small fixture connected to a flower shop that was connected to Club Monaco. The ice cream bars from Magnum could be vanilla or chocolate (vanilla was our choice) and were dipped in Belgian chocolate. We chose 3 toppings from a selection of assorted options and white chocolate to drizzle on top. All in all, it was deliciously decadent. 

Perfect midday coffee pick me up

Magnum ice cream bars with rose petals, chocolate caramel and gold flakes on the left & almonds, chocolate caramel + hazelnut crouquant on the right

Flatiron; Brooklyn Bridge

Monday, June 27, 2016

Red, White and Blue

As with most holidays and celebrations, I love when everything everywhere echoes the occasion in theme colors and vibes. July fourth is just one week away and naturally, I'm thinking about what I will wear, what I will eat and what I will do! This year, Independence Day will fall one or two days before the the Eid holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Two holidays back to back? Bring it on. 

Red, white and blue are a must for the Fourth of July and I'm deciding between a fun pants and top combination or going for a long dress. Here are some outfit ideas for the upcoming festive day. 
Red, White and Blue!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Kitchen: Strawberries and Cream Crumb Bar + More

Ramadan started a week ago today and this month I've been baking desserts pretty frequently. While fasting, I love being in kitchen and working with food to cook and bake. It feels nice to put effort into a meal for myself and others to enjoy together and make the only real meal of the day, Iftar, even more special.

Most recently I made Strawberries and Cream Crumb Bars and they were so delicious! The bars are layered and baked to perfection. The bottom layer is a nice sugary crust. On top of that is a layer of sweetened cream cheese filling. On top of that is a layer of strawberry filling. The last top layer is a crumb topping cooked until golden brown. I found this recipe on Pinterest and am already looking for what to make next.

This past week, I've also made a Peach Galette, Banana Oatmeal Cookies, and a Strawberry Icebox Cake. The Peach galette was a nice combination of tart peaches and a sweet flaky pie crust. My cookies were simple and healthy with just three ingredients. I shared the cookies on my Instagram here with the recipe. The Strawberry Icebox Cake was divine. I set three layers of graham crackers between layers of whipped cream and vanilla pudding and strawberries and what resulted made me think of a summery tiramisu. Here is the recipe for the galette and the icebox cake

What desserts are you making on these hot summer days? Have you made any of these?