Zinburger

Yesterday, I went to Zinburger (Clifton, NJ) with my company for lunch. I had been here before so I am going to base this review on the two times I have been here.

The food is AMAZING. The burgers are top quality. The only burger I would place above this one is White Manna in Hackensack, NJ (and if you have ever been there, you know that that’s a bold statement).

The truffle fries are the best side, in my opinion because they come with this great yogurt dipping sauce, although I was charged extra when I asked for more of the sauce, but the waitress told me ahead of time that there was an extra fee, so I’ll let it slide. The zucchini fries are great as well. As a matter of fact, all the different fries are good (they also have sweet potato and regular).

At lunch yesterday, I ordered the Chinese Chicken Salad. The chicken was marinated and juicy and it comes with fried crispy wontons. YUM! The dressing was an Asian Vinaigrette that had a sesame flavor to it. When I went the first time I had the Samburger (burger, bacon and American cheese – and I ordered it with avocado). It was absolutely delicious!

(Not my photo. Credit: Yelp)

They also serve an array of delicious milkshakes but I went next door to Cups frozen yogurt for dessert.

BUT… The best part of our lunch was when Caroline and Albert Manzo from the Real Housewives of New Jersey walked in. She looked fantastic by the way!

(Also not my photo. Credit: Zimbio)

Overall, great meal, reasonable prices and a nice friendly wait staff. I will definitely be returning in the near future!

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Nutella Cream Cheese Brownies

I am a complete Nutella junkie, so when I found this recipe for Nutella Cream Cheese Brownies, I knew I had to try it. I made them for a group of friends and everyone loved them. The entire batch was gone within minutes. Follow this recipe for a magical treat.

Cream Cheese Topping
5 oz Philly Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 tbs softened butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tbs flour
1/4 cup Nutella


Brownie Batter
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup Hersey’s Special Dark Cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick of softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs


Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease an 8×8 pan with cooking spray.

For the cream cheese frosting: cream together the butter, sugar and flour. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add the egg and beat until the batter is creamy. Add the Nutella and beat until the it is completely mixed in (I added a little more than 1/4 cup of the Nutella. Taste it and see if you want to add more).

For the brownie batter: In a medium bowl mix together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. In a small bowl cream the sugar and butter. Add the eggs in one at a time and beat well. Add the vanilla. Mix the egg, sugar and butter mixture in with the dry ingredients. Spread 3/4 of the batter into your pan. Then, dollop the cream cheese topping over the brownie batter. Dollop the rest of the brownie batter on top of that and swirl it around with a knife. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

When the brownies were done, I spread some Nutella over the top for a nice little topping!

Recipe From: Lovin’ From the Oven

Mesa Grill NYC

I am lucky enough to live 20 minutes outside of New York City and I am there all the time. I have a great passion for the shopping, the culture and, of course, the amazing culinary scene. I have tried everything there is to offer at least once (unless it has goat cheese, it’s the only cheese I don’t like). Last Saturday I got the pleasure of dining at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill as a treat for my 23rd birthday. I am a huge Bobby Flay fan so this was a very special meal for me.

The place was incredible. High ceilings, dark lighting and a great buzzing atmosphere.

There were 16 of us so bear with me, there was a lot of food.

Drink:

Mesa Grill Margarita: Not too sweet and perfectly tart.

Bread:
To start they brought out a bread basket with, not only, great warm rolls, but these amazing jalapeno corn muffins and thyme rolls. All served with butter. Really, how could you go wrong?

Appetizers:

Rough Cut Tuna Nachos – This dish was amazing. The tuna was lightly seared and served with a great avocado cream and homemade tortilla chips.
Blue Corn Pancake – This was like a pancake wrap with marinated duck in the middle (my first experience with duck). Love it!
Cremini Mushroom Quesadilla – My favorite app. There was a fried egg on top. YUM!
Goat Cheese “Queso Fundido” – I will admit, this was the one app I didn’t eat. I don’t like goat cheese.
Baby Romaine Salad – A very nice refreshing salad to go along with some heavy guilt ridden appetizers.

Entrée:
The portion sizes were on the smaller side, just the way I like them. If you are looking for a big entrée, go elsewhere.

I ordered the Cornmeal Crusted Chile Relleno (pictured below) and in my opinion, it was the best dish of the night. I shared with my mom who ordered the Mango & Spice Crusted Tuna Steak  which was also fabulous. I tried a little of a bunch of other entrees as well, including New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and the Ancho Chile-Honey Glazed Salmon.

Dessert:

Chocolate Pretzel Tart: This was far and beyond the best dessert of the night. It came with a peanut butter ice cream that had this really great spicy kick to it.
Apple Pie Sundae: This wasn’t my favorite. I usually LOVE an apple dessert but something about the nutmeg ice cream didn’t work for me.
Toasted Coconut Layer Cake: Dee-lish! They brought this one out with a candle on top and sang me Happy Birthday :). It was about 7 layers high and so good!
Sticky Toffee Pudding: Another one that I didn’t love. It was good but not great.

Overall, the meal was amazing! It certainly wasn’t cheep but worth the price. If you are ever in NYC check it out. He also has a Mesa Grill location in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Peanut Butter Pie

I’ve tried a few different Peanut Butter Pies over the past few months and this one is, by far, the best. The fun part is that you can really do whatever you want with it. You can add different types of candy or drizzle with some type of syrup. It’s a sponge for any sweet (or salty if you’re adventurous) ingredient you want to add!

It is also really easy to make this pie healthy. I have tried it with fat free cream cheese before and you really can’t even tell the difference.

If you want to make this recipe even easier than it already is, you can buy a ready made graham cracker crust at the store. But this crust recipe is so irresistible, I had to make the time for it.

Makes 8 – 12 servings

Graham Cracker Crust

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tsp of cinnamon pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325° F and spray a springform pan with cooking spray (If you don’t have a springform pan, no worries. A regular tart pan will work just fine). Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and salt with the butter until all the butter is incorporated. Press the crust down into the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Let the crust cool for at least 10 minutes before pouring the peanut butter filling in.

Peanut Butter Filling
8 ounces softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips
14 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped up

Mix the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and heavy cream with a mixer until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and 1/2 of the chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and mix until well combined. Pour the batter onto the crust and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and Reese’s on top. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted slightly from: Picky Palate

3 Things to Accomplish

Ok, so here is my first attempt at The Book of Doing. The first thing I chose is to compose a list on your birthday of three things you’d like to accomplish this year. Since my birthday was only a month ago, I am going to make the list now.

1. Find a job/career that I am passionate about.

2. Become even better with baking and cooking.

3. Fix the health issues that are holding me back from what I want in life. (Nothing life threatening, I promise!)

What about you guys? What things do you want to accomplish this year?

Healthy Sugar Cookies

I know baking should consist of LOTS of butter, sugar, and cream but I made these healthy sugar cookies the other day and they came out great. The best part is, they are only 50 calories a cookie, so you can eat them without feeling guilty.

3/4 cup ww pastry flour (or white if you want)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (just under level)
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 tablespoons nondairy milk of choice
1/4 cup butter sub (I used Brummel and Brown)

Preheat oven to 325º F. Combine dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, melt the butter substitute, then stir in vanilla and milk. Pour dry into wet and mix again. Form balls or roll out (not too thin), then use a cookie cutter to make shapes. Cook in oven for 9 minutes. Just let them cool for 5 minutes before touching.

When they have cooled, you might want to put some icing on them to give them a little more oomph, but I ate my plain and they were great!

Recipe From: Chocolate Covered Katie

Fall Baking

So, Fall begins on Saturday and you know what that means… FALL BAKING! My favorite time of the year. Anything involving apples or pumpkins is A-OK in my book. I am going to post a list of some of the goodies I am looking forward to preparing this season.

Apple Pie
Apple Crumb Pie (Yes, they’re different!)
Apple Sauce
Apple Butter
Caramel Apples
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake

What other fall recipes should I make? Any suggestions?