I stand with fast food workers!

Next time you hear someone decry that those on public assistance should, “Go flip burgers at McDonalds,” remind them that the average fast food worker makes $11,000 a year. I know of nowhere in the United States where you can live on $11,000 a year.

From Today’s New York Times:

In Drive to Unionize, Fast-Food Workers Walk Off the Job

Fast-food workers at several restaurants in New York walked off the job on Thursday, firing the first salvo in what workplace experts say is the biggest effort to unionize fast-food workers ever undertaken in the United States.

The campaign — backed by community and civil rights groups, religious leaders and a labor union — has engaged 40 full-time organizers in recent months to enlist workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s,Domino’sTaco Bell and other fast-food restaurants across the city.

Leaders of the effort said that workers were walking off the job to protest what they said were low wages and retaliation against several workers who have backed the unionization campaign. (Read More)

Find out more about the campaign at FastFoodForward.org


Well traveled friends

I love it when friends go to Europe and bring me back treats.

If you’ve never had Maltesers you don’t know what you’re missing. They’re chocolate covered malt balls, but they’re nothing like their American cousin Whoppers. The chocolate is real with none of that sickly sweet artificial after taste and the texture inside is always crunchy; never hollow or fake tasting.

I’m thinking of making Maltesers Blondies. How does that sound?

Dulce de leche brownie bars

I’m not a huge chocolate person. No, that doesn’t mean that I hate chocolate. I don’t mind chocolate and I think it can make a nice accompaniment to things, I just don’t get what all the hype is about. Since there were a few chocoholics at our Thanksgiving table though, I thought it only right to make a chocolate dessert. I decided on dulce de leche brownie bars.

They were a huge hit with everyone at the table and I will definitely be making these again. Though they take some time they’re actually really easy to make and they can be made several days ahead. The hardest part of the whole process is cutting them in to squares.

This recipe is adapted from the Grasshopper Squares recipe from Gourmet magazine (which I also plan on making at some point because I do love mint with chocolate). Enjoy!

Dulce de leche brownie bars

Brownie layer

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5-6 oz good quality semisweet chocolate chips (I just eyeball half the bag)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk; lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Large pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter an 8×8, then line completely with foil leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.

Melt butter and chocolate with brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.

Whisk eggs and vanilla in to chocolate mixture until combined. Then whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour batter in to foil lined pan as evenly as possible and bake 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.

Allow to cool completely. Store in refrigerator.

Dulce de leche

  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Peel the label off of your can (only so it doesn’t make a mess in your pot). Place sealed can in a deep pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 2 hours making sure the water never dips below the can and adding more boiling water when necessary.

It is very important that the water not dip below the can because the pressure of this can cause the can to explode, which is not only messy, but dangerous. I suggest keeping a kettle of simmering water next to the pot to add when needed and check every once in awhile. Remember that the deeper your pot the better.

After 2 hours, gently dump the water and can in the sink (I usually do this through a colander to give the can a softer landing). Allow to cool until you are able to handle the can, but contents is still warm, which will take a few hours.

Pour warm dulce de leche over chilled brownies and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill completely in refrigerator.

Chocolate ganache

  • 5-6 oz good quality semisweet chocolate chips (ie the other half of the bag)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Put chocolate chips in mixing bowl and set aside.

In small saucepan bring cream to a simmer.

Pour cream over chips and allow to stand one minute, then whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool slightly until ganache is still warm, but manageable. Pour over completely chilled dulce de leche layer and smooth with offset spatula.

Cool completely in the refrigerator.

Cutting, serving and storing

Once brownies have completely cooled remove them from pan by picking up the the foil overhang. Peel the foil from the brownies.

Run a long sharp knife under hot water and wipe dry. Cut brownies in to squares continuing to heat and dry the blade as necessary. This will take some serious upper body strength.

Remove from refrigerator a few minutes before serving.

Brownie bars can be stored layered between sheet of wax paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Yields 12-16 bars

Gotta be grateful, not hateful

Best worst song ever.

We we we we gonna have a good time.


Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 10

Today I’m grateful for this holiday.

Thanksgiving is an easy holiday to love. It’s the one day a year when it’s totally acceptable to fill your plate with carbs, when the correct answer to the question, “mashed potatoes or sweet?” is “Both!” How do you not love that!? I also love that Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays.

I remember back in elementary school learning about both the “melting pot” view of America vs. the “tossed salad” view. The melting pot view teaches that when immigrants come to this country they all blend together in to one to become Americans. The tossed salad view teaches that when immigrants come to this country they retain their own unique flavor which just makes the proverbial salad that much more delicious, each individual ingredient tastes great on it’s own, but when taken together it really turns in to something extra special.

I’ve always been in the tossed salad camp and Thanksgiving is one of our best examples of the tossed salad view in action. As Americans most of us have all of the same staples on our Thanksgiving tables; a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc. Depending on the culture you come from though, there are often some untraditional additions. I have Italian friends who serve a pasta dish, Indian friends who have a curry on their table, German friends who prepare braised red cabbage as part of their feast.

America is a place where we can celebrate both our similarities and our differences and Thanksgiving gives us a great opportunity to do that.

Happy Thanksgiving!


A couple of weeks ago when of my favorite neighborhood bars, George Keelys, hosted a fundraiser for hurricane relief. As part of the fundraiser they sold raffle tickets and as prizes you’d be able to select one out of a selection of some really rare specialty craft beers. For a craft beer lover like me those were magic words and when I won I was psyched.

The choices were overwhelming, but I’d been chatting with a guy who works in the beer industry and he helped me make my pick.


According to the guy who was helping me Hill Farmstead Brewerys Vera Mae was brewed only once and never shipped out of Vermont (someone had brought it themselves and donated it for the fundraiser) so I likely had one of the only bottles in New York! I’m waiting until next weekend, when I have some beer living friends visiting, to try it. I’m so excited and of course I’ll report back.


10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 9

Today I’m thankful for all of the amazing friends that blogging had brought in to my life.

I used to have a personal blog which is how I met most of these amazing people, but now so many of them have become friends beyond blogging.

My relationships with my blog friends formed largely in the same way pen pals did way back when. We learned about each other largely through the written word, but we bared our souls and let ourselves be vulnerable and opened ourselves up to this amazing community of people. I am beyond lucky to have a great group of close friends and these days I count many of the friends I’ve made through blogging among them. They’ve laughed with me and cried with me and are steadfastly in my corner always cheering me on.

They say that you can meet “the one” anywhere. I believe that and I also believe it goes for friendship too. If you open yourself up you can meet some extraordinary people and form lasting bonds in unexpected places.

So bloggy buddies, today I’m thankful for YOU!

So damn unpretty!

Here’s what I tell people about my food, I guarantee it’s gonna taste good, but it might not looks so good. Unlike most other food bloggers out there, I have zero talent for anything crafty. I am not at all domestic, I’m just a great cook. So, while I’ll mix the ingredients in a way that will make your taste buds happy, but the garnishes will be falling off the top of the cake will be cut in to servings that look more like puzzle pieces.

You need proof, for Thanksgiving last year I made Gingerbread Bars. They were a huge hit, taste wise at least…



10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 8

Today I’m thankful for text messaging. Much like social media, text messaging comes with plenty of problems. It’s unfortunate that people these days often don’t realize that text messaging is totally appropriate for, “I’ll be there in 5,” or “Here’s the address of the restaurant,” but not so much for, “So where’d you grow up,” or, “What are your future goals and aspirations.”

Text messages certainly shouldn’t replace real conversation, but I love that text can keep you engaged with friends. As my friends and I have gotten older, we’ve gotten busier and it’s become harder to have long phone chats on a regular basis and most of my close friends don’t live in the same city as me so we also don’t see each other that often. Text messaging allows us to always keep in quick touch. Sometimes it’s a quick, “Was just thinking about you. I miss you,” or a “OMG I just saw [insert celebrity] at Starbucks” or a funny picture we know will crack the other one up.

Text messaging (actually iMessage) also allows me to keep in touch with friends abroad. iMessaging is free whereas international calls can be obscenely expensive.

Text messaging is certainly not perfect, but I’m very thankful that it’s a quick and easy way for me to always be in touch with people I love even when they’re not nearby.

My coworker is better than your coworker

I came to work on Friday to find a hunk of homemade bread my coworker Julie had baked waiting for me. It was dee-licous!

Do you have any coworkers who are that cool?


10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 7

Today I am thankful that I’m in a position to help others.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I blogged about my first experience volunteering for Hurricane Sandy relief for work. After the blog had been posted my coworker, Nadira,  commented, “At some points I feel guilty because we were spared knowing that so many lives and materials were destroyed, but it also gives us the capacity to help our neighbors.”

The words struck me. Those of us who lived in areas largely unaffected by the storm had a sort of collective survivors guilt, but that comment helped me to re frame my thinking. Perhaps some of us in New York had gotten off so easy so that we would have the capacity to help others.

This is not just related to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy though because I am fortunate to have the ability to help others all year round. I am certainly not in much a financial position to help anyone (I can barely help myself financially), but  I’m blessed to have my health, an education, a safe place to live, access to clean water and food when so many others don’t. Even if I can’t contribute much monetarily, I have my voice, I have my hands and I have my time and I am very lucky for that.

The world’s best cranberry sauce

You might think I’m overly confident, but facts are facts; I make the world’s best cranberry sauce and yes I do have many people who will back that up. I’ve received many of my most enthusiastic comments from people who’ve always hated cranberry sauce in the past, but found themselves loving mine. It’s not too sweet and not too tart. It doesn’t have weird thing floating in it or a weird gelatinous texture and it highlights the flavor of fresh cranberries.

My cranberry sauce recipe is not only my best, it’s also my oldest. When I was a kid, it was my job to make the cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving. We always used the basic recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries which consisted of cranberries, water and sugar. That recipe is actually quite tasty, but as my love of cooking grew I started experimenting more. About 10 years ago I finally perfected the recipe and I’m very proud of it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Alli’s Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • Zest of 2 large oranges
  • 2 12oz bags cranberries
  • 2 large oranges, supremed then roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Grande Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
  • Large pinch of kosher salt

In a large Dutch oven combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and orange zest and stir to dissolve sugar. Set over medium high heat. Bring to a boil.

Stir in remaining ingredients and bring back to a boil.

Reduce heat and allow to gently boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool completely then refrigrate several hours, preferably overnight

Cranberry sauce can be made several days in advance as sugar acts as a perservative.

Serves 10-12


10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

Today I’m thankful for experiences that I’ve had living in various cities.

It should come as no surprise to you that New York is my favorite place in the world, but New York is not my adventure as it is for many people. I grew up in the suburbs, but growing up all of my grandparents lived in Brooklyn, my dad worked (and still works) in midtown. Weekends were often filled with trips to the city to go to Broadway shows or museums and even school trips often took us in to the city. So while I wasn’t raised a city girl, New York City still very much felt like my home.

As much as I’ve always loved New York City and as much as I knew I’d end up back here some day, I also knew that I would regret it if I never experienced anything different. I went to college in Providence, RI and fell madly in love with that city. I lived and worked therefor a couple of years after college as well and without the safety net of school, I really felt like I made that city my own. After I graduated college, I spent 6 months living in Copenhagen, Denmark and it became my second home. It was amazing to take a flying leap out of my comfort zone and in to a new culture. At some point after my second stint in Providence, I became a bit restless and ready to move on, but I wasn’t quite ready to come home yet so, on a whim, I decided to move to Boston where I met a group of amazing friends who remain some of the closest people in my life.

I am so thankful that I’ve been able to experience life in different cities and I would urge anyone else to do the same. Even if you love where you live, if you ever have the opportunity to spend even a few months living somewhere else I say go do it!

S is for… Slovenia; Soup for the sleep deprived


Flag of Slovenia

It’s been acrazy few weeks for me between work, holiday planning, volunteering and about a million and a half other things. I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks exhausted. I was really craving food that was simple and comforting so Slovenian mushroom soup, Gobova Juha, seemed to fit the bill.

Apparently Slovenian’s are crazy for mushrooms. Who knew? My original plan was to also make Slovenian bread dumplings because they sounded heavenly, but between my exhaustion and acknowledging that with Thanksgiving coming up I should probably keep it light, I stuck with just the soup.

Gobova Juha
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion; diced
  • 2 cloves garlic; crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1lb meaty mushrooms; cut in to chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes; peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium potatoes; cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Riesling or similar white wine

    Ready for our bath!

Melt butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until they just begin to soften about 3 minute.
Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Stir in mushrooms, spices, potatoes and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are nearly cooked through.
Stir in wine and bring back up to a boil. Allow soup to gently boil for an additional 10 minutes.
Serves 4

Boiling away

I will definitely be making this soup again. Next time I make it, when I’m less concerned with authenticity, I’ll probably experiment with spices, but this was just a really nice, easy everyday soup. Most of the recipes I found suggsted serving this with a dollop of sour cream on top. I’m sure that would be amazing since it’s a commonly known fact that sour cream makes everything better, but the dollops of sour cream didn’t exactly fit with the whole eating light before Thanksgiving plan.
This is a grat vgetarian recipe to have around and could easily be made vegan by replacing the butter with something vegan friendly. I’m not well schooledin gluten substitutions, but I’m also guessing it wouldn’t be too hard to find a replacement for the flour to make this soup gluten free.

I feel so naked without my nice dollop of sour cream, but I’m still yummy!

Dober tek!

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5

Today I’m thankful that I live in a city where I have access to so many amazing foods.

New York is probably the best place in the world when it comes to the diversity of food you can get here. Having people from all over the world all living in one city means that they bring their foods with them. The number ethnic restaurants you can find here is unblievable and while it’s often hard to me to experiment with new cuisines, it still makes my foodie heart sing to know that I live in a city that’s collectively excited to try new foods.

Living in a city that is so richly diverse also makes experimenting a pleasure. When I’m trying a new recipe I rarely worry that I won’t be able to find the ingredients I need. Of course you can’t get everything in New York, but I think it’s safe to say that you can get most things here and I am very thankful for that!

Halloween and Thanks

Yup, I’m still trying to find food things to write about as excuses to post so that I can keep of with my 10 Days of Thanks. To be fair I had intended to post about Halloween, but that post is another thing Hurricane Sandy washed away.

I took a bus up to Salem, Ma (if there’s a better place to be on Halloween I don’t know it), to visit my good friends and spend Halloween in their brand new home with lots of friends and food and beer! The party was great, but unfortunately it was a whirlwind trip since I had to leave literally 24 from the time I’d left NYC (nope, nit even 24 hours from the time I got there, 24 hours from when I left!) to beat the storm.

This Halloween party, which I attended as a 1980’s female rapper a la Salt and Pepa, also marked the first time that I’ve remade one of my 26 Dish project recipes. When I’m completely done with the project (can you believe I’m up to S!) I plan to incorporate my favorites in to my recipe cannon, but haven’t had time to remake any of my favorites yet. With Halloween coming though, it seemed like a perfect time to make Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate, Brazilian Carrot Cake. The cake is a lovely shade of pale orange and the chocolate glaze appears almost black. Black + Orange = Halloween.

The cake was as delicious as the first time I made it. You can see the corner of it in this picture of the adorable table that Heather set.

How was your Halloween?


Ten Days of Thanksgiving: Day 4

Today I am thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to travel!

It’s no wonder that I love to travel since I was raised by parents who get back from one trip only to immediately start planning the next. While travel certainly is a luxury, for me it’s a need rather than a want. Travelling is good for my soul.

My travels (and my time living aboard) have given me memories, adventures, photographs, knowledge and friends. Travelling has helped me to be open and adaptable and given me pieces of knowledge that you just can’t learn from a book and I would not give those experiences up for the world. Now where should I go on my next trip…

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Maya Angelou

This slideshow requires JavaScript.