The Best Things in Life are Sweet: Dana’s Bakery for Valentine’s Day

It is the week of Valentine’s Day, so if you haven’t already picked up a sweet treat for the love of your life or your Galentine, here’s your chance to wow them with something really yummy. Everyone’s favorite sweet spot, Dana’s Bakery, has some delightful, and delicious sweet treats that are perfect for gift-giving this Valentine’s Day. Known for their exquisite traditional French macarons with an American twist, you can easily spoil your Valentine or Galentine.  Say “Be Mine”, I Luv U, and “Kiss Me” in the sweetest and yummiest way possible from the Dana’s Bakery for Valentine’s Day offerings. Check out the limited edition Valentine treats below:

Dana’s Bakery Sweethearts Box

Share the very special message of love, featuring special messages with the Dana’s Bakery Sweethearts Box. This 12-piece macaron gift is available for now Valentine’s Day and comes with six different macaron flavors, each with a special message of love. Enjoy the delicious flavors of Milk Chocolate Molten, Dark Chocolate Raspberry, Milk Chocolate Caramel, Milk Chocolate Pistachio, Dark Chocolate & Orange, and Milk Chocolate Passionfruit.
Each 12-piece Dana’s Bakery Sweethearts Box is $36.00 and they’re perfect for anyone on your V-Day gift list.

Dana’s Bakery Love Box

 

Want your Valentine to know how much you love and care for them? Let them know with every bite of the macarons from the limited edition Dana’s Bakery Love Box. This limited edition heart-shaped Valentine’s Day gift comes with four macaron flavors: Raspberry Jam, Chocolate Molten, Red Velvet, and Cookie Dough. Just like the Sweethearts Box, the Dana’s Bakery Love Box is $36.00 for a box of 12 macarons.

All of Dana’s Bakery macarons are gluten free, made with almond flour, and certified Kosher Dairy by Kof-K, and can be shipped nationwide. What are your thoughts on the above Dana’s Bakery for Valentine’s Day offerings? Which of these delicious macaron flavors are your favorites?

 

 

Baby, I like it Raw: Natural Raw Wonderful Pistachios & Wonderful Almonds

You may have noticed there’s a big resurgence of adding more raw foods to one’s diet. More and more people have been enjoying foods that are mostly or entirely uncooked, and unprocessed. It’s all about attempting to eat clean and healthier. Whether it’s eating more raw vegetables, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, or dairy products. This is a practice that has prehistoric origins with a modern initial introduction in the 1930s and is experiencing a resurgence now. Let’s face it, food is better for you without all the artificial and processed junk. Launching just in time for Heart Health Month, The Wonderful Company welcomes its Natural Raw Wonderful Pistachios, joining their already successful Natural Raw Wonderful Almonds, originally launched in 2012.

Natural Raw Wonderful Pistachios

A perfect way to add more plant protein to your daily diet, the Natural Raw Wonderful Pistachios have a rich, crunchy, nutty flavor, in their natural state. Pistachios are one of the lowest-calorie, lowest-fat nuts around. There is no roasting or salting done to them at all, and they are a delicious way to enjoy the raw food diet. One handful of Natural Raw Wonderful Pistachios (about 30) is a sensible, delicious snack with only 100 calories, with lots of protein and fiber.

“The ‘natural raw’ process maintains the raw properties of the pistachio nut that some of our consumers are looking for,” said Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing, The Wonderful Company. “In fact, consumers are showing an increased desire for raw nuts, with 62 percent of all nut buyers purchasing raw nuts in the past year. Among this group, nearly 80% expressed interest in buying Natural Raw Wonderful Pistachios. With this clear consumer in mind, Wonderful Pistachios Natural Raw was a natural extension to our portfolio.”

Natural Raw Wonderful Almonds

Naturally cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat, and full of nutrition, Natural Raw Wonderful Almonds might be the perfect healthy snack for everyone. They are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, Certified Non-GMO, dairy and soy free, Kosher (certified by the Orthodox Union) and Halal (certified by the Islamic Food Nutrition Council of America). Almonds are among tree nuts that are the highest in protein, calcium, fiber and the antioxidant vitamin E. Plus they are a great tasting, convenient, and heart-healthy everyday snack.

Natural Raw Wonderful Almonds are available now in 1.5oz. bags ($0.99), 6.3oz. bags ($3.99), and 7oz. (4.49). Natural Raw Wonderful Pistachios officially launches this February and will be available in 16oz. bags for $9.99. Both can be found at leading grocery retailers nationwide. Could Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds help you add more plant protein to your daily diet?

Gourmet Gift Baskets for your Sweetheart this Valentine’s Day

We all know Valentine’s Day is the celebration of love, a sweet sentiment that deserves to be celebrated……..with something equally sweet. Does the love of your life have a sweet tooth? Do they love things like chocolates, cookies, brownies, and other decadent treats? Then keep reading on for some amazing Valentine gift ideas from Gourmet Gift Baskets. Offering the best in all sweet treats, as well as popcorn, fruits, nuts, and beer and wine, Gourmet Gift Baskets is your go-to for Valentine’s Day gift baskets filled with delightful champagnes, decadent chocolates, and a variety of exquisite treats that are sure to make your sweetheart weak in the knees. Check out a few of them below:

Send A Bear Hug Care Package, $49.99

Whether your Valentine is close by or far away, receiving this Bear Hug Care Package is sure to inspire a smile. This adorable Send A Bear Hug Care package is stocked full of decadent chocolates that everyone loves, some very gourmet cookies, and a sweet and cuddly teddy bear that’s perfect for snuggling.

“Happy Valentine’s Day” Cookie Cake, $29,99

Say “I Love You” in the sweetest way possible! This 9″ Valentine’s Day Cookie Cake is a heart-shaped, soft, and chewy cookie stuffed with milk chocolate chips and hand decorated with creamy vanilla frosting. This great, big, heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie is the equivalent of 30 regular-sized cookies.

“Be Mine” Valentine’s Day Brownie Cake, $29.99

Does the love of your life prefer brownies over cookies? The “Be Mine” Valentine’s Day Brownie Cake is a great alternative. This heart-shaped, extra chocolaty, brownie cake will easily win their hearts and win you best V-Day gift giver, plus the two of you will get even closer enjoying this very yummy gift that’s big enough to share.

Red Velvet Cake – $34.99 to $49.99

A delectable and different type of sweet gift for you and your sweetheart to enjoy together, whether it’s dessert after a first date or a treat after 40 years of Valentine’s Day dinners together. This double layered cake is made with only the finest ingredients like natural cocoa powder and fresh buttermilk. The rich red color is finished off with a vanilla infused cream cheese frosting and cake crumbles.

We would be completely ecstatic to receive any of these wonderfully sweet and loving gifts for Valentine’s Day. What about you? What are your thoughts on these Gourmet Gift Baskets? Which of these Gourmet Gift Baskets Valentine’s Day gifts would you love to receive from your sweetheart?

Celebrating the Galette des Rois w/ FIAF: A Cake Fit for a King…or Queen

The ball has dropped and the fireworks have long fizzled out, but don’t let the post-holiday blues sink in just yet. We’re still getting into the swing of 2018 and the New Year celebration should continue all throughout January. To keep the party going and to invite more luck and sweetness into our lives, we looked to the French. Specifically, we went to the epitome of French culture and language in New York City, the French Institute Alliance Francaise or FIAF for short. On January 17, we headed to FIAF’s Le Skyroom event space to enjoy some wine, cheese, bread, and cakes with a royal history, Galette des Rois, and Brioche des Rois.

While the Galette des Rois or the “Kings’ cake” is enjoyed in many parts of Europe, Canada, Latin America, and the United States, the focus was on the traditional French Galette des Rois. Dating back to the middle ages, the galette des Rois is served only in the month of January. It celebrates the Epiphany or the visit of the three kings to the Christ child.  It is a puff pastry confection with a frangipane filling. However, different variations exist depending on the region in France. The traditional galette is a light flaky golden brown pastry packed with a dense and palatable almond filling. We were fortunate enough to also taste a Brioche des Rois. The Brioche des Rois is more colorful than its cousin and can be found in the South of France. It’s made with raisins, candied fruits, and orange blossom water topped with pearl sugar and more candied fruits.

The lightness and fluffiness of the bread is balanced with the thick sweetness of the fruits. Best of all, baked into the dense filling and buried within the flaky layers of any galette is a fève or a porcelain charm. Whoever finds the fève inside their piece, gets crowned king or queen for a day. A box of Galette des Rois often comes with gold paper crowns for the lucky guy or gal who gets to rule over the party. Not only that, it’s also said that whoever finds the fève will have good luck for the rest of the year. An important thing to note when serving galettes with fèves in them—be sure to warn your guests to eat slowly and look out for the charms to avoid choking and chipped teeth incidents.

But hurry and get yourself this fun dessert before month’s end! We recommend getting one from Maison Kayser, the bakery who generously supplied the savory spread and the galettes at FIAF. Don’t forget to grab a bottle of wine from Gabriella Fine Wines, who also provided the perfect pairing to our feast. Bon Appétit!

New Victoria Chef Collection: A Complete Gourmet Pasta Meal

Raise your hand if there are days when you don’t feel like spending more than 10 minutes in the kitchen cooking dinner, or if your lunch hour has somehow gone down to minutes. Every so often we will mutter “there’s just not enough time in the day” to ourselves or out loud and many times, our meal is what ends up being suffering. What if you could enjoy a homemade meal even though your time may be limited? Thanks to the new Victoria Chef Collection, you can enjoy a complete gourmet pasta meal in minutes.

As you can see, we’re not talking about those instant mac and cheese snacks that pass themselves off as an actual meal, this heat and serve pasta option is a full, well-balanced meal. With the Victoria Chef Collection, you will enjoy a wholesome, heat and serve meal solution – with the satisfaction of a homemade meal, without all the time.

The Victoria Chef Collection brings traditional Italian elegance to your table in under two minutes, whether you’ll be enjoying it for lunch or dinner. Available in two pasta sauce options (hoping more will be launching very soon), Penne Marinara and  Penne alla Vodka, all you have to do to enjoy is just heat and serve.

The Penne Marinara is simplicity at its best, combining penne pasta with premium, slow-cooked marinara sauce. The Penne alla Vodka is a decadent classic, it also combines penne pasta with rich, creamy vodka sauce. Both are made with antioxidant-rich 100% whole plum tomatoes, real cheese, fresh onions, fresh basil, and fresh garlic. Victoria Fine Foods has been committed to ingredients come first since day one, which is why they put them on the front of their label as part of their #ReadYourLabel movement.

Could the new Victoria Chef Collection help make lunch or dinner preparation easier for you?

 

National Spaghetti Day – Gluten Free Version (it’s pasta-ble!)

Although you may be completely preoccupied with the current snowstorm, today is January 4th, and you know what that means? National Spaghetti Day!!! If you’re like me, finding a gluten-free pasta that doesn’t taste like it is missing gluten and can hold its weight is hard. There are so many brands out there, it’s like kissing a ton of GF frogs to find the one wheatless carb Prince. Well, my Prince in noodle armor is Explore Cuisine. Explore Cuisine offers delicious spaghettis (and pennes, and lasagna noodles) made from ingredients like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, edamame, and more.

I am thankful for brands like this because you don’t feel like you’re missing out when it comes to pasta dishes. But I am also a label reader. So seeing that it is organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and gives you a serving of protein, what better way to indulge without the guilt on National Spaghetti Day. Find me a glutinous pasta that can do all of that.

I am such a major fan of the Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti. Who says pasta has to come in one color? To be honest, when I purchased it I didn’t think I would like the taste as much because…….black bean pasta! I mean I love black beans…over rice. However, when it comes to GF foods, I like to try everything once so I can speak on it. But surprisingly, I wound up loving the flavor as a spaghetti pasta! The black bean flavor was not overwhelming and added a nice element of taste with my spaghetti sauce. It became one of my fave pasta go-to’s. And while I am not totally committed to it yet, I can be vegan-ish, and this line of vegan pastas really help for when I want to Carbe Diem!

Since it is a snow day and National Spaghetti Day, I like to cook even more because I am home and I eat. It’s what I do. You might not have a box of Explore Cuisine pasta in your cabinets (of which I highly suggest you stock up), but for those of you that do (or will), here’s a couple of good recipes for you to try –

Simple Vegan Chickpea Spaghetti

1 box Explore Cuisine Chickpea Spaghetti
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 cup organic pasta sauce
Cook the spaghetti until soft according to the packet directions. Drain the water from the pasta, and stir in the pasta sauce. Add more if you like more sauce. Serve in bowls and then sprinkle the nutritional yeast on each one. Season with salt and extra nutritional yeast if desired.

Southwestern Black Bean Spaghetti

Recipe and Image Credit: Lee Tilghman (Lee From America)
Serves 1 person
Preparation 30 minutes + 10 minutes cooking

1/4 box Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti
1/2 zucchini spiralized into “noodles”
1/4 Red Bell Pepper
2 handfuls Baby Spinach
1/4 cucumber
1/4 cup corn (canned in water works great- just rinse them)
1/4 avocado mashed with fresh organic lemon juice
1 tbsp. vegan cheese (I used Leaf Cuisine Plain Cream Cheese) pumpkin seeds + dill for garnish
Start by boiling a big pot of water for your black bean spaghetti. Once boiling, add the spaghetti and let cook for 6 minutes.
Once done, remove from heat, rinse under cool water and set aside.

Prep your veggies! Finely dice your cucumber, bell pepper, mash your avocado, spiralize your zucchini. Next, add a spicy adobo chipotle sauce to your noodles and zucchini noodles. Combine the ancho and guajillo chiles in a large bowl and add plenty of cold water to cover. Let them soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Place the soaked chiles in a blender along with the ginger, cumin, salt, and pepper. Blend until very smooth. Stop the motor a few times to scrape down the sides with a spatula and give things a stir, just to make sure everything’s getting puréed. Don’t be tempted to add liquid—you want the final sauce to be thick. Scrape the purée into a small bowl if you plan to use it soon, or into a jar with a tight-fitting lid if you want to save it for later. It’ll keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. Add a few handfuls of baby spinach to a big ‘ol bowl. Add some noodles, guac, then add cucumber, red bell pepper, vegan cheese, pumpkin seeds, and freshly chopped dill!

Explore Cuisine and their awesome pasta varieties are also oh-so-perfect for National Gluten-Free Day on January 13th! Enjoy!

**P.S. I need to know when it is National Lasagna Day because I will definitely be making my lasagna with these Explore Cuisine Green Lentil Lasagna Noodles! What spaghetti dish are you enjoying on this snowy National Spaghetti Day?

Brownie Brittle Releases Decadent Holiday Snacks

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without taking the time to snack on some holiday treats, and Brownie Brittle has the perfect holiday snacks that celebrate your favorite holiday flavors, like peppermint and salted caramel. Some of Brownie Brittle’s best-selling items are made with a holiday twist. Perfect for you to share with your family or with Santa on Christmas morning. As you open your presents, spend quality time with your family, or indulge on your own, treat everyone to a few bites of these perfect, gratifying, chocolate snacks.

Say hello to the six new holiday flavors from Brownie Brittle. These indulgent bites, barks, and brittles make for the perfect snacks or gifts this holiday season!  The newest flavors are available in their classic Brownie Brittle, Brownie Brittle Bites, and Thindulgent snacks.

Thindulgent Chocolate Bark is available in a two new flavors: Dark Chocolate Peppermint and Caramel Pretzel Milk Chocolate. The peppermint dark chocolate pieces topped with peppermint flakes are holiday defined, and the salty and sweet caramel pretzel milk chocolate flavor is as decadent as it sounds. Each bag sells for $4.49.

The classic Brownie Brittle flavors also have a holiday twist. The Chocolate Chip flavor is topped with an indulgent white drizzle, while the Salted Caramel flavor is covered in a dark drizzle. These treats are available for $3.49 each.

The very popular Brownie Brittle Bites, are now available in milk chocolate caramel and peppermint dark chocolate flavors for $4.49 per bag. The sinful Chocolate chip morsels are covered in a layer of caramel, and milk chocolate to form the milk chocolate caramel flavor. The Peppermint dark chocolate bites are chocolate chip morsels as well, but these rich treats are covered with a layer of peppermint and dark chocolate.

All holiday products are available now and sold at retailers nationwide as well as online on www.browniebrittle.com.

Restaurant Review: Calle Dao Chinese-Cuban Restaurant

A Journey through the Unique Fusion of Cuban and Chinese Cuisine 

Hello fellow NYC foodies and fusion food enthusiasts, there’s a new restaurant we’d like to introduce you to. Nestled in the vibrant location in Chelsea, NYC, is Calle Dao, the second location of the popular midtown foodie haven which offers a fusion of Chinese-Cuban cuisine. Calle Dao is the brainchild of Restaurateur Marco Britti who follows the Bryant Park location of this critics’ favorite and highly popular dining destination with the Chelsea opening. The name Calle Dão, a mix of Cuban and Mandarin, is a nod to Havana’s Chinatown, where Britti first discovered this unique culture and cuisine.

We had the pleasure of experiencing the delicious combination of the two cultures in a multi-course sit-down dinner, which included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, entrees, and dessert. While we couldn’t sample everything, we enjoyed the dishes that we tried. Our journey began with cocktails; four intoxicating concoctions handcrafted by Mixologist Joy Daniels (pictured below).

Calle Dão Handcrafted Cocktails

From left to right, the evening’s cocktails included:

  1. Macau – made with aged rum, fresh lime juice, and a sweet spiced syrup (demerara sugar, star anise, ginger, vanilla bean, black peppercorn, Chinese cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peels). A great balanced drink – not too sweet, tart, or spicy.
  2. Revolucion! – made with habanero infused tequila, ginger liqueur, absinthe, sweet corn kernels, pineapple, agave, and lemon. (**This was our favorite cocktail, it’s sweetness paired wonderfully with the savory passed hors d’oeuvres we enjoyed).
  3. MaxVer – made with gin, elderflower liqueur, white peach, shiso leaves, agave, and lime. If you’re looking for a cocktail that’s not at all sweet, this is the one for you.
  4. Flor de Oro – made with vodka, rose and vanilla infused dry vermouth, cherry jam, and fresh lemon juice. This was my least favorite and the only one I didn’t finish (mainly because I’m not really a fan of Vermouth).

Calle Dão Cuisine – Passed Hors D’oeuvres

The menu’s next offerings were a delight to our palate. Thanks to Chef Bradley Warner, we enjoyed some very exquisite hors d’oeuvres including Oxtail Croquettas with mango chutney and saffron aioli, Cuban Sandwich Spring Rolls, Double fried crispy plantains, and Duck Empanadas

We highly recommend that you treat yourself to all three dishes as they are superb, rich in flavor, perfectly seasoned, and the ingredient combinations…….amazing. The Oxtail Croquettas boasts a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth meat interior and a crispy exterior. If you love Cuban Sandwiches, you’ll love this bite-size version, and you will never go wrong if you order the empanadas. We were then seated to enjoy almost everything on the restaurant’s menu.

Calle Dão Cuisine – Appetizers and Entrees

We were in for a night adventurous delights (featured in order in the slideshow below):

  1. Ma-Po Maduros spicy pork, Sichuan peppercorns, toban-djan, and scallions
  2. Double fried crispy plantains
  3. Crispy Pig’s Ear with cilantro and sesame chili
  4. Charred Octopus in Mojo Verde with Chorizo Oil, Capers, Pimeton, and Olives
  5. Crispy Whole Fish marinated in Mojo Rojo
  6. Smoked short Rib & Chinese broccoli over classic la meìn noodles which predate ramen
  7. Spiced Goat Neck braised in House Spice Blend with Cilantro and Baby Bok Choy
  8. 14-Hour Char Sui Pork marinated and glazed Pork Tenderloin with plum onion escabeche and puré de batata
  9. Peking Style Roast Chicken over yellow Arroz Amarillo with chorizo
  10. Pato Frito Sour Orange Glazed Duck over fried rice with sunny side up egg.

We had several dish favorites from the dining experience. We approached this foodie journey with an open mind knew not every dish was going to be a hit with us. While some at our table weren’t so open, we left the restaurant quite satisfied with the entire experience. Our favorite entrees included the Crispy Whole Fish, Crispy Pig’s Ear, 14-Hour Char Sui Pork, and the Pato Frito Sour Orange Glazed Duck. The fish was exquisite. If you’ve never experienced freshly caught fish being cleaned and cooked right on the beach, this dish is the closest to it. We didn’t think we would really enjoy the Crispy Pig’s Ear but this was delicious. I loved the texture and lightness of it…..sort of like a very elevated pork rinds. We definitely enjoyed nibbling on these ears. The pork and duck were sublime. Both of the meats were succulent and were favorites of many at our table. Almost favorites included the Charred Octopus, which I wish has more of a crunchy texture; the Spiced Goat Neck I wished had a bit more kick to it; and while the Peking Style Roast Chicken itself was flavorful, the flavor of the rice was tame by comparison.

Calle Dao Desserts

At the time of our final course, we were so full but we tried to sample each of the following desserts. Crafted by pastry chef, Kate Holowchik (winner of the 2015 Vitamix Challenge dessert competition), the decadent Calle Dao desserts we enjoyed include:

  1. Matcha Tres Leches with chocolate crumb, chocolate sesame tuile, and mango coulis. As a fan of matcha, we loved this Asian incarnation of Tres Leches. The cake was moist and we loved the combination of the matcha and mango coulis.
  2. Chocolate Arroz Con Leche with ginger gelato, cashew sesame crumb, sweet sesame wontons, passion fruit caramel. Chocolate, passion fruit, and ginger superbly excite your taste buds.
  3. Bunuelos with Chinese five spice sugar, chocolate coconut sauce. Another favorite of ours, the sauce was rich and accented the Bunuelos nicely but we admit, we also dipped it in the pineapple jam.
  4. Coconut Rum Flan with pineapple jam, passion fruit caramel, and crispy rice noodles. We’ve never been a fan of flan but we do like this tropical version.

The wonderful cuisine plating won’t be the only feast for the eyes. Passionate about art, culture, and heritage, Britti (pictured below) has added many finishing touches to Calle Dao to ensure real flavor in the interior as well as the food.

Taking inspiration from traditional Cuban colors, the walls are adorned with vintage Chinese smoking adverts with Cuban touches throughout. A rare last edition of Cuba’s only Spanish and Chinese written Newspaper, Kwong Wah Po, hangs on the wall to welcome all who walks through the door. You will also find authentic cigar boxes decorating the rafters, as well as Cuban cigars at the hostess table. One decoration that also stood out was the giant Call Dao logo (a Chinese Chef’s knife) made up of several very real Chinese Chef’s knives.

We invite you to check out this Chinese-Cuban food fusion for yourself. We are looking forward to experiencing Calle Dao Chinese-Cuban Restaurant again soon.

Calle Dao Chelsea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato