Lent – Sugarless Diet Game Plan

Hello everyone Happy Presidents Day! We as the title states it’s that Christian season again, Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which was the same day as Valentine’s Day. This Lenten season I decided to give up sugar with the exception of fruit and vegetables. So far, I’m getting through it but at the same time it is difficult especially when I had to eat out for Chinese New Year. Eating out was a challenge because I don’t know whether sugar was added to the diet. As a result, I ended up at a buffet, a Middle Eastern and Hibachi restaurant.

For the first five days of Lent, here were my meals containing 0g of sugar:

What I’ve realized is to successfully accomplish this I have to cook my meals at home.

After going through my current pantry at home, I’ve discovered more limitations to this no sugar sacrifice. However, this week’s game plan will consists of the following ingredients that contains no sugars to date:

Black beans

Red Kidney beans




Ground Kobe beef

Ground Turkey

Olive oil

Coconut oil



Quorn Chik ‘n Patty





Parmesan cheese

Cream cheese

Almond milk



Follow me on Instagram at tablespoonsandteaspoons for updates on the recipes made this week with these ingredients.

Flashback Friday – Winter 2018 NYC Restaurant Week

Today is the last day of NYC Restaurant Week and after reviewing menus and reviews, I was not impressed with the options that were offered this season. Therefore, I was considering skipped this season’s restaurant week. However two of my friends wanted to do restaurant week lunch and dinner. So after getting my arm twisted, I ended up eating a really good lunch at Cut by Wolfgang Puck in Lower Manhattan. My friend wanted to eat there and so I joined her. The service at this restaurant was really good and very accommodating.

For $29, my lunch prix fixe included the following: goat cheese ravioli, crispy quail salad and empire apple crumble.

For dinner, I decided to use my $100 gift card I won at last year’s American Cancer Society Taste of Hope event to eat from Massoni, an Italian/Asian casual fusion restaurant. Service was not par and food was not what I had expected. Furthermore the waiter was terrible, he didn’t know how the food was made and screwed up people’s orders. He suggested items for the $42 prix fixe, which was a bad idea because everything was salty. The waiter too responsibility for his mistake and gave me a free drink and a side dish of squash.

In addition, I took advantage of the happy hour $8 wines until 7pm. I had a Falanghina/fuedi di san gregorio 2014, a white wine and a Barbera/pico maccario 2015, a red wine.

For the $42 salty three course prix fixe dinner, I ordered Biriyani balls, Brussels sprouts pizza, and Snickers cannoli. Let’s put it this way, the cannoli was the best dish out of the three. The first two dishes were so salty that I couldn’t finish it, my friend shared the appetizer with me and I took leftover Brussels Sprouts pizza home.

By far Massoni was probably the worse restaurant week meal I have had and I used the remaining balance on the gift card to order more food to see if their regular menu was better….

My friend ordered the salmon and it was supposed to have potatoes and leeks. Let’s just say the dish was a disappointment because it not only had too much dill but it was salty with very little potatoes and leeks.

If it was not for the gift certificate I would not have eaten at this restaurant. I believe the food needs more work, I have to give the benefit of the doubt that this place opened less than a year ago. Honestly, I would not come back here, there are more restaurants out there to try for better food and service.

Throwback Thursday – National Spaghetti Day – Scarpetta 

Happy New Year! On this first Thursday of 2018, we will be celebrating National Spaghetti Day! 

Spaghetti was historically recorded around the 12th century in Sicily by Muhammad al-Idrisi, Muslim historian and geographer who served at the court of Sicilian King Roger II. It was not until the 19th century that this dish became popular throughout Italy and abroad especially the United States.  Currently, spaghetti has been modernized and mass produced where the ingredients are now sold in canned and boxed form at almost all supermarkets. 

A few years ago I heard about the best spaghetti in New York City from various press such as the New York Times, CBS Local, Timeout, Zagat, Thrillist and Serious Eats.  Scarpetta, located in the Meatpacking District has elevated the spaghetti dish made with tomato and basil by using butter.  At a whopping cost of $26, the presentation and taste made every cent worthwhile. 

Spaghetti with tomato and basil $26

Further research revealed that Serious Eats met with Scarpetta’s Scott Conant and watched him make this signature dish. The ingredients provided makes this dish potentially budget friendly. However, it is the technique that makes the dish what it is. Hopefully when the weather clears up, I’ll make the dish with the ingredients provided. 

For those who don’t have access to the ingredients and more or less lazy, this dish can be made with three ingredients: 

1) Pasta (I used Barilla Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti) = $1.00 on sale 

2) Spaghetti Sauce (I used Victoria Low sodium tomato basil sauce) = $3.50 on sale

3) Butter (I used Earth Balance Organic Whipped Butter) = $3.50 on sale 

Three ingredient spaghetti under $10 (sorry for the picture, my phone was dying)

Traditional Tuesday – Dumplings

This summer I was on a dumpling phase  where I’ve eaten at various restaurants that serve various dumplings.

Historically dumplings were developed during the Han Dynasty in China by Zhang Zhongjing. Zhongjing was considered the “Medicine Saint” in his village.

One year, the people’s ears were frostbitten and he took a piece of dough skin and filled it with mutton, chili and medicinal herbs, wrapped it up and boiled it. This popular winter concoction helped promote blood flow to warm the body.

Today there are varieties of dumplings:

Korea – Mandoo

Italy – Ravioli

Poland – Pierogi

Spain, Portugal, South and Central America – Empanada

India – Samosa

Japan – Gyoza

Turkey – Manti

Tibet/Nepal – Momo

Below are images of the various dumplings I have had within the last two years. I definitely all kinds, but unfortunately no pictures were taken.

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao $6.95

Loofah Xiao Long Bao $7.95

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao Chocolate Dumplings

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Pork Buns $5.25

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Vegetable Dumplings $4.50

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao Shanghai Shumai $2.95

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Crabmeat and Pork Buns $6.25

Shanghai Cafe Steamed Tiny Buns $4.95

Shanghai Cafe Steamed Tiny Buns with Crabmeat $6.95


Korean octopus dumplings and glutinous rice dumplings

David Burke Kitchen – BBQ Chicken Dumplings

Klimat Lounge – Polish Pierogi $11

Klimat Lounge – Sauerkraut & mushroom, Spinach Mixed Polish Pierogi $11

Manor Oktoberfest – Pierogies with sour cream $8

Mrs. P’s Pierogies $2.50 (on sale any supermarket)

Agozar Cuban Restaurant – Empanaditas $9

Momos – Himalayan Yak $7

Below is a recent dumpling recipe (Thank you Tasty Japan) I made for Mother’s Day back in May that was creative and very budget friendly.

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Throwback Thursday – Da Nico Ristorante – Little Italy 

One of the popular festivities celebrated in New York is the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.  This festival last 10 days, this year the festival started from 9/14 thru 9/24.  The festival is held along Mulberry Street.  The street is so packed to the point of claustrophobia and it can be worse than rush hour.  

There were a variety of food items such as sausage and peppers, pastries, pina coladas, seafood, fried oreos etc. to purchase but they are overpriced. Personally I’ve avoided eating food from the vendors.  Therefore I prefer eating at one of my favorite spots:

Da Nico Ristorante (164 Mulbeery Street) is a local favorite in Little Italy and it has a garden. But with the humidity and hot weather we decided to stay indoors. 

We went on a Friday night and we walked in and were seated immediately.  I’ve eaten here several times for lunch and was neber disappointed.  The place as I recalled was known for their meat dishes.  Portions of each dish were perfect where there were no leftovers. Service was overall great and very accommodating given the busy atmosphere. I definitely want to return here for lunch and eat at the garden.

Here are the dishes that were ordered: 

Appetizer: Mozzarella In Carrozza $13. This dish is coated in different kinds of flour and breading. The texture was light not greasy. The sauce was so good. Unfortunately, was hoping for more slices. 

Entrees: Both entrees came with sides of vegetables and a rice ball.  Vegetables were good, the rice ball, not so much.  A side of penne alla vodka was also ordered, however, there were better versions. 

The star main entrees overall were amazing, the taste and texture remained the same after 13 years. 

Pollo Cardinale – chicken breast, prosciutto, roasted red peppers and mozzarella $24

Veal Marsala – veal scallopine with sauteed mushrooms in Marsala wine $25

Dessert: Zeppoles – COMPLEMENTARY

Da Nico provided complementary zeppoles. I was so full from my entree, nonetheless, they were well made not too greasy and love the dusting balance. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for another food adventure in Little Italy.  

Throwback Thursday – Spot Dessert Bar

This year I have visited a restaurant that focuses on desserts.  This place has become my favorite go to places if I have a sweet tooth. The unique Asian fusion flavors and elaborate presentations has been recognized by NBC, Zagat and Examiner. 

Each dessert is served to share and it’s $10 per dish.  It’s ideal to go with groups and order the tapas set. I was with a group of girls and we ate at the original Spot Dessert Bar in the East Village.  We ordered a 3 tapas set costing $27.  Below is the three tapas we ordered:

The Harvest

Golden Toast

Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake

Another perk of Spot Dessert Bar is their punch card; so for every $10 or every tapas set ordered a stamp is placed. If you collect 9 stamps, you get a free dessert.  The quickest way to the free dessert is to order the tapas set. I’ve eaten here three times at all the locations and ordered the 3 tapas set each time, which resulted in 9 stamps entitling me to a free dessert tapa on my next trip.  Stay tuned for more….

Social Saturday/Sunday – Japanese restaurant expo – NYC

During my birthday weekend last year, we attended the 23rd Annual Japanese Food and Restaurant Expo hosted by the New York Mutual Trading Company. We enjoyed speaking with the vendors and sampled their food products.  Majority of the food products were delicious. My favorite parts of this experience was every fried product, wagyu steak, miso soup and ramen. Below are highlights of event:

Looking forward to their annual event on Saturday September 23. 

Throwback Thursday: Eataly Presents: Stop and Smell the Rose

On August 23, I’ve decided to take advantage of my discounted coupon from Gilt City to purchase my ticket for the summer event: Eataly Presents: Stop and Smell the Rose in Eataly’s newest restaurant Vino e Grano. 

The overall event provided a great walkthrough of Eataly Downtown. The walkthrough consisted on stations that was well placed where everyone can pace themselves sampling all the food and wine being offered. 

My favorites were the pasta alla Norma, parmagiano reggiano, seasonal bruchetta (snap peas with ricotta), skewered mozzarella and the Rose Sorbetto.

Below are images from the day’s event. 

Meatless Monday – Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant Week Summer 2017 Game Plan

Happy Monday! With halfway through NYC restaurant week, I’m playing catch up. Over the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve been thoroughly reviewing 337 out of the 390 menus for this season’s restaurant week. This week I will be blogging my picks that I believe is the best bang for your buck.  

In addition, if you have an American Express credit card you can register your card to get an extra $5 off your meal purchase of $35 or more for up to 4x for restaurant week.  

If you have instagram you can take pictures of your prix fixe course and tag #NYCrestaurantweek for a daily chance of winning a $50 gift card. 

So let’s get to it:

Since it is Meatless Monday, I came up with seven (7) participating restaurants that you can enjoy a three course vegetarian meal for either $29 or $42. 

Here’s the game plan for vegetarians who want to enjoy NYC restaurant week:

Three course Prix Fixe Vegetarian Options picks for NYC Restaurant Week.

1) Acme – $42 3-course  dinner    

    Appetizer: Caesar Salad

    Entree: Baked Rigatoni 

    Dessert: Affrogato

2) Casa Lever – $42 3-course dinner 

    Appetizer: Caprese or Insalata Di  Barbabietole

    Entree: Gnudi or Cacio e Pepe or Arrabbiata

    Dessert: Mix Your Berries or Formaggi

3) Distilled NY – $29 brunch (Sunday)

     Appetizer: Housemade Granola or Fresh Start Salad

     Entree: Mushroom and Cheese Enchilada

     Dessert: Blueberry Semolina Cake or Earl Grey Panna Gotta

4) Empellon Taqueria – $42 dinner 

     Appetizer: Little Gem Lettuce with Toasted Corn or Carrots with Achiote and Coconut Crema

     Entree: Mixed Mushrooms with Pasilla Chile taco or Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Almond 

     Dessert: Passion Fruit Curd with Citrus, Mezcal and Meringue. 

5. Felice 64 – $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Arancini (lunch), Crostone Ricotta (dinner)

    Entree: Spaghetti al Pesto or Fusilli so Ferretto 

    Dessert: Gelati e Sorbetti

6) La Pecora Blanca –  $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Cauliflower (lunch) or Toscano (dinner)

    Entree: Toscano (lunch) or Orata (dinner)

    Dessert: Ricotta Cheesecake

7) Sant Ambroeus Soho  $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Tofu “Ricotta”

    Entree: Linguine Cacio e Pepe

    Dessert: Torta Do Frutta

Out of the 7 restaurants, I’ve only eaten at Empellon Taqueria and their Brussels sprouts with Toasted Almond taco was so good but the portions are very small, definitely pricey for $14 for 2 tacos. 

Looking forward to blogging more restaurant options this week. Enjoy and stay tuned! 

Throwback Thursday – Taste of Hope Goes to Broadway

Early this week, I was invited by the co-chairs of the American Cancer Society Taste of Hope to attend and support the first ever Taste of Hope Goes to Broadway. It was a chill low key event filled with Broadway stars who did not recognize, but what is important is that money was raised and tickets were only $50 and it could be paid at the door. Admission included the opportunity to tour the newly renovated $6 million condo plus wines, and bites from Tolache and Delicatessen. Executive Chef Michael Ferraro led a team to present the delicious dishes that covered all types of eaters. The food presented were lean and healthy. 

Tacuba HK – Brisket Tacos

Delicatessen’s Duck dumplings and Tuna Tartare

It was great to reconnect with the management team and committee members who I’ve had the pleasure of working with during the planning of the 12th Annual Taste of Hope Committee.  

Cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death. Funding and donations are critical to finding the cause and cure to the various cancers.  

To make a donation go to http://www.tasteofhopenyc.org.