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Thanks, Bro — The Ultimate Man-Gifting Service

5 Apr

When it comes to gifts, men are about as simple and cheap as it gets. Unlike the ladies, men don’t intentionally leave Tiffany & Co. catalogs laying around with circled jewelry, demand grandiose bouquets from Flowers of the World, or pander for imported chocolates from the finest Belgium boutiques. Yes, at their core, men really just need beer and beef. And that’s where Thanks, Bro comes in. Continue reading

Stonewall Kitchen — Sample Basket Review

9 Feb

Stonewall Kitchen is a specialty foods store based out of Maine. It started back in 1991, vending its goods from the confines of a farmer’s market, and has now expanded to big chains throughout the country, as well as the internet. Stonewall Kitchen has kept very closely to its roots, and has time, and time again, proved capable of canning, jarring, and boxing little bits of Maine for the world to enjoy.

I was fortunate enough to receive a sample package from the kind folks at Stonewall Kitchen, which is wonderful considering I’m a huge fan and avid consumer of their goods. They provided me with Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce, Caramelized Onion Mustard, Roasted Garlic Onion Jam, Peach Chutney, Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce, Bourbon Molasses Sauce, Wild Maine Blueberry Champagne Jam, and Double Chocolate Pancake & Waffle Mix. Like all of their products I’ve tried, these were no different–that is, they were all incredible delicious and unique.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce: For chocolate sauce aficionados out there, Stonewall Kitchen’s “Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce” doesn’t get much better. The boldness of dark chocolate, sweetness of caramel, and saltiness of sea salt is a killer dessert topping combination and one that’s tough to beat. Suggested Usages: sundaes, yogurt, straight-up with a spoon.

Caramelized Onion Mustard: It’s hard to convince me to use any other kind of mustard besides good ole deli or Dijon, but the addition of sweet, caramelized onions seals the deal. Even after using this mustard just once, slapping this in a sandwich or on a hotdog is not only a no-brainer, but a necessity. Suggested Usages: turkey sandwich, hotdog.

Roasted Garlic Onion Jam: For those accustom to jams being fruity, leave your pallets at the pantry door. The Roasted Garlic Onion Jam’s texture might seem a little adventurous at first glance, but you’ll be using it with cheese plates and even on burgers in no-time. Suggested Usages: cheese and crackers, hamburgers.

Peach Chutney: Chutney is a very common pasty sauce in Indian cuisine, but it’s also easily adaptable into American foods as well. Stonewall Kitchen’s Peach Chutney blends together sweet mango and heat-filled spices to create an ideal spread, dip, and even topping. Suggested Usages: spread for sandwiches, dip for tortilla chips or pita bread, topping for yogurt.

Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce/Bourbon Molasses Sauce: Both the Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce and the Bourbon Molasses Sauce aren’t exactly A1–but then again, why would you want them to be? The sauces draw sweetness from the peaches and molasses, as well as the boldness from the whiskey and bourbon. Essentially, they’re the bomb. Suggested Usages: ribs, chicken, salmon.

Wild Maine Blueberry Champagne Jam: At first glance, there are so many blueberries in the Wild Maine Blueberry Champagne Jam, that it almost just seems like a jar filled with fruit. But upon further review, the reason there is so much fruit in the jam is because that’s what high quality jam should look like. Suggested Usages: toast, topping for yogurt, topping for pancakes.

Double Chocolate Pancake & Waffle Mix: Stonewall Kitchen’s Double Chocolate Pancake & Waffle Mix takes the approach I wish more folks would–“Why don’t we just add chocolate?” We’re not just talking about dull chocolate powder, but explosive, fine chocolate, evenly layered into a fantastic pancake/waffle mix.

Peanut Butter & Co. – Peanut Butter Flavors Review

26 Jan

As a frequent visitor of Peanut Butter & Co.’s storefront in the West Village, I am hardly new to the phenomenon that is Peanut Butter & Co. Their business plan might seem simple on the surface, but creating top-notch peanut butter is hardly easy. Their terrific flavors have found themselves on the shelves of Duane Reade and even pantries around the country. Essentially, their peanut butter is good–really good.

So when I received “samples” of their peanut butter in the mail, I couldn’t be more delighted. The opportunity to try ten–yes ten–of Peanut Butter & Co.’s special flavors has not only been a unique experience, but also a difficult one–ten jars of peanut butter is a lot (even for an addict like myself). Regardless, I pushed through, and gave each jar of peanut butter the attention it deserved.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl is a great option since it already encompasses the necessary ingredients for making a top-notch sweet sandwich. Even for people who cringe at the site of raisins, there are honestly few spreads that taste better on a piece of toast than the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl.

The Heat Is On: The Heat Is On is arguably Peanut Butter & Co.’s most interesting flavor since eater’s pallets might not be used to a spicy peanut butter sandwich. However, unlike the other options on this list, The Heat Is On serves as easily the best cooking option. Since peanut butter is a main ingredient in a lot of Asian-inspired dishes, the combination of peanut butter and heat go hand-in-hand–so make sure to keep a jar of The Heat Is On in your pantry.

White Chocolate Wonderful: In a world dominated by milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate doesn’t get as much love. But anyone who knows chocolate knows that white chocolate is the sweetest of them all. The combination of peanut butter and white chocolate creates one of the smoothest and sweetest combos–so stop hating, and start consuming.

Dark Chocolate Dreams: Dark Chocolate Dreams is my favorite flavor to eat straight-up in the bunch. The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is a winning mix, and each bite is reminiscent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup–or for Nutella fans out there, think of it as that spread you love with a peanut butter kick. Toast has finally met its match with Dark Chocolate Dreams.

The Bee’s Knees: With sugar, brown sugar, and all the artificials, it’s easy to forget about the best kind of sweetener–honey. Honey, in my opinion, is the most universal sweetener, so it’s no wonder it mixes with peanut butter beautifully. If not just eating this peanut butter flavor with a spoon, it is also a must for throwing into yogurt (especially Greek yogurt).

Mighty Maple: Not only is maple syrup an underrated sweetener, but it also unfortunately gets pigeonholed as a “pancakes/waffles-only” topping. Luckily for you, Peanut Butter & Co. has recognized this injustice, and created Mighty Maple, which marries smooth peanut butter and silky maple syrup. If you’re still locked-in on pancakes/waffles, at least substitute Might Maple for the regular syrup next time around.

Old Fashioned Smooth & Smooth Operator: Old Fashioned Smooth and Smooth Operator (as well as the Old Fashioned Crunchy and Crunch Time) are the only traditionally-flavored peanut butters that Peanut Butter & Co. offers–but “traditional” hardly means “boring.” The key difference between the Old Fashioned Smooth and Smooth Operator is that the latter has more ingredients than just “peanuts” and “salt.” That’s right, the Old Fashioned Smooth is about as bare bones as it gets, but there’s something in its simplicity that just makes it delicious.

Old Fashioned Crunchy & Crunch Time: Similar to above, Old Fashioned Crunchy and Crunch Time are separated by the fact that the Old Fashioned Crunchy only contains “peanuts” and “salt.” However, I also noticed that the Old Fashioned Crunchy was a heck of a lot more crunchy than Crunch Time. So if you really need that extra crunch, then opt for Old Fashioned Crunchy. In addition, if you ever make peanut butter cookies, Old Fashioned Crunchy, again, is the quintessential peanut butter to do so with (because of the ratio of crunchy to smooth). – Hamilton Beach Hand Blender (Coming Soon!)

24 Jan

Continuing with the New York City cramped kitchen theme, has extended yet another lucky gift to–this time to the tune of a $20 gift certificate to use anywhere on the site. As a reminder, has over 200 online associated outlets where you can find anything you need from swingsets, to fitness equipment, or even insulated dog houses! is really your one-stop destination for all your online shopping needs.

Similar to my review of the cast iron skillet, I really wanted to give readers some ideas about other useful kitchen gadgets that could really cut down on storage space and time. As I scoured the list of kitchen tools, the Hamilton Beach Turbo Twister 2 Speed Hand Blender almost popped off the screen. It is perfect for mixing cake batter, making pancake mix, creating homemade sauces and soups, or anything else that needs a good whip. Unlike bulky mixers that take up a ton of overhead storage space or can barely fit on your counter top when you need to use it, this hand blender is a slim item with multiple uses–and can actually fit in a drawer.

I am extremely excited to add the Hamilton Hand Blender to my kitchen gadgets. And of course, once I receive this generous gift from, I will be sure to illustrate to you guys how helpful it has been in my cramped kitchen life.

The Cast Iron Skillet (from CSN Stores) — An Essential For Any NYC Kitchen

13 Dec

Yum, raw meat!

When it comes to living in New York City, there is nothing more coveted than space. In fact, space is so limited in NYC, landlords often convert standard one-bedroom apartments into two-bedrooms (aka “a conversion”). So upon receiving a $35 gift certificate from the nice folks at CSN Stores, it got me thinking—what compact kitchen item could be used for one or two cooking purposes? Alas, it led me to the very versatile Emeril Lagasse brand “cast iron skillet,” which costs just $24.95! The cast iron skillet looks like a heavy-set stove-top frying pan, but it can also be used in a high-degree oven. What better for cramped Manhattan kitchen cooking?

To prove the versatility of the cast iron skillet, I decided to make one of my favorite foods, meatballs. I love meatballs because, like the cast iron skillet, they can take on many forms. For instance, you can have meatballs in the morning, afternoon, night, consume them hot or cold, and accompany them with or without spaghetti. They also come in all shapes, sizes, and can use a variety of meats and vegetables–like mine, which are Turkey Mushroom Asparagus Meatballs.

Browned meatballs. The true sign of stove-top cooking.

However, whenever I decide to cook meatballs, I always run into the same inner-debate–how am I going to cook them? If I cook them on the stove-top, I run the risk of not cooking the meatballs through (nothing is worse than burnt meatballs with a rare interior), but, if I just cook them in the oven, I never get those beautiful grill marks on the outside of the meatballs. Granted, I could just cook the meatballs on the stove-top to get the grill marks and then transfer them into a baking dish for the oven to secure my meatballs are cooked, but that’s a whole lot of work on the cooking and cleaning sides.

This, of course, is where the value of the cast iron skillet comes into play. I first start cooking my Turkey Mushroom Asparagus Meatballs in the cast iron skillet on the stove-top. See those grill marks forming? That’s the sign of a great meatball! You don’t want the meatballs to just have one grilled side, so you have to let all sides of the meatball have a turn face-down. Once all sides are browned, turn off the stove’s flame, add-in your tomato sauce, and put the cast iron skillet in the 350-400 degree pre-heated oven. Since cast iron skillet’s can survive a high-heat oven, there’s no need to worry about it melting or exploding.

Close-up, beauty shot.

I like letting the meatballs cook in tomato sauce for as long as possible, but sometimes it’s hard to ignore my stomach–so anywhere from 15-30 minutes is usually sufficient. Unlike a regular baking pan or regular skillet, you cannot place the hot cast iron skillet in cold water. If you do, you run the risk of cracking your cast iron skillet! Your best bet is to just let the cast iron skillet naturally cool on the counter, and then, once cold to the touch, you can rinse it out. And notice how instead of a cleaning a regular skillet and baking tray, you just have one magnificent cast iron skillet to clean? I sure did.

The addition of the cast iron skillet to my tiny New York City kitchen has been a blessing. And the mere idea of using, storing, and cleaning one less pan is reason enough to make cast iron skillets a pre-requisite for living in a typical NYC apartment. I urge all of you to buy your own cast iron skillet at CSN Stores!

Don't forget to add tomato sauce!

Put those puppies, err, I mean meatballs in the oven.

That's what I call a cast iron skillet meatball!


CSN Stores — Review Coming Soon!!!

12 Nov

Sometimes bloggers got it good. We get to write whatever we want, have a fan or two, and sometimes, even get free stuff. I’m fortunate enough to boast about the latter today. The generous folks over at CSN Stores extended me a $35 gift certificate towards a kitchen product in order to write a review. For those unfamiliar with the online mega store that is CSN, buyers can literally find anything from sheik bathroom shelving, to a cozy space heater, to an old-fashioned hot dog roller.

As tempting as all CSN’s items are, the average New York City apartment dweller has to be overly conscious about every inch they fill. In fact, space is so tight in NYC apartments, landlords often convert standard one-bedrooms into two-bedrooms (aka “a conversion”). That got me thinking—what kitchen items are usually used in one fashion, but could also serve two purposes? Alas, it led me to the very versatile “cast iron skillet.” The cast iron skillet looks like a heavy-set stovetop frying pan, but it can also be used in a high-degree oven.

The idea of using, storing, and cleaning one less pan is reason enough to make cast iron skillets a pre-requisite for living in a typical NYC apartment.

Stay tuned my cast iron skillet review!

The “Real Bar” — Really Good

1 Nov

One of the weakest sectors of the food industry is the “energy bar.” More times than not, your average energy bar lacks the taste a true foodie craves, and is ironically more unhealthy than foods a nutritionally-conscious person tries to stir away from. Doesn’t it just make sense to create an energy bar that tastes good and is healthy? Enter the “Real Bar.”

Created by John and Gigi Marsh, a chef and exercise specialist, respectively, the couple has fused together their health knowledge into a delicious, organic, and healthy alternative to frankly any other energy bar on the market. The key to the “Real Bar” is the organic ingredients. The bar boasts organic dark chocolate, coconut, soaked nuts and seeds, pomegranate, and whey protein. Unlike energy bar staples like Clif Bar and Power Bar, the Real Bar is on average half the carbs and sugar, and doesn’t disappoint eaters with empty-flavor promises (i.e. Clif Bar’s “carrot cake”).

The “Real Bar” also extends different options to a variety of diets. Aside from the standard “Real Bar,” it also comes in soy free and vegan-friendly variations. In addition, for those people who need a slightly bigger burst, the “Real Bar Sport” provides an additional .5 oz of energy goodness.

It’s not as mainstream yet as the usual suspects, but you can either order the “Real Bar” online here, or drop by Westerly Market on 54th and 8th and Strickley Bicycle in Fort Lee, NJ to pick up your much-needed energy kick.

Cookshop — Hype Unfounded

18 Oct

There are always those restaurants friends incessantly urge you to try. You know those restaurants–they have huge lines out the door, feature semi-exotic takes on classic dishes, and are often filled with lots of fun, young, and beautiful people. Cookshop, in the heart of Chelsea, fulfills all of those dangerous quotas. So naturally, it sat loudly atop my “must-eat” list.

Unfortunately, those restaurants tend to live on hype instead of execution and service. This was certainly the case with Cookshop. I excitedly went to the teaming restaurant for dinner with family, and immediately noticed the lacking service. Our waiter was extremely inattentive, but it also appeared as though the restaurant was understaffed. “Maybe the food will make up for it,” I positively thought.

I should have stuck with my generally pessimistic, New York roots. The beet soup was chalky, the pork was overcooked and fatty, and the chicken was bland and had overwhelming sauces. I’d also like to mention they were “out” of two dishes we wanted to order, so that too was disappointing.

Despite my dinner experience, I somehow couldn’t just let go of Cookshop. “Maybe brunch will be better,” I again, positively thought. Considering I’ve stopped giving change to people on the train years ago, I find it odd I was falling for Cookshop’s facade. What kind of New Yorker am I?

I decided to stop in for brunch to give Cookshop another shot. I ordered the buttermilk pancakes with seasonal fruit compote and syrup–that is, about 45 minutes after I was seated. I honestly must have read the entire newspaper and beaten BrickBreaker three times before the waitress realized I had a pulse. Mind you, the restaurant wasn’t even packed, so it’s not as if orders were flying in. I assume the chef was also reading the newspaper and playing BrickBreaker.

Like dinner, brunch too missed the mark–the pancakes were bland, the compote was too sugary, and the syrup was probably Duane Reade brand (do they make syrup?).

With the plethora of great food in Chelsea–and in New York for that matter–there’s little reason to waste your time and money in Cookshop. For a laughable average of $27 per entree, you could be slapping high fives at Spice Market with Jean-George. Trust me, he loves high-fives.

156 10th Ave (between 19th St & 20th St)
(212) 924-4440

Energy Kitchen — Energizing a Sea of Unhealthy Eaters

8 Jul

America is a nation of heavy eaters-we’re constantly looking to feast on whatever food tickles our respective fancies. In most cases, chains like McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, KFC, etc… tend to do the trick since they are quick, easy, and cheap. However, food icons like Jamie Oliver are calling for a healthy overhaul–essentially, “out” with the mainstay chains, and “in” with home-cooking and healthier foods. At Energy Kitchen, not only do they see eye to eye with Oliver’s healthy mission, but their expanding brand is putting the mission to action.

In all eight locations throughout New York City (and one in New Jersey), Energy Kitchen is striving to give busy workers and other city dwellers healthy options and alternatives at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between.

…to read more, continue to

Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery – Cheap Tacos in Hell’s Kitchen

1 Jul

With the overflow of Americanized Tex-Mex establishments in New York City, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Mexican food isn’t about ostentatious high-volume Mariachi music and screaming college girls sipping $15 margaritas. In fact, Mexican food should be about as bare bones as food can be–and tacos in particular. At Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery, foodies looking for their Mexican fix will be right at home.

…to read more, continue to

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