Thursday, July 31, 2014

Carnegie Deli at Sands Bethlehem Review and Giveaway

I'm writing up this review the morning after my visit to Carnegie Deli at Sands Bethlehem -   and while finishing up the second half of my hot pastrami sandwich from last night. Yes ...  for breakfast. I don't often take home a full half of a sandwich including a bit of the other half, but the food at Carnegie Deli is just that big. I'm starting to think a Carnegie Deli in Texas, where everything is over-sized, would make sense.

I have wanted for years to stop in at Carnegie Deli in New York City, but was always rushing  here and there and never had the chance. How awesome is it that there's a Carnegie Deli in my  own neighborhood? There is nothing better than a really great Kosher-style deli and Carnegie more than fills the bill.

If you follow this blog at all, or my Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram, you'll know that we suffered a fire recently at the home of my ex-husband. My children live primarily with me, but one of the older girls lived with him full-time and many of the children's belongings were there at the house. Everyone but one of the cats made it out safe and that day all the children were with me. I've acquired a dog, a turtle and my second-oldest daughter is also now staying with us for an indefinite amount of time until things can be worked out. The stress of this has weighed a little on Dave and I and getting out for a night was a very welcome distraction.

We went on a Wednesday evening and it wasn't too busy, but had steady traffic and a line at the door, a true indicator of good food. We were seated quickly and our drink orders  taken right away. We were handded 3 separate "menus", the main menu, specials for the day the  Early Bird special menu. I already knew what I wanted from perusing the menu online beforehand. You can view that for yourself HERE

On to the review. 
Each restaurant is scaled according to the type of restaurant it is. In other words, I  wouldn't use the same gravity of point for a fast food restaurant as I would for fine dining.  That's comparing apples and oranges. Scaling is 1 for Poor and 5 for Excellent so the total  Perfect Score for any restaurant would be 25.  

*Please note: I was given a gift certificate directly from Sands Bethlehem specifically for  the purpose of reviewing the restaurant and I was more than happy to oblige. Please note that  the benefit of having my meal paid for does not in any way influence my review. 

Parking- 5 There isn't any other score possible for this because there is valet parking at  all of The Sand's should you so choose to make use of it. Even so, there is ample parking  near the event center and everything is tied together inside so walking to the restaurant is  simple.

Ambiance- 5 This is just what a deli should be. Austere but interesting decor, comfortable  seating and appropriate lighting. Everything was clean and easy to navigate. The walls are decorated with famous patrons to the Deli and photos of NYC. 

Food- 5 I wouldn't expect any less from Carnegie Deli no matter what the location. We had two  appetizers, two sandwiches and shared a dessert. Here are the photos and descriptions:

Three menus for all your dining needs. The main menu, early bird specials and daily specials. We were also given a plate of Carnegie's famous half-sour pickles. Yum! 

We started with the potato pancake, which is served with sour cream and applesauce. Perfectly crispy outside and tender inside. 

This is the Carnegie Deli Potato Knish. Dear me, I would go back just for this! Crisp exterior and soft, beautiful potato inside. Seasoned perfectly and also served with sour cream and applesauce. This is one thing you MUST try when you visit.

David had the "Woody Allen", which is billed as "lotsa pastrami plus lotsa corned beef". He added lettuce and melted American cheese. Totally tender and delicious. Nobody can eat the whole thing, so be prepared to ask for a box!

I had the classic Hot Pastrami, which Carnegie Deli is famous for. I added melted Swiss cheese to mine and it was absolute perfection. 

I think this is illegal in several states just because of the sheer size ;) This chocolate behemoth cheesecake was so delicious it was hard not to eat the entire thing alone. Like much of Carnegie's menu, though, it was too large for one person and even though Dave and I shared it, it was still hard to finish. Another must-have when you visit.

I plan on trying more things the next time I go, like the matzo ball soup, which looked like baseballs being served in chicken broth, or "Milton's Smorgasbord" which looks like it could feed an entire family, or more sandwiches or the GINORMOUS pies we spied in the front dessert carousels. Lots left to try.

Service- 5 Our server was not just knowledgeable and efficient, he was fun. There wasn't a  question we threw at him that he couldn't answer and by the end of our stay we had gotten  used to saying to one another, "Just ask him." He knew what the best bread was for each  sandwich, what the pickles were brined in, whether or not the deli was kosher, what other  diners were eating (we had questions about everything that passed us by!) and if he didn't  know the answer he didn't say so, he simply went about finding out the answer for us. 

Pricing- 5 While the sandwiches seem pricey, they really aren't. Each one is the equivalent  of two sandwiches (and then some!) and they're just so good it's completely worth it. The  Early Bird menu features 3 courses for a mere $15 - you really can't beat that for food  that's as good as this. 

Total score for Carnegie Deli at Sands Bethlehem is 25.

Now, I want to share this experience with you and pass on $100 worth of Gift Certificates to Carnegie Deli at Sand's Bethlehem. This means you must live nearby or be planning to visit in  order to use the certificate. U.S. Residents only.

PLEASE follow directions for entering the contest below, and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Veggie Wednesday: Bean and Roasted Pepper Burgers

Bean and Roasted Pepper Burgers
Bean and Roasted Pepper Burgers

It's been about a year since I did a Veggie Wednesday; shame on me. I've been very busy with veggies, mostly growing my own as usual. If you follow my Instagram feed you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

Today I want to share a recipe for a veggie burger that I absolutely love. Bean burgers can be dry, but this one uses richly flavored and textured roasted red peppers (my favorite) to add body and moisture. Garlic and green onion boost flavor, as well so these burgers are a real hit with more than just the vegetarians in your life.

Bean and Roasted Pepper Burgers

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 patties


1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers plus 2 Tablespoons liquid from jar
4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs


1. Pour beans into a food processor or blender and add peppers, onions, salt and garlic.
2. Pulse until a thick paste forms but tiny chunks of beans are still visible.
3. Spoon into a bowl and add Panko crumbs, mixing well until a thick dough forms.
4. Form into 4 patties and cook over a preheated grill pan or lightly greased skillet, about 4 minutes per side.
5. Serve on whole wheat buns with your favorite condiments and veggies.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Patient for Pumpkins

Patient for Pumpkins
Patient for Pumpkins

I love to grow things. Anyone who knows me or follows me on any of my social networks (especially Instagram) knows this. I started growing flowers when I was about 20 and had my first vegetable gardening experience a few years later. For anyone counting, that's about 26 years of gardening for me. I've posted over the years here about my various gardens, as well.

I'm not a very patient gardener, though. I know things take time, but I get so excited about growing things that I check daily, sometimes twice a day, for any small signs of growth. When I first plant seeds indoors I walk by the flats of peat pellets several times a day just to peek.

I love to cook seasonally, as well and each year I find myself looking a little earlier than usual for my favorites to cook with ... fuzzy green almonds and fiddlehead ferns in the early spring, blueberries a little later and the freshest tomatoes nearing the end of the growing season in my zone.

My kids also love to check the garden with me and shop the farmer's markets for beautiful produce. They are even more impatient than I and it's not always easy to explain to them that although some produce is available year-round, it's best when it's in season.

If you have children who are impatient for their favorite veggies and fruits as well, Patient for Pumpkins by Linda L. Knoll  is just the book for them. It's the story of a little boy excited to get to the farmers' market to buy a pumpkin, but finds when he gets there that April is not exactly the right time. Each month, though, he finds other gems that are available and perfectly ripe for that time.

From Patient for Pumpkins by Linda L. Knoll, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2014 by Linda L. Knoll. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

The vibrant illustrations show each growing season from Spring through Fall and what wonderful produce is available in each month. The sidebars illustrate the different stages of pumpkin growth and at the end, the big beautiful pumpkin that results from so much patience.

From Patient for Pumpkins by Linda L. Knoll, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2014 by Linda L. Knoll. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

In fact, at this moment we're trying to be patient for our own pumpkins. They've started to vine out and grasp the grass with tiny tendrils and little baby pumpkins are starting to appear. Of course, we need to check each day to see how far they've grown and we can't wait to have our very own perfect pumpkin.

Our own tiny pumpkin.

Patient for Pumpkins is available at Amazon:

Disclaimer: I received Patient for Pumpkins for free as a review item. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by free product.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak
Salisbury Steak

When I was a child I hated Salisbury Steak. It could be that the only time I ate it was when it came from a frozen box, or it could be the onion. I detested onions in any way, shape or form. Now that I'm older I adore onions ... in any way, shape or form.

This Salisbury Steak is the perfect comfort food, made thicker than most and is so moist you'll want more than seconds. Cut the onions to your liking, my kids will only eat finely chopped. If you have onion-haters all around, like I was, try onion powder for flavor, but I warn you, it won't be the same.

Salisbury Steak

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 55 minutes
Yield: Serves 6


1 Tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 cup onion or shallots, minced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups prepared bread crumbs
3 whole eggs
2 pounds ground beef 80/20 is best
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups beef stock
4 Tablespoons fat from cooking or 4 Tablespoons cooking oil
4 Tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste for finishing


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Heat a large oven-proof frying pan over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon oil. Cook onion and garlic until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Combine ground beef with bread crumbs and eggs, mixing well after each egg.
4. Add in onion and garlic mixture, 1 Tablepsoon Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix until well combined and form into 6 thick oval patties.
5. In the same frying pan, brown both sides of patties, about 3-5 minutes each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
6. Again in the same pan, measure out fat from cooking or add oil to make 4 Tablespoons. Add flour and whisk together until smooth.
7. Pour in stock and whisk until a smooth gravy forms. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Add steaks back into pan and spoon the gravy over them a bit.  Bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Greek Chicken Thighs and Potatoes

Greek Chicken Thighs and Potatoes
Greek Chicken Thighs and Potatoes

The Greek-inspired flavors of lemon, garlic and thyme are highlighted in this chicken and potatoes dish. Boneless and skinless thighs cook faster and are a healthier alternative. Serve with a big salad tossed with Feta cheese crumbles and Kalamata olives for a perfect meal.

Greek Chicken Thighs and Potatoes

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 9 hours and 15 minutes including marinating time
Yield: 4-6 servings


3 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs
3 pounds red potatoes
3 cloves garlic minced
1 large lemon, zested and juiced plus enough bottled juice to make 1/2 cup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano)
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
Freshly cracked pepper to taste


1. Combine minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and stir until combined. Remove 1/2 cup of marinade and set aside.
2. Put chicken into a bowl or large zippered food storage bag and pour marinade over. Seal well, removing air and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Clean potatoes and cut into equal sized chunks - about 1-inch square. Pour reserved marinade over potatoes and spread evenly across the bottom of a 9 x 13 roasting pan.
5. Remove chicken from marinade and set on top of potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until juices from chicken run clear and a thermometer inserted next to the bone reads 170 degrees F.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Family Fire

I'm writing a quick note about something that recently happened in our family. The house the children's father was living in with them part time caught fire and is badly damaged. Most of the children were living with me and most of their belongings were here, however, my second oldest daughter was living with dad full-time and her entire world was lost. One of the family cats was also killed in the fire.

If you can, please donate at this GoFundMe link for her, I would so appreciate it and I know she would, too.

The articles about the fire can be found here and here.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Pineapple Pork Chops

Pineapple Pork Chops and Rice
Pineapple Pork Chops and Rice

Pineapple Pork Chops are the perfect blend of sweet and savory, full of color and easier to make than you might think. They're also budget friendly and can be made for any weeknight dinner and are pretty enough to serve for company.

Pineapple Pork Chops and Rice
Pineapple Pork Chops and Rice

Pineapple Pork Chops
Hands-On Time: 25 minutes
Ready In: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


4 bone-in center cut pork chops 1/2-inch thick
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 Tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1/3 cup each red, yellow and green sweet peppers - diced (or 1 cup of any one color)
1/2 cup red onion chopped
1 cup canned or fresh pineapple chunks
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice (from canned pineapple or other)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (use the good brewed stuff, I love Kikkoman)
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Hot cooked rice - about 2 cups prepared


1. Rinse pork chops to remove any traces of bone from cutting and pat dry . Set aside.
2. Blend flour with salt and pepper and dredge chops in mixture until well coated.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chops.
4. Cook until browned well on both sides, about 6-8 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
5. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil to the skillet over medium-high heat and add peppers and onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to release juices into the pan.
6. Add pineapple and juice, cook until bubbling, 2-3 minutes.
7. Stir together brown sugar, soy sauce and cornstarch. Whisk into pineapple and peppers. Cook until thickened.
8. Add pork chops to pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until chops are heated through and coated with sauce. Serve over rice.