Tag Archives: astoria

Green Bean Casserole

We were invited to a BBQ in Queens last month, and I was asked to bring a dish but offered very little guidance as to the type of dish. So since no one said I couldn’t, I decided to whip up a batch of green bean casserole, just like we do down home. My version started with onions, garlic and mushrooms in one pot and green beans in the other:

green bean casserole, barbecue, bbq, side dishes, grilling, outdoor recipe, recipe

Saute garlic, onions and mushrooms for 10 minutes.

green bean casserole, barbecue, bbq, side dishes, grilling, outdoor recipe, recipe

Boil green beans in salty water for about 15 minutes.

Once the veggies were all cooked through, I threw them into the skillet and added a can of cream of mushroom soup. I then let all this cook together for another 5-10 minutes on low heat. Turn on that oven to 350!

green bean casserole, barbecue, bbq, side dishes, grilling, outdoor recipe, recipe

I first threw everything down in a lil’ bit o’ butter.

green bean casserole, barbecue, bbq, side dishes, grilling, outdoor recipe, recipe

Then add the soup, bring to a boil, then back down to a simmer.

Then I poured this tasty mixture into one of my uber-classy foil baking dishes, added french fried onions and baked at 350 for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.

green bean casserole, barbecue, bbq, side dishes, grilling, outdoor recipe, recipe

Mmmm…. smells like Thanksgiving, y’all.


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TGIF= Happy Hour, Ya’ll!

In celebration of Friday, I thought I’d encourage everyone to get out there and TREAT YO SELF to a beverage and/or tasty treat from your local watering hole. Here are a few of my favorite haunts:

blackbirds, bar, astoria, nyc, windjammer, peak organic ipa, draught beer

This is the “Windjammer” and a Peak Organic IPA

First up, we have my local Astoria bar, Blackbird’s, which specializes in craft beers and tasty appetizers. My favorite Friday afternoon treat from here is “The Windjammer,” a dip made of black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes and onions. I also don’t mind that they serve my IPA to me in a mason jar, just like down home.

heartland brewery, NYC, pub food, beer, bar food, bar, restaurant

Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls and a Harvest Wheat

Next up we have the most embarrassing of the three bars I frequent, the world famous Heartland Brewery. World-famous if you’re a tourist, that is, as these are the only folks I am ever sharing this bar with. I don’t care if it’s an over-priced NY chain, I like that they brew their own beers and these spring rolls are freaking delicious.

homefield grill, bar, fried pickles, round rock, texas, austin, nolan ryan, shiner bock

These are Fried Pickles with an Icy-Cold Shiner Bock

Lastly, for the Austinites who might be reading this blog, I recommend heading a few miles north to the sexy and risqué village of Round Rock for a nice visit to the HomeField Grill. The outfits are tacky, but the brewski selection is impressive and you really can’t go wrong with pickles battered, deep fried and served to you by a bartender in a referee’s uniform.

Oh, “Home Field…”… I GET IT!

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Trivia NYC at Raven’s Head

In order to spice up this week’s Tuesday, which can often carry an air of blah, we decided to partake in one of our very favorite weeknight activities: Pub Trivia! This is something we’ve never done in Queens before, so we had to do a little research. Finally, we decided on Raven’s Head Public House on Steinway and Broadway in Astoria, where Trivia NYC hosts Trivia on Tuesday nights at 7pm. My person had been here once before and assured me the food was good and the beer was great. My arm was twisted!

For our draught choice, we both selected the Founders Centennial IPA, which is apparently an award-winning brew from the folks over at Founder’s Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids. It was tasty, hoppy and came with a kick of 7% alcohol. If there’s one thing I know about my man, it’s that he loves himself a buffalo chicken wrap, so I wasn’t terribly surprised to see him order this:

raven's head, public house, buffalo chicken wrap, founders IPA, pub trivia, trivia NYC, astoria, queens, draught beer

He’s a man who knows what he likes!

I opted for one of my favorite foods (as previous posts may have indicated) macaroni and cheese! This particular mac was tossed with bacon and breadcrumbs, topped with additional cheese, baked in a skillet, then brought to me in a bowl:

raven's head, public house, bacon mac and cheese, founders IPA, pub trivia, trivia NYC, astoria, queens, draught beer

Who won? I did.

We had a friend join us for Trivia, which we were terrible at, but enjoyed thoroughly. He out-ordered both of us with the delicious looking steak salad:

raven's head, public house, steak, salad, founders IPA, pub trivia, trivia NYC, astoria, queens, draught beer

Yeah, I probably should have ordered this.

I would highly recommend this particular Pub Trivia to anyone in the area who enjoys such things. But I must warn you, this was not some rinky-dink gum ball machine trivia, host Jarrod Hornbeck is not messing around. Not only that, but he has a loyal group of regulars who I’m guessing dominate every week — they certainly did this week. It was a good time, I’d definitely go again!

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Video of Last Night’s Storm in NYC

Check out this short video I cut of last night’s storm from Astoria:

Do you like thunderstorms, yes or no?

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An Urban Garden Fairy Tale, Ch. 2

For months, the woman blissfully watched her plants grow. Eventually many of them became too big for their pots. She re-planted many of the herbs into larger pots, but the sunflowers and tomato plants had no where to go. The small building she lived in had a tiny garden plot in front of it that no one ever used. Defiant after having returned from a weekend away to find her largest plants nearly dead, she decided she had as much right to plant there as anyone else.

lea spencer, lea craft spencer, urban garden, gardening, garden, astoria, queens, nyc, fairy tale, tomatoes, sunflowersWithout guidance, she pulled a few weeds from the dirt and attempted to re-plant the tomato and sunflower. She went to fetch some water and when she returned, whom did she see? Why it was her secret mentor, the gentleman who grows tomatoes in his backyard. He came over and inquired about her plants, insisting that in order for them to grow nicely, she would need to clear out the whole plot of weeds. He then asked if she had a broom handle. Perplexed, the woman glanced over to his porch, where all of his less-stable plants were being supported with broom handles. A-ha! One second, she said.

Elated to have made this connection, the woman ran back inside and tore the Swiffer from its handle! By the time she returned, he was standing with a broom handle in one hand and twine in the other. He helped her support the sunflower and the tomato plant.

lea spencer, lea craft spencer, urban garden, gardening, garden, astoria, queens, nyc, fairy tale, tomatoes, sunflowersHe then brought her over a small tomato plant from his garden to grow next to hers. Overjoyed and taken with emotion, the woman didn’t know how to thank him.

They continued chatting and he pointed to a few small plants growing amongst a larger plant on his porch and asked her if she knew what they were. She said no, to which he replied, “Watermelons.” The woman’s eyes grew large, “You’re growing watermelons?” she inquired. “Oh, no…” he began. “They grow themselves… I just watch.” He smiled with a wisdom she knew she couldn’t yet grasp. And with that smile the dark cloud over that day passed as the sun shone down on their two tomato plants, growing side by side on small street in a quiet neighborhood called Astoria.

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An Urban Garden Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a cozy apartment on a quiet street in Astoria, there lived a woman. She watched all summer long as the older man living next door to her tended to what appeared to be quite the garden. Without exception, he would leave his house early and tend to his plants. He would garden all morning long and then, in the afternoon, he would sit in the sun surveying his day’s work.

She then watched in the fall as he harvested what she learned were tomatoes from his backyard garden. As she longed for a backyard of her own, she wondered if the man would ever know how enchanted she was by his dedication to those plants.

The whole winter long, she stared out her window waiting for the man to return and by the time he did, she had resolved not to wait for a backyard, but to begin her garden inside.

These are my wittle tomato plants!

Inspired by the man next door, she bought three little tomato plants and an herb garden to start her on her journey.

Chives, oregano, cilantro, parsley, menorah

This spring, she watches the man faithfully tending to his plants as she smothers hers with love. She wonders how he’ll ever know the impact he had on her.

She knows.

As the joy of watching something grow washes over her, she knows, and she is grateful.


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Comfort Food in Queens, Ya’ll

Watching people attempt to use this as a door is endless entertainment. Yes, perhaps I was one of those people.

Right down the block on 30th Avenue sits a special little slice of the south called Queens Comfort. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a heavy-on-the-cream-and-butter little piece of heaven right in my own backyard. We’ve been here before, more than once, but only for brunch never for dinner. So you can imagine my delight when the boys (both of them magical) wanted to do that last Friday night instead of our usual bar. It’s BYOB, so we brought our own B and ordered a variety of snacks and shared them. The beer we purchased was a pale ale in a can, something with a pig on it… anyone familiar with this particular can of beer?

Grilled Corn on the Cob.

This was grilled corn, covered in parmesan cheese and then drizzled with sriracha. We did not share this. This was for me only.

Meatloaf Mac and Cheese

This is meatloaf Mac and Cheese, which is exactly what is sounds like. And it tastes like heaven. They also had a gouda mac and cheese, if you are a non-carnivorous being, I would recommend it.

Disco Tots.

These are disco tots, which were requested by the boys (both of them Jersey) which is where I think this type of tot must have originated because I’ve never heard of them. Please let me know if you are familiar with the actual origin of disco tots, I am curious.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings.

I’ve saved the best for last. Because while the corn, the mac and cheese and the tots were simply incredible, these sweet and spicy wings were a revelation. I am a huge wing fan, I used to work in a wing bar and these are a huge head and broad shoulders above the rest. They were spicy and crunchy and yet somehow still tasted like dessert. They resembled, in fact, the only other dish I’ve ever had at Queens Comfort: the fried chicken and waffles (which is served with tabasco and maple butter… I’ll wait while you wipe the saliva from your lips.)

If you’re from the south, having a bad day or just don’t give two shakes about calories this is the only place you need. The service takes time, so don’t come here in a hurry and don’t try to order off the menu. It changes daily for a reason. Enjoy 🙂


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Sake it to me! (Or sushi it, rather)

In light of this unseasonable warm day, I had to take a late afternoon stroll through Astoria. I strolled and strolled and just when I began to feel peckish, I happened upon a lovely sake bar. After a very productive day, work-wise, I decided a little treat was in order. I sat down at Yamashiro Sake Bar on Steinway street and ordered a Sapporo and some edamame while I perused the menu.

3027 STEINWAY ST -- They deliver!

Edamame+a book+a brew=Perfection

Having only recently begun my obsession with sushi, I haven’t been overly adventurous and I didn’t figure today was the day to start. I did however choose tuna, something I don’t usually do. Of course, I only chose tuna because it was smashed between salmon and avocado (the two great loves of my life). I ordered the Yamashiro Wasabi roll which, as I said, is tuna, salmon and avocado but with wasabi caviar. I’m still not sure if this is actual caviar or wasabi designed to look like caviar, but it was spicy and delicious and I’d order it again in a second.

Yamashiro Wasabi Roll -- So pretty!

I love the inside of sushi... so delicate.

Decor-wise, the restaurant was elegant with simple black furniture and really special fish tanks. The prices were decent and the service? Impeccable.  The very attentive server consistently refilled both my water and beer glass. I sat for nearly an hour reading my book and munching slowly and I didn’t feel the least bit rushed. It was the perfect compliment to this perfect day.


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My Heart Belongs to Chicken Tikka Masala

Do you have a restaurant you order from all the time? So much so that you make jokes about keeping them in business? I’m not saying they’re good jokes, but these sorts of jokes are made. I make them with regard to Seva Indian Restaurant in Astoria. It is, quite simply, the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever had and they have such a good delivery special that I’d be understating it to say that we order from there every week. It’s almost the only place we ever order from because it’s… that… good.

Mulligatawny: A tasty lentil soup that makes me melt.

Last weekend we were both in Queens for the day so we decided to go to Seva for lunch, something we’ve never done. We’ve in fact only been inside Seva once for dinner with some friends. Another thing we’ve never done is order something new, but today was the day. You see, Seva also boasts a lunch special with a soup and an entrée for 8 bucks. Their mulligatawny soup is heavenly, so we both started with that. Typically we go halfsies on one entrée, but on this day we decided to get two. One regular Chiken Tikka Masala (which, in the interest of full disclosure, is a dish invented by the British) and a new Chicken Vindaloo. The waiter asked if we were sure because the Chicken Vindaloo is very hot. Laughing smugly, as we eat a lot of spicy food, we assured him we’d be fine.

"Vindaloo" must be Hindi for "burn your freaking tongue off"

Luckily the naan bread will always calm the heat.

It's so good, I forgot to take a photo until this moment 🙂

Wrong! The “fiery” Chicken Vindaloo is pure torture! Nothing but heat in my mouth, I had two bites and was finished. Luckily we still had our old trusty Tikka Masala, which is just delightful. If you think you can handle the heat, I recommend the Vindaloo, but if not I still urge you to try Seva for delivery or for dine-in. I truly cannot recommend any restaurant more than I recommend Seva. It is my absolute, hands down, favorite place to eat. What’s yours?

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