Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's Christmas Time in the City!

Guess what day it is?

Yes, it's New Year's Eve... BUT it's also Anthony's birthday!

Yesterday we took a birthday trip into NYC to have a special little lunch date at PJ Clarke's and do all the holiday touristy things that we normally poke fun at on a regular basis. Thought I'd share some of my favorite shots of the day...

Radio City Music Hall

The largest holiday ornaments in all the land.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Chipotle Corn Chowder

Chowder always reminds me of the summers I spent in Maine as a kid, going to the beach during the day and eating warm clam chowder and chicken fingers (I wasn't enough of a foodie as a child to appreciate lobster, hah) during the cool nights. 

After having had so many bowls of clam chowder in Maine, there's absolutely no way I could ever create a recipe that would come even slightly close... So I took a step down and concocted this recipe for corn chowder.

To add a little kick, I mixed in a bit of chipotle which is... if I must say... a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Anthony even ate three bowls of it!

Hope you enjoy!

Chipotle Corn & Potato Chowder

Serves 5-7
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped into bits
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 15 oz. cans corn kernels, drained and rinsed
  • 2.5 cups heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper
  • Shredded cheddar (optional topping)
  • Scallions, thinly sliced (optional topping)


  1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add your bacon to the butter and cook until crisp. Then add the onion and chipotle peppers to the mixture and saute until the onions are cooked and translucent (5-7 minutes). 
  2. Sprinkle the all-purpose flour over your onion mixture and stir well until combined. Add the chicken stock and potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and allow potatoes to cook through (about 15 minutes or so). 
  3. After potatoes are cooked, add in your diced bell pepper, corn kernals, and heavy cream. Simmer  on low for another 5-10 minutes, or until bell peppers begin to soften. 
  4. Pour into bowls to serve and garnish with cheddar and scallions if desired

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Goodbye 2013!

2013 has been quite the year and, I gotta say, I'm pretty sad to see it go. Many amazing things happened in 2013... Anthony and I got married, went on an amazing trip to Hawaii, got a dog and, of course, Beta's Bites got off the ground!

Anthony and I in Kaui, Hawaii

Here's a little recap of the recipes that have been posted on Beta's Bites since it kicked-off in July 2013...

1. French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Cone of Shame

Now, I haven't decided whether or not I should be laughing at this... But I am... So I need to share.

When we adopted Paisley from the shelter, we were told that she has a condition called 'cherry eye' which will probably stick around for a while. It's not a big deal - just a congenital disorder of a her third eyelid - and really doesn't bother her too much on a day-to-day basis.

Unfortunately, Miss Paisley woke up one morning this week and this particular eye was infected. We took her to the vet and the lucky little girl came home not only with some meds, but also with - what we affectionately like to call - the cone of shame.

It somehow manages to make her even cuter.

Anyway, my friend, Jamie, came over the other night for dinner and managed to snap this photo of Paisley sitting all by herself in the dark corner of our living room.

Adorable little dog or cyclops alien? I can't tell.

Hope your week is going better than hers...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Boozy Bites: Basil & Lemon Nectar Martinis

Each holiday season, a small group of my friends and I get together for a special dinner at a restaurant in NYC. We figure that - rather than putting each other through the torture stress that comes along with buying gifts - it's better to spend some quality time with each other over some great bites. Plus, it's always nice to unwind and take a minute to appreciate your girls during the whirlwind holiday season!

This year we went to a restaurant on the Lower East Side called Beauty & Essex. Although the food was delish, the drinks completely stole the show! Dare I say it... The cocktail I ordered may have been the best drink I've had in my career (yes, I just referred to it as a drinking 'career'). My drink of choice was their Emerald Gimlet, an enticing combination of Grey Goose, basil, lemon nectar and fresh lime. Thank goodness the drinks cost $14 each, otherwise the ladies would've been rolling me out the door at the end of the night.

This recipe is a 'copycat' of the Emerald Gimlet. I'm promise that it's delicious, quite strong AND it won't cost you $14 dollars to make!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tijuana Guacamole

When I was a sophomore at Loyola College, I traveled to Tijuana, Mexico on a community service trip. Among the many things I brought back from the experience - new friendships, life lessons, and many many memories - was this recipe for guacamole. I learned it from our trip leader and haven't made another guac recipe ever since! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Accidentally "Eggcellent" Scrambled Eggs

Hopefully everyone had a wonderfully wonderful Thanksgiving! I don't know about you, but I'm still in the process of recovering from the food coma that hit me post-holiday. All I want to do right now is take a nap. One very longggggg nap.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mitten Munchies

This past weekend I realized why so many people believe it's pure insanity for the Superbowl to be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.


Anthony and I went to the Giants Cowboys game on Sunday and - although my weather app said that it was 32 degrees outside - it felt like 15. We packed up a bunch of food to tailgate and, instead of standing around the grill making friends, ended up sitting our freezing-cold butts in my jeep with the heaters on drinking beers and contemplating just how many of our toes would actually make it through to the fourth quarter.

We also ate these terrible cupcakes that I made. While they look pretty, they were super dry and uneventful. I found the recipe on the site of a very well-known female food and lifestyle celebrity who shall not be named (hint: she posted some pretty hysterical food pics on Twitter recently). Perhaps I didn't follow the directions right... Regardless, they were down-right disappointing.

At least they looked pretty

Although the cupcakes were a fail, the pasta salad I brought was a success! I used Ina Garten's recipe which I believe is THE best pasta salad of all time. You can find it here on the Food Network website.

And, last but surely not least, I thought I'd share the picture of Paisley post-visit to my sister's college campus this weekend. The fact that she's never seen open fields of grass before combined with the handfuls of college kids that gave her endless attention ensured that she slept for a good hour-and-a-half after we left.

You're getting sleeeeeepy... very sleeeeeepy... 

It's as if she was trying to stay awake for more activities and just couldn't do it.

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! Hope you're enjoying some wonderful time with family and friends!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin 'Dirt' Pudding

Hard to believe that the weekend is over and that it's Monday already, but what a great weekend it was!

On Saturday my parents came by Hoboken to meet the new puppy, do a little shopping and have dinner with Anthony and me. Now, my mother is quite the exceptional cook and baker. Every time I visit her at home there is - without fail - at least 3 homemade desserts on the counter for us to pick at. So, when she said that she and my dad were coming to dinner, I had to make something reallllllly good!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Paisley Latino's Day Off

Hopefully by this point in your life you've been fortunate enough to have seen the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you haven't, I feel sorry for you and suggest you immediately find it and watch it (I was about to say 'go to Blockbuster and rent it,' but then remembered that those days are long gone. Sigh).

As you could probably tell from the title, the movie chronicles the adventures of a high school student named Ferris Bueller as he has an out-of-this-world ridiculous day playing hooky from class. He and his friends drive a Ferrari into downtown Chicago, go to a baseball game, takeover a float while crashing a huge holiday parade... And that's just the start of it!

So, I'd like to think that when our dog, Paisley, MacGyvered her way out of her crate yesterday afternoon she was having the same thought as Ferris Bueller the moment the school secretary bought his impersonation of his own father calling him out sick: FREEDOM!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend Bites!

Weddings are just so fun.

I know, here I am stating the obvious (per usual), but let me explain. I'm not just talking about the fact that they involve a bunch of elated family and friends coming together to celebrate people that they love.

They're also so fun because each one is incredibly unique! Every wedding I've attended over the past year (we're now approaching the sixth wedding of six) is such a perfect expression of the couple being celebrated. Think about it: you spend a year (sometimes more) planning each and every detail of that day down to the fork on the table. The bride and groom put so much effort into making their special day THEIRS... A day that will leave an imprint on their memory for ever and ever.

That being said - and maybe it's because I just had my own wedding - I've really grown to appreciate and take note of all the small details. In my opinion, a wedding is a true success when, as a guest, you look at the day overall and your reaction is, "wow, that celebration was the perfect epitome of (insert name of couple here)."

Anyway, I'm stop blabbing... I'm assuming you've figured out by now that Anthony and I were at a wedding this weekend (ha)! Two of our friends from college had a beautiful ceremony in Philadelphia which we couldn't have been more thrilled to be a part of! We even got a chance to snap the obnoxious (post-cocktail hour) photo booth shots above...

When we woke up on Sunday morning in Philly, the only thing we wanted to do was get home, head straight to the couch and watch football (is it me, or do the rides home from weddings seem like an ETERNITY?). Clearly a post-wedding football Sunday deserves some killer comfort food!

We whipped up a huge batch of Pat Neelys 'Famous Beef & Pork Chili.' It totally hit the spot.

Photo Credit: My dysfunctional iPhone
Chili isn't chili without a side of cornbread, so we also made this recipe for 'Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread.' If there was something higher than an A+ this cornbread would have earned it. It was amazing!

Anyway, hope everyone has a great week and I'll check back in soon with a new recipe!

UPDATE: The photo of the chili above was retweeted by Pat Neely! I jumped up and down. Literally.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Roasted Eggplant Sandwiches with Basil Garlic Aioli

Anthony and I try to bring our lunch to work everyday. Obviously this doesn't work 100% of the time, but we like to aim to BYO at least four outta the five days in the week. It saves money, plus the eateries around my office can get prettttttty boring after a while (you can only eat that same salad so many times in a week).

The easiest way to successfully commit to packing lunch for work is by making a bit extra for dinner the night before so that you have leftovers for the next day. Just make your dinner and set some aside in a Tupperware container before you eat (key word here being BEFORE you eat... otherwise you end up eating all the extras!).

These eggplant sandwiches are one of my favorite 'make ahead' BYO lunches. You can either assemble them the night before when you're making the rest (tip: wrap them in a paper towel before you wrap them in plastic wrap so they doing get soggy), or put the pieces in separate baggies / tupperware for assembly at the office. Either way, they're delicious!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Couple Quick Bites from the Weekend

This weekend I was able to witness quiteeeeee the NY Jets victory...
Here's a fun pic of us Jets fans happily walking into the sunset after a fantabulous win! 

And in other news Paisley had her first vet appointment. Didn't take her long to find the good 'old doc's
jar of treats! What a little monster.

Hope everyone's Tuesday is treating them well!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Honey Dijon Chicken Cutlets

From first through eighth grade, I attended a teeny tiny parochial school in Bedford, NY, where my class-size was 26 and birthday parties consisted of inviting your entire grade.

Claire and me in our super-cool St. Pat's uniforms circa 1994

On the first Friday of every month, we had a half day and were dismissed at lunch time. For many years, these 'First Fridays' as we called them meant one thing: a trip to McDonalds after school for lunch with our friends. My parents were pretty good about limiting our fast food consumption, so this was a HUGE deal. I'd basically start strategically planning which Happy Meal I was going to get on Monday of that week. In fact, I'm pretty sure there's still a red, plastic briefcase with my name on it lying around my parents house somewhere filled with my Happy Meal toys of childhood past (ha).

So, to make an unnecessarily long story short, I absolutely loved ordering McDonald's chicken nuggets. What made these little nuggets even BETTER was smothering them in the honey dipping sauce (do they even make that anymore?). This recipe took me back to those days, but its ten times better since there's a little dijon mixed in there!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kale & Jalapeño Salad

Since Beta's Bites has been a taddddd bit carb-centric lately, I'm switching gears with today's post and sharing a recipe for a healthy kale and jalapeno salad.

This is my take on a salad that I'm obsessed with from Spreads Sandwich Shop in NYC. It's simple, yet flavorful, and the jalapeno adds a nice little ka-pow to the dish. I highly recommend making it at least a few hours before you plan on serving. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the more the flavors blend and the better it tastes.

(PS, did I mention that this salad is 100% tailgate certified? A light, perfect side dish to complement all the burgers, dogs, and sausages devoured in the parking lot pre-game... plus, you can make it the night before!)

Paisley Post

I just had to...

That is all.

Recipe for Kale Jalapeno Salad coming later!

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Faves: Soup Edition

This morning when I was commuting to work it finally felt like fall outside. We're talking too cold for short sleeves but too warm for a jacket, leaves spinning off the trees, brisk and beautiful fall.

Sometimes, after a long week in the fall, there's nothing I'd rather come home to than warm soup. A bowl of your favorite concoction that you can take to the couch, curl up with under a blanket and watch the shows that you DVR'd over the course of the week.

So here are my five favorite soup recipes as of late (in no particular order)... They're a good mix of heavy, light and healthy.

What's your favorite fall soup? I'm especially looking for a good butternut squash soup recipe!

1. The Pioneer Woman's Perfect Potato Soup -  although its probably not the healthiest of the bunch, it definitely wins the award for being the most down-right delicious.

Photo courtesy of www.thepioneerwoman.com

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meet Paisley!

So I've been a bit distracted this week and haven't really had time to cook anything exciting... but it's all for a really great reason, I promise!

Anthony and I had been having the 'puppy' conversation for a long time now and, to make a long story short, we took a trip on Saturday to North Shore Animal League in Long Island to 'browse.'

If you know me you know that 'browsing' in an animal shelter means that I'm going to be walking out with something. Come on now.

We ended up laying eyes on a beautiful 6-month old lab hound mix who completely stole my heart and had the perfect personality for us. She's happy, active, friendly and absolutely hysterical to be around so clearly we just had to take her home.

Everyone, meet Paisley!

Love her to pieces (now if we could just potty train her already)...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Artichoke Pizza

This might be the thousandth time I've mentioned it, but we've been on quite a pizza kick lately. 

A couple weeks ago, Anthony and I went to a charity event in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC for a good friend of ours' organization, Hope for Hope. Afterwards, we stopped into the famous Artichoke Basille's Pizza for a quick slice. I'd never been there before, but had heard amazing things. 

To make a long story short, their signature pizza - the artichoke pie - absolutely lived up to all my expectations. The crust was thick and crunchy, the sauce delicious and creamy. Basically it was perfect and I dreamt about it for about a week afterward. 

So I decided to attempt to recreate the pizza. It surprisingly worked out great (a friend even said it was one of the best pizzas she's ever had)!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Faves: Nestle's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo courtesy of www.verybestbaking.com

In my opinion (not that it matters), there's nothing that warms your heart more than a chocolate chip cookie.

Stressful day at work? Easy fix: chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk.

Spill coffee on your dress on the way to a wedding? Easy fix: chocolate chip cookie and a Tide pen.

Bad breakup? Not such an easy fix, but a chocolate chip cookie and a bottle of wine should help.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Best Day Ever.

On June 8th 2013 I married my best friend in the whole entire world.

Anthony and I have an incredible group of family and friends who made the trip to Tarrytown, NY for our special day. Not only did we get to celebrate with our favorite people, but we also had beautiful weather... conveniently enhanced by Tropical Storm Andrea the day before.

I know this post isn't food related, but we received our wedding pictures yesterday from our photographer, Frank Farina, and just have to share a few!

The day was a perfect start to our happily ever after.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homemade Pasta!

I know, I know. It's been a whole month without a new post. Bad Beta.

Hopefully this next recipe is so good that it makes up for my failure as a blogger...

One of my favorite toys in our kitchen is our KitchenAid mixer. It's big, beautiful, and red. The best part about the mixer is that there are about a million attachments that you can buy to do a million different things... like making homemade pasta.

This recipe has taken a lot of trial and error. There are tons of different ways to make pasta. Some people use just eggs, some just water. Me? Well I just channel one of my favorite storybook characters, Strega Nona, and hope for the best.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Absolute Cutest Summer Cookies

This month, my sister, Claire, turned 24 years old (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLAIRE!).. For Claire's birthday celebrations when she was younger, my mom would make batches of these adorable watermelon sugar cookies. Not only are the sugar cookies themselves delicious, but there's something about the little bit of chocolate and the confectioners sugar frosting on the edges that makes them addicting and its impossible to stop after just one (seriously, impossible).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pizza on the GRILL!

Anthony and I just bought a new grill for our porch and... well... it's amazing. Like, the greatest thing since sliced bread, basically.

In addition to making burgers, steaks and eggplant sandwiches, we tried something new and grilled pizza this week.

New favorite thing.

You get the char on the bottom of the crust from the grill which just adds a wonderfully burnt flavor to the toasted dough and melted cheese.

Here's an iPhone picture of the finished products:

The awkwardly long pizza to the left is three cheese and olive oil. Super easy. Basically, I drizzled a small amount of olive oil on the raw dough, then sprinkled it with some Mozzarella, Gorgonzola and Fontina cheeses. The pizza to the right is pesto, Mozzarella and artichoke (pretty self-explanatory!).

If you're a first-time pizza griller, here are some good instructions on Food Network's website:


Now get grilling... summer is almost over!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Ranch Dip

Partially thanks to my husband, I've come to absolutely love football season. While we can't manage to agree on what teams we're rooting for - he's a huge Dallas Cowboys fan (I know, seriously?) and I'm a New York Jets fan (J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS) - the one thing we always manage to agree on is the fact that food is a huge player on Sundays. Whether you're sitting on the couch watching the game with some brews, or tailgating in a rowdy parking lot, good grub is always important.

I know it's a weeeeeeee bit premature (I'm just REALLY excited!), but I've already started compiling some awesome gameday recipes that will satisfy every football fan no matter who you're rooting for.

The first of many recipes is posted below... Super easy buffalo chicken dip. Chicken, cheese, some ranch and buffalo sauce all mixed up and baked. Plus you can totally make it up to a day ahead of time and refrigerate.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Faves: Nutella Banana Cookies

Photo Courtesy of Chef in Training
Last year, during Hurricane Sandy, I was stuck inside my Hoboken apartment for quite some time. Lucky to have the company of Anthony and a couple of friends, we spent a lot of that time cooking any and all the items in our fridge and freezer before they went bad. This led to some pretty weird meals - like leftover chili with a side of pork dumplings - but we did bake a few delicious treats along the way.

Our favorite were these Nutella Banana Cookies off a wonderful blog called Chef in Training. We happened to have two bananas and some eggs that needed to go ASAP so it was PERFECT.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Little Weekend Roundup

This was the first time in a long time that my husband and I had nothing on the schedule for the weekend and it was glorious! To the hubby's dismay, my productivity level was through the roof and we ran around doing errands most of the time. Oh well...

While running around, we made a spur-of-the-moment stop at one of our favorite restaurants in neighboring Jersey City - The Taqueria. They don't have a website, but you can click here to see the menu. The restaurant was damaged pretty severely during Hurricane Sandy and we had no idea that it re-opened until we drove by Sunday... it was practically like Christmas!

Anthony got tacos and I ordered Juevos Rancheros off of their brunch menu (even though their cactus tacos are my absolute FAVORITE):

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Couple of This Week's Creations

I did have some time to try a couple new (and delicious) recipes this week which I thought might be fun to share.

First off, a delicious veggie burger from one of my favorite guys on the Food Network, The Sandwich King. If you haven't checked out his recipes you should... Since they're mostly sandwiches (obviously), the recipes are pretty quick and painless. Plus, anything between two slices of bread is bound to be delicious! I'm also always impressed when someone comes up with a good veggie burger recipe that not only tastes good, but also stays together while being cooked.

I do not (I repeat, do not) like cucumber at all, so I didn't bother making the yogurt sauce. Instead, we just had the burger between two slices of potato roll with a little fontina cheese on top.

The Sandwich King's Veggie Burger with a little side o' asparagus
Next are some yummy yummy enchiladas. The recipe is from a restaurant called Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks, California which I stumbled upon on another blog called Kasey's Kitchen. Never been to the place, but I sure as hell want to go now after tasting these enchiladas. They're amazing and surprisingly quick. The best part was my hubby decided he wanted in on the cooking action that night so we made them together... a.k.a. he made the rice since he's not allowed near our new knives after a little incident he had cutting a bagel last week ;)

Casa Vega Enchiladas
Sorry for the sub-par photos. Everything would've been long gone by the time I got out my big camera!

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Faves: Giada's Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Photo courtesy of www.foodnetwork.com
Since I'm actually not cooking too much this week - we're headed to a friend's house for dinner one night, then enjoying Hudson Restaurant Week on Wednesday and Friday (woo!) - here's a recipe that I unfortunately can't call my own, but that you'll definitely find on my kitchen table many nights during the year. It's Giada De Laurentiis' Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chocolate & Hazelnut Coffee Cupcakes

This recipe has three flavors I love most: chocolate, hazelnut and coffee. When combined (in a cupcake!) they make for a delicious treat any day of the year! The light & fluffy whipped cream balances out the rich, spongy cake nicely... but feel free to use whatever icing you'd like. Betty Crocker's vanilla topped with some crushed hazelnuts would do just fine!