Monday, July 9, 2012

Thyme Restaurant & Cafe Review, Roslyn, NY

We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary at Thyme Restaurant in Roslyn, NY, and it was a fitting location...  We enjoyed the excellent food, intimate atmosphere, live acoustic guitar and a beautiful view.
Thyme is in a renovated house in the heart of Roslyn, at 8 Tower Place
My husband had the crab cake appetizer ($11), which was quite good, while I had the lobster corn chowder ($8) -- it was delicious and full of lobster, potato, carrots and corn kernels...a meal in itself.  We both had the crab crusted Mahi Mahi as a main course ($28).  The crab crust was delicious, and the fish was perfectly cooked and moist -- probably the best Mahi Mahi I've ever had.  It was served with grilled asparagus and pommes Anna, thin layered potatoes baked in butter.  Yum.  I'm always thankful when a main course is served with vegetables that I like as sometimes is the deciding factor in what I order.

We shared a dessert -- banana bread pudding with bourbon sauce and whipped cream ($8.50).  It was flavorful and tasty, but I think I would have preferred vanilla ice cream to the whipped cream.

We were seated inside, but there's also a deck with outdoor seating that overlooks the Roslyn Pond (past the parking lot) and an upstairs area for private events.  The forecast for Saturday was sunny with highs over 100--it cooled off by the evening, but we still wanted to be inside.

In the bar area, a guitarist began playing around 7:30pm or so--mainly Billy Joel/Elton John favorites.  The music was unobtrusive and added a lively touch.  It was quiet and intimate in the beginning of our meal (we had 6:30pm reservations), but around 7:45/8:00pm, the dining room filled up and became a bit noisy.  I'd suggest going on the earlier side, since service was better and more attentive when we were one of only a few tables. It seemed to take half and hour to be served dessert, which was slightly frustrating.

Overall, we loved the experience and will definitely be coming back.  They have a three course prix fixe for $27.95 Tuesday thru Thursday 4pm-9pm / Friday & Saturday 4pm-5:30pm / Sunday 4pm-8:30pm.  We didn't feel like eating early on our anniversary, but I'd definitely consider the prix fixe option in the future, since all of the items we ordered were on the prix fixe menu.

For more information, visit their website:


Monday, June 18, 2012

My Mediocre Winnie the Pooh Cake

My daughter Sophia turned four this past weekend and I baked her a cake for her Winnie-the-Pooh themed party.  I searched the internet for Winnie the Pooh cakes, looking for ideas, but most were either the shape cake types (where you have to buy a cake pan shaped like Winnie that you'll never use again and fill it in with hundreds of little stars/flowers of frosting) or fondant (I don't like how fondant tastes, nor have I ever used it before) or bakery type cakes that had little figures stuck on them.

Where was just a Winnie the Pooh sheet cake that had a frosting picture of his face?  I decided to try to do it on my own.  My cake decorating skills are limited, at best.   I had gone out to dinner the night before with my parents who were in town, and by the time I put our daughter to bed, it was getting quite late.  

I made a batch of buttercream icing (recipe follows) and then squirted some yellow liquid food coloring into it.  I wanted a lemon yellow base.  I frosted the cake, saving a bit of the yellow frosting to use for a darker color.  I took a tooth pick and sketched out an outline of Winnie's face, eyes, nose and mouth, using a Winnie the Pooh paper plate (purchased for the party) as my model.
My Winnie the Pooh Model - a Paper Plate!
Then I added more drops of yellow + one or two drops of red.  This golden orange color was for Winnie's face and arms.  I used a smaller frosting knife to get his face filled in, then used store-bought red frosting to frost his shirt (I figured using red food coloring would not be 'rich' enough red).  I used store-bought black gel icing to fill in his eyes, nose and mouth.

I have a cake decorating kit -- nothing fancy -- but it came to my attention that the smallest nib (the pencil thin one used for piping in writing) was missing.  It must have been lost when we moved here last January.  I tried to write Happy B-Day Sophia using a larger thick nib, but it looked like an orange hot mess.

My daughter loves colors like red, pink, purple -- the usual.  But she definitely does not like black or brown.  Should I use the left over black gel to pipe in Happy B-Day Sophia on top of the orange?  The built in applicator was pretty thin, but the gel did tend to smear.  I decided to go for it and ask for forgiveness later.  (Sophia asked "Mommy, why did you write in chocolate?"  and I tried to explain...)  Overall, she was happy, but told me she wished she had gotten to help me (seemed sad about that).  She also asked me why Winnie was holding her name with his a Mom, I find that some questions are just hard to answer.
My Mediocre Winnie-the-Pooh Cake!

So here's my end result, a mediocre--but home-decorated--Winnie the Pooh cake.  No one ever asks me "Did you get this at a bakery?" when I decorate my cakes, but hey, I like the homemade look.  It took a lot of time and I'm proud that I didn't just buy a figurine or two (which they even use on bakery cakes!) to take the easy way out.  It seemed to make people happy, and most people wanted a slice of the cake rather than the chocolate cupcakes I had on hand.  Sometimes, mediocrity can be the very definition of success.  Just looking at his slightly loopy face makes me smile.

Winnie the Pooh Cake, made in the shade

Buttercream Frosting
1/3 c. butter (5 tablespoons)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4-1/3 c. milk

Beat butter in mixer until soft.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, blending slowly.  Add vanilla and milk to desired consistency.  For thicker frosting (better for decorating), add less milk, for spreading smoothly on sheet cakes, add more milk.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sleep Tight Spray Repels Ants, Too (Review)

A few months ago we moved to the 'burbs.  It's been awhile since I've written a blog post -- too busy packing, moving, settling in, yada yada.  As much as I love having a yard of our own, we've noticed quite a few uninvited guests.   Where roaches were once a problem in our Manhattan apartment, we're now facing armies of ants.  They aren't as offensive as roaches, and our garden variety black ants (sugar ants?) don't bite.  But they are annoying, especially when they 'discover' unwrapped cookies, Lifesavers or crackers in our pantry.

What's a homemaker to do?  With a three-year old daughter and a young dog, I didn't want to blast the place with Raid ant spray (although I bought some, I have to be very careful where I spray it).  And the pantry is no place for pesticide.

I read a lot of blogs that discussed organic remedies.  Cinnamon oil, citronella and mint oil were recommended as natural pesticides -- great, but where would I buy these essential oils?  I found some on the internet, but they seemed costly once shipping and handling were added in.

I was at Rite Aid the other day, mulling over my anti-ant options in the pesticide aisle.  I saw a spray bottle of Sleep Tite, a product by the company 'Natureside,' which featured a couple's feet crawling with bed bugs.  Eew...but I was intrigued.  We don't have bed bugs, but I wanted to know what was in this spray that was safe enough to use on a bed.  I read the ingredients:
Cinnamon Oil - 4.0%
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - 2.0%
Lemongrass Oil - .33%
Clove Oil - .33%
Mint Oil - .33%
Inert Ingredients - 93%

I waited a week, then caved.  The ants had come back in a vengeance and I had to do something fast.  The Sleep Tight spray was $10.29, which seemed pricey.  Thankfully, as a gold level Wellness member at Rite Aid, I automatically get 20% off most purchases, so I was able to buy it for $8.23.

Success!  I sprayed Sleep Tight in the cabinets and it killed the ants in seconds.  I wiped down the cabinets, leaving the Sleep Tight residue to repel future ants.  For two days, I didn't see a single ant.  Then I saw just one, and another the next day.  I re-sprayed the cabinet doors (on the inside) to keep them away.  (I'd already placed all of the crackers, cookies, etc. in plastic zipper-lock bags...but these ants were pretty insistent.)  I never spray it on food, just around the cabinets, and all the food is fully covered in bags, boxes or cans.  Even if it is organic, I don't want to be eating this spray.

It's been a few weeks and the Sleep Tight spray has been a huge plus.  My only problem with the spray is that the cinnamon smell is very intense.  If I spray too much or too often, it's almost nauseating (the smell must be what keeps the ants away!)  However, a little goes a long way.

What I love about it is that it's (for the most part) natural.   It's not going to harm my dog or my daughter....or us.   However, it does have a cautionary statement on the bottle about not ingesting, drinking water to dilute product if accidentally ingested, and calling poison control.  So it's not as safe as water, but obviously anything that kills ants isn't going to be perfectly safe.   It's main ingredient, Cinnamon Oil, is safe for cooking, but isn't meant to be ingested undiluted or used on the skin.

I give this product 4 stars ****.  It's effective, kills AND repels ants, and is easy to use.  I'd give it 5 stars, but the smell is annoying.