Budget Brunch for 3 Under $33

Budget Brunch for 3 Under $33

We go out to eat a lot, and that cost can add up, so I decided to host a brunch at home for my tribe! A budget brunch for 3 for under $33—challenge accepted.

These were my guidelines:

  • I needed to come up with a cocktail, two different entrees with a potato side, and a dessert.
  • Angie doesn’t eat meat—so shrimp is always a go-to—but Christina doesn’t eat shrimp.
  • Anything already in my refrigerator, cabinets and pantry were free game.
  • I can’t go over the $33 budget.

I started my shopping with a pound of shrimp, a bag of slider buns, a carton of arugula, chewy chocolate chip cookies, a bunch of scallion and a bottle of tabasco sauce. I got to the register and the next thing I knew, I was paying $22. Uh-oh. I knew I already had eggs and bacon, so all hope wasn’t lost. I also had mayo, a bottle of rosé, peppers, onions, and grape tomatoes, baby russet potatoes and that horseradish cheddar from Eman. These were all staples I could work with, so I just needed to get ice cream, lemons, and a juice to pair with the rosé.

I was out and about in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn—I’ll go into detail on that in another post—so I was able to stop at the West Indian market to grab a few things for the low. @JourdanChaTaun responded to my bat-call via twitter and suggested passion fruit juice. Goya juices were priced at 2 for $5 and I grabbed 3 lemons for $1. $28 spent and plenty of wiggle room for ice cream! Mission accomplished after spending $31!

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Our brunch menu consisted of shrimp cake sliders with arugula and spicy mayo, baked omelet cups with bacon, horseradish cheddar, peppers, scallions and grape tomatoes, baked home fries tossed in extra virgin olive oil, and I also made a quick lemon and oil dressing for the extra arugula. We sipped on passion fruit rosé mimosas and had little chocolate chip ice cream cookie sammiches* for dessert.

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Remember I said Christina doesn’t eat shrimp, right? She’ll eat crab, but not shrimp—she gave me some explanation about sea spiders vs. sea roaches once. Well after watching me fry half of the shrimp cakes in bacon fat, she gave in!

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Good food, better company, and Christina learned a new make-ahead breakfast—she even left with the last two baked omelet cups for breakfast the following day!

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*When referring to dessert, it’s not sandwiches, it’s sammiches for me!

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Taco Cleanse Crawl

On Sunday, my darlingest Nia of @EatWithNia curated a Taco Cleanse Crawl- to make it healthy, we walked off the last taco on the way to the next!

The route:
First was La Lupe: Carne Asada Taco on a corn tortilla with onion, cilantro, radishes, avocado salsa and lime.


Then Amaranto
. I had a steak taco with caramelized onions, fresh cheese, watercress, chile de arbol sauce,
Oh, and mushrooms- surprise! I picked every one out, including the one I started chewing on. ::cringe:: Krystal got a roasted chicken taco with avocado and chipotle-guajillo sauce. We were still a little hungry, so Christina ordered a crab toastada with fennel, avocado and chipotle mayo.

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Followed by Los Hermanos. I got another steak taco, but my fascination by the process overpowered my interest in eating the actual taco.

Then Taco Santana. Christina bought a horchata, a beverage made of ground almonds, rice, barley, tigernuts, or melon seeds. She gave s little talk on it, too.

Finally we ended at Cholulita. We were pretty much tacoed out at this point, but still had a little room for something more. I got a bistec torta with my favorite tamarind flavored Jarritos.

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There were two contest: one was to take a selfie at every location eating a taco and the other was to take a selfie eating a taco you wouldn’t normally eat.*

Though I’ve heard of crawls, I’d never done one. With Christina and her friend Krystal in tow, this was so much fun! I can’t wait for Nia’s next event: it’s all about chicken!

 

*I brought Nia a prosecco doughnut from my trip to The Doughnut Project. I walked in and handed it to her; she announced I automatically won the contest. I didn’t win.

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A Toast: Prosecco Doughnuts

I’m always getting tagged on food posts on Facebook, so when I got the tag for the prosecco doughnut video, I was intrigued.

The Doughnut Project teamed up with Ruffino for National Prosecco Day—August 13th—to make these glamorous prosecco-glazed doughnuts. I was tagged on Friday, and I was at the shop Saturday morning. They make their batch, and when they sell out, that’s it- so I made sure I got mine!

They’re selling them until the end of August, so act fast!

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The Doughnut Project
10 Morton Street
New York, NY

 

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Christina & I keeping ourselves entertained in NYC Saturday-morning traffic.

#avaeats All White Party + Potluck

#avaeats All White Party + Potluck

img_7055I. Am. Floating.

Saturday night was the night! The #avaeats all white party and potluck was an absolute success! Naturally, there were a few hiccups—but all the little things I worried about were nonexistent. We had a great turnout and variety of dishes from West Indian to Italian, and the never-failing tray of chicken wings from the Chinese spot. I can’t thank everyone enough!

I ordered an infused unicorn cake from @sugarhighbakes and they delivered! I offer them the opportunity to set up at the party and they gladly took it. I was a little nervous about them coming, I’ll admit, but they had a successful night and enjoy themselves, and I couldn’t ask for anything else. I know for a fact they’ll be getting some new business after this—mission accomplished!img_7059

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I enjoy making pretty desserts, so I held that down on the contribution list. I made vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream and a white chocolate brush stroke, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate bark, and brownies in a brand new silicone mold that almost made me shit myself—I’ll tell that story another time. Angelena reminded me the day before that she is a pescatarian, so I had to run out to grab some shrimp and decided to make shrimp kebabs two ways: lemon and garlic and jerk, using the jerk seasoning my god-sister brought me from Barbados.

The contributing menu consisted of so many bottles of liquor, homemade rum punch for adult capri suns, lo mein, rasta pasta, quinoa with kale, potato and green bean salad, macaroni pie, a gluten-free vegan interpretation of doubles, chicken wings, homemade pickled red onions and hot sauce, flan, a bunch of cookies, marble cheesecake with Oreo and graham cracker crust, and the plethora of sugary shit I mentioned earlier. 

Speaking of chicken wings, let me big up the contributor, Jeff, real quick for taking the initiative so whip out his handy-dandy camera and start snapping away! When I’m hosting, I have severe tunnel vision to make sure all of my guests are taken care of and I often forget to document the good times, so Jeff’s presence was clutch.

I made photo props and bought buttons and pool floaties to give away. There were contests for the best Instagram photo and caption using #avaeats: these were the winners. FullSizeRenderimg_7101img_7103

Chéo drove up for my first event. I was entirely too happy he was here. He seen me host so he knows how I maneuver, so having him here was a huge help! He made sure everyone had drinks and food and got them everything they needed, and like always, he was the captain of the cleanup crew. He looked at me with hearts in his eyes the whole time; he was so proud of me when he saw how everything came together. He won’t stop telling me; this man of mine is always making me blush. I love that his friends came and supported me too. These guys are always a fun bunch.

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I had such an amazing time. I’m exhausted, but I’m still on a party high. I put a lot of time, energy and money into concepts when I come out with them, so when I hear amazing reviews about anything I do I’m always grateful and always humble. I can’t wait to do this again!

I stole a few Instagram/Facebook posts because I’m screenshot mami: I like to see what I do through other people’s eyes.

Prohibition Bakery.

After Angelena and I pigged out at Pearl’s, Christina met us nearby to continue our food-filled Saturday. Christina has proven time and time again to be a rider- I have no idea how she found Prohibition Bakery, but I’m glad she did! If you want a real boozy (min) (cup)cake, this is the place!

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There were only a handful of flavors left when we got there: Pretzels & Beer, Old Fashioned, Dark & Stormy, Sangria, and Negroni. My favorites were Pretzels & Beer, made with Six Point Sweet Action Ale, Nutella, pretzel and white truffle, and the Old Fashioned, made with whiskey, bitters, orange, and a whiskey soaked cherry—but tasted everything like the typical black cake with icing served at every Trini wedding. We also tried Paloma rum drops with tequila and grapefruit for free!

I’m convinced the three of us walked out at the end of the night strangely tipsy off some cake! The alcohol doesn’t bake out, as one might think, because they add the liquor after they’re baked. These mini cupcakes are crazy boozy so you just might get carded, but each contains less than 5% alcohol by volume, in compliance with NY State Law.

Prohibition Bakery was founded in 2011 by a bartender and a chef, Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem. Unfortunately, their Clinton Street location closed down a few weeks ago after five years due to typical NYC rent hikes—a whopping 40% increase. They’ve since relocated and only offers delivery and catering services for now. Hopefully they’ll get another brick-and-mortar soon.

img_6890They even have a cookbook, so you can get boozy from the comfort of your own home!

Amarachi.

I dropped the ball over the weekend, so Christina and I missed out on this year’s CurlFest. I promised her I’d find us a delicious brunch to make up for it.

My generation has left the free before 11pm scene and is now about day parties and happy hours—and brunch! I’m talking two-hour waits and lines out the door, as we take our brunch very seriously. I often forget I have an OpenTable account, but it usually comes in handy in these scenarios.

Searches for table for 2 people for 3pm.

The results were forwarded and Christina selected Amarachi.

Amarachi is a family owned restaurant in downtown Brooklyn—with obvious roots from Nigeria and the Caribbean, cooking up dishes like Jollof Rice and Suya and Curry Chicken.

 

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Artwork on the walls.

We walked inside and it seemed packed! However, no one was eating. After looking around and putting 2 & 2 together, I realized they were having a private event. This would happen to us, right? Although they were hosting a private event, they were still open for brunch! Perfect!

We were seated by Jonathan as he went over the brunch special: a personal orange/mango/guava/pineapple mimosa carafe and entrée for $40, and their special Hennessy mimosa was available because it was such a beautiful day. I clutched my jade when he said those words—I’ve never heard of a henny mimosa, and although it sounded so intriguing, I had to pass. He left to give us some time to think about what we wanted to order. Christina decided on The Big Breakfast, consisting of Honey Jack French toast with scrambled eggs, home fries and turkey bacon, while I went with the Shrimp Linguini in a homemade alfredo sauce.

Jonathan returned to take our orders. When it was time to give him our selected mimosa flavor, Christina wanted mango and I wanted regular orange.

“Nothing about you is regular!”

You know that blank-faced, wide-eyed emoji? Yea, that’s what my face looked like. “Guava please?”

“Thank you.”

That interaction warranted a photo before leaving!

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Brunch gawdess.
The turn-around was quick—very much appreciated with a mean case of the munchies. Christina’s Big Breakfast certainly was big, with fluffy slices of French toast and hearty servings of scrambled eggs and home fries. The homemade alfredo sauce was everything I expected. Christina didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing—it’s a great thing! With their Nigerian and Caribbean roots, I expected it to have a little extra kick of spice, and it certainly did! And I must mention how beautifully the shrimp was cooked.

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I stole a bite of French toast off Christina’s plate—then I went back for a decent sized piece. I had to have more! Amarachi served one of the best French toasts I’ve ever had in my life. It had a natural sweetness we couldn’t pin-point, so I called my friend Jonathan over for a little inside information, hoping to get some secrets.

“We’re a family owned restaurant, run by four brothers, and to get our recipes—you’d have to marry one of the brothers.”

I love new recipes, but I love Chéo more, sorry not sorry!
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I’m convinced my stomach is smaller than my fist, so I surprised myself when I ate about 99% of my plate! That shrimp definitely made it to the doggy bag. Yes, just those three. We struggled to finish our mimosas. We started mixing them to try to help each other out, but still no luck.img_6559img_6560

Christina and I had an amazing brunch experience at Amarachi. I came home bragging about the Hennessy mimosa I hadn’t tasted because I knew Ché would want to, so hopefully we can get another beautiful day to go!

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Thanks for everything Jonathan!

 

Amarachi
189 Bridge Street
Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Smorgasburg: Excell Kingston Eatery

The Smorgasburg in Williamsburg is exactly that- a smorgasbord of any and everything you could possible crave in a lifetime. I hooked up with my fellow food-loving introvert, Christina, and walked through the gates with an open mind and stomach. 

But all that went right back out the gate once someone walked by holding a coconut.

We walked towards the direction the coconut-sippers were coming from and were pleased to find Excell Kingston Eatery. I get excited at the sight of a jerk drum. I guess I’m sticking to what I know!

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A quarter jerk chicken with rice & peas, plantains, and their signature yardie slaw; for $12, my belly was full and I was satisfied. Christina ordered festival, a fried cornmeal dumpling, with her jerk chicken.

We tried a few of their sauces with our chicken: Mama Renz Sweet and Spicy & BBQ Jerk sauces. They definitely added a little extra kick to the meat. The combination of heat, sweet, and char had my taste buds dancing nonstop.

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I had to hold my coconut between my knees because I just wanted to eat!

 

img_3993We both had to walk off our meals. We really didn’t expect it to be as filling as it was! We wandered around Williamsburg and a few people stopped me to ask where I got my coconut. Of course, I pointed everyone in the direction of Excell. We even stumbled upon my boy Cory who shouted out “island queen” from across the street. 

 Christina and I have a few upcoming Smorgasburg trips before it’s over for the season. So many food vendors, so little time!

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Using a machete, or what we call a cutlass, the top of the coconut is chopped off, revealing the perfect drinking spout.