Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Love List #1

I just have found so many things lately that I've really been in love with and wanted to share!

1. This lovely bag from the Gap - not only is it pretty in beige, but it's HUGE (17 inches wide) which is precisely the kind of size I like in my life. Thanks to The Frisky for today's Crave

2. Thomas Bagel Thins, in the "everything" variety. I am a lover of all things savory for breakfast and upon finding these delicious little devils, my morning has become a lot easier. Slap all 110 calories in the toaster, smear on some low-fat veggie cream cheese and you have yourself a 200 calorie breakfast! (minus the copious amounts of coffee)

3. I have a notebook obsession. #itsfine - but fueling that obsession are Moleskin notebooks. Love love love them all and their earthy paper smell.

4. Lean Cuisine's chicken parmesean - I am still hungry after my lean cuisine lunches and left feeling slightly disappointed that it wasn't topped with three cups of cheese and a two slices of bread, but this little guy is the best one I've had so far! It seemed more filling than the rest (although I was still a little hungry, but I really need to eat smaller portions since I usually eat twice the amount a normal person does, in the same amount of time) and surprisingly had a good flavor.

5. End of summer sales - in case you all haven't noticed most maxi dresses and rompers are on sale... and sucking up all of my extra money.

6. Unsweetened Peace Tea - with minimal calories, this iced tea has no artificial sweeteners and is just-on-this-side of almost takes like home-brewed tea. Plus, which is the best part, it's only 99 cents for 24 oz.

7. The new Pistol Annies album. Such classic country and so good!

8. Eric Northman and Alcide Herveaux of True Blood - so much sexy in just one short hour! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Recipe Review: The best tomato sauce ever (apparently)

Beginning in the last several months, I started to be bombarded by many of the social media outlets that I follow about Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce. Apparently, the recipe is from one of her cookbooks in the 70s and has found a renewed following. The recipe is simplistically easy - obviously made for someone like me.

I first made is about 1.5 months ago and put it in a new eggplant parm recipe that I found. Which is another story (as it happened to be one of the best meals I've ever made).

I made it again last week, with our own homegrown tomatoes and it turned out equally awesome! Here's the low down:
The onions, butter
 and tomato simmering.

Start with 2 pounds of tomatoes. I used fresh tomatoes and thus boiled them for two minutes, peeled them and sliced them. You could also start with canned tomatoes (I'd say crushed would probably work best) or try various other methods to peel them. Put the tomatoes, one medium onion peeled and halved, 5tbs. of butter (unsalted) and then just some salt to taste in your sauce pot. Simmer on low for at least 45 minutes. 

And there you have it, the best tomato sauce ever. HOWEVER - this is truly just tomato sauce, this is not the marinara that your mother used to pour out of a Prego jar and dump half a bottle of wine in, while finishing the other half (or did only my mom do that?). The sauce is melding of sweetness, acidity and pure essence of tomato.

From L to R: Oregano, Basil and Parsley.
Also the onions waiting for Paolo/the
dog to consume them. 
At any rate, I added a few other things: oregano, basil, parsley (all out of our garden as well), black pepper, garlic and wine (obvs). The amounts are not really important, it all depends on how you like your sauce to taste. We like a lot of garlic, a little wine and a lot of basil. 

The only thing with doing your own tomatoes as opposed to buying the canned, is how long it has to simmer and the chunkiness of the sauce. I did not run it through our food mill, so it was chunky and had I cooked it down to the consistency I prefer, it would have taken two hours to simmer. However we were starving, so we just ate it thin and chunky, served over wheat spaghetti.

And I shall leave you with this:

While we cook Paolo and I get in each others way, which results in a lot of arguing. Which consequently involves a lot of gesticulation, which is how this happened.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Recipe Review: Kale Chips

In all of my 24 years of existence cooking has never been much of a past time for me. Then I got married to a fatty.... now we cook constantly and consequently, gain weight at about the same rate, so I'm always looking for healthy things. About a month ago I was bombarded with the term Kale Chips - I was seeing it on blogs, Twitter, in magazines and splashed across the interwebs. Upon trying them, with my own modifications, they are awesome and easy.

  • Take some kale, it shrinks when cooked, so a big bunch is a good amount as a side dish for two people.
  • Wash it, cut the big stems out, I usually divide it down the center completely because the stems are not tasty. Also it's easier to eat if it is in bite sized portions
  • Lay them flat on a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. You could also spray the sheet instead, but with parchment paper you can just shake them off into a bowl.
  • Now here's my biggest modification, most recipes said toss with olive oil or melted butter, but it's somewhat time-consuming (I'm not wasting 5 minutes of my life coating greens in olive oil). So I use spray butter. It's so easy and gets the entire thing coated which makes them crunchy and has zero calories. Don't forget to coat both sides.
  • Sprinkle both sides with sea salt.
  • Bake at 330 degrees for roughly 9 minutes. I like mine super crunchy, not as wilty. I also do not think they have bitter taste when slightly burned, but most of the reviews I read said cook for 7 minutes.
  • Shake into a bowl and hide them from your husband/children because otherwise they will eat all of them while you are cleaning up.
  • Enjoy!

This is so easy, so good and healthy - it's almost too good to be true!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recipe Review: Summer Squash Carpaccio

I was inspired two-fold this morning when I saw my friend Becky posting about squash and my new favorite blogger, Jane Lear, writing about smothered lettuce.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a picnic hosted by my coworker, when I unfortunately had to work right up until the party. In my endless search for easy and impressive cold appetizers, I found the mother load... summer squash carpaccio

Now I love cheese and lemon and chances are that any dish involving a combination of these two is a winner in my book. The recipe is from Food Network and very well may be the BEST recipe I've every taken from their site. Check it  out:

Thinly slice yourself 1 yellow squash and 1 zucchini and arrange on a plate (a mandolin works best, but unfortunately since I am poor/a beginning cook I do not own one. I just thinly sliced circles, but long strips look pretty too)

Drizzle with minced olive oil and copious amounts of lemon juice and sprinkle any combination of fresh mixed herbs (I used basil, oregano, parsley and garlic) and shallots or garden onions.

Season that layer with salt and pepper and grate cheese, like Parmesan or pecorino, over the top.

Picture of Summer Squash Carpaccio RecipeLet it sit in your fridge. (This is the best part) The lemon juice cooks the zucchini so you can make it 8 hours ahead or 3, and it still turns out wonderful!!

I got a ton of compliments on this dish and so many people asked me for the recipe. Since is was SO easy I didn't give the recipe out because I pretended that it was SO HARD.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm married -WTF.

Has it really been three weeks since my last posting?! Who knew getting married would be so time consuming. Just a little rundown of how things went:

Got married Wednesday, June 29, 2011 on near the Chesapeake Bay on the Tred Avon River. It was nearly perfect (aside from the fact my veil stuck to my false eyelashes the whole time and our niece Lexi screamed through the whole ceremony. She was not having a good time). The reception dinner was the best meal of my life and started a long chain of caloric eating that resulted in five pounds by the time I made it back to Grantsville.

Went to Baltimore on a mini-honeymoon where the first day we went to an expensive Italian restaurant (had a bottle of wine), then went to the Oriole's game (had four beers) and finally came back to the hotel bar where I had four chocolate martinis. Result: newlywed puking her guts out in a four star hotel bathroom...I couldn't quite make it back to room 3606.

Mini moon jellyfish

Next day of minimoon: Managed to make it out of bed by 10 a.m. only to look out my window and see construction workers hanging from some ropes outside my window on the 36th floor. Did I mention that my romper also made it's way to the kitchen section of our suite? Once I got over the shame/hangover, we went to the aquarium. Like usual, several homeless people approached Paul on our way there and 20 minutes of pointless conversation and $5 later, we made it inside. Saw a snake shedding it's skin and my favorite part were the moon jellyfish. Then we ate lunch (Italian obvi), walked around little Italy, changed for dinner and went to the Rusty Scupper for some seafood. It was delicious and our waiter Charlie, who was on his second day at the job, wished us a hearty Mavel Tov on our nuptials and gave us free champagne.

Now I'm just married.