Friday, March 27, 2009

Following My Bliss...


I've been on a roll this week! Started out in a less than happy mood on Monday...and decided to send a tweet to Mike Scott on Twitter...so I bravely composed a very enthusiastic, but un-stalkeresque, note about how much I love his music and how serene I felt after listening to an album (Universal Hall) on the Subway that morning. I sent the tweet and rushed off to my knitting group all nervous after reaching out in cyber-land...as if I'd just e-mailed a boy I like. I guess, in essence, I had! LOL

He responded immediately with, "Thanks!" and a little note about giving his regards to places here in NYC.

I was grinning like a mad fool all day.

Funny how a little pebble in the pond of his day could be such a cannonball to me! Though I'd like to think I contributed to a smile or cheery mood since, as my friend Krissy put it, "He's always contributing to your good days!" Very true.

Anyway...it turned my attitude around....and got me back into listening to The Waterboys on the walk to, and on, the subway in the morning; this apparently helps keep me on track (no pun intended).

Monday night, after meeting with my Women Artist's Salon, I (against my more responsible instincts) went out for drinks at a brilliant place called Apotheke. It's a nouveau speakeasy! One of the drinks concocted for me was called "The Smoking Jacket" and it contained single malt scotch. I had to try it, of course...it was aptly named...sort of reminded me of Laphroaig.


Tuesday started off with a Dr.'s appointment, in which my doctor lectured me about food and everything else I've come to believe in. I won't be giving her the link to this blog, that's for sure!
So, what did I do immediately after my appointment? I went out to lunch with some ladies from my office to St. Andrews, a Scottish (sigh) bar and restaurant, for a pint of Bellhaven "Wee Heavy" Ale and Haggis :)

*Photo courtesy of Heather and her camera phone!*


It made me feel warm and fuzzy all day...

Wednesday, during my walk to the the train, I saw a license plate that read, "LIVEGOOD" and thought, "Damn right" ...while listening to The Waterboys and wearing plaid leggings...

Thursday, I thought might be light on Scottishness, but then I found out that the newest "Outlander" book by Diana Gabaldon has a publication date! Wee! These books introduced me to the idea of visiting Scotland, back in 2004, and the rest is history. I also found out about a Scottish networking website, when I went to her official site about the book, called Panalba (and promptly joined). Then, I e-mailed Craig Ferguson (fingers crossed they read it on air)! In addition to all this, my friend/co-worker Glen (shout out to Glen!) said he sat in front of 2 Scotsmen on the train ride in to the office. Sigh...the weather was a bit British too...On the way home I snuggled up in the lovely rain hat I bought near the Grass Market in Edinburgh this past August.

Today is Friday...not much Scottish has happened today, besides my red tartan jacket and watching last night's Craig Ferguson (repeat) over breakfast...there was some kilt action, which is always a treat...wink.

The Universe is constantly putting Scotland in front of me, and I am always more than happy to greet it...Even my doctor was wearing a long red tartan women's kilt on Tuesday (totally random since she's Asian). Tartan week is fast approaching too...

I have plans to visit Iona and Edinburgh in the fall...which can't come fast enough...although I need the time to save for it!

I guess my point with this particular blog entry is to follow your bliss...where ever it takes you. Take chances and follow your instincts; basically, find what makes you feel warm and fuzzy :)

The first time I stepped off the bus in Edinburgh I felt as if I'd returned home...it's certainly a bliss worth following.

I've Lived Here Before
by The Waterboys

i've lived here before in days of old
i recognise these buildings in my soul
i know each winding road
and every rise
is friendly and familiar to my eyes

i've lived here before i do believe
i have rejoiced in these fields and i've grieved
i can feel it in my blood
that i belong
to this strange and stony rock i stand upon

yet i cannot put a name upon it
i cannot place the time
nor see the land as it once was
nor tell which house was mine
no i cannot put a name upon it
which was where and when
yet here i am
a perfect stranger
home again

there's confusion in my head as i depart
but a singing, ringing, soaring in my heart
for beyond all time and space and doubt
i know
i've lived here before
long ago

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Salad!

I LOVE this salad...


Mixed greens...dried cranberries, pecans, gorgonzola, organic roasted turkey breast....I pan-cooked the pecans in some raspberry balsamic vinegar...then tossed the salad with the vinegar and olive oil...salt and pepper.

Definitely something to be thankful for...LOL

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heavenly Chocolate and Brie Panini

A while back I made these brie paninis with chocolate and fresh basil....recipe courtesy of The Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis

AMAZING!!!

I made them in a frying pan because I don't have a panini press...another thing I covet :)

Panini with Chocolate and Brie


I paired it with a salad of wild rice, chopped walnuts, edamame, and dried cranberries (recipe courtesy of Prevention Magazine):


Cranberry Edamame Wild Rice Salad

In lg bowl, combine 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Toss with 1/2 c cooked wild rice, 1/2 c fresh or frozen and thawed shelled edamame (beans), 2 Tbsp fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries, and 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts. Serve at room temperature.


This salad was part of a great article about getting the right amount of veggies into your diet:

"The Veggie Factor"



The panini was sinfully delicious....the basil, chocolate and cheese paired together so well! I made the paninis all week...until I ran out of brie....mmmm.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Snack Attack!



Just in case anyone thinks I'm some sort of organic guru...

I LOVE junk food...once in a while. I suppose you could have gotten that idea from my Muppet party blog...but I did try and "health" the food up as much as possible for that event.

This week I've been having major snack attacks and I have learned that if I don't follow where my tummy leads me...I will inevitably become pretty angry :)

So, what did I indulge in this week? A trip to McDonald's, with a friend, for a Shamrock Shake (which are discontinued, gasp!) on St. Patrick's Day turned into a snack of cheeseburger and Med Fries (followed by a Scottish beer when I got home). The cravings spilled over into the office on Wednesday where I indulged in some amazingly satisfying cheez-its and, my favorite, pepperoni pizza!!! Pepperoni pizza would be my last meal if I was ever on death row (have you ever played that game?) Funny side note about the pizza (or maybe it's just messed up) but the pizza boxes were plastered with ads for an exercise device called "The Ab Rocket." It made me laugh as I took my second slice.

The icing on the junk food cake was a Dr. Pepper...which tasted like liquid gold! When I was a kid I used to always order root beer when I had pepperoni pizza at Papa Ginos...so Dr. Pepper was a pretty good match.



The best part? My body didn't rebel against me after all this because I didn't go hog-wild with the portions...just enough to satisfy...or at least because I ran out of cheez-its LOL.

It's so sinfully delicious to indulge once in a while. Sort of makes me feel like a kid...when going to McDonald's was a treat and snack food was fun.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ah, Savory Breakfast...How I Love You...

My love of all things breakie...or at least in the savory sense...has been tugging at my blogging heartstrings...

Simply put...I adore eggs...so breakfast is basically my favorite meal of the day. When I am abroad, and in a country that does the sweet breakfast...I have issues.

I recall desperately ordering an Egg McMuffin in Florence, Italy...because I needed a break from the rolls and Nutella...although the fact that I could always find apricot preserves over there kept me sort of jazzed.

I heart the big British breakfast the most (no big surprise there). Eggs, beans, sausage, chips...sometimes bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes...or haggis! (I'm speakimg of Scotland, of course ;) Sometimes it's all of the above! Sigh...

Here's a photo of me enjoying one of these fabulous plates of food on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh:



Yes...I take the time to make breakfast before I leave for work every day...it's not always as elaborate as the following photos, but it really doesn't take much time. I realize that for most people these would most likely be a weekend breakfast...either way...they're yummy :)


My favorite is eggs with hummus and then a little salad of tomatoes and fresh basil (tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar). My wonderful friend Kim turned me on to the salad idea...thanks Kim!



And sometimes...when I have more time, or leftovers, my home fries replace the hummus. This particular day, I cooked russet potatoes with rosemary, sage, garlic, salt, pepper, and red onions:



Another morning I finished up some leftovers...quinoa with sweet potato puree, garlic, black beans and curry paste:



No matter who the egg's savory guest star is...it's a yummy way to start the day...add a nice cup of tea or coffee....and be still my early morning heart.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kale and Panchetta Soup

This is one of my favorites...so tasty...I wish I had some to eat right now (especially since I'm battling a wee cold). It's a wonderfully comforting dish in the cold weather, so I thought I should post it before Spring hits...I'm getting it in just under the wire, I think!

Isn't she Beautiful?


I took about 1/2 pound delicious panchetta and browned it in a large pot with some garlic...and then added a carton of organic chicken stock, a small bunch of kale (in pieces) and a couple handfuls of dry whole wheat spirals...then let it simmer until the pasta was done. I seasoned with garlic salt, crushed red pepper flakes, onion powder and pepper. You can add what ever you think might be tasty!


And a little Parmesan put it right over the top....




MMMMMM.....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Boozy Date and Cranberry Bars...

I had some dried dates and cranberries that had seen better days...they were a little too dry. I wanted to use them in a bar recipe (I hate waste) so I needed to re-hydrate them...

I could have used water or juice...but where's the fun in that?

Instead, I soaked the chopped dates in apricot brandy and the cranberries in triple sec for hours (until the fruit had absorbed the alcohol).






1 cup chopped, dried dates (soaked in apricot brandy or brandy of your choice)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (soaked in Triple Sec...or any orange flavored liquor)
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup canola oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 9x9 pan...

Put flour, salt and baking powder in large bowl and mix thoroughly...add date/cranberry/walnut mixture.

In a smaller bowl beat together sugar and eggs...then add vanilla and oil beat well.

Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Spread into pan and bake until golden brown (about 25-30 minutes). Cut into bars. Makes around 24.



Monday, March 9, 2009

Muppet Leftovers...

I turned the party leftovers into new culinary creations for the week...and they were delicious!

The spicy veggie pizza topping turned into a sort of ratatouille...with red quinoa:


I chopped 1 eggplant and simmered with some garlic, canola oil (I was out of olive...), and onion powder:


Then, I remembered that I had a zucchini...so I sliced and added it...with a little butter for flavor...


Then added in the leftover pizza topping...


...and the Quinoa...



For the Ale Hamburger topping...I mixed it with some wild rice:





And for the left over ricotta cheese...I found a lovely recipe on Fresh Direct:



1 1-pound box penne
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup fresh ricotta
1/3 cup roughly chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chervil, tarragon, and flat-leaf parsley)
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserving 1/3 cup of the water, drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, ricotta, and pasta water until a rich, creamy sauce forms. Pour the sauce over the hot pasta. Add the herbs, zest, salt, and pepper and toss.


I accidentally over-salted...so be careful!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Food for Thought



I had a different blog planned for today....all still Muppet related (sort of)...but I'll post that later...

This morning I came into the city for a Dr's appointment and when I got there...the Dr. was still on vacation. Hmmmm.

Well...no use getting angry, though I was understandably a little put out...so I took the time to walk to work (from 56th street...where I interned as a college student...and then down past TV Guide's old 'hood at 48th...and then onto our new home). All the while I was wondering what the reason for this extra time was...would I randomly run into someone I hadn't seen in a long time and I was meant to reconnect with?

I took the time to stop for a fruit shake near Radio City Music Hall and my old office. I used to only go to this specific fruit-shake vendor because I liked the couple who worked there....and they were still there! I haven't been in over a year...and I wasn't necessarily a regular when I did...but they always smiled really brightly at me when I came by...and today was no different! The man's face lit up when he saw me...and I had doubted he'd remember me. It was so nice; instantly cheered me up.

I had left the Dr's office wondering why I hadn't been notified ahead of time to her absence so I could have slept later....and I got my answer in those few moments while I waited for my large Mambo Shake with wheat grass. We are all so much more connected than you'd think...

:)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tea With Oscar...

This week is all about the Muppets. :)

The day after my party, I enjoyed a quiet tea with Oscar:






I did feel bad eating such a beautiful creation...until that first bite, anyway :)

Simply Delicious...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Anatomy of a Muppet Party...


Saturday I held my third annual Muppet Party.

I had the idea (3 years ago) to get some friends together for an adult kid's party...where we would eat food we loved as kids (but in a healthier form), have some drinks, watch The Muppet Show, and maybe play some games...basically be silly and childlike for an evening.

Reflecting on my parties over the past years, I realize how far I've come with relaxing while entertaining...I used to get pretty stressed out.

The most important thing to remember? These are you friends, and all is well.

Be yourself in every aspect of planning...meaning, have fun yourself and all else will fall deliciously into place! Create a party you would want to attend...

I started the day by getting up and having a leisurely breakfast and waiting for my fresh direct order (freshdirect.com). Ordering groceries cuts down on my stress (whether I'm throwing a party or not)...it's fabulous! Oh, and paper cups and plates get a huge thumbs up from me too. I'm not a big supporter of plastic, but I had some leftover plastic utensils that also came in super handy.


After a little cleaning and putting away the groceries, I pre-chopped veggies, grated cheese, and made pizza dough for later. I even had time (or rather, made time) to do a little yoga and reiki before I hopped in the shower!



My Beautiful pizza dough:



The Menu (this year was by far my favorite):

*Ale Cheeseburger Pizza

*Spicy Veggie Pizza

*Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

*Black Chocolate Stout Ice Cream


Menu Items supplied by friends:

*PB & J appetizers




*Bailey's Chocolate cake



*The AWESOME Muppet Cupcakes pictured at the beginning of this blog, supplied by my ├╝ber talented Cousin, Elana (Sweet E's Bakery)

Beverages consisted of copious amounts of Red Wine, Grape Vodka (smelled like bubble gum!) Prosecco, and Scottish Ale ;)


Friends started arriving around 7 (except for Elana who had come to hang out earlier :) and the party got under way! The mac and cheese was done and I started assembling the cheeseburger pizza...when my veggie friend Kim arrived, I was assembling the veggie pizza, put it in the oven...and then, BAM! "Disaster Struck!!"


The spicy veggie pizza was too top heavy and it slid backwards and off the pizza stone...ending up on the back wall and floor of my oven! I quietly shrieked a slow motion "OH NO" as I saw it go. But I wasn't going to give up that easily...I pulled the racks out and salvaged what I could of my creation...it might have looked a mess, but it sure was tasty.

Remember the motto?

All is well.

And all was more than well...it was Muppet-tastic....

We watched some old clips of the Muppets on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Muppets Take Manhatten...all the while fabulous silliness and friendship abounded...



XOXO


And to finish it all up, I did goodie bags in the form of a packed lunch. This included a tiny PB &J and cup of mac and cheese with a sprinkle of M&Ms....








And now, the recipes:

For the pizza toppings I used one large onion, 1 can of Muir Glen organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, 1 can Muir glen tomato paste...split in half (for the two pizzas)...I browned the onion and then:

Veggie Pizza:



1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup chopped broccoli
Handful Fennel Seeds
A Sprinkle of crushed red pepper, Chili Powder, sea salt, Worcestershire pepper blend (to taste)
Shredded cheese blend (I used Organic Valley Italian Blend)

Spread on pizza (you can make your own crust or buy frozen), top with bake for 15 minutes @ 400 degrees.

Ale Cheeseburger Pizza:



1 pound antibiotic free ground beef
1/2 Cup Ale (I used Bellhaven Scottish Ale...and then drank the rest :)
1 Teaspoon organic Worcestershire sauce
Season to taste with salt, Worcestershire pepper, Chipotle Tabasco
Shredded Sharp Cheddar (Organic Valley Raw Cheddar)

Brown the beef with the onions and then add all other ingredients...let simmer and then assemble pizza and bake just like above.

Put all ingredients in pan and simmer



I used a Martha Stewart recipe (and used canned squash and vegetable stock) for the amazing:

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
(click title for recipe)




and last, but certainly not least:

Black Chocolate Stout Ice Cream


1 pint heavy cream
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
12 tablespoons chocolate stout (I used Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout)

Make sure all ingredients are well chilled.

Whip cream with mixer until it stands up in peaks...then fold in condensed milk and stout. Pour into a container and put in freezer. No ice cream maker needed! Serve right from freezer...it will melt rather quickly.