Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Hangover Breakfast


It's a rare occasion that we stay out past midnight these days. Usually it's just dinner out with friends and then home to bed. But we've been stuck inside for weeks of rain, and I think everyone wanted to get out and celebrate the beautiful weekend. Last night our friends threw a Michael Jackson party, and all those themed cocktails really kicked my butt. This morning I remember how much I hate hangovers. Somehow I've dragged myself out of bed to make myself a nice fat hangover frittata. Remembering Food Science 101 from college, I know the amino acids in the eggs will help the after-effects of alcohol, and the vitamins can't hurt either. There's a good round-up of hangover cure myths and facts on HowStuffWorks. I think I'll make a banana and honey milkshake (for essentail potassium and sugar) for the husband... if he ever gets up.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Storm & Salad




I was sitting at the kitchen island earlier tonight, waiting for my husband to come home from his Bikram class, while I watched a storm brewing over the city. I was performing the usual ritual of scanning the web for dinner inspiration and facebooking. As I googled what was "good to eat after Bikram yoga" I noticed the big black clouds coming toward Brooklyn. They always come in the same way, right over the Empire state building, zapping the lightning tower and pouring onto the East River. As usual, the clouds took a turn towards Queens, and according to my sister-in-law's facebook status, there was hail. Luckily the storm bypassed our 'hood. Only the wind battered the windows, hitting the building like a freight train. Watching the lighting from up here on the 24th will always be exciting. I come from the country, and this is about as close to nature as I've gotten in NYC. But how appropriate for a Libra, high in the sky, an Air sign. (Since this thought just occurred to me now, I checked about.com to learn a bit more about my element, and it is no wonder I sit here at this very moment writing this very blog....more on that another time!)
Under the brooding clouds, ideas for dinner finally came to me. It is a rare occasion my husband requests a bland and healthy meal. "Spiceless, onionless, garlicless" really throws this Italian-grounded wife-chef for a loop! One lone green apple in an otherwise empty fruit-bowl inspired a spinach "chik'n" salad. My husband is vegetarian, and I was raised in a red-meat-loving family of hunters, so fake meat is often a point of compromise for us. I give to you my expirement - which went over excellently:

Vegetarian-Chicken Apple Spinach Salad with Carrot Vinaigrette
Baby Spinach
Green Apple, cut up
Trader Joe’s sesame honey cashews, toasted
Smart Strips Chick’n Style Strips, heated in skillet

Dressing:
1/8C Canola oil
1/8C total of lemon, lime and orange juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, or more to taste
1 tsp honey
1 large basil leaf
1 small organic carrot

Sauté “chicken” 2-3 minutes until hot. Toast nuts. Put dressing ingredients in chopper or food processor, and pulse until as smooth as possible. Pile spinach on plates and toss to coat with dressing. Top with apples, nuts and “chicken”.




Thursday, June 25, 2009

Get Thee the D&G!


I've never been a sunglasses snob. I've never worn them on the train, or inside, or on my head just to show off a logo. But I'm almost 30 and I am seriously sick of my head being pinched by cheap plastic frames. I'm sick of wiping the sunblock grease deeper into the scratched plastic lenses. I'm sick of wondering if my eye-cover is really protecting my eyes. Although there is not abundant necessity to wear sunglasses in Manhattan (unless you're sunning in the park), I feel the need to trade up. I have never managed to part with money for non-prescription eyewear, but I have some gift cards I've been saving up. As with any big purchase, I am following the proper procedure:
1. Try, but do not buy.
2. Note the coveted item's model number.
3. Search the web for reviews.
4. Visit the item and decide if it is still desired.
5. Comparison shop.

6. If still longing for the item, buy it!

Here's where I ran into trouble. I was ready to buy these beautiful D&G sunglasses today, I've been planning to get them for 2 months. Today was step 6. I walked up to the Sunglass Hut counter with 2 questions. "Can I try these on?" and "Do you have any others in stock? These are kinda used...". To which I got a reluctant salesperson to tell me "no you have to buy this pair, we only have one.". Excuse me? I don't pay $350 including tax for used sunglasses with someone elses greasy face all over them. And I also don't buy things from reluctant salespeople. It's a recession, honey, be glad you have a counter to stand behind, and a customer to stand in front of it! I decided to order the glasses online, however, the site doesn't accept AmEx giftcards. I called hoping to order by phone. No gift cards, sorry, must go to a store. So I continued to call every Sunglass Hut in midtown Manhattan (there's many), but they were all sold out! And no salesperson knew about any shipments or stock. The last call I made, I finally had a semi-success. They do only keep one of each item in stock, however, the 6th Ave store had just sold a pair, and knew the next ones would arrive within a day or two. I left my number and I am eagerly awaiting the call to go pick up my new babies!

Edamame Salad


Last night I returned from the gym with enough energy to make a simple dinner. Naturally after a hard workout, I wanted something healthy and high protein. I grilled a small strip steak and reheated some leftover whole grains with pecans. But you can't just dig into a plate of brown food, even if it's a steak. You really need some color on the plate to feel satiated. So I found some shelled edamame in the freezer, chopped some cherry tomatoes and onion, and whisked the same simple vinaigrette I tend to make for everything. I started keeping shelled edamame in the freezer about a year ago, when I started weight-lifting. They're high in protein, and just really really good for you. It's so easy to throw them in a salad, rice or pasta to add protein. I made this simple summer meal and cold salad in under 15 minutes.

Edamame Salad
-shelled edamame, frozen
-cherry tomatoes, quartered
-thin strips of onion
-chopped cilantro
-white wine vinegar
-olive oil
-dijon mustard
-salt, pepper

Bring edamame and water to a boil. Add onions. Boil 4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Add to chopped tomatoes. Whisk together the dressing, and stir into salad. Season with salt, pepper, cilantro.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Critical Girls


I just love critiquing things. I also love free gifts and insider information. I love being the first to know, and I love influencing a product's creation. SheSpeaks is a network of women who test products and influence the companies that make them. They do this through receiving a trial version of a product, testing it, discussing it in a forum, and then completing a survey. The companies almost always give you either a full size product to keep, or a token of appreciation. I'm currently trying out a new Bliss skincare product, but I've previewed magazines and television shows also. I am curious however, how certain Food Network shows remain on the air, when such critical comments were flying around the forums. Whether the companies take or leave the feedback, I'll continue to participate, even if it's just for the freebies!

Click Here to join SheSpeaks.

Irresistable Rue La La

It took me a few months to finally accept a RueLaLa invitation, but now I am hooked. RueLaLa is "an exclusive, invitation-only online destination where Members discover premier-brand, private sale Boutiques, each open for just a brief window of time". A few weeks ago I scored my first purchase: a pair of Frye T-Strap Sandals for just $79. They arrived promptly within a couple of days, and are super comfortable. The trick was to research a little before checking out, to make sure I got a good price, and that other sites had good reviews of the shoes. The merchandise differs each day, from wine to watches to vacations and dinnerware. (A word to the wise: only purchase clothing you are absolutely sure of, since the return policy is credit only)

A daily RueLaLa email reminds me what sales are happening, and today I met my new favorite handbag, by Charles David. It is narrow enough not to annoy people on the subway, yet deep enough for a file folder, lunch, shoes and a sweater. It also has the outside pockets necessary for holding mints and a metrocard, so I don't have to stop and open it while walking. The leather is tan and striking orange, although true to my indecisiveness I almost got the black. Can't wait until it arrives!

RueLaLa is invite only - Join Here

Frye "Avery" Cognac Leather T-Strap Sandal

Charles David "Gatsby" Tomato Leather Shopper

Monday, June 22, 2009

Instant Answers: Aardvark

If you love what I love, and you don't know where to find it, I'd love to tell you how to get it. From restaurant suggestions to shopping dilemmas, I have a million suggestions. So does everyone else.

Aardvark is a instant message and email based question and answer service. It collects users and classifies them into different categories of knowledge. I've been trying it out for about a week now, and I find it quite amusing. It creates a connectedness that is much more personal than entering a question into Ask.com or Google.

Click to join Aardvark:
http://vark.com/s/4mDi

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Soup for Lunch

Pretty Irresistible Zucchini

Another rainy day in the city. Just before it began, I was able to get a few things from the farmer's market in Union Square. I filled my canvas bag with rhubarb, peas and zucchini before I ran out of cash. Farmer's markets are so expensive these days, but the produce are so much fresher, and the plants so much healthier. Speaking of which, I picked up a healthy looking Nasturtium. According the the sign posted, they are easy to grow and also entirely edible. The bright orange flowers and climbing vine will also be beautiful if I succeed at keeping it alive. I've never been able to keep plants before, but I am trying again, since we have large windows and lots of sunlight in the new apartment.

I returned from the market hungry and inspired, so I used part of the zucchini to complement what I had around the house in a chunky vegetable soup. I enjoyed it while I watched the rain clouds close in on Manhattan.

CHUNKY VEGETARIAN MINESTRONE
For 2-3 Servings:
¾ C Organic Whole-Wheat Elbows (I used Delallo, as it stays al dente instead of falling apart like most wheat pasta)
1 Small russet potato cut into 3/8” cubes
¼ Vidalia Onion, cut into small strips
¼ C – 1/2C zucchini chopped into small chunks
1 small tomato chopped into small chunks
1-1/2 C Organic Vegetable stock (from a box)
Olive Oil (1 Tbsp)

Seasonings:
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Fresh Thyme
Shredded Parmesan

Boil water for pasta, then cook pasta about 5 minutes then drain. Meanwhile, sauté onions in olive oil in medium saucepan. Cook for 3 minutes, add potatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring. Add zucchini and sprinkle with salt pepper and garlic powder. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock and thyme. Bring to a boil then simmer about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Add pasta right before serving. Stir together. Serve with shredded parmesan, cracked pepper.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stuffed Portabellos over Arugula with Roasted Baby Yams

I didn't plan to make dinner tonight. But since the Fresh Direct order arrived, I decided to make something fresh and healthy (to make up for the potato sticks in my sandwich at lunch). I also had some things around I've been looking to use. Challenge: Arugula. Battle: White Wine. Go!

I tried a new twist on the classic marinated portobellos topped with tomatoes and cheese. I also had a package of wild arugula, which was complimentary in my last Fresh Direct order. Thing is, I hate arugula. Or so I thought. How to fix it? Since the arugula is so sharp and bitter, you have to balance it with strong flavors and something sweet. I also had some baby yams from a recent Trader Joe's trip, and half of a vidalia onion. Here's what I came up with:

Grilled Portobellos with Tomato Gouda Topping
Marinade for Mushrooms:
Sweet Chardonnay (I used what I was drinking: Chateau Lafayette Reneau)
Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
Lemon Zest
Salt
Red Pepper Flakes


Whisk equal parts wine & oil. Add salt, lemon zest and pepper flakes.

Topping for Mushrooms:
Campari Tomatoes (Campari Tomatoes make everything amazing)
Fresh basil, chiffonade (I used fresh from garden)
Fresh English Thyme – just a few leaves/baby sprigs (I used fresh from garden)
Olive Oil
Salt
Slices of Sheep’s Milk Gouda (I used Trader Joe’s)

Scrape gills off mushrooms and remove stems. Marinate for 20 minutes, turning to coat evenly. Place on hot grill pan covered with foil on low for 10 minutes. Flip and top. Cover and grill 5 more minutes until cheese melts. Top with extra basil.


Sweet Balsamic Arugula Salad
Dressing:
3 Tbsp C White Wine (Sweet Chardonnay – I used Chateau Lafayette Reneau)
¼ C Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Lemon Zest
Kosher Salt

Whisk together ingredients.

Salad:
Arugula (I used Wild Rocket)

Chopped Campari Tomatoes (mix in a little fresh basil & thyme)
Toasted Cashews (start with raw cashews (unsalted) and toast)

Toss Arugula with dressing. Add dressing a little at a time so it is not soupy. Toss in tomatoes. Top with cashews right before serving.



Roasted Baby Yams with Vidalia Onions
Chop baby Yams and onions into small pieces. Add chopped garlic (small amount). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Roast at 450 for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Plan: 40 minutes
1. Preheat Oven to 450. Gather all ingredients on counter.
2. Prep marinade and mushrooms
3. Use extra garlic from mushroom marinade to add to yams. Prep yams and put in oven.
4. Prep tomato topping
5. Make salad dressing
6. Add cashews to oven to toast - remove after 5 minutes or when brown.
7. Put mushrooms on grill, gill side down 10 minutes.
8. Finish putting together salad. Use extra tomato topping for salad. Slice cheese for mushroom topping.
9. Top mushrooms and finish cooking.
10. Plate salad, add cashews. Add yams. Carefully remove mushrooms from grill with tongs and spatula, carefully place on salad. Top with fresh basil all over.


We Make Our Own Sunshine

No longer is Manhattan a sea of black umbrellas. I’ve proudly been flaunting my zebra print Leighton for a year now, but that’s just me. I personally believe that you can enjoy a rainy day, as long as you sport the brightest rain accessories. After weeks of rain in NYC, we’re all looking for cheer. This particularly gray morning, I noticed bright umbrellas popping up everywhere. I tallied the assortment of plaids, neons, multicolor pinwheels, polka-dots, stripes, petal edges and photo-real prints.
Thanks for brightening my day!

LondonFog
Totes at Target.com


Raindropsto.com


Raindropsto.com

I’m Addicted to Listening


Today I’m looking for old jackets, and listening to new music. Attracted by the new song by Princess Superstar w/ Sharam… stayed for Mike Snow… and continued to click all day. Perfect music to research by. http://addicts.se/

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Color Now!


I spent an hour in CB2 yesterday trying to decide what color plates to buy. Orange? Green? Should I mix patterned with plain? I spent 10 minutes staring at up-lights… white or black… white or black…? Should I call someone? I ended up with plain white serving bowls in a funky shape, unable to commit to a plate pattern. I brought home 8 black can lamps ($6/each!)– to which my husband responded, “Really, you got black? Really?”. I’m so overwhelmed by color options. I can’t decide. I know I want color. Bold color. Bright eye-popping color. Now. But which one?






Divine Inspiration

An idea hit me this morning on the Q train. That’s how it usually happens, all of a sudden, out of the blue. I had been thinking about how to sum up and focus all the things I love to share with my world. It has been suggested by friends that I start a blog for my love of cooking and eating. This passion for food has lead me to become quite obsessed with exercise and health, as well. A fashion designer by day, I research trends and interesting style for my own inspiration, which I share for the amusement of others. I’ve also recently moved into a new home - a blank canvas, for which I am constantly collecting inspiration. Today it finally occurred to me what all these things, and myself, have in common. Why do I seek happiness from beauty in my work, home & body? Because I’m a Libra! I simply can’t help it. It’s who I am. Every aspect of my life revolves around finding balance. Balance of diet and exercise. Balance of style and comfort. Balance between cultures and values in marriage. There are so many ways to find balance, but the most rewarding is to see others love what I love.

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