Archives for March 2012

Life begins when…

Happy freaking Friday my loves!

So my Friday started off pretty early with a blast from the past. I just love these. You know, when you are on Facebook and an old friend from your graduating class randomly starts up a chat with you. Seriously, best way to start the day! It was definitely a good chat and my old friend even spoke some words of wisdom…he said, “They say life begins when you step outside of your comfort zone.”

BAM! I don’t know who “they” are but “they” definitely got my attention.  My friend is a freaking genius I thought. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Anyway, that got me thinking of ways to step outside of my comfort zone. Last year I started to make a bucket list which has millions of ways for me to step outside of my comfort zone.

So, I thought I would share my “bucket list” with you. This is what I have so far…


1. Become the editor of a food magazine.
2.    Attend Austin City Limits Music Festival and crowd surf at a concert.

3.    Go skydiving.

4.    Try out for American Idol…baha!

5.    Go snorkeling in the Bahamas.

6.    Go swimming with dolphins.

7.    Go to Disneyland.

8.    Go sailing in San Francisco Bay.

9.    Visit Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Ga and gorge myself on the all you can eat fried chicken buffet!

10.  Travel throughout Italy and learn about my ancestors and heritage.

11. Learn Italian.
12. Visit a vineyard(s) in Italy, and stomp grapes.
13. Visit Santorini, Greece and its historic churches.

14. Go skinny dipping.

15. Take a photography class.
16. Take a pottery class.

16. Perform at an open mic night.

17. Learn to play the piano.

18. Learn to play the guitar.

19. Visit Israel.

20.  I will attend a World Cup championship with little seester in another country.

21. Travel to London.

22. Visit Buckingham Palace and take a picture next to a guard.

23. Visit Venice and take a gondola ride.

24. Visit Paris and take a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower.

25. Attend a fashion show in Milan.

26. Attend New York fashion week.

27. Live abroad (in Italy) hand-wash my clothes, and hang them to dry on a clothes line.

28. Go on a cooking school vacation in Italy.

29. Go on a cooking school vacation in France.

30. Go on a cooking school vacation in Greece.

31. Visit as many outdoor markets as possible abroad.

32. Buy a homemade French baguette, brie cheese, fresh grapes, fruit, and wine and have a picnic in front on the Eiffel Tower.

33. Visit the leaning tower of Pisa.

34. Visit and work on an organic farm in Italy.

35. Visit Sonoma, California.

36.  Do a keg stand…

37. Cultivate my own garden.

8. Buy land in the Texas Hill Country and design/build a huge 4 quarter living space for my entire family.

39. Visit the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France.

40. Sing karaoke in front of 10+ of my closest friends.

41. Visit Chelsea Piers in New York, home of the Food Network.

42. Try out for the Next Food Network Star.

43. Try out for Top Chef.

44. I will run a half marathon, preferably in another state.
45. I will do a triathlon.

46. I will adopt at least one child during my lifetime, regardless of the number of children I have.

47. I will own my own bakery/café/catering company in a small city (maybe Saulsalito, Ca).

48. I will try some sort of ethnic cuisine involving insects or animals. (then I will puke).

49. I will dance on stage at a concert.

50. I will  play on the Cash Cab t.v. show.

51. I will backpack through Europe.

52. I will ride on a train.

53. I will ride on a bullet train.

54. I will have a destination wedding.

55. I will become a famous chef.

56. I will donate thousands of dollars to my favorite charity, St. Jude’s.

57. I will host 365 dinner parties with my close friends and family.

58. I will learn to surfboard (Ca/Hi).

59. I will attend the Summer Olympic games.

60. I will visit the Vatican and see/meet the pope.

61. I will spend New Year’s in Times Square NYC to watch the ball drop.

62. I will live and work abroad for three years.

63. I will write a cookbook.

64. I will be a high-paid food writer/critic for a world-renowned newspaper.

65. I will learn to belly dance.

66. I will attend a Crossroads Guitar Festival with my entire family and I will dance, sing, rock out, and meet Eric Clapton.

67. I will dance barefoot on the beach at my wedding.

68. I will be the best mother/wife in the entire world (or at least in my world).

69. I will go ziplining.

70. I will go on an island vacation with my family.

71. I will surprise my parents with a vacation getaway for two for their anniversary (not sure which anniversary yet…stay tuned).

72. I will be a grandmother and teach my grandkids to cook and bake.

73. I will take a cross country road trip with my future husband and hit all the awesome diner/barbecue joints/dives that are well-known.

74. I will have a 70th wedding anniversary.

75. I will own a getaway beach house in Martha’s Vineyard.

76. I will ride on an elephant in India.

77. I will take an olive oil /wine tasting course.

78. I will give my children the best private education that I can afford.

79. I will tell my children “I love you” after every conversation, after tucking them into bed, etc.

80. I will read bedtime stories to my children when they are little (preferably Winnie the Poohs Book of Opposites).

81. I will throw a surprise birthday party.

82. I will drive from Texas to Colorado in an RV and go camping.

83. I will create my own non-profit organization.

84.  I will learn to ballroom dance.
85. I will learn to play bocce ball from some old men in Italy.

86. I will go cliff-diving.

87. I will learn to scuba dive.

88. I will ride in a hot air balloon.

89. I will go fire walking.

90. I will visit Auschwitz.

91. I will  enter and win a pie contest in a State Fair.

92. I will learn to fly a jet.

93. I will have a wrap around porch on my house.

94.                I will volunteer at a homeless shelter.

95.                I will swim with great white sharks.

For now, I will just stick to eating cake, cookies, and any other sweets that I can find to step outside of my comfort zone. I believe that there is a time and place for everything.
Looks like I have some work to do! Happy Friday!

What do you do to step outside of your comfort zone? What is on your bucket list?

Petite

Let’s talk about petite, or small, things. Now, I am not talking about small people, gnomes or elves, or some magical fairy-tale character that is small in stature and can grant me three wishes. No, I am talking about more important things, like petite food. I have an obsession with petite foods, mainly sweets, like mini-cupcakes, French macarons, mini-muffins (are muffins considered a sweet? I hope not!), mini-pies, etc. etc. However, my fave petite food comes in the form of one of my fave breakfast foods of all time: the scone. Seriously, a petite scone is the best way to justify eating more scones for breakfast…because it is just so tiny, you can have two…or five, with your morning espresso and no one will even notice, right? Right!

So, what do I have for you today?

Petite Blueberry-Almond Oatmeal Scones

Calories are non-existent.
Now, someone hand me a margarita! Is it Friday yet?

What is your favorite petite treat? 

Petite Blueberry-Almond Oatmeal Scones (GF):

Ingredients:
2 c. almond flour
1 c. rolled oats (I used gluten-free, but you can use regular as well)
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 T. agave nectar (or honey)
1 c. fresh blueberries

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, oats, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and agave.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
5. Fold in the blueberries.
6. Using your hands, pat the dough into a large round ball. 
7. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet, place a piece of parchment paper over the dough, flatten the dough by pressing down on top of the dough with your hands.
8. You want the dough to be 1-1.5 in. thick.
9. Use a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 triangle shaped pieces.
10. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Makes 8 petite scones.

MANGIA!!!

She’s Back.

Happy Wednesday all! 

Yay! Let me just say, take that food poisoning! I am back and ready to spring into action. It literally killed me not being able to post over the weekend and yesterday because I was chained to my bed. That food poisoning is a super bummer…not a winning feeling at all. Anyway, like I said, let’s get this party started again, shall we? 

Yesterday was my first day back from cooking and if you think I was going to make anything including black beans or scrambled eggs, you are dead wrong. Seriously, I may not even be able to think about them for a loooong time. Fast-food Mexican restaurants are out of the question for me for a while. I knew I should have stuck to my guns on eating fast-food, but I was in the presence of good company, so can you blame me? It was the right thing to do at the time…EPIC. FAIL. Never. Again. 

So, like I said…yesterday I was back to being my parent’s personal chef! I wanted to whip something up that was fresh, quick, and healthy. My parents are on this health kick. Although, I do tend to see my mom with her hand in an occasional bag of hot Cheetos, or kettle corn, and my dad sipping on a Dr. Pepper…you have to have some balance in life, right? Right! My solution…

Parmesan Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic-Citrus Aioli
I just love me some roasted garlic…it’s like eating candy.

This was my first homemade aioli and I knocked it out of the park!
 So creamy, with savory roasted garlic, and little studs of orange zest 

To kick up the health factor…a whole-wheat bun, sliced tomato, and romaine.
That is my kind of burger.

Parmesan Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic-Citrus Aioli:

For the Parmesan Turkey Burgers:

Ingredients:
extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey (I used 99% fat-free)
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to season
2 whole wheat hamburger buns (can use gluten-free buns)
fresh sliced tomato and romaine lettuce, optional (use any garnish that you like)

Instructions:
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey and Parmesan using your hands.
2. Form the mixture into 2 (or 4 if feeding more) round patties.
3. Heat a non-stick skillet with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
4. Season both sides of each turkey patty with a pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Place both turkey patties in the skillet, cook for 8-10 minutes on both sides, or until the top of the burger is firm to the touch.
6. Set the burgers aside.
7. Split each hamburger bun in half and add to the pan to lightly char, for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly brown on the edges.

For the Roasted Garlic-Citrus Aioli:

Ingredients:
1 head of garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. plus 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 c. grapeseed oil
sea salt, to taste
juice of 1 small blood orange 
juice of 1/2 a lemon
zest of 1 small blood orange
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:
1. For the roasted garlic: Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Slice off the head of the garlic to expose the garlic cloves. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil over the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, or until the garlic cloves are soft when pressed. 
2. Set aside to cool. Mash 4 cloves, save the rest of the cloves for another use. Maybe some roasted garlic bread?
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks. 
4. Gradually whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil, then the grapeseed oil; beginning with small drizzles, then whisking in a thin stream until the mayo is very thick.
5. Whisk in a pinch of salt. Whisk in the blood orange juice, and lemon juice, a little at a time.
6. Whisk in the blood orange zest and roasted garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Spread on the turkey burger or dip the burger in the mayo!

Serves 2 (or 4 depending on the size of your patties).

MANGIA!!!




My Life According To…


Hi! From my bed…
Let’s talk about the past 48 hours.

Let’s just say that the picture above speaks for itself…food poisoning. 

I vow to never again eat Taco Cabana as long as I live…oh,oh I can’t even look at black beans or eggs or even thing about salsa or pico de gallo right now. Bleh. 

I have now been living off of grape pedialyte, gluten-free toast with butter and apple butter, Blue Bell Bullets, and oh, oh, the highlight chicken soup. It has all been pretty eventful. 

Not.

Now, I would have something delicious to show you today, like a cake, or a pie, or wait…I can’t even begin to think about food because I just might vomit. 

Instead, all me to amuse you with my life this past week according to my Iphone.

I think I have a sweet tooth

no?

 More of like an addiction to cookies


 and cookie dough
and more cookies
and cookie batter
and what’s that? Brown Butter. 
Yes.

Oh, surprise, surprise.
 my fave snack of latest: peanut butter on a spoon.
 Heaven? Yes.

You know what else I love?


Rainy days

that make for gorgeous sunsets.
I love breaking out my summer clothes

finding my Keds

and my pretty blue dress 
at the back of my closet.

I just love springtime.

It brings lovely 

flowers
and bright nail polish
 with names like peach bellini

oh, oh, and glasses of sweet, crisp, white wine on the patio at dusk.
This gorgeous spring weather means less couch sitting, and more dog walking…
 Princess and I are developing quite the buddy-buddy friendship.

Spring also means inspiration for veggie lunches…at least for me.
Roasted Carrots, Roasted Cauliflower and Peas with Hot Curry Spice, Babaj Ghanoush, and that thing we just won’t mention in the white

 Roasted Cinnamon Butternut Squash and Arugula.

What I am super excited about right now:


Exhibit A:

I nearly died.


These people tend to steal my money…for a bag-load of pajamas. 

The downside of my sickness: my parents have lost their chef for a couple of days.


Turkey Burger

on gluten-free bread, with tomato, romaine, and yogurt thousand island dressing

that cheesy, corn-bready thing,

 and pan-seared chicken.

I have been craving these, with a big side of hummus…all day. everyday. 

Fun fact: I like to drink my coffee with a straw…it keeps my teeth white

you can thank me later

My weekend started off with a bang…Dad and I visit Kemah on Saturday morning and sat near the water for a good chat and coffee 

I love Bingo scratch-offs…I only treat myself to them on the weekends.

I have been quite the little gym rat lately…I love strength training. 



I like to satisfy my sweet tooth with berries and yogurt

I love getting all dolled up for weddings


pretty hair

and cute heels

The food was actually pretty decent…Greek salad

and the bride’s mom even had a special gluten-free chocolate cake made for her daughter, and myself…so awesome

The wedding was held in an old historic building in Galveston

Dad and Mom two-stepped the night away

and Mom got a bit tipsy.

 It was a classic good ole’ wedding.


Of course, our next door neighbor decides to casually drop off his homemade lemon custard as I am in the prime of my sickness last night

I just imagined how good it tasted.




Is it weird to thank your nurse after injecting you with a shot in the rear end? I almost feel 100% better.




MANGIA!!!

Who Knew?

Happy Friday my loves…can I just say T.G.I.F.?! It has definitely been one of those weeks. Pretty busy, with a whole lot of productive-ness, but yet, unproductive-ness at the same time? Weird…I know. Anyway, today I have a delicious chicken recipe that even the most rookie cook can make. 

Because, I mean who can’t sear a piece of chicken in a pan? 
 I put some fresh basil on top…just because I like pretty, fragrant, things.

How hard is it to caramelize some sweet peppers and put them on top?

 Easy Peas-y.
Just devour it with a scoop of that spoony, cheesy, corn-bready thing I made the other day.

Not to change the subject, but seriously, who knew that it was National Chips and Dip Day?

Can it be National Margarita Day as well?

Because you can’t have chips and dips without a Margarita, right? Right.

Because of my lack of preparation and the fact that I thought I was all cool trying to present you with an easy, flavorful, chicken recipe (even though it is a Friday in Lent)…I have prepared no chips and dip…which is a little ironic seeing I am known as the dip queen in my family. I can’t eat my pizza without a side of thousand island, my chicken, without a side of barbecue sauce, and if by some chance I find myself with my hand stuck in  a bag of Pita Chips, you better know that there is a gargantua-size container of hummus nearby.

Anyway, here are some chips and dips recipes for you.

If only my stomach could handle avocados…

Somebody hand me a pita chip!
That isn’t spinach…it’s freakin Kale
Just give me a spoon.

Eat these
with this
Oh, while you are do all this chip and dipping today…you might want to consider eating a meal…like that chicken thing I posted up top.

Pan-Seared Chicken with Caramelized Sweet Peppers:

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (mine were each just under half a pound)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 orange bell peppers (you can use any other sweet bell pepper, like yellow), cut into strips, lengthwise
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
extra-virgin olive oil, for both pans

Instructions:
1. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large frying pan over medium-heat. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into the pan, about 3-4 tablespoons.
3. Place both pieces of chicken in the pan, and sear each side, about 6-8 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Set the chicken aside, cover with foil to keep warm.
4. Heat a separate pan over medium heat, drizzle with olive oil. 
5. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes until slightly golden.
6. Toss the peppers in, saute for 3-4 minutes then turn the heat to low and allow the peppers to cook down for about 30 minutes. You may need to add more olive oil at this point.
7. When the peppers are cooked down, and look a golden, caramel color, take them out of the pan, and place them on top of the chicken.

MANGIA!!!