Tuesday, November 29, 2011

December's Thoughts On Whole Living

You gals and guys seemed to like the 10 Thoughts On Whole Living so much from the November issue of Whole Living magazine I thought I would share the December list as well. Of all months this seems to be the one jammed packed with activities and to-do lists.

1. Warm you Soul: Savor a hot drink.

2. Be aware of the difference between anticipating and living.  Joy is rooted in the present.

3. Let Go of the Perfection: the most delicious moments are often the messiest.

4. Living Better Doesn't Always Mean Trying Harder.  Ease Up.

5. Avoid getting trapped in someone else's story.  Be the author of your own life.


7. Make something.  ANYTHING. From Scratch.

8.  You can remember good times without losing yourself in nostalgia.

9.  The best gifts let someone know how much you love. Not how much you spent.

10.  Rest is not a luxury.  It's a necessity.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Beef Stir Fry with Parpadelle Noodles

I am a super huge fan of Thanksgiving leftovers but here is my thing.  I like them exactly as they are on Thanksgiving.  No fancy, new recipe for making the leftovers into some creative dish. I want the turkey,  cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing the same way as I had the original.  And that is exactly what I did this year.  In fact I did it two times over.  It was wonderful.  I had my full.  Now it is is time to move on.

And move on we did.  Mr. J style.  My little mini break from work is completely over and I have three weeks of non-stop meeting and trips across the East coast.  To help makes this a bit easier Mr. J is taking on dinner (and cleaning even though I have yet to inform him) duties.

The first meal up was a winner. I think I can get some of the credit because the star of this show was the noodles I picked up from TJ's.  I think they may be my new favorite thing. The parpadelle noodles are thick and yummy all around.  Perfect for soaking up the stir-fry sauce.  See this is clearly something I deserve credit

As for the chopping and the meal itself.  Well, that goes to Mr. J.

Beef Stir Fry with Parpadelle Noodles

3/4 LB beef sirloin, thinly sliced
1 red pepper
1/2 C snow peas
3/4 C broccoli
1 fresh anthem pepper

1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 C beef broth
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red peppers
3 dried whole red peppers, chopped roughly
1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch
3 Tbsp soy sauce

Cook past according to packaged directions.

Put all of the sauce ingredients into a container that can be sealed completely and shake well.

Cook beef in wok.  Add veggies when beef is about half cooked, about 5 minutes.  Add veggies and cook for about 5 more minutes.  Shake sauce so all the ingredients are incorporated together and pour into wok.  Simmer for about 3 minutes as sauce thickens.  Stir to mix all of the veggies and beef into the sauce.
Place beef, veggies,and sauce on top of noodles.  Gently toss.  Serve immediately. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Edition: Thanksgiving Style

Oh man, I don't know where the time went. It seems like only yesterday I was dealing with this...

This was the lovely view outside my  parents house Wednesday morning.  I was completely unprepared both mentally and in what I packed.  Clearly snow boots were not on my mind when coming home for Thanksgiving.

Now I married a Mainer and you would think that 12 inches of snow would not be a problem.  However, apparently Mr. J has never used a snow blower. He grew up with snow PLOWS.  It took a few back and forths before we he figured out what to do.  In the end it was clear enough to get out of the driveway.

Somehow through all of the snow trauma, I completely forgot to take pictures of our Thanksgiving day feast.  Ops!  This first and foremost shows that I am not the best food blogger.  Dinner was a bit stressful this year.  We (meaning my mother and I) had the first kitchen fire. Lesson learned: Do not put the sweet potato casserole under the broiler and shut the door even for just a few seconds.  Fire ensues very quickly. Good thing in our family a charred black, burnt marshmallow is not that big a deal.  On the upside, the sweet potato portion was the best yet.

Finally, we did some Christmas shopping and I found the best tree ever. 

It was covered in food ornaments.

My favorite was the lemon. Or the pickle. Or the pea pod.

I will take one of each.  Please. Thank you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and all of those near and dear to you the very best!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Break From All Things Pumpkin

I think mother nature decided to play a sick joke on all the folks in New England.  It is the day BEFORE Thanksgiving and I have already lived through two, yes TWO snowstorms.  This morning this is the view outside my parent's house.

8 to 12 inches are expected.  Yuck!  Lucky for us we were able to drive up last night with no weather troubles or traffic issues.  Things to be thankful for...

Today I have a cookie recipe that I am sad to say helped me out this week in more ways to count.  I made it healthy and thus I took it upon myself to mean that it was an acceptable breakfast and lunch substitute.  I did include a fruit and multi-vitamin as well.  Balanced diet I tell you.

Don't worry I fully intend to bring more pumpkin recipes. My cut off is not Thanksgiving Day. I still have ice cream to churn and bars to bake. Mr. J on the other hand needed some time off.  I understand, not everyone has such a refined palate.  I am working on him. :)

Thus, as any good wife would do, I made some cookies.   With all of the busy Thanksgiving day preparations I stuffed these full of whole wheat flour and cranberries for some extra goodness to keep us both going hard.  I wouldn't go so far as to call them healthy but they certainly allow you to have two or three without guilt.

Healthy Everything cookies
Adapted from Nestle's Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chip morsels
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

For someone who does not like pumpkin pie I must say this is one outstanding recipe. I first made this as the dessert featured at a buffet Thanksgiving meal at the fancy restaurant at Bryn Mawr College. Then, I brought the recipe home and everyone raved about it.  I will take chocolate every day over pumpkin pie but with this recipe I will be having my yearly little sliver just to make sure it is still good.  Here is my last Thanksgiving day recipe.  

Pumpkin pie
From Baking Illustrated

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cream
2/3 cup milk
4 eggs

1 premade pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Mix the pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt until well combined. Transfer mixture to saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium high heat. Cook about 5 minutes stirring constantly until thick and shiny.

3. Whisk in cream and milk into pumpkin mixture. Bring to a slow simmer. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl whisk eggs until well mixed. Put a small portion of the pumpkin mixture into the eggs and stir. Pour the egg mixture into the pumpkin mixture and whisk thoroughly until well combined.

4. Pour warm filling into pie crust. Bake until the pie filling is puffed and dry-looking. The center will wiggle like gelatin. Time will be able 25 minutes.

5. Top with whip cream.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fancy Green Bean Almond Saute

Happy Monday!  Or maybe not so much. I hope everyone has a great couple of days before the holiday officially kicks off.  I certainly cannot wait and wish that these days fly by.  I am ready for some turkey.

I made these green beans for a side dish for our mini, quickie Thanksgiving meal a couple of weeks ago. As I already mentioned I cannot stand green bean casserole. It makes its appearance every year at the table because everyone else seems to love it.  Yuck, yuck and yuck.   This little dish is my idea of the perfect green bean side.

Saute Green Beans
1 lb green beans, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, mashed and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cracked pepper
3 Tbsp chopped almonds

In a sauce pan, place all ingredients except almonds.  Turn on medium heat with lid.  Shake pan every 2 minutes till green beans are just turning soft, about 8 minutes.  Add in almonds and mix by shaking pan.  Cook for about 4 more minutes.

I adding onions from the turkey pan for some extra flavoring.  It was delicious!

Now, you may know that I am not a patient person.  This time of year is particular hard for me since I love getting presents - receiving and giving.  If I know a person is shopping for me, I instantly want to know what I am going to get.  I love presents.  The same can be said once I get a gift for someone else.  I shop pretty much all year round and it takes all of my might not to spill the beans about what I found. It takes even more effort not to just hand over the gift.  I am telling you this time of year is hard on me. Why am I telling you all of this?  Well, I have a really good giveaway coming up December 1st and I just cannot wait to tell you about it.  So make sure you pay a visit on December 1st.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Edition: Mohegan Sun

Let's just say I am not gambler and I do not smoke.  Lucky for me there were plenty of good eats to be had...

We also ended up at Bobby's Burger Place...

Let's just say that a burger with queso cheese, jalapenos, and crushed blue corn chips is a marvelous thing.  Add some sweet potato fries and I am in heaven.

Mr. J had the burger of the month "the Brunch".  It is the best name ever for a burger with an egg.  I don't know if we will be back any time soon but we did eat well.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top Five: Baking Finds

It is Friday and I don't think anyone could be as happy as I am that this week is over.  Now, please don't get mad at me. I know it is not yet Thanksgiving and I don't believe in anything Christmas till Thanksgiving has come and gone but I have one tendancy I just cannot break. I am constantly on the look out for new fancy things I want.  I start Christmas shopping early.  And as I am shopping for other people I add things here and there for my own list.

Today I bring you some of the thingsI have been eyeing lately that I hope find their way under my tree.

  1. Emile Henry Mixing bowls
The set of three are big and could be oh so useful in the kitchen.

2. Austin's Flora Measuring cups

I love all of the nesting cups I have seen around with the most pretty designs and colors.  Who wouldn't want to have these on hand?

3. Emile Henry Pie Plate

I just love it.  It comes in multiple colors.  Although I have mostly used glass plates for my pie baking adventures I think pies in dishes like this seem homey. 
4. Rooster kitchen timer

I have a thing for roosters.  Don't ask.  I am petrified of them in person but they have become the theme in my kitchen.  It was love at first sight with this time.

5. Old School Apron

I have been known on a time or two to use my pants to quickly clean my hands while cooking. I have some aprons but none are nearly as pretty as this one.

There you have it. I would be happy to supply my mailing address if you have a very giving heart.  Or better yet just get one or all for yourself.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cranberry Chutney

I am not a huge fan of cranberries but there is one thing that I absolutely love...the cranberry relish that my mom makes for Thanksgiving.  This recipe was passed down from my dad's mom.  My grandmother was a good Midwesterner that like all things with jello.  It was one of those things that my mom inherited when she became a member of the family. Getting the recipe meant that she was required to learn how to make it as well.  Are you intrigued? 

Sorry I don't have the recipe for you today. Maybe I can get my mom to do a guest post.  Its a great cranberry relish but it does take a few somewhat complicated steps, mainly the use of a meat grinder.  But since I don't have such a device in my little apartment, I bring you a substitute.

This hot cranberry chutney only takes about twenty minutes to throw together.  It is the perfect topping for any poultry dish as well as just a side. I even have a bowl for breakfast on occasion. 

Take a bag of fresh cranberries, one apple, cored and chopped with skin and put in a 1 qt sauce pan.  Add 1/2 cup of OJ or apple cider.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  Add additional water if all the liquid evaporates before all of the cranberries pop.  Season with 1 tsp cinnamon and sweetened with sugar if desired.

And before I leave you today I want to let you in on a little secret. I am planning on a little giveaway for Christmas. I am hoping this will coincide with me having 100 Google Readers.  Follow away and it will be worth it. Trust me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sweet Potato Goodness

Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the traditional Thanksgiving sides. Well, not the Green Bean Casserole, that just freaks me out in so many ways. But all the rest of them…cranberry salad, stuffing, sweet potatoes, yep I love them. I probably love the side dishes way more the main showcase of the Turkey. Thanksgiving just would not be the same with all of those yummy dishes. However, with all of the hustle and bustle of the big day, sometimes it is nice to have a somewhat simpler variation on those old time favorites.

The other night for dinner I wanted to have a mini Thanksgiving just for Mr. J and I. I used this opportunity to make many of the dishes that appear on my mom’s marvelous Thanksgiving table without spending the whole day in the kitchen. First off is my all-time favorite Sweet Potato Casserole.

I thought I had more sweet potatoes than I actually did...funny how that always happens.  No real big problem, I had plenty of squash and substituted in one for the remaining amount of sweet potoato.

I roasted one butternut squash and one cut up sweet potato in the oven for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.  Once cooled, remove peel by scraping out all of the flesh with a spoon into a bowl.  You should have about 2 cups of sweet potato/squash.  I then added about 1/4 orange juice, 1 tsp cinnamon and 2 Tbsp of maple syrup. You can also use brown sugar.  I don't like mine too sweet and once the marshmallows are added there is plenty of extra sugar.

Spread out into a shallow baking dish. Cut large marshmallows in 1/2 and place on top of squash mixture.  Bake on the middle rack until marshmallows start to turn brown, about 15 minutes.

I have been known to have this as leftover breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Simply Roasted Carrots

This past week I had two major trips.   

The first took me to North Carolina.   

The second took me to Kansas.  

That's 1368 miles to be exact.

I kind of feel like “Where in the World is Matt Lauer” with all of this travel and mileage going on.  During this trip I experience my first “First Class”.  It was pretty fancy I must say. 
  • You get way more leg room
  • First on and off the plane (this was the best part for me)
  • Guaranteed a spot for your carry on
  • Blankets and Pillows (not that I touched that…in fact I was a little grossed out)
  • Drinks times like 50 million
  • Premium snacks, all-you-can-eat
  • Extra head cushion
The only problem was that people were way chattier in First Class.  I have said it once and I will say it again.  I just do not like to talk to strangers.  I will say “Hi” and “God Bless you” if someone sneezes but that is about all.  I don’t want to hear about your day or your trip or why you are traveling. I just want to sit in PEACE. REST. READ.  Notice all of these require only one person. 
To take me back to a simpler, more common folk time I decided to show you one of my go to tricks in the winter for dinner.  I don’t know about you but I have such a hard time eating salad once the thermometer drops below 50 degrees outside. 

 But it is those colder temperatures more than ever that force me to monitor my veggie intake.  The more veggies the more nutrients in my body and I think this keeps illnesses at bay.  Seriously 5-9 servings a day is difficult once you remove salad from the equation.  Therefore almost every night for dinner I make roasted vegetables. It is the simplest way to have warm veggies.  Take whatever you desire and prepare by washing, and removing any unwanted outside layers or inside seeds. 

Toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Pop it into a 375 degree oven and bake for 20-40 minutes depending on the vegetable. 

For these potatoes and carrots I added rosemary and garlic.  Now I can top these warm babies on top of a salad and be good to go. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Dinner

The holidays are coming up. I have always been really good at managing my food intake during this time.  Yeah, I eat way more than normal but I try to balance out the richness of some days with lots of healthy, light meals on the off days.  One of the ways I do this besides loads of salads is with fish.  Fish is a lighter kind of protein but still fills Mr. J up.  For our special meal this week we headed off to Whole Foods to find us some good fish for dinner.  Now the last time we did this Mr. J managed to talk me into a 4LB whole fish.  We grilled it. It was delicious. But it was also twenty some dollars and a whole lot of mess.  Not to mention the smelly garbage.

This trip I was not as easily swayed. Or more likely, Mr. J stayed at home.

I ended up getting salmon.  Salmon is one of my favorite fishes to eat. I also find it incredibly easy to make in a few different ways.  Tonight I just rubbed with olive oil and then topped with some seasonings.  I used a blend from Penzeys Spices called Forward.  It is my new go to blend because it works so well with all sorts of meats and veggies.

 Add some basic risotto with white wine and green beans and you have a pretty decent Sunday night meal.

This was the first meal Mr. J and I ate together, home-cooked, in the apartment since last Sunday.  Let's just say it was a great way to end the weekend (even though I am super sad the weekend is over).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday's Five: Holiday Baking Packages

I don't know about you but in the coming weeks I plan to do a lot of baking. Not just any baking either, special baking for gifts. To add the extra special touch you need some extra special packaging. Here are some of my favorite sites for materials and inspiration.

1. King Arthur Flour
Their website has all sorts of bake and give options. Plus, recipes to boot.

2. Shop Sweet Lulu
 This website has the best cupcake wrappers.

3. Martha Stewart Crafts

Need I say more?

4. Micheal's
Don't want to have to buy supplies online, Micheal's is the place to go.

5. Independent Can Company
Whether you pick plain silver, gold, or holiday theme, they have every shape and size tin imaginable.

For my Friday Fives check out Living Like the Kings

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