Monday, November 28, 2011

It's easy to get wrapped up in all life has to offer.

For instance, the finer things in life.

Being employed at a luxury Hotel is incredibly stimulating. In my particular line of work, I spend a lot of time interacting with the Restaurant and Pastry Shop.

Let's just say I need photos of the new breakfast menu or Holiday desserts. I simply run down to the kitchen, where the food is perfectly plated and expedited, then snap a few photos.

Here's the downside: when the photos are done, I'm handed a fork.

As if I'm supposed to sample an entire menu on my own?

indulgent: "a gluttonous appetite for food
and praise and pleasure"

I really cannot complain. My job is amazing, I'm so blessed. But I can't help but want eggs benedict every morning, or chocolate soufflé after each meal.

After months of "sampling" excessively and enjoying a few free meals here and there, I had to come to terms with the fantasy world I had been living in. It was time to realize that all good things must come to an end. And if I wanted my waistline to stop expanding, I should not be quite so indulgent.

I decided the best way to come to terms with growing palate would be to come up with a list of my favorite foods. Not my favorite meals to order fancy restaurants, but my favorite day-to-day foods that I just cannot get enough of. A list of foods in which reveling in their excellence does not elicit strong feelings of remorse or glutton.

Here is the abridged version:

black beans
a ripe banana with peanut butter
raw, crunchy red bell pepper
hot oatmeal with raisins, sliced almonds and honey
queso fresco, crumbled over... anything.
fat free half & half heated in the microwave before pouring into hot coffee
balsamic vinegar & olive oil with cracked black pepper
warm, fresh baked bread

I am aware that not many people share my same list, but it is good to have a list to refer to when self control suspends itself at the worst possible time.

This is not to say that I don't indulge in items that are not on my list (i.e. Thanksgiving Day). But I know that if I skip a bite or two I won't miss them, because I can always find a few items from "my list" in my personal kitchen.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Word from Julia

“This is my invariable advice to people:

Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Thankful for the Dressing.

I'd like to take a moment to talk about everyones favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal...
the stuffing.

Cornbread or white bread? Stuffed IN the turkey, or baked in a pan? With sage, of course. What about apples? or a bit of andouille sausage? with oysters??

Whichever way it's prepared, is it ever disappointing?

courtesy of food network blog

The dressing complements the turkey, ham, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes just perfectly. I'm beginning to think it should be eaten year round! Whew, now I'm getting a bit carried away... just excited, that's all.

But seriously, I am also thankful for:

My loving family (blood related, or otherwise)
My wonderful friends, who can be found across the world
Dexter, the craziest puppy with the sweetest eyes you will ever meet
The network of people I'm surrounded with who constantly support and encourage me

The list goes on. To sum it up, I am truly blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pretty Food

Do you ever have days where you just want to make pretty food?

You know the days I'm talking about.

Your hair is out of control.
You had to wear your "stand by" outfit because you forgot to do laundry.
You realize your nails are chipped just as you sit down at the office.

On days like these I think:

well damnit, if I can't look half way decent today, at least my food can.

Challenge: Find the most colorful items in your pantry and put them together in a pretty way.

This. Never. Fails.

If you have these items:
one long, skinny egg plant
one herb goat cheese roll, any variety
one jar of roasted red peppers in oil
one jar of marinated artichoke
olive oil

You can easily make this dish:

Slice eggplant lengthwise into thin, 1/3 inch pieces, discarding the end pieces. Place in colander a few at a time, sprinkling with salt as you layer. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse pieces and pat dry.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and cook one to two minutes on each side. Add oil to skillet as you add in new pieces. Remove pieces one by one and place onto a plate covered with paper towels. Spoon goat cheese onto big side of the eggplant, and roll up to small side, placing the seam side down.

Place rolls into a baking dish and bake until warm, at 350° about 10 minutes.

Chop 1 roasted red pepper and 1/2 jar artichoke coarsely to serve with the eggplant and goat cheese rolls.

These are really great, portable appetizers. If you want to take to a party, you can just roll up and place in a tupperware container. When you get to the party, bake for 5 to 10 minutes until just warm and top with the roasted red pepper and artichoke.


Monday, November 14, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

I often say that my birthday (Nov. 7th) kicks off the Holiday season.

Every year for my birthday I receive new Christmas music. Two years ago was a "Christmas by Sinatra" CD, last year was "Elvis' Christmas Album" on vinyl, and this year was "A Very She & Him Christmas" on iTunes.

Since the City of Austin has decorated downtown and I have a new Christmas album, spiced nuts are naturally the next step in paying tribute to the most wonderful time of the year.

In words best sung by Nat King Cole: "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose...", lets roast some nuts, y'all.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Almonds (slightly altered from Better Homes and Gardens.)

1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 tsp water
2 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 and bake almonds (spread in one layer throughout the pan) for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Lower oven temperature to 325. Whisk egg white and water until frothy. Stir in remaining sugar, spice & salt. Mix in almonds until covered completely.

Bake 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

Move almonds from the baking sheet to parchment paper to cool. Place in a festive bowl, or bag up as gifts.

On top of the fact that these almonds are easy and so tasty, they will make any house smell like pure Holiday cheer.

Happy (almost) Holidays!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Last week, Ross and I moved into a new home.
It's about a hop, skip and a jump from our old pad.

courtesy of etsy.
One week into the new place I didn't know if the oven worked, much less the stove top. Once I discovered that a wooden match was the gas stove top's best friend, it was time to make this house a home.

Now, what to cook. I had a box of Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup, some pasta, and one bunch of asparagus. Clearly something tasty would come from combining three of my favorite foods... right?

Here's what I did: Cut off & discard the woody ends of the asparagus, and chop up the rest into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Boil one small pot of water (for the asparagus) and one large pot (for the rotini pasta). Toss asparagus into boiling water for 2 minutes, then places immediately into ice water. Add pasta to salty, boiling water and cook until al dente.

Brown hot turkey sausage in a large pan, with 1 tbsp olive oil. When turkey is browned, toss asparagus in with sausage and season with cracked black pepper and garlic powder.

Drain rotini & pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup over the pasta, stirring in sausage and asparagus mixture.

This was the result:

It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Favorites


Fuji, gala, red delicious, granny smith, honeycrisp...


Pumpkin, spaghetti squash, zucchini, acorn squash...

Root vegetables.

Sweet potatoes, carrots, leeks, yukon gold potatoes...

I have a feeling my dishes will be getting a little bit heartier.


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