3.31.2011

Guest Post: Spring Fashion & Sweet Treats

The lovely Alissa is here today to offer up some fashionable sweetness! Visit her blog for more!
If you'd like to write a quest post, go here and follow the instructions!

Spring is here... in theory at least for some of us. What better way to celebrate the change of the season than to take a look at the latest fashion trends via the delectable inspiration of food? You may be thinking, how can food really inspire fashion? Well, in my opinion, when you’re a lover of both, they go hand-in-hand with color, texture, presentation, balance, and indulgence. Specifically desserts & fashion are two of my favorite things to write about, so here goes!

Even though this year’s Hollywood awards season has come to an end, there’s no reason why we can’t still talk about who was the fairest of them all. Thus, I think, what’s more fabulous than gowns & gelato? Take Lea Michele of Glee fame at this year’s Golden Globe awards in a cotton candy-hued Oscar de la Renta one-shoulder ruffled frock. This sent me soaring back to Florence, Italy (where I recently visited!) indulging in decadently smooth gobs of teeth-screamingly sweet strawberry gelato. 



Then there’s Scarlett Johansson’s vintage-inspired Elie Saab gown with a plunging neckline and belled sleeves, which sparkled like pure crystal-accented vanilla mounds of lush luxury. And naturally, you can’t have vanilla without what I consider the royalty of all flavors: chocolate. That brings me to Olivia Wilde’s ultimate red carpet confection- the glittering chocolate strapless princess Marchesa number! It looked like a diamond-strewn tower of fudge brownie perfection that I want to dive into everyday for the rest of my life!



Now back to reality… how many of us really walk a red carpet? Exactly. Enter: Spring’s Ready-to-Wear. I was recently reminded of the simple pleasures of being all alone in a big house with a refrigerator and pantry full of potential. However, due to a lack of cream cheese frosting for my carrot cake mix (√† la Betty Crocker), I stumbled across an online recipe for carrot cake muffins , which I just so happened to have all of the ingredients for. One may argue that this flavor is more consistent with the colder months, warm with a cinnamon aroma, but I was pleased to see brighter tones in the mixture of freshly shaven carrots that I prepared, as well as chopped almonds (in place of pecans), and chunks of glowing diced pineapple.


Immediately, I began to think of a peaches and cream color palette, but also of the brighter and softer tones that I’ve neglected all fall and winter. Something that I love about this time of year is breaking out the sandals and wedges, which are just so flirty & fun! Those can be deliciously paired with a sundress for an outdoors gathering or with your favorite skirt, blouse, & scarf for a more fashionable day around town. With these feminine details in this season’s most-wanted colors, you can’t go wrong. These very affordable & stylish items, for example, are just a few that recall spring’s most precious advantages, having been derived from an unexpected baking surprise. I’m in no way endorsing that anyone should dress up like a carrot cake muffin, but isn’t it delightful to know that you can look as sweet as one tastes? Happy Spring & Happy Styling!

3.30.2011

Slow Cooker Paprika Chicken

This meal was a nice and easy surprise! You can use boneless chicken thighs or with bone. 
The meat will fall right off if it has bones so don't stress.

Slow Cooker Paprika Chicken
(serves 3)

Ingredients

1 heaping tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
6 chicken thighs (skinless, can have bone)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
8 oz low fat sour cream
1 tablespoon flour
some fresh parsley as garnish
3 cups cooked egg noodles

Directions



Turn Slow Cooker on High. In a small bowl mix the spices together. In a larger bowl, place the chicken in and sprinkle some of the spices on the top. Turn chicken over and sprinkle more on the other side. Continue to rub in and cover the chicken with the spices. Place the chicken in the slow cooker. In another bowl whisk the chicken broth with the tomato paste until it is incorporated. Pour the liquid over the chicken. Cover the lid and let cook on high for 3 1/2 hours. (if on low, cook for about 6 hours). When chicken is done, take each piece out carefully and place on a dish and cover with tin foil. Leave the liquid in the pot. Add sour cream and whisk until a pink sauce if formed. Add the flour and whisk in to thicken sauce. Let it cook on HIGH for another 10-15 minutes to thicken. Meanwhile cook your egg noodles. When they are done, drain and place 1 cup of egg noodles per dish. Place 2 thighs on the noodles, and then cover with sauce. Sprinkle fresh parsley for garnish. Feeds 3. So good!

3.29.2011

Chicken & Mushroom Quesadillas!

Is it the weekend yet? Is it Spring yet? Well, the answer to the latter is yes but it sure doesn't feel like it! This winter has made me one ravenous chick!

Chicken & Mushroom Quesadillas
{adapted from Ellie Krieger }


*my changes are in pink!


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups) (I used 1 small red onion)
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, (about 3 cups) (I used portabello mushrooms)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast (1 breast half)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, sliced into ribbons (I left them whole, the wilt anyway)
  • 1 lime zested
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 (10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix or Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup salsa (see here for one of my salsa recipes)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until the mushroom water is evaporated and they begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder and oregano and stir until all spices are incorporated. Add cilantro and lime zest, stir. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
Lay 1 tortilla on a flat work surface and sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Spoon 1/2 chicken and vegetable mixture on top of cheese, then top with an additional 1/4 cup cheese. Top with another flour tortilla. Heat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Carefully place 1 quesadilla in pan and cook 3 minutes. Using a large spatula, gently flip quesadilla and cook an additional 3 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Repeat with second quesadilla. Slice each quesadilla into quarters. Place 2 quarters on a plate with 1 tablespoon sour creamand 2 tablespoons salsa.

3.28.2011

Sandwich time!

Ugh, Monday. This Monday is particularly UGH worthy because it's the start of my crash diet. Yeah, I said it! I really need to lose some of the massive winter girth I've gained for my trip to Barcelona coming up in a few weeks. Want to not look all puffy in the pictures. But, I still have some recipes to share! Ha, I'm hungry now!



Roasted Veggie & Goat Cheese Sandwich (serves 3)
Ingredients:
3 ciabatta or sour dough rolls
4 ounces goat cheese
6 thinly sliced piece zucchini (long way)
3 plum tomatoes, halved and roasted
6 slices portabello mushrooms
9 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:
  • Before assembling the sandwich, preheat oven to 400. 
  • Halve plum tomatoes and brush with half the olive oil, and add some salt and pepper. 
  • Roast in oven for about 40 minutes. 
  • Add mushrooms and zucchini to a new pan and brush with the rest of the salt and pepper and oil. 
  • Let roast for another 20 minutes. 
  • Let vegetables cool out of oven, drizzle balsamic on them and let sit. 
  • Assemble the pieces of bread as follows: Spread 1 ounce goat cheese on each sandwich top. 
  • Add basil, roasted tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms to the bottom 
  • Add the breads together carefully and presto!

3.25.2011

Zumba to Fight MS

I love ZUMBA. It's such a hilarious workout, and you get to work on your moves to fab music! If you love ZUMBA or would like to try it, there is a ZUMBA to Fight MS event in Queens on April 3rd. I'll be there, and I hope some of my local readers can join in on the fun! If you don't know what my connection is to the disease, I'll give you a brief recap: My mother had MS all throughout my childhood and into my early 20's. She passed away in 2002. Do you have a connection? Let's talk! Anyway, read more details below, and please let me know if you end up reserving a spot!


Sunday, April 3
NY Sports Club, Forest Hills
69-47 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY
3:30pm – 6:00pm
Class will take place from 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Led by Liz Murdocca
All guests will be asked to sign a waiver by NYSC

Admission is $20 at the door; cash or check made out to National MS Society

Come dressed to move! Admission includes refreshments, a goodie-filled gift bag, and a raffle ticket for a fabulous gift basket. Additional raffle tickets are $5 each, or 5 for $20.
Reserve your spot by emailing Lori at MSZumbaFundraiser@gmail.com.

Proceeds support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York City – Southern New York Chapter. 






3.24.2011

Spring Who?

I'm starting to forget what you were like, Spring! 
I went to see a screening last night (Your Highness- wait for Netflix) 
and walked out into a snow storm! 




Hopefully once this front passes it'll get nice out! In the meantime, I'll dream about this picnic:



{le credit}

3.23.2011

Jamie's Back!

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is back and he's taking on LA. I know what you are thinking, how can there be a crisis in LA with all of those unnaturally thin and over tanned people? Well, not everyone lives in Hollywood! There are real people there too. Please come to NYC Jamie, I want to help!


It premieres on ABC at 8 on April 12th!

3.22.2011

Breakfast {Tips} of Champions!

It's not news that a big healthy breakfast benefits us in multiple ways. It gives us energy, keeps up our metabolism, helps us stay satisfied all day, and much more! Here are some of my tips!


 1. SALAD! Salad is not just a side or main dish for lunch and dinner. I love going out for brunch and getting a salad with my eggs or omelet. No reason to not extend that option to breakfast itself! Add some greens, tomatoes and cucumbers for a light, refreshing medley on your plate. DRESSING TIP: Balsamic dressings are great with egg dishes... but if you like creamier dressings opt for one with a Yogurt base. It tastes MUCH better than low-fat creamy dressings (nasty stuff!). Marie's makes some great options.

2. FLATTEN THAT BAGEL! I'm a New Yorker, and bagels are a staple. But one too many and you turn into one! Either get a flat bread, or hollow out a regular bagel by scooping out the bready part, or try these bagel flats from Pepperidge Farm!

3. FIND THE RIGHT SPREAD! Nothing beats butter and cream cheese, I agree. And what really doesn't beat it is fake butter and fat free cream cheese. If you like your toast or bagel flat in the morning to have a creamy spread, make an egg with the yolk still runny! It's the perfect creamy spread to dip your toast in without adding another ingredient. Full of protein and vitamins!

Have a great breakfast!

3.15.2011

Spring Vegetables... and Pasta...

The weather in the Northeast is starting to warm up... sort of. But you can feel Spring trying incredibly hard to break through the ice. I'm even craving the springiest of vegetables again, and thanks to Giada Delaurentis' vast recipe book of pasta dishes, this one seems perfect for ringing in Spring!

Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
(4-6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4... vampires, you know!)
  • 1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (about 9 ounces) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.



In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the asparagus, season with the salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes until slightly soft. Add the cherry tomatoes and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes start to burst and the stock is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the asparagus mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 of the Parmesan. Toss well, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan and chopped basil.

HAPPY SPRING VEGGIES!  


3.11.2011

Help is Needed!

Kyodo/AP
By now, most of you know about the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan and it's effects on more than 20 other countries including America's Hawaiin islands and the West Coast. I only have two things to say:

1. Click below button to donate to Red Cross:

2. This is kind of creepy, and I don't want to sound like a total freak, but just last night I read this article about the type of full moon that will occur next weekend on the 19th. It's called a SuperMoon, and when full, it will be the closest to Earth it's been in 18 years. Sounds completely awesome at first but we all know the moon controls the tides and other natural phenomenons... and disasters. I don't know what to make of this but it was a bit eerie to read that article last night and then wake up to every news broadcast talking about a devastating quake and tsunami! Coincidence? Sure... just be careful people. And be nice to Mother Nature!

3.10.2011

Home Remedies

I love finding ways to cure mild ailments naturally. I came across this article and it has some interesting options!

MOTION SICKNESS: OLIVES

According to the National Library of Medicine, there are a number of symptoms that present themselves as a result of motion sickness, including increased salivation, which is the body’s way of protecting the teeth from the high doses of acid accompanied by vomit. Enter olives, which contain tannins that, when released in the mouth, work to dry saliva—first eliminating the symptom and then the body’s instinct to follow suit. However, the treatment is only effective during the early stages of nausea, when the salivation changes first appear. Photo: Thinkstock

NAIL FUNGUS: VAPOR RUB


While there are no studies to prove coating infected toenails with vapor rub once or twice a day is an effective treatment for nail fungus, a basic Internet search results in a number of personal testaments to the medicinal ointment's fungus-killing powers. “I’ve heard many patients say that vapor rub does help, but I’m not exactly sure why,” Dr. Blum admits. While some argue it's the menthol in the balm that kills the fungus and others say it’s the smothering effect of the thick gel, if used consistently, vapor rub has been shown to get rid of not just the fungus, but the infected toenail, too, which will turn black and eventually fall off. When the new nail grows in, it should be fungus-free.Photo: Thinkstock

ECZEMA: OATMEAL


“This is absolutely true, as oats have anti-inflammatory properties,” Dr. Blum says. Whether it’s used as a paste or poured into a bath, most experts recommend choosing colloidal (finely ground) oatmeal and soaking the affected area for at least 15 minutes. In addition to reducing inflammation, oats are thought to have an antihistamine effect, Dr. Blum says. By lowering levels of histamine, which triggers inflammation as part of the immune system’s recovery response, she explains, oats prevent or reduce the redness. Photo: Thinkstock

BAD BREATH: YOGURT (COULD HAVE FOOLED ME... HA!)


Bad breath comes from a number of places, the two most common being the mouth and the stomach. The neutralizing powers of yogurt and other probiotics treat the latter cause. “Yogurt shouldn’t have any effect at all on the bacteria that live on the tongue because it’s not there long enough,” says Robert Meltzer, MD, a New York City–based gastroenterologist and attending physician at Lenox Hill Hospital. However, it likely has a neutralizing effect on the acid that resides anywhere between the mouth and the stomach, including the back of the throat and the esophagus, he explains. “I think almost any milk product or food that contains live cultures would have the same effect." While yogurt can get rid of bad breath that results from gastrological conditions, like acid reflux, it won't have any real effect on bad breath that is the product of gum, liver or lung disease, says Ohio-based dentist Matthew Messina, DDS. Photo: Thinkstock

HICCUPS: SUGAR


In 1971, Edgar Engelman, MD, conducted a study to find out if a spoonful of sugar really is an effective cure for hiccups. He assembled a group of 20 patients who had been experiencing intractable hiccups for more than six hours, eight of whom had had them anywhere from a full day to six weeks. Each of the test subjects was given one teaspoon of white granulated sugar to swallow dry, and for 19 of the 20 hiccup patients, the cure was immediate. Andr√© Dubois, MD, a gastroenterologist in Bethesda, Maryland, noted in The Doctors Book of Home Remedies that “the sugar is probably acting in the mouth to modify the nervous impulses that would otherwise tell the muscles in the diaphragm to contract spasmodically." Photo: iStockphoto

I've also seen people throw a lit match into a little water. When the match goes out they drink the water with the match still in there. Apparently the sulfur the releases from the match is what cures it! Ew!

HEADACHES: PENCIL BITING

While doctors aren’t sure why we do it, clenching our teeth is a common side effect of stress. According to Fred Sheftell, MD, director of the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, Connecticut, when we clench up, we strain the muscle that connects the jaw to the temples, which can trigger a tension headache. By placing a pencil between our teeth—but not biting down—we relax our jaw muscles, which eradicates tension and reduces pain. Just remember, the remedy really only applies to tension headaches—not migraines or headaches caused by sinus pressure, etc.Photo: Thinkstock

SORE THROAT: SALT WATER (duh)


When you were a kid and had a sore throat, your mom likely made you gargle warm water with salt in it...and she was definitely on to something. According to Douglas Hoffman MD, PhD, author of the website The Medical Consumer's Advocate, a sore throat is an inflammatory response of the infected tissues, and the salt helps draw out the excess fluid to temporarily decrease swelling and the pain it causes. Most remedies call for a ratio of 1 tablespoon salt to 8 ounces of water, but it's always better to opt for more salt rather than less. Just keep in mind that you are treating the symptoms—not the illness. As Dr. Hoffman notes on his website: “The relief is very real, but also tends to be short-lived, since the gargle has done nothing to remove the cause of the sore throat.”



3.09.2011

Joaquin & Sheen

I stopped blogging about pop culture a long time ago but need to get something off my chest about Charlie Sheen. Everyone is so quick to say he's lost it, he's going to die, he's crazy, etc. And that may very well be but...

Remember this face?


Remember when he "lost it" on Letterman?


Remember when he started a fight at his rap performance?


Remember when the "documentary" came out about him "losing his mind" and we all lost faith in him?


Remember when Joaquin went back on Letterman and said it was a all hoax?
He was only acting!


JUST SAYIN! 
Guess we didn't learn anything from you Joaquin... about celebrity and how we as a society feed off of your misfortunes and invade your privacy and think it won't make you go nuts... sorry dude.

I don't think Sheen is an idiot. I do think he has problems but what actor doesn't? You have to be a little nutty to make it in Hollywood... not everyone is Meryl Streep. Just think for a hot second that Charlie knows you think he's crazy... and he'll be dammed if he doesn't bank on it. Yes, he got fired... but let's just see where that goes. Many people want him for the ratings... and everyone could all kiss and make up and WIN in the end... sorry, had to!

3.07.2011

Pasta a la Monday

We all try and be healthy when it comes to pasta. We don't want to give it up (because that's just stupid), but we also don't want to overeat it. Pasta, for me, needs to contain the following for 1(ish) healthy serving to be satisfying: Protein. Vegetables. Flavor!... and a little sneak attack!

This pasta dish has an incredibly healthy sauce (albeit takes time), and the perfect vegetable (aka sneak attack) and protein accompaniments.

Penne with Chicken & Roasted Tomato& Garlic Sauce w/ Zucchini Garlic "Bread"
(serves 4)

What you'll need

for the sauce:
6 plum tomatoes
1  garlic BULB
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbs dried basil
1 tsp red pepper flakes (less for those who don't like it hot)

for the chicken:
6 chicken thighs, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2  tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbs dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sweet paprika

for the zucchini garlic "bread" (sneak attack alert!):
2 green zucchini, chopped in half, the in half again
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 tbs dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

and don't forget:
1/2 box your favorite short pasta!


What you'll do:
Preheat over to 400. Cut plum tomatoes in half and brush with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper, and basil. Cut just the top of the garlic bulb off (leave skins). Brush with any leftover oil and spices from tomatoes. Roast in a pan TOGETHER for about 1 hr. (Garlic will get browned but don't let burn). After tomatoes and garlic have been roasting for about 40 mins... place zucchini slices on baking sheet. Brush with oil and spices. Put in oven with tomatoes and turn heat DOWN to 350. Let roast. Meanwhile. Place chicken, oil, and spices in a saute pan. On medium heat cook the chicken, turning each side as they brown. When zucchini halves are wilted a bit from the roasted (about 1/2 hour as well), top each zucchini with mozzarella and Parmesan and spices. Lower heat to about 200 to let the tomatoes and zucchini stay warm and cooked. Cheese melts...

Then, cook the pasta till al dente. By this time. The tomatoes should be wilted, juicy and roasted.  Throw them, and the juices into a large bowl. The garlic is browned and super soft as you squeeze each clove out into that bowl. Throw the cooked chicken and juices into the bowl... throw the cooked pasta into the bowl. Stir up so that the tomatoes break apart into a loose yet chunky sauce. Serve the Zucchini "Garlic" Bread on the side! That Zucchini Garlic "Bread" is the sneak attack. Yeah, it's not bread... but it's got cheese, and tastes PERFECT!!

3.03.2011

The Charlie Sheen...

Charlie Sheen. I'm sure I'm the 1,000th blog post you've read about him. I don't have any inside scoop or witty insights about the man. All I can say is that we created that monster and we'll be dammed if we don't try and pull him down from the A-list perch he's been sitting on for the past few years...but I'm enjoying all of his soundbites. The man makes a story about his ex-wife attacking him with a shrimp fork sound like award winning scripting. He's a genius.  I just hope the kids are alright! Nope, all I have for you is this recipe for a drink. It's called The Charlie Sheen. Make it at home, or enjoy it with some Fried Pickles and Dirty Fries at Ninth Ward in the East Village. But don't drink as much as Charlie does... according to him, if you party like him, your face will melt off. Be Safe!

The Charlie Sheen


Ingredients
course sugar, for rim garnish
ice
2 1/2 oz Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine
4 ounces Coca-Cola
1 Maraschino cherry

Directions
Rim a low-ball cocktail glass with coarse sugar. Fill the glass with ice, add Moonshine and top with Cola. Add the cherry and a short straw to garnish. Makes 1 drink.