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Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to post last night but my computer is giving me a huge headache when I try to upload photos… Safari and Firefox both just shut down completely when I press “upload”. I think that after the big crash and now this, it might be time for a new computer…

Anyhow, on to more important matters like FOOD and all that we ate last night. It was deeeelish, per usual! My half-sister does an amazing job every year and makes the majority of the food. A few family members always bring a couple of extra dishes, and we have one cousin who makes ALL the desserts. But Lesley, my sister, does the brunt of the work AND hosts about 25 people every year. This year was no exception.

We always get to her house a bit early, around 4, to help her prepare for the mad rush at 6. My parents have specific roles every year that they play, according to tradition:

My dad makes the gravy (using turkey stock and red wine). It makes the whole house smell sooo good!

He takes his job very seriously. ūüôā My nephew, Russell, helped out this year. They were very cute working together.

And my mom carves the turkey every year. She, too, takes her job very seriously! She is a doctor and, we think, always secretly wanted to be a surgeon. She likes carving waaay too much. But she is really good at it- gets all the meat out!

We also always go for a short walk around the neighborhood, if the weather permits it- and it was a gorgeous day yesterday. Then, we all gather in the kitchen and hover over the food for an hour!

The fam… or part of it!

What can I say? We all love food!

Here is a cute shot of me with my 2 sisters… don’t think they have made it onto the blog yet… weird!

After a lot of chatting and some wine drinking, the rest of the family showed up and it was time to eat. Look at our spread!

From the other side of the table…

Lesley makes THE BEST sweet potato dish (front and center above) using pineapple and prunes. I don’t know how she does it, but it is seriously amazing. It requires no added sugars because all of the natural sweetness of the fruit combines so perfectly with the sweet potato. I’ve decided I must have this more than once a year and am going to get her recipe!

My plate was a bit of everything…

It was all amazing! My plate was filled with: coleslaw made with my grandma’s coleslaw recipe (it is incredible; I’m so happy she passed it on), stuffing, turkey and gravy, green beans, brussel sprouts, the sweet potato dish, and 2 types of bread–made by my cousin: cornbread and pumpkin apple bread. The Pumpkin Apple bread was AMAZING. Moist. Full of flavor. She had never made it before and I was really impressed!

I ate most of my plate, but couldn’t finish. I don’t think I got to the cornbread, or some of the turkey. I prefered the light meat to the dark. This was my first Thanksgiving in a LONG time eating turkey and it was AWESOME! My sister always gets organic, free-range, healthy turkeys so I feel good eating it.

 

I spent a lot of post-dinner time playing with all the babies who joined us this year. Love babies, but certainly not ready to have any of my own anytime soon! That’s what a couple hours of playing will do to you!

By the time dessert came around, I wasn’t able to eat much. My “before” picture of my plate actually didn’t come out, but my “after” pic did. You can see- I didn’t eat much of it!

I ate a small piece of pumpkin cheese cake (homemade by my cousin Sara) that was incredible and lots of homemade whipped cream, but couldn’t bring myself to eat much more. It was the perfect amount!

I actually left Thanksgiving feeling full, but not too full- perfectly satisfied. I was happy that I tried a bit of everything but listened to my stomach and practiced intuitive eating.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! (and for those of you outside of the US, that you enjoyed some quality time with your families this week.) I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all, because it brings my whole extended family together around FOOD and gives us so much to be grateful for.

Enjoy the weekend! Now that I can blog on my mom’s computer, I will be back soon with a recap!

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Hi guys!

This weekend was super busy and filled with lots of eats! Sorry I haven’t blogged in a couple of days…

My nephew (yes, I have a nephew- 2 nephews and 2 nieces to be exact!) had his Bar Mitzvah this weekend, so it was full of a lot of family and lot of food. I took some pictures here and there, but it was really hard to capture it all because I was chatting with relatives, friends, partying it up :), etc… it was basically a lot of bagels and lox¬†(not to be totally stereotypical, but oh well there I go…) and some great party food on Saturday night. There was¬† a yummy buffet and I chose Mexican food- chicken, veggie, and guacamole¬†fajita. Yum!

I stayed active all weekend by taking long walks with my parents, dancing¬† a lot at the party, and getting to the gym on Sunday for a great workout. I definitely don’t like eating so many big meals because I am so used to my way of eating: smaller meals, more frequently throughout the day. I end up feeling really hungry and then really bloated post-food.¬†¬†But exercise¬†helps me stay sane and feel better about eating in this way. Around the holidays, my goal isnt to lose weight, but just to maintain. Whoever can lose weight at this time of year gets kudos from me!

I ended the weekend last night with a really fun event/ dinner party. My friend Charlotte had the brilliant idea of having a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for friends since we were all going to be in different places for actual Turkey-day. Everyone made and brought Thanksgiving-esque dishes, but unlike most Turkey-Day dinners, these dishes were mostly vegetarian and healthy.

It was quite the spread! It included (from left to right) 2 kinds of grilled salmon, roasted veggies, a whole grain stuffing with walnuts and apples, a sweet potato casserole topped with oats, and a cornmeal dish topped with caramelized onions.

I loaded my plate up with a little bit of everything and it was ALL fantastic! My favorite dishes were definitely the cornmeal (made just with cornmeal and water) and the whole grain stuffing, and the girl who made them was nice enough to pass along the recipes post-dinner. I would love to recreate these sometime soon.

I was stuffed by the time we got to desserts, so I skipped out on a very delicious looking Spice Cake, and just had a small bowl of apple crisp, with mostly apples. There was vanilla ice-cream, but I knew I didn’t need it and it would have just put me waaaay over the edge!

This was soooo good! The girl who made it used lost of ginger and cinnamon. It was bursting with flavor, and I definitely snuck some more gooey, tasty apple into my bowl.

It was a great night, and so fun for me to meet lots of new people (thanks, Char!). When I got home last night, I hit the hay pretty early and woke up ready to hit the gym this¬†morning.¬†I did 45 minutes on the elliptical and felt so much better sweating out that bloated feeling. I really haven’t been hungry all morning (understandably) so I am just listening to my body.¬†I had half a banana around noon,¬†but I am still waiting for my hunger to kick in!

This week will be very weird in terms of my schedule, but I will do my best to get back to normal posting.

Happy almost Thanksgiving! Hope you guys have a great start to the (short) week!

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As most of you know, I attended an awesome and beautiful wedding last weekend in Portland. One of the things that made the wedding was so special, as I explained, was the amaaazing food, all made by one of the bride’s best friends, Stephanie. Well, Stephanie was kind enough to send me the recipes for some of my favorite wedding dishes for me to share with all of your wonderful readers. Stephanie is incredibly talented; one thing I was particularly impressed by was her ability to take ordinary, inexpensive ingredients, like grapes, tomatoes, and plain olives, and make them into extraordinary, fancy looking and tasting, and unique dishes. These recipes are also fresh and healthy- requiring only natural ingredients.

Here are 4 of my absolute favorites from the weekend, with photos to go along with them. Most of the photos were taken by a friend, Shona, who is a graphic and website (and blog!) designer and also an incredible photographer (check out her website at http://www.eyedesignstudio.com/).

I’ve copied Stephanie’s recipes word-for-word. She does a great job explaining each step.

Marinated Olives
Photo by Shona Lepis, http://www.eyedesignstudio.com/

Photo by Shona Lepis, http://www.eyedesignstudio.com/

What you’ll need:

1/2lb to 1lb olives- drained
(I’d suggest good plain unpitted green, kalamata or a mix from an olive bar at a deli. But jars from a ethnic market work very well, as long as they are packed in brine.)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp smoked paprika (sweet or spicy, depending on your preference)
a few cloves of garlic- add more if you want more garlicky
a lemon or an orange
olive oil

To Make:

-Warm olive oil (depending on your quantity of olives, I’d say 1/2 cup is a good start) in a saucepan, don’t boil.
-Crush the garlic cloves and add to the warm oil.
-Add the sprigs of rosemary.
-Stir in paprika
-Leave on heat for 5 mn
-Dump olives into bowl, add oil and very thinly sliced 1/4 to 1/2 (to taste) lemon or orange
-Combine, let marinate for at least a couple of hours to overnight.
-Bring to room temp before serving.

Tomato Jam (adapted from multiple recipes seen online)

This was served with four very different cheeses at the wedding, along with some crusty bread. It was the perfect compliment to all- sweet and savory!

shona6

Photo by Shona Lepis, http://www.eyedesignstudio.com/

shona5

Photo by Shona Lepis, http://www.eyedesignstudio.com/

What you’ll need:

2lb Very ripe, sweet tomatoes (I used sungolds and cherry tomatoes. But remember you’ve got to skin them all!!)
2lb Sugar – I’d started with half and added to taste, I think I used less. Depends on how good the tomatoes are.
1 Vanilla bean
10 oz Water
1/4 tsp ground chai spice- taste and add more if you’d like, can sub ground ginger, etc.
a small amount of orange extract- like a capful

To Make:

-Boil the sugar and water to a syrup.
-Add the tomatoes (blanched, skinned, and sliced- if using larger tomatoes).
-Boil steadily, stirring fairly often, for about 35 minutes.
-If the tomatoes are too seedy, pour mixture through a sieve to remove majority. If you’re using larger tomatoes, simply seed them before hand.
-Add the vanilla bean- spilt and scraped, chai spice, extract
-Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes longer, or until you like the thickness, will be runnier than typical jam.
-Remove the vanilla pod, skim the jam, and let it cool for a few minutes before turning it into small jars.

Pickled Grapes (adapted from smittenkitchen.com which was adapted from others…)
Makes about 3 cups

Here is the only photo I could find of these incredible grapes- they are in the upper left-hand corner. These were so unique- sweet, pickle-like, but still with a nice crunch! They popped in my mouth!

shona1

Photo by Shona Lepis, http://www.eyedesignstudio.com/

What you’ll need:

1lb seedless grapes (I’ve used black and red)
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon salt
To Make:

-Rinse and dry the grapes
-Pluck from from their stems.
-Cut off the tip that was pulled from the stem to expose more flesh.
-Put grapes in large clean dry canning jar

-combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium .
-let brine cool before adding to grapes if you want a “crisper” grape, or dump in right away if you want a softer pickle. I’d say the former if you’re doing it days ahead, the latter if you’re rushing and doing night before/morning of.

Rhubarb Chutney (adapted from a recipe given to me)

I couldn’t find a great picture of the chutney, either, but here is a photo I took of my scrumptious plate of goodies at the wedding. The chutney is sitting on the bottom left-hand corner of my plate, right next to the beautiful pesto and veggies. I dipped my meat, my veggies- everything- into the chutney!

This chutney was so good that, after seeing some extra in the basement, we asked the groom if we could have a jar of it to take home. Being family (of Loren), he obliged… but I’m sure he didn’t want to let it go! I’m so excited to be able to use this in the months to come!

IMG_0691

What you’ll need:

4lbs rhubarb washed and chopped (original recipe called for peaches, I’m sure you could sub mangoes or any not quite ripe fruit, as you want it to hold it’s shape- just pit and chop)
1lb onions- chopped
1lb brown sugar- start with 1/2 and add to taste (varies with fruit)
1lb raisins (I used golden, but have made it with regular, both are tasty)
4oz candied ginger cut in strips and diced
3oz salt
1/2 tsp cayenne (more to taste)
2T Indian style curry powder (I always add more after tasting)
1 pint white vinegar

To Make

-Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook for one hour over med/low heat.
-Taste and add extra of any spices, make sure chutney has thickened
-Remove from heat, bottle.

A BIG thanks to Stephanie for all of these recipes. I keep trying to convince her to start her own catering business in Portland- she is an incredible talent in the kitchen and would be a huge success. I hope you all will try some of these at home, just for a family dinner, or for your next dinner party with friends. I promise they are out-of-this world and will amaze your guests!

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