Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Decadent Moments...

     So I try to eat healthy as much as possible, but that being said we all need indulgences once in awhile.  Generally if I choose to eat something that is an indulgence I make sure it is worth every little calorie.  I am definitely not one to waste my calories on fast food or sub par food.  After all I have to work hard to burn those calories.  Same thing with candy.  I would rather have one piece of something amazing then a whole bar of something cheap and processed.

This was so good!

Rosemary-Rubbed Side of Salmon with Roasted Potatoes, Parsnips, and Mushrooms
     Sometimes you find a dish that you just fall in love with.  This was one of those for me, I love salmon and all of its health benefits, so anytime I see a salmon recipe I usually will give it a shot.  I saw this in the December 2010 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, (one of my favorite magazines).  This recipe was so simple to make and so delicious.  This would be a great Sunday dinner meal, or really any day.  Try it out, you will love it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

To dream the impossible dream

I love the opera, I always have, but having all brothers I didn't go too much growing up.  There has always been something about opera and musicals that touches me and speaks to me.  So many times the words just jump out at me and resonate into my very soul.  One of my favorite books was Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, so I loved it when I saw Man of La Mancha, a play based on Cervantes masterpiece.  One particular song is called, The Impossible Dream.  Listen to the words, read them again, how does this apply to you?

To dream the impossible dream

To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go


To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star


This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far


To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause


And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest


And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

That unreachable star, we all have one, are we reaching for it though?  More importantly I have to ask myself, do I have the courage to reach for the unreachable star?  That is a goal of mine to always be reaching got those unreachable stars, so when all is said and done I can say I gave it my best shot and have no regrets.

Happy Holidays! A few thoughts on the year...

     I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  I had a lovely Christmas, at my apartment with my darling little tree.  This time of year I always find myself reflecting on what happened during the current year, and what I would like to see happen for the upcoming  year.  2010 was a long year in many ways for me, but in so many other ways it rushed on by.  I learned a lot this year, mostly I have learned about determination and perseverance, never give up.  How easy it is to throw in the towel when the going is hard, sometimes it seems impossible to ride out the storm.  I hope that I can continue to move forward and not fall into complacency, or worse yet despair and self-pity when things do not go my way.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I have been reading Wednesday, and what I might be reading soon...

julia-child-the-way-to-cook     So what if I am obsessed?  Is there really a problem with it?  There are so many worse vices to have.  A cookbook obsession can not be that bad can it?  I love my cookbooks, this is one of my favorites.  Julia Child has such a gift as a teacher.  I am so impressed that she can teach so effectively both in video and in print.  Indeed she was a great lady and a master chef, no doubt about that.  I love this book because it focuses on the proper technique in your cooking.  How to cut correctly, the proper ways to do so many things.   Julia firmly believed that the technique was crucial to the outcome, Julia was right.  No only is the outcome so much better with the correct technique, it also ends up being easier.  But remember, practice does make perfect.  This book would be great for not only the beginner cook, it is also great for those of us that have been cooking awhile but lack in technique or finesse with our cooking.  There are great recipes in there of course, and if you have not ever read a Julia Child cookbook you are in for a treat.  She is a master at documenting and explaining step by step what needs to be done, and why.  I love that she always explains why, things always make sense with her. You dry meat with paper towels so it will brown correctly.  All sorts of little things that make a huge difference.  This is a book that I am trying to implement into my cooking and benefit from the lessons therein

I want this!

George Foreman GGR50B Indoor/Outdoor Grill     I really want this!  This is something I need!  Living in an apartment makes barbecuing nearly impossible, since most apartments haves those pesky rules regarding grills.  Being a southern girl I need a grill, its just a standard part of life.   This little baby is the answer to my dilemma.  It is the George Foreman indoor/outdoor grill.  It is an electric grill so there is not any charcoal or propane, making it very apartment/ condo friendly.  Right now it is only $59 on Amazon, I love that website, let me tell you.

I am getting hungry just thinking of all the things that I can make with this.  It is going to be so nice in the spring and summer when the weather is nice.  So I figure that this would be a great Christmas gift for myself, what do you think?  Course I might need to get patio furniture now too.  What I love about grills is that it is usually a pretty healthy way to cook, and on a hot day you do not have to heat up your home using an oven to make dinner.  Plus clean up is usually a breeze.  This is one of my favorite grilled chicken recipes, super easy and super delicious.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Projects, Projects, Projects

     I am always going to be one of those people that has a million projects going on at the same time.  growing up my mother always told me to not start another project until I finished the one I had already started.  I wish I could say I followed that advice, but it just doesn't seem to work for me.  I have to always have a few different projects and I go from project to project as it suits me.  However I sat down to make a list of everything that needs to get done and it is getting a little overwhelming.  I definitely need to get better at this.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Homemade Memories

     I know that at times I am totally nostalgic, I tend to reminisce over great times.  I have been thinking of different holidays that I have had and different gifts that I have gotten, and the homemade ones have always been the best.  I was thinking about that lately, as I have been helping a friend of mine make quilts for Christmas presents.  I love quilting and I think a quilt is always a thoughtful and appreciated gift.  A quilt from someone you love is like a hug that you can wrap around yourself on those days where nothing seems to go right.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh the decadence.......

     I love oysters, I love their taste and their consistency  I wish I could have them more often than I do, but that just is not in the budget.  I figure it is better this way, since now they are an indulgence or for special occasions.  There are so many different ways to eat oysters and so many different recipes.  I always eat mine the exact same way every single time.  I always splash a little lime and Tabasco on them and enjoy.  So good, so amazing!  I remember my first experience seeing an actual oyster.  It was my twelfth birthday and I was at the state fair with my family.  There was a booth that you could buy a pearl oyster and get have the pearl that was inside.  My oldest brother bought my very first oyster and my very first pearl that day.  That experience began my love of both.  The pearl was carefully cleaned and turned into a beautiful pearl pendant.  Whenever I see oysters or pearls I think of that twelve year old girl having the time of her life with her big brother.

Fondue Fun

Swissmar Arosa 11 Piece Stainless Fondue Set (Stainless) Cookware Sets     There is something interesting about fondue.  I honestly think that it is the ultimate "girls night" food.  Actually hardly any of the guys I know seem to like fondue, not sure why though.  I actually really like fondue, but I do have to be in the mood for it. 

     There are actually lots of different varieties of fondue, it isn't all just melted chocolate as some people think.  The word fondue is actually the feminine past participle for the french word fondre, which means "to melt".   The chocolate fondue did not become popular until the 1960s.  Before that the standard fondue was a cheese fondue that was a mixture of cheeses, wine and seasoning. 

     There is also a set etiquette to enjoying fondue, clearly double dipping is a no no. The long fondue forks that you use are meant to transfer the item of food from the fondue pot to your plate, not meant to be eaten directly off of, after all that thing is sharp, you could hurt yourself!  There are so many different things that you can dip into the fondues, most people stick to strawberries with the chocolate, and bread with the cheese.  While that is delicious, it is not exactly creative either.  With the cheese fondue some of my favorite things to use are, broccoli, shrimp, mushrooms, eggplant, squashes & zucchini, beef tenderloin cubes. or slices of sausage.  With the dessert fondue, any type of fruit is going to be good, also you can use fried fruits as well.  Some of my favorite things to use with a dessert fondue are bananas, kiwis, berries, peaches. pineapple, apples, or chunks of angel food cake.  What I like about fondue is that while it feels like a decadent meal, it really is not usually for me.  Since fondue is eaten slower and usually the items you dip in the fondue are healthy, its actually not a bad meal for you at all, if had in moderation of course.  I am sharing two of my favorite fondue recipes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pumpkin Hummus


     Hummus of any kind is a staple in my home.  It feels so indulgent, when it really is not at all. I see a lot of the premade ones at the grocery stores, but they tend to be way too high in sodium and expensive.  Once you know the base recipe for hummus you can add whatever you want to it.  Some of my favorite add-ins are roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, or artichoke hearts, or pine nuts. There are so many different things that you can do.  This is a variation that I make in the fall and during the Holidays, when it seems like pumpkin is everywhere.

     This is also a great recipe to take with you on the go, and this time of year we all need something healthy to have while we are on the go.  So many good things to do with this recipe!

TV Shows

     I don't watch too much TV usually, but I do have a few TV shows that I follow.  One is The Biggest Loser, there is something so inspiring about watching people change their lives, and overcoming their demons.  I would love to have the opportunity to cook with Curtis Stone, or workout with Jillian or Bob, but I am too little to be on The Biggest Loser, so I use their DVDs at home, which I must admit are pretty good.  You definitely get a good workout from it. 

     Last night was the finale, I love to see how far people have come,  some of the transformations were much greater than I expected.  I usually end up saying that every season though.  It is the one show that I have watched consecutively every single season with out fail.  Definitely   something to include yourself.  Another one of my favorite shows is Hell's Kitchen.  Which tonight is the grand finale for that show.  I watch the challenges and think, what would I make?  How would I do in this type of challenge?  Also I see several dishes that I end up trying myself.  The two channels that are usually on in my apartment are either the Cooking Channel, or Food Network.  I could watch those for hours, so I have to be disciplined and usually only watch if I am doing a chore like folding the laundry or ironing, or working on another quilt.

What shows do you enjoy?  What shows inspire you?  Some show inspire, some entertain, and some just make you shake your head.

Its the Little Things...Creating a Sanctuary

Affluence 6-Piece Towel Set, Dawn Pink
     Don't you just feel more relaxed and serene looking at these towels?  I am a firm believer in taking good care of yourself, and enjoying the little things.  This time of year we are all running around like crazy trying to get ready for the holidays that many times we put ourselves at the very bottom of our lists and forget to treat ourselves to something special..  I know that at times I am a bit neurotic about certain things, one in particular that I have to make just so is my bathroom.  I find that a nice warm bath is a great way to unwind from the stresses of the day.  I have to admit I do a lot of thinking and reflection there.  It is like a little sanctuary. 

     The majority of the guests to my home comment on my bathrooms, it sounds like a funny thing but it does make me happy having nice bathrooms.  Right now I live in a two bedroom, two bath apartment, which really is just perfect for me at this point in my life.  I have really been trying to make my home a sanctuary, my own personal retreat.  All in all for living in an apartment, it is a pretty nice place to be.  One thing that I make sure is just so in my bathroom are the towels.  If you have never had a really nice set of towels, treat yourself to them.  However once you start using the really nice ones, you will never go back to the bargain ones, so proceed with caution.  Towels have to have the right color, the right absorbency, and the right size.  I am a huge fan of bath sheets, so much better than the standard towel, and so much more coverage.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Don't sell yourself short....follow your dreams

     Children amaze me, I am constantly amazed at some of the things they say and can not help but wonder where these thoughts of theirs come from.  To a child anything is possible, and you can achieve whatever you say you will, whether that be becoming an astronaut, a princess, a movie star, a veterinarian, or whatever other thing pops into their heads. 

     Where does the confidence of a child come from?  Why as adults to we become so hesitant and always second guess ourselves.  When do we stop believing in our dreams.  I am trying to always believe in my dreams and do what is necessary to achieve them, but I know oftentimes I have doubts myself and wonder, "can I really do this?"  One of my goals for 2011 is to live life to its fullest and not be scared of falling, to just try and see what happens.  This is a favorite poem of mine, I wish I could say I follow better than I do, but that is definitely something for me to work on.  Definitely something to work on for the upcoming year!

What a wirlwind.....

     Some weeks are boring and drag on forever, others are jam packed with so much stuff to get done there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.  And some weeks, we've all had those weeks where there seems to be some sort of a disconnect, almost as though it is a surreal week.  This week has been one of those, not a bad week by any means just one of those weeks that always keeps you on your toes in suspense.

     This weekend was great, I was able to do a lot of things that I really enjoy.  I worked on my quilting with a friend, got to go out to dinner, and was able to experiment in the kitchen.  I love to bake, I love to cook sweets and I love the smell of them, but to be honest rich desserts can be a bit too much for me.  I decided to try a recipe for better than sex cake, or as I call it "better than sin cake".  I made it this weekend since Monday I plan on starting my diet and exercise that I told you all about, so its best to get this out of the way first.   I actually got this recipe from a friend,  I am always nervous about making things from a box, because I usually never do it, I am a strictly from scratch girl, so I was pleased with how this turned out.  Its a ridiculously easy recipe, definitely can be thrown together on any weeknight, and you will get rave reviews.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cheesecake

I love to bake and I love to cook, but I also love to surf the net and see what other talented cooks are making in the kitchen.   I ran across this recipe from http://www.cdkitchen.com/.  Its a recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread Cheesecake.  It was so amazing, and so decadent.  Actually it was good enough that I decided that I was going to make it for my Church's Christmas Party tonight.  I hope everyone likes it!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Gingerbread Crust

1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 egg yolk

Too much of a good thing........

Brazil Butt Lift - Workout DVD (English and Spanish)     It was bound to happen, sooner or later I knew it was going to happen, I jinxed myself.  Since I have been out on my own I have had to enter the professional working world.  Along with the long hours came the paperwork, and also the need to dress up every single day for work.  So along came the business suits the heels, the cardigan twinsets, more heels, the pencil skirts, did I mention heels?  So over the past several years I have acquired what I consider to be a very nice wardrobe that can serve me well anywhere I go, and a shoe collection I am quite proud of.

So what is the problem you ask?  The problem is that my clothes don't fit!   Sadly it isn't just one or two items, its a cast majority of the closets, (yes I have more than one....it happens).  How did this happen to me?  I guess I had gotten a little lax on my exercising.  I love to cook, sometimes I fix somethings that can add a pound or two, so I have to always make sure to exercise, but sometimes I fall short.  Looks like I need to get back on track!  I need to be able to fit in my clothes, and a new wardrobe sadly just isn't in the budget right now.  So I have developed a little game plan for myself.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekend Recap

     I hope that everyone had a nice weekend.  Mine was pretty good actually.  The weekends are always great, its nice to have some time to unwind and relax.  Even if Saturdays end up being "errand day".  I was able to try the blackberry french toast I posted last week.  I made an amazing quiche as well so it was an incredible brunch that I had.  Sometimes its good to treat yourself to something special.  I talk with several of my single friends, and most of them always say the main reason that they never cook is because they just don't want to go to all of that effort for just one person.  I can understand that certainly, it is an effort , but I don't see why I should go without the things I enjoy just because I am single.  I like a nice home cooked meal at the end of the day.  I like to sit down at my table to a nice meal on my china and enjoy what I have created. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Three Weeks till Christmas!!!

     Three weeks till Christmas!  Where has the time gone?  I can not believe how fast 2010 went by!  The apartment is all decorated for Christmas, and the stockings are hung.  It will be my first Christmas in this apartment and I am actually really excited for that.  The Christmas tree fit nicely close to the fireplace, and it looks so pretty all lit up at night.  My dog especially loves the tree, she will look at it for hours and bat at the branches.  It isn't quite a Norman Rockwell picture, but it will certainly do for now.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm a Southern Girl

Brunch Recipes: One-Dish Blackberry French Toast     I am hungry, not just hungry for anything.  I want something sweet and gooey and warm and rich.  This recipe has been calling to me and I think that tomorrow just might be the day for me to make it.  Doesn't that look scrumptious?  I am sure that it is no surprise to you that I am a cooking magazine junkie.  I love to read the cooking magazines and try the recipes for myself.  It is so satisfying when you create a truly fabulous dish.  This particular recipe is from Southern Living Magazine, which happens to be one of my favorite magazines.  I will always consider myself a southern girl and their recipes are always amazing, and realistic for the home cook to re-create for their own families.  I can't wait to try this tomorrow for my brunch, this will be so good!

These are amazing.....

Microplane Classic Series Zester/Grater--Soft Handle


     I received my first microplane grater at a gift from a friend, who swears by these.  I figured a grater is a grater, how much more complex can it really get?   I am honestly hooked on my microplanes.  I don't have all six yet, I have three of them and I use them all the time.  They have proven to be way more useful than I previously imagined. 

As a single girl living on my own in an apartment, I totally understand a limited budget and limited to space to work with.  I have to definitely pick and choose what I have in my kitchen, everything in it has to earn it's rightful spot.  These microplanes have earned their spot, they are the greatest when you need just a dash of zest or just a sprinkling of cheese.  They are also great for smaller quantities of shavings, zest. etc., which is exactly what I have when I am cooking for one.  The handle has a nice feel to it, and you can use it for long periods of time without the fatigue of a normal grater.  I find myself using this with pretty much all of my baking, and whenever I make a sauce.  Each one has a different blade designed for a different item.  I use the black and red ones for my harder substances, my harder cheeses, chocolate, nuts, ginger, etc.  The pink one I use for my more delicate items, so my fruit and soft cheeses.  So many uses for these, try them for yourself!  This is one of my favorite dessert recipes that I use them to create.  These cupcakes are so addictive, you will love them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One of my FAVORITE things


     This is seriously one of the best pans ever.  This was actually a present for my 30th birthday that I was very lucky to get.  Le Creuset pans are expensive that is for sure, but you do get exactly what you pay for with them, and these are incredible.  Often people tell me that it makes no difference what types of pan you use for cooking, that it all tastes the same in the end anyways.  Let me dispel those erroneous thoughts.  It does make a difference, it makes a huge difference.

     Depending on what types of pans that you use you will have different cooking times, and different rates of cooking.  Lesser quality cookware sometimes does not cook evenly leaving you with food that can be partially raw in some sections, while dried out and overdone in others.  How a dish cooks will also greatly affect the taste.  I strongly suggest that you get the best pots and pans that you can afford, plus get the ones that you will need and use the most, some pots and pans may not be necessary for the lifestyle you need.

It's an Apron Addiction........

DII Red and White Polka Dot Hostess Apron


     It is a complete addiction I know!  I adore aprons, I have tons of them, I know I have way more than any person really needs, but really can you ever have too many aprons?  I don't think that you can.  Whenever I am in the kitchen I am wearing an apron, whenever I am cleaning or doing the laundry you will find me with an apron on.  Besides from looking pretty darn cute if I do say so myself, aprons are super practical. I have lace aprons, silly aprons, dressy aprons, aprons for every occasion.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I have been reading Wednesday.......

 
     So I love to read.   I mean I really love to read.   Reading is such a release for me, I always end up imagining myself into a whole new world when I read.  Lately I have been loving biographies, even though this book isn't a biography, it does have some traits of one.  I will admit that I am obsessed with Julia Child, she was amazing.  I have all of her books, all of her DVDs and my DVR records all of the re-runs of her old TV show.  No one is quite like Julia Child inside or outside of the kitchen.