Holidays

ImageIt feels like every day is just a graduated killing of time before my impending Nashville holiday vacation. All the things I need to get done between now and next Monday I find myself completing while dreaming of family time, southern food, movies and popcorn, and Christmas trees.

 

New York at Christmas is lovely, it really is. But it doesn’t stand a chance against the sweet Tennessee streets dotted with Christmas lights and Santa Claus’s and that pleasant Southern drawl wishing you a happy new year at the supermarket.

 

Solo Soiree

You know what I am finding out slowly but surely…..having a whole pantry full of delicious and nutritious food staples is the BEST way to save money, encourage balanced meal creations, and finish every meal wholly satisfied.

I got back from a 90 minute sweat session of bikram yoga feeling limp and noodle. A large carton of french fries or a bagel with extra peanut butter sounded oh so appealing and very stress-free BUT I stayed the course and made it home.

After a quick shower and some light cleaning, I opened my cupboards and fridge to decide upon my meal. Earlier this week I baked a few extra sweet potatoes and overnight soaked and slow-cooked some tomato spiced lentils plus a batch of lemon pepper basil green beans. I threw the beans and lentils along with some spoon spinach into a pan and added tabasco and dijon plus some sea salt and pepper. While the veggies were sizzling I warmed up the potato with butter and salt in the microwave. At the last-minute I added a few raw almonds and three thin slices of tempeh for protein. The buttery potato really tasted great mashed atop the bowl of lentil, spinach, and green beans. All the dish lacked was a sprinkle more of sea salt and a dash or basil.

I am full. I am happy. I am nourished (minus no boyfriend). What’s for dessert?

Sweet, oh sweet potatoes

Sunday afternoons are for grocery shopping despite the fact that I know Trader Joe’s will be overrun with carts and bodies, despite the fact that homework looms overhead, despite the fact that I will get hungry before the dinner is ready. Some things are just the way they are.

I made this for dinner. Thanks to favorite blogger, Kath, for the delicious recipe. I bow to you.

It was perfection in stew form.

I would have gone back for seconds if firsts weren’t so generous.

I can’t wait for leftovers.

Soup is ALWAYS better day 2. Some things are just the way they are, and you know better than to ask questions.

Make Ahead Miracle

Every now and again, I decide to peek at my planner for a glimpse of the week ahead. Every now and again this little glimpse gives me whip-lash. Meetings, due dates, jobs, and events litter the pages and I am left wondering exactly how I will fit it all in! It’s frightening and exciting at once, and if there is one thing I know for certain about weeks like this, it is that they fly by.

Enter make ahead of time lunches-the key to keeping your cool in the midst of a busy few days. While I always take at least a few minutes for a little me time when I am eating, sometimes I can’t be bothered to allocate more than a second to food preparation. The beauty of a make ahead lunch is its’ readiness and portability!

This week I decided to whip up my go-to curry salmon salad recipe, adapted from food blogger Kath of www.katheats.com. I like to serve it over a bed of crispy romaine, or with bowl of spinach. It tastes nice in a whole wheat tortilla, or on an english muffin. Paired with some tortilla chips or simple crackers even, this versatile main dish does the trick for the midday tummy grumbles, and it’s fun to play around with the ways in which you can present this easy meal.

Directions:

1 can of wild Alaskan salmon-drained

1 tbsp mustard

1 tbsp greek yogurt (or mayo)

1 tbsp lemon humus

sliced and diced celery and bell pepper

sliced apple

salt and pepper to taste

sprinkle of curry pepper

Mix and chill. Serve as you wish. I am thinking for round number one, I’ll go sandwich style. Simple and delicious.

Merry Thanksgiving

So a little ole someone kicked off thanksgiving eve by munching on a juicy orange persimmon. And that same little someone woke up at 5:30 am with writhing, wriggling, horrendous stomach pains, like a powerful kick to the gut in rhythmic succession. OUCH! Luckily the fiancée ran out for emergency aid [tums and soda] and put that someone back to bed where she slept like the dead until 11am.

Thanksgiving morning = rocky start.

By 1pm, we were out the door, enjoying the first day of sunshine in a couple of days. Our 6 mile run through the park was tough, but we did it. I actually shed a few tears at the end. I guess I did not get the memo that this was supposed to be a fun run. I decided to kick it into marathon mode. I am thankful for my legs. And my boyfriend who does not make fun of me as I sling snot, cry big crocodile tears, and grunt in a very masculine manner.

The workout left us hobbling and crotchety, a foreshadowing of the old folks we would one day become. Cute! We had a nice post-workout snack, shower, and nap. This is what holidays are all about. Give me an excuse to enter vegetative stasis for a bit and I am first in line.

4pm and the Thanksgiving cooking began to the tune of holiday classics. Confession-one of the best things about holidays in your cozy apartment is the “I can wear whatever I want i.e. I am not taking off this ridiculous hat, these ugg boots, the over-sized tee shirt, and these tights ever, never ever”

Chris and I chopped and peeled, mixed and mashed, set timers, opened and shut oven, cleaned dishes, and scrubbed counters. The whole meal took 2 hours from start to finish, and there was nary a spill, nary an argument, nary a “oh holy hell why don’t we just order a pizza!” SUCCESS! I even released my sous chef to the couch about 30 minutes in. Talk about calm, cool, and collected Ms. Chef over here.

On the menu for a vegetarian chef and her non-vegetarian companion who the chef made change into dressy clothes for the actual feasting because being fancy can be fun

  • balsamic glazed oven roasted portabella caps
  • vegan stuffing
  • cranberry sauce [from the can-the boy loves it!]
  • maple almond glazed oven roasted winter vegetables
  • buttermilk biscuits
  • pear, apple, goat cheese spinach salad
Insert half hour after feast night-time walk
  • pumpkin brownie a la mode, served in bed while watching Elf.

While I know we will always miss Thanksgiving at home with our families, this year got me thinking about new traditions and how, miraculously, a different experience can be just as comforting as the old. I look forward to all the yet-to-be forged territory C and I will soon cover, together. I am marrying my best friend. I’d say that takes the cake  ( or brownie) in terms of what I am thankful for this year.

Guess Whose Coming To Dinner?

Tonight, Chris and I set out for a dinner party of sorts, hosted by my second cousin at his lovely and cozy Upper West Side apartment. Normally, we attend his classy shindigs empty-handed and hungry. Yes, we are those guests….

Hark! A slight change in the program this evening. I am in charge of dessert for a group of 6 adults with no dietary restrictions so to speak of. Oh, the possibilities, right?!

It must be made known that I let little things worry me. I have spent the last week debating what to prepare. Something home-made? Something bakery bought? Christmas inspired? Tried and true? Simple? Over the top? Indulgent? Holistic? The list has ping-ponged its way across the net too may times to count. At one point I even thought, screw it, I;m just gonna’ buy chocolate bars and candy canes and say Ho! Ho! Ho! Who can argue with that?

Of course, panic can be controlled. It’s all a matter of conceptualization. I could worry myself sick over my personal choice and baking prowess, or I could be excited by the opportunity to take to the kitchen for more than just myself; if it fails, so be it-if it triumphs, all the better.

I have chosen the road less traveled, for me anyway. I have created happily, not a drop of sweat shed nary a tear did fall. Using bits and pieces of recipes pulled from my favorite web sites, thanks Olivia Rae and Smitten Kitchen, and the ingredients I have on hand, a masterpiece has been born…[I hope, check back later as I can’t sample this one before it is served].

Tonight I present to you baked pumpkin spice pudding garnished with vanilla cinnamon whipped cream.

photo courtesy of smitten kitchen

It’s light, it’s textural, it’s fragrant, it’s seasonal, it’s almost healthy. It is all that a dessert should be and more. It is filled with love…ok and maybe just one bead of sweat, because well, it’s me that’s cooking….

Ingredients:

can of pumpkin puree, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup sugar, pumpkin pie spice, crushed ginger, 1 cup greek yogurt, 1/2 cup half and half, 1 egg and 1 egg white

1. mix pumpkin with dry ingredients over a low heat

2. add wet ingredients and stir over low heat for 4 minutes.

3. transfer to casserole dish and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

4. let cool and garnish with whipped cream and spice cookie crumble