Saturday, June 25, 2011


I was bored and decided to give myself a manicure. I used two new colors that I got as a birthday present from my friend Katrina. To add something special I painted the tips with glitter. This was not hard to do because the glitter polish is more stiff than regular nailpolish, and was easy to control while doing the detailed tip.

pink: Essie - Neo Whimsical, grey: Essie - Chinchilly, glitter: OPI - Thanks so Muchness from the Alice and Wonderland collection

Pickin's Dinner

I was hanging out at the Waterman's house, just chilling and drinking stick wine with DMa. Stick wine, aka Cantina Zaccagini, can be described as "a dashing wine with exuberant and savory flavors of juicy black fruit, coffee, chocolate and vanilla, with tannins that are smooth as silk." Its absolutely delicious and very please to drink with a meal or on its own.

**note the stick - hence the name stick wine

After drinking a bottle, we decided we were getting hungry for dinner. We were trying to think of a restaurant in town that we could get some good take out from, and really couldn't come up with anything that sounded appealing. Instead we headed into the kitchen to see what we could come up with ourselves. The end product was quite impressive and better than any take out available in Westborough !

DMa had a recipie she wanted to try out - breaded baked artichoke hearts. It was a very easy and healthy recipe. Open a can of artichoke hearts, dip them into an egg, dip them into some bread crumbs, put them on a baking sheet, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. DMa also whipped up a delicious dipping sauce for these bad boys. Again very easy - not so healthy. It was a combination of mayonaise, half a clove of crushed garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice. This dish was tasty and would be a great appitizer or side dish for almost any meal.

Baked artichoke hearts and reheated take out buffalo chicken fingers.

While DMa was working on that I was brainstorming what I should make. The recipe she had was printed out from a cooking website, and had a list of other dishes on it as well. One of the dishes listed was a salad with quinoa. Quinoa is a super grain ! Its very high and protein and provides a complete set of amino acids for the human body. It is also a great source of fiber and is gluten free. It is great to add hardiness to salads, or can be served with herbs and spices as a side dish similar to couscous.

I took this idea as inspiration and raided DMa's pantry and fridge to come up with the rest. The end result was amazing, if I do say so myself. I combined spinach, black beans, roast corn, fresh tomatoes, roasted red peppers, Mediterranean dressed quinoa, and lemon juice. When I was making it, I was a bit nervous that I was making too much and no one would really like it, but it was definitely gone in 15 minutes, and me and DMa ended up making it again the next day for lunch !

To make the Mediterrainian dressing for the quinoa, DMa equally combined a sweet pommegrante paste, a mildly spicy red pepper paste, pommegrante molasses, and pommegrante balsamic vinegar. This definitely added a lot of flavor to the plain grain and took the salad from decent to spectacular. These ingredients can be found at a Mediterranian or ethnic foods specialty market.

We thought the entire meal was sooo delicious. Our enthusiasm may or may not have been affected by the fact that by the time we finished dinner we were two bottles deep in stick wine.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fruit Feast Day 3

I had a dentist's appointment early this morning and did not get home until noonish. My first meal of the day was a large bowl of strawberries and a banana. For a snack I had 3 dates. Then I went out shopping with D-Ma. We went to two different markets in Worcester specializing in Mediterranean and other various ethnic food products. Walking around looking at all of the decilicous goods (baklava, spanakopita, hummus, babaganoosh, homemade pitabread etc) I was starting to get hungry and for the first time since starting my fast I really missed other types of foods. I bought some pomegranate molasses which is a key ingredient in many mediterranian recipes which gives a unique and distinct flavor. I also bought sun-dried tomato and thyme basket feta cheese for the pizza I was making for my family. After shopping I snacked on a banana in the car. When I got home I was still feeling really hungry and snacked on 2 apples while I was making the pizza. Once dinner time finally came, I decided I could reward myself for my hard efforts over the past few days and have one small piece of pizza with a cup of fresh spinach on top. It was still a rather light meal and made for a good transition from fruit fasting back to normal eating patterns.

My goal with the fruit feast was to get my eating habits calmed down so that I could get back on track towards feeling great about my (mental, physical, and spiritual) self as my departure for Denmark gets closer. I was definitely successful at completing this goal and intend on using fruit to curb my sweet snacking cravings from now on.

Belated Father's Day Pizza

Because I was in Chicago for Father's Day, I told my Dad I would make him dinner sometime in the following week and tonight was the night. I made two pizzas from scratch and they turned out great ! I used a simple recipe for the crust from I followed the directions closely except substituted wheat flour for white flour.

To start out I mixed 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast - I used one that was advertised to work especially well with wheat flour - and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar with 1 1/2 cups of warm water, and let it sit for roughly 10 minutes. This is to allow the yeast to hydrate and grow because after all - YEAST IS ALIVE ! Its a fungus. After 10 minutes I added 2 1/2 cups of flour and stirred to combine the mixture. Then I put the dough ball on my floured counter top and began kneading it with the palms of my hands adding more flour by the handful until the ball was much less sticky. I then put the dough ball into an oiled bowl (I thought I used too much oil, but there was no problem with the end result), covered it with a towel, and let it hang out in there for about 1 hour.

After 1 hour, the dough had risen and grew to twice its original size. Unfortunately I was too eager for the next step that I forgot to take a picture of the risen dough. Pretty much right after I removed the towel and saw my large airy dough ball, I PUNCHED IT DOWN !

Then I cut the dough in half and stretched it onto two cookie sheets. The first pizza I made was with a tomato basil sauce, shredded 2% mozzarella cheese, and cooked ground beef. The second pizza I made had a red theme and was much more creative. Rather than traditional pizza sauce, I used red pepper and cheese spread. Then I added slices of a fresh tomato, roasted red pepper pieces, and sun-dried tomatoes. I used crumbled sun-dried tomato and thyme feta cheese. I was nervous that I hadn't used enough cheese and the toppings might burn in the oven, but it turned out fine !

I then preheated the oven to 425 degrees and let the pizza sit out while I was waiting for the oven to warm up. The recipe suggested this - to let the pizza stand with toppings on for 10-15 minutes before baking if you were not using a pizza stone. Once the oven was heated I put them in the oven together for 15 minutes. Because the crusts weren't that thick and they looked sooo good, I took them out after 15 minutes. After cutting them up I realized maybe 2-3 more minutes in the oven would have been beneficial. But they still tasted amazing !!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

songs / videos I'm into right now

Via Sandra

Via PK

Via Cahill

Fruit Feast Day 1 and 2

After all of that celebrating in Chicago - aka eating and drinking wayy too much - I came home in need of inspiration and renewed motivation to get ready for my move to Denmark. I had already been considering eating primarily fruits as a way to get back on track, but when I got home, checked my blog reader, and the first post I read is about how my favorite blogger Jenna at Eat.Live.Run. had just completed a 3-Day Fruit Feast, I knew I had to do it.

Day 1

I woke up Tuesday morning and was not even hungry because of the vast amounts of food I had consumed over the past 5 days. However, I took my window of opportunity to use the car I share with my brother and drove to a local farm stand in my town. I bought 2 quarts of strawberries, a cantaloupe, and a tomato. I came home, chopped it all up, and snacked on it all throughout the day. I never felt very hungry, but I think that is mostly because had residual fullness lingering from my trip. Although I wasn't hungry, my body rebelled in a different way and I had a terrible headache from about 4 pm until I went to bed at 11 pm.
in total the first day I ate - 1 average sized cantaloupe, almost 1 full quart of strawberries, and half of a large tomato.

Day 2

I woke up and my headache was gone, and I still wasn't extremely hungry. I had about half a cup of strawberries for breakfast. During the day I went shopping in Boston with my friend Katrina, and I'm not sure if it was because I was keeping busy or still residual fullness, but I still wasn't feeling starving like you might assume. We stopped for lunch at Trident Booksellar & Cafe on Newbury Street. I had a juice called Fresh Complexion made of pineapple, cucumber, celery, and apple. (I broke the fast a bit with the celery...yeah I know im so bad :P) It was pretty good, but the vegetable's flavors definitely had a strong presence, which for me slightly subtracted from its enjoyability factor. I also ate a banana. When we were in the city I also picked up some dates, figs, an apple and some blackberries. I didn't have a headache at all today and also felt like I had a lot more energy than yesterday. Now that I am sitting here at 1:20 am I do feel a bit of hunger, but the cleansing feeling I have is much greater and I am confident I can definitely follow through with the fast ! One more day :)

in total the second day I ate - 1 cup of strawberries, a banana, 1 small fig, 3 large dates, half a small carton of blackberries, and the juice mentioned above.

Chicago !!

I just returned from an amazing trip to Chicago for my best friend's - Taylor Waterman - college graduation from Northwestern ! I am just so proud of her. We became so close senior year of high school and it is so crazy that its been 5 years since then ! I had so much fun spending time with her and her family, and I am so grateful they included me in their celebration.

The trip started a little rocky - while waiting at the Waterman's house for a car to come bring us to the airport, I realized I had forgotten my dress for graduation, toothbrush, deodorant, and BOARDING PASS ! uhhhh...whoops :P luckily I have the best brother in the world and he was able to quickly run home and get my stuff before we had to leave ! Things took a turn for the better when Taylor's mom - DMa - and I decided to get 2 pounds of fudge in the airport terminal while waiting for our flight ! They even cut each large piece into 6 smaller pieces, which was nice but did not stop us from quickly devouring it.

top row : rocky road, coffee toffee, coconut creme
bottom row : penuche with nuts, choclate peanut butter x 2
(bottom row definitely dominated in the taste category !)

When we got to Chicago, we met up with Taylor and she brought us to the restaurant she worked at called Tommy Nevins. To quote Taylor - "Its pretty much Irish Chili's." Nevins is an Irish pub serving tasty comfort food and boasts a wild night life scene ;) One of the most interesting menu items I saw was called 'Pint o Bacon' and was literally a pint glass with bacon strips and french fries spilling over the top. Niceeee ! We stayed at Nevins all night watching game 7 of the Stanley Cup championship series cheering the Bruins to victory !! yeah B's !

Some other highlights of the trip were :

- a bookstore/wine cafe called Book Cellar. It was a very cute bookstore made all the better by serving wine, cookies, and other treats. While I was there I bought a small Moleskin notebook that I know will come in handy in my upcoming travels. We enjoyed many glasses of wine and great conversation in the outdoor seating section just in front of the store. I also found this book there : Useless Japanese Inventions. I didn't buy it, but it gave me a good laugh.

Mr. and Mrs. Waterman in the cute outdoor seating section of the Book Cellar.

- dinner at The Girl and the Goat, a brillant tapas restaurant with head chef Stephanie Izard, the only female to have ever won Top Chef ! The restaurant was great all around : the interior design was very cool - raw and industrial and our waitress was so sweet and friendly which made the dining experience very comfortable and unpretentious. The food was AMAZING !! It was served in small portions so we ordered 10 dishes for the table (it ended up being too much food but we were glad we got to try so many different things) The freshest ingredients were prepared in unusual yet ingenious combinatoins, which not only made for delicous food, but also a great table converstation discussing the dishes and our favorites. Some of my favorites were:

Goat Chorizo Flatbread with ramp pesto, rhubarb, ricotta cheese

Crisp Calamari with rabbit ravioli, spring onions and bacon

Sugo (aka meat sauce) with homemade linguini, rosemary, and cape gooseberries

- a day in Oak Park, and getting a chance to see many homes designed by notorious American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Touring around the neighborhood, all of the homes we saw were absolutely spectacular. We also took a guided tour of Frank Lloyds personal home and studio. It was amazing to see first hand how visionary he was for his time and the innovations he mastered. For example - to save space and add to the open floor plan of his family's play room, he place the baby grand piano, not just againest a wall, but THROUGH the wall. He literally cut a hole in the wall and had the piano hanging through and into the starwell just behind the wall, while it was being suspended by an iron hook. It was so cool ! Unfortunatly we couldn't take any photos in the home but here is one of my favorites from the neighborhood. I love the round turret :)

Now that I am home, it is time to get serious about prepping for Denmark !! mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, etc.... AHHHH ! well its a step in the right direction, I have almost 100% secured housing yay !

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Boston Creme Cupcakes for Justin's Birthday !

My (not so) little brother, Justin, turned 20 this week !! I can't believe it. Everyday he inspires me more and more and is growing into such a responsible and impressive man. He's seriously the best brother anyone could ever ask for (hilarious, kind, level headed and so on). I believe his obsession with Boston Creme Donuts started with my grandma always having them at her house when we would go to visit. Last weekend when we were making an iced coffee stop at Dunkin Donuts, of course Justin also oredered at Boston Creme Donut, and it stuck me : that would be the perfect dessert to make for his birthday party. After a quick google search, I decided to use a basic recipe from Sandra Lee, the semi homemade goddess from Food Network.

I decided to use a Funfetti cake mix, to add to the festivity for a birthday party.

After baking the cupcakes and letting them cool for about an hour, I made the Boston Creme filling. This was simply instant french vanilla pudding mix and 1 cup of milk. I scooped the filling into my pastry filler (the blue dish pictured below).

To fill the cup cakes, I cut into the middle of each on with a knife, just to make it easier to insert the pastry tip. I used a medium tip on the pastry filler and injected each cupcake with a small amount of creme.

After filling all of the cupcakes, I made the topping. Again, it was very simple ! On the stove, I heated 1 cup of heavy cream, in a sauce pan, just until small bubbles started forming around the edges. I then poured 3/4 of a cup of semisweet chocolate chips in and stirred until they melted. Once they were melted, I repeated that step and incorperated another 3/4 cup of chocolated chips into the mixture.

Once everything was combined, I took the pan off of the stove. While the chocolate was still warm, I began dipping the cupcakes in it, to coat the top. I wanted to make sure the tops of each cupcake was completely covered, so sometimes I spooned a little bit extra on top.

I was distracted when I was chocalted coating the cupcakes and forgot one ! But it was good that way because one of my brother's friends isn't a fan of icing and claimed the unfrosted cupcake !

I didn't try one, but I got a lot of positive feed back and it seemed like people really liked them !

Ingredients :

premade Funfetti cupcakes from mix

French vanilla instant pudding

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 12 oz bag semisweet chocolate chips

Bake cupcakes and let cool for 1 hour. Mix together instant pudding and milk and beat for approximately 3 minutes, then refrigerate for 1 hour. Fill piping bag or container with cold pudding. Cut into the center of each cupcake to allow for easy insertion of piping tip. Squeeze a small amount of pudding / creme filling into each cupcake. After filling each cupcake, heat heavy cream in saucepan on the stove, until small bubbles form around the edges. Gradually add chocolate chips and stir until evenly combined. Take chocolate mixture off of the stove. While still warm, dip the tops of cupcakes in to coat the tops. Let sit and cool for about 30 mintues to 1 hour before enjoying.