Monthly Archives: October 2012

Frankenpost: A Halloween Hybrid

I think Sandy started a trend.

Much as she combined tropical storm with nor’easter with hurricane with general sh*t storm, today’s post is a bit of a hybrid.  Not only is it WIAW but today also happens to be October Foodie Pen Pals Reveal Day.  Oh yeah, and it’s Halloween to boot.

There is some crazy a** sh*t goin’ on.  So, without further ado…

What I Ate Wednesday

…meet Foodie Pen Pals.

Let’s hear if for What I Ate Wednesday Foodie Pen Pals!

While it’s a little scary – though fitting – that this Frankenpost should occur on Halloween, the treats that I received from Jessie were anything but.  Jessie is a super cute, self-described “fitness nut” who blogs over at jessielovestorun.  She’s living in Kuwait right now with her husband which means that I lucked out in the Foodie Pen Pal department!  Just look at all the fantastic goodies she sent me.  🙂

Jessie didn’t send the pumpkin, it’s just photo-bombing this pic.

In her initial email to me, Jessie asked if I’d like to try some of the super spicy products ubiquitous to her local shops.  Um…yes, please!  And folks, I was SO not disappointed!

First to go – and to go so quickly that the bag didn’t even make the above photo – were these:

Beans, beans the magical fruit…well, you know the rest…

I served these delightfully spicy, “crispy-licious” bean chips with hummus at a get-together I had a couple of weekends ago.  Well, it wasn’t long before the four adults at this get-together were fighting over the crumbs left in the bottom of the bag.  In our gotta-get-more-Beanfields zeal, we may have even embarrassed ourselves in front of the 1-year-old that also attended our shin-dig.  Hey, maturity goes out the window when delicious food is involved.  Am I right or am I right?  🙂

I nearly peed my pants when I was opening Jessie’s package and discovered these lurking at the bottom:

I think they were scared of their impending demise because they were hiding in the depths of the Priority Mail Box.

OMG!  How did she know?!?!  I blow through about 10 packets of Justin’s peanut and almond butter every week.  Following the Beanfields, these pouches were next to bite the proverbial bullet.

I sent the Hot & Spicy Pringles with The Man to his weekly Sunday-Guys-Watching-Football-Afternoon but not before sampling a few myself.

Arabic is so pretty.

Whoa, boy!  Them chips is spicy!  But insanely delicious :).

I can’t wait to try the sesame rice cakes, curry sauce, and Very Hot Cajun Sauce – the latter of which I think would be amazing drizzled on a Roasted Vegetable Pizza that happens to be chillaxing in my freezer as we speak – tonight’s dinner, perhaps?

The foodie surprises that Jessie so kindly sent my way are all amazing but my favorite parts of her package were the cute little notes she put on each item:

She also has insanely neat handwriting, wouldn’t ya say?

Super thoughtful and adds that little something extra.  I might be stealing this idea for future Foodie Pen Pal packages of my own.  🙂

More of Jessie’s insanely neat handwriting. I may be able to steal her ideas but my chicken scratch will never be this visually appealing.

Jessie, thank you so much for all of the wonderful goodies – they were the perfect subjects for this What I Ate Wednesday Foodie Pen Pals Frankenpost!

Here’s the Foodie Pen Pal info if you want to jump on the bandwagon and be sure to check out WIAW too!

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re interested in participating for November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by November 4th as pairings will be emailed on November 5th!

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Categories: Foodie Pen Pals, Nut Butter, What I Ate Wednesday | 15 Comments

Bananarama

I didn’t have to work yesterday.  No, it wasn’t a holiday.  No, I wasn’t sick.  No, I didn’t take a vacation or personal day.  Rather, The Bride of Frankenstorm decided to visit the state so work was cancelled (yes, I just used the British spelling of the word – Hey, I went to grad school in the U.K. and some things just stuck).  We sorta had the Hurricane Sandy version of a Snow Day.  We had a San-Day, if you will.

It was a Cruel, Cruel, Cruel San-Day…

They hold the Guiness World Record as having the most chart enteries of any all-female group in the world. Who woulda thought?

…and I feel for the thousands living on Long Island Sound who just got whalloped.  We were pretty okay in inland CT, though – and I am not nearly as scared of hurricanes as I am of thunderstorms – so I hunkered down, stayed in my jammies…

Please take a mome to appreciate my oh-so-fashionable Halloween socks.

…and thought of some creative ways to use up the ripe bananas that were languishing in my fruit bowl.

First up…

Banana Beer Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 large banana, mashed

1 tablespoon honey

12 oz. beer

Hmmm…

Mix together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne.  In a separate bowl, mash the banana and stir in the honey.

Asante sana squash banana!

Create a “well” in the flour mixture.  Pour in the banana-honey mixture and the beer – super gently, you don’t want a lot of “head” goin’ on.  Stir it all together just until combined.  Do not overstir!  You’ll end up with stiff, dense bread and that would be ick.  Unless, of course, you like stiff, dense bread – in which case, stir away.  Pour the batter in a 9×5 loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

During the baking process a delightful aroma will fill your house.  So delighful, in fact, that you’ll think you’re burning a banana/beer scented Yankee Candle.  You’re tummy will start to grumble in anticipation of this wonderous delight and before you know it you’ll pull this outta the oven:

Cue the singing angels.

I didn’t wait one minute before diving in – I might have burned myself on the loaf pan in the process – it smelled that good.  It tasted pretty good too – a nice mix of savory and sweet.  The yeastiness of the beer complimented the sweetness of the banana while the cinnamon added some spicey warmth.  I didn’t really taste the cayenne which was mildly disappointing – I’ll probably add more next time.

Seeing as I still had a couple of bananas left, I continued the banana-fest with:

Banana Roasted Chicken

1/2 chicken breast

1/2 small vidalia onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 large ripe banana, roughly chopped

olive oil, salt, pepper, and bouquet garni to taste

Put everything in a baking dish and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes to a half hour depending on the size of your chicken.  I was cooking for one, but this recipe could easily be doubled or tripled or exponentially multiplied to feed an army.

The chicken is in there, it’s just hiding under all those glorious onions, bananas, and herbs.

Whoa, baby!  Was this delish!  The chicken was tender, the bananas were roasted to sweet perfection, and the onions and gralic added the perfect savory finish.  I am definitely making this recipe a staple in my repertoire.

Ready for its close-up.

Today, the sun is shining and hurricane-force winds are but a memory.  In her aftermath Sandy has left flooded homes, downed trees, thousands of people without power…and 1 1/2 bananas still chilaxing in my fruit bowl.  Sandy may be over but I have a feeling Bananarama is just getting started…

What are your favorite ways to spend a Snow Day San-Day?

How do you use up your ripe bananas?

Categories: Culinary Experiments, Thunderstorms | 2 Comments

Choosing to Smile

As many of you are aware, the last week and a half at work have been pretty tough.  Sudden changes and lots of upheaval have caused much sadness, stress, frustration, and feelings of being overwhelmed.  I’ve basically been feeling “magenta.”

500 points if you get my reference. I just gave you a really big hint…

Despite the ickiness, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of dealing with things.  However, this past Sunday, while enjoying our weekly swim, my mom, oh so kindly, informed me otherwise:

“Yeah, so I know you’ve been kinda down lately but you gotta snap out of it.  I was reading your blog posts from last week and I could totally notice that you weren’t yourself.  Your attitude is affecting your writing.  Those posts just weren’t your best work.”

Um…thanks?  You gotta hand it to the woman, at least she’s honest with me.

But ya know what?  I’m not all that surprised.  One of my character flaws traits is that I tend to wear my emotions on my face – joy, excitement, embarrassment, sadness, anger…chagrin – it’s all right there in my eyes, the set of my mouth, the tilt of my head.  Can’t hide it.  So, I suppose it would follow that my emotions can be, literally, read in my writing as well.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I’m a fairly adequate wordsmith.  To know that a skill I pride myself on is being adversely affected by my mood?  I’m not okay with that.

Mom’s right, I’ve gotta snap out of it.

While we can’t necessarily help what we feel – we’re sentient beings, we’re gonna get mad/be happy/freak out every once in a while – we have complete control over the face we present to the world.  Our attitude is our choice.

Heh, heh…  For those of you who know me in real life, you’ll chuckle at the hypocrisy of my above statement.

I’ve worked for years to try to better mask the physical representation of my inner self.  To be fair, in some cases wearing my heart on my sleeve is a good thing.  For instance, my family and friends…and co-workers and complete strangers…always know where they stand with me.  But, for the most part – in the office or during a poker game – it’d be better to conceal my colorful anima.

Now that I’ve been informed of the effect it has on my writing, you better believe I’m’a amp up my efforts.

Rather than play a game of “Let’s Hide What We Really Feel” – cause, hello, that’s just being fake – I shall try to literally turn my frown upside down.  There have been studies that show the simple, physical act of smiling can actually boost one’s mood.  If we pretend to feel a certain way, we may actually come to feel that way for reals.  It’s like the adult version of playing pretend.  Cool.  🙂

Ya know, I think it works.  I’m sitting here now smiling just cause I’m writing about smiling and I’m actually feelin’ pretty good.  I don’t know if “happy” is the word for it but I’m definitely feeling more pleasant than I have for a while.  I’m gonna walk around the office today with a grin on my face in the hopes that it leads to a more positive outlook cause:

Was that a better post, Mom?

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Easy Pleasy

I love to entertain.  All forms of entertaining – cocktail parties, snack-y and drink-y get-togethers, dinner parties, the ol’ song and dance…

Let me entertain you…

I love it all.  I love it even more when I save myself some time and effort and make things easy.

Um…alright…given the above picture, I understand how you might misinterpret the above statement.  Keep it clean people.  I was talking about recipes, easy recipes.  Recipes that are a cinch to prep and execute and leave me more time to entertain my guests.  And I’ve got two of ’em to share with you right now cause it’s time for another addition of…

What I Ate Wednesday Easy Dinner Party!

This past Saturday night The Man and I had his sister and her boyfriend over for dinner.  This was the first time I met Sister and BF so I was a tad bit nervous…to say the least.  Not only did I have to wow them with my sparkling personality (and hope that they accepted my innate nuttiness), I also had to razzle dazzle them with my culinary prowess.

Easy recipes were most defintely called for.

For dinner I fell back on a tried and true salmon dish that has served me quite well over the years.  The original idea came from a family that I used to nanny for and it’s such an easy dinner to throw together that I almost feel “recipe” is too strong a word – it’s more of a “recip-ease.”  Yes, I just now invented that word.  OOO, I like it.  I shall add it to my lexicon.

Maple-Orange Salmon

Salmon

Orange Juice

Maple Syrup

Notice there are no measurements listed.  This is why: you use however much salmon you need given the number of people you’re cooking for (1/2 lb. per person is the standard).  You place the salmon in an appropriately sized baking dish and then you glug on the orange juice and maple syrup.  Just eye-ball it.  You want enough in there that the salmon is taking a nice little bath but you don’t want to drown the poor fish.  I usually do equal amounts of orange juice and maple syrup but you should adjust according to your taste.  I’ve used various different brands over the years but this time I used this juice…

I do not enjoy pulp.

…and this syrup.

A purchase from The Big E.

After you douse the fish, pop it back in the fridge and let it marinate for about 20 minutes to a half hour – you don’t want to let it go too much longer than that cause the orange juice will start to “cook” the fish (a la ceviche) and make it too dry/tough.  Then you just wing that pan into the oven (at 350-ish degrees) and bake it according to how big/how much fish ya got.  Et voila.  Easy.  Delicious.

The Man and I paired the salmon with a garden salad and Israeli couscous (mixed with sauteed red onions, baked-sauteed sugar pumpkin, and bouquet garni) and dinner was done.  I think they liked it.  Also, I forgot to take pictures.  Now it is gone.  Ah, well, moving on…

Dessert was a bit more of a challenge for a couple of reasons.  Not only is BF on a low-carb diet but I also wanted to try to accomodate my no-sugar thang.  I did a quick google search for low-carb, low-sugar dessert recipes and came up with this which I further tweaked to come up with this:

Low-Guilt Peanut Butter Cookies (I know, not a creative title but the best I could come up with at the mome…)

1 cup peanut butter, such as…

Don’t worry, this is the non-recalled one.

1/2 cup Truvia (or 1 cup Splenda or regular granulated sugar)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Sugar for rolling

Just mix the peanut butter, Truvia, egg, and vanilla together (seems unlikely but it will form a dough).  Roll into balls.  Roll those balls in some maple sugar.  Place on a cookie sheet and press balls down with a fork (to make a cross-hatch pattern).  Then bake those babies at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  Et voila…again.  Easy.  Delicious.

Alas, I didn’t have a photo shoot for these cookies, either.  I was distracted that night, folks.  But I do have this somewhat fuzzy photo with the cookies lurking behind various beverages:

The remainder of the cookies on that plate were gone by the end of the night.

All in all, a successful evening.  Good company (I hope they thought the same of me) and good, easy food.  Sometimes simpler is better.  🙂

Yes, that is my beer. I drank beer. I like Blue Moon. Can you believe it? Who am I?

What did you eat Wednesday?

Categories: Cookies, Nut Butter, Trader Joe's, What I Ate Wednesday | 10 Comments

Unavoidable Lemons

I got some depressing news at work this past Friday.  Icktastic news that I’d rather not re-hash for you all.  Essentially, though, I’ve lost a part of myself and it’s made me sad.  So very, very sad.

Normally, when confronted with a situation that I find unappealing I like to employ a method entitled “Practicing the Fine Art of Avoidance.”  It’s a spectacular coping mechanism that requires one to ignore a particular situation or problem until it resolves itself, someone else fixes it, or it simply just goes away.  Easy peasey.  It is clean, efficient, and, best of all, protects one’s fragile emotions.

However, sometimes nasty stuff is unavoidable and “Practicing the Fine Art of Avoidance” is not an option.  So, how do you cope when you have to face negativity and hardship?

TCT #8: How do you deal with the negative feelings that come along with unavoidable, nasty situations?

Aside from dealing with the problem itself – let’s face it, at some point in your life you’ve gotta be an adult – here are the various methods I employ to get me through the ick:

Tactic #1: Cry.

Yes, as mentioned above, we must be adults, but, my friends, big girls DO cry.  It’s therapeutic.  It’s a release.  There’s something very freeing and soothing about letting the tears come and getting all snotty and having your mascara run and blowing through a box of tissues in 2.2 nanoseconds.  Attractive?  No.  Professional?  No.  Necessary?  You better believe it.  At least for me.

Tactic #2: Call Mom.

After I’ve cried my eyes out – or while still in the process of – I pick up the phone and speed dial Mom.  No one else in the world has the calming effect that that woman has on me.  The planet could be imploding – a scene straight outta 2012 – and all she has to say is “It’ll be alright, Baby Girl.”  All of a sudden, the clouds part, the sun goes back to its proper place in the sky, and all is right with the world.  She’s a miracle worker.

Tactic #3: Go for a run.

The act of physical exertion goes miles – heh, heh, pardon the pun – towards alleviating an emotionally hazardous situation.  Sometimes I focus on my breathing and footfalls to distract myself from what I’m feeling and sometimes I let those feelings wash over me in waves and cry and run and cry and run and cry and breathe and run and cry, breathe, run, breathe, cry…  Inevitably, I feel better after a run particularly when faced with scenery like this:

Atmospheric, no?

Tactic #4: Go shopping.

Let’s be honest: sometimes retail therapy is a must.  I sometimes try to avoid this route, but, when practiced with mindfulness and a bit of restraint, it can work wonders.

Friday’s haul.

Tactic #5: Redecorate.

Whether it be of the everyday variety…

New artwork in the living room.

…the comforting variety…

Who doesn’t love new bedding?

…or of the holiday sort…

Happy Halloween!

…a change of my surroundings is, occasionally, just what the doctor ordered.

So, darlings, what do you do when you cannot avoid the lemons that life throws at you?  How do you cope with unpleasant feelings?

What are your two cents?

Categories: Running, Two Cents Tuesday | 1 Comment

I’ve Fallen…

…into such a habit…

…that, even though Jenn and many other WIAW followers have moved on, I’m still stuck in the above series.

**My lateness to the new WIAW party might also have something to do with my recent absence from the blog world.  I apologize profusely, my darlings.  Life has gotten in the way the last couple of weeks but I am now officially back in the game blog!  Careful there, don’t fall all over yourselves with excitement.  I mean, I know it’s hard to rein in your joy at my return but we wouldn’t want you spilling your morning coffee all over the keyboard now, would we? :)**

Anywho, the aforementioned habit in question?  Cottage Cheese.

A small selection of the various brands that have been inhabiting my refrigerator shelves of late.

I blew through the tub of Cabot this past Friday – a little too watery and salty for my tastes but that didn’t stop me from eating the entire container in one sitting.  The Breakstone’s served as my Sunday night dinner and the container of Friendship was consumed over the course of two days – Monday and Tuesday nights’ dessert.  48 oz. of cottage cheese in four days.  That’s a lot of cottage cheese.

I’ve tried in vain to curb my enthusiasm…

Truth.

…for this delectable edible but it’s just not happening.  Even if I limit myself to purchasing just one tub on my weekly grocery run, chances are I’ll be making an atypical mid-week trip to the store for another 16 oz. of dairy delight.

This is not the first time I’ve had an obsession with a particular food.  I periodically go on these food jags where I am consumed by – or, more accurately, I consume – a certain food for an extended period of time.  These jags are not your everyday, run-of-the-mill binges.  They’re not a case of an “oh-my-god-I-cannot-stop-eating-this-bag-of-Chex-Mix-someone-please-take-it-away-from-me-or-it’ll-be-gone-in-zero-point-two-seconds-oops-too-late-I-already-ate-the-whole-thing-but-I-won’t-want-Chex-Mix-now-for-another-few-months” situation.  No, my jags last for weeks, if not months, people.  During this time, I simply cannot get enough of whatever food I happen to be obsessed with.  Roasted vegetables (no specific veggies or roasting method – just roasted veg in general), mangoes, roasted and salted mixed nuts, raisins – they’ve all been the subject of one of my jags.

Granted, most of my jags center on a somewhat healthy food – it’s not like I’m having a gustatory love affair with Craz-E Burgers – but too much of a good thing is still too much, right?  Probably.

Whelp, I will work valiantly to break myself of this cottage cheese habit but if I’m successful it’ll probably only mean that I’m on a new jag.  The ends of my jags are of biblical proportions in that the raisin jag begat the mixed nut jag begat the roasted vegetable jag begat the mango jag begat the cottage cheese jag.  If it’s not one fruit it’s a nut butter…but at least it’s not (and, hopefully, won’t ever be) a double bacon cheeseburger between two Krispy Kreme donuts.

Have you ever been on a food jag?

If so, how did you break yourself of the habit? – Come on, I need ideas, people!

What did you eat Wednesday?

Categories: Cottage Cheese, Uncategorized, What I Ate Wednesday | 2 Comments

If Time Grew on Trees

Happy September Foodie Pen Pals!!!

As most of you are aware, I’ve been supes busy lately.  I am in the midst of filling an enormous order for my side business and, for the past two weeks or so, my world has been taken over by paper daisies and cardstock.  On top of my normal 9 to 5…

Yup, I know, that song is stuck in your head now…you’re welcome.

…and all the other crap stuff associated with everyday life, I’ve barely had time to take care of personal hygiene…but, don’t worry, I have.

Anywho, while I was wicked excited to receive my excellent Foodie Pen Pal package from Mamie, I haven’t gotten a chance yet to try any of the delicious products she sent me. 😦

The time will come, though, when I’ll be able to dip into this wonderful looking jam…

Love the fabric cover and handwritten label – it’s all about presentation :).

…and try out these intriguing mixes from Biltmore Inspirations using the amazing looking recipes that Mamie so kindly included.

See the paper daisies hiding in the background?

I’m looking forward to next weekend when I will be done with my order and can get back into the kitchen for some baking adventures.  Thanks, Mamie!

If you would like to participate – and you should cause it’s fun and brings back the good ol’ days of receiving care packages at summer camp – here’s the info:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

-Foodie Penpals is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

-Click here for more info.

 

Categories: Foodie Pen Pals | 4 Comments

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