Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Christopher’s Texas Pecan Crusted Halibut in Tomato Orange Sauce
Fresh halibut fillets (skinned)
4-5 Tbsp grape seed oil
4 cloves purple or rag garlic, minced
14.5 oz can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (once you use these you’ll never go back)
Zest and juice of 1 navel orange
½ cup fish stock
1 cup of unbleached flour (add some cracked pepper and a touch of salt)
1 cup orange glazed pecans (you can also mix with toffee pecans depending upon your taste and sweet tooth)
The sauce: saute garlic in grape seed oil over medium heat. After a minute, add zest, orange juice, tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil; then reduce and simmer.
Crush the pecans. This can be done by either putting them in a bag and beating on them with a meat tenderizer until they are crushed or using a food processor. Set out three plates and in one plate add your flour, in another add the two beaten eggs, and in the third add the crushed glazed pecans. Take the individual halibut fillets and coat with the flour mixture shaking off the excess. Dip them into the egg and let the excess drizzle off. Finally coat them with the pecan mixture. Continue with each fillet and set aside.
Preheat a cast iron skillet over high heat. This is the best pan to give the pecan crust a crunchy texture. Add grape seed oil to the pan and continue to heat. Place each fillet into the pan for approximately 1-2 minutes per side, bringing the heat down on the pan so you don't burn the fillets. If your fillets are too thick and aren't cooked through in that short time, then throw the pan in the oven for a few minutes until cooked. Remove the fish and serve with basmati or brown rice. Spoon the orange sauce over the fillet and rice.
If there's someone in your life who is an avid gardener or cook, is interested in the quality of food or the global impact of the food they're eating, or is trying to eat more of what's in season and grown locally, then I highly recommend the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It's educational and inspiring. I am thoroughly enjoying it and just ordered a few extras as gifts.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Nerida said that very few aestheticians can properly diagnose skin and warned me about those who push services like microdermabrasion, monthly facials, peels, etc. She said those are not good options for my skin type ("thin skin"). She said she has so many clients whose skin has been absolutely RUINED by microdermabrasion or other services.
I saw the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" last night and let me just say ... wow! It was a powerful story about the life of a young street begger who ends up on a game show and knows each answer based on an experience in his life. The film flashes back to show these moving moments. The cinematography was stunning, the family life tragic, and the love story emotional. Surely one of the best movies of the year. I highly recommend it. Just be prepared - it is intense. And stay for the credits. I needed the pick-me-up after such a gut-wrenching movie.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I just got back from a fun weekend in Austin, visiting my friends Chris and Jeff. They were wonderful hosts and showed us a great time. Chris is an amazing cook and makes it look so easy. They hosted a dinner party one night and he threw together the most delicious dinner with such ease.
Butternut Squash Soup with Grilled Prawns
This came about by accident actually. The neighbor made a delicious butternut squash soup and Chris was planning to grill some marinated prawns (marinated in garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper I think). He got creative and chopped the prawns up after grilling them and put them in the bottom of the bowl. Then topped with some soup and a little parsley. He also thought a little creme fraiche would be fantastic dribbled over the top but didn't have any. It was so good and a fun twist on traditional butternut squash soup.
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Lemon and Pistachios
I have never been a huge fan of brussel sprouts but these were so good I had a huge second helping. Trimming the leaves off took a minute or two (understatement clearly as we made three bunches) but was worth it. I loved the presentation. This would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dinner. It's a quick and easy preparation once you get the leaves trimmed. Recipe from Epicurious.
I'm on the hunt for this recipe. It was absolutely delicious. There was a sauce made of crushed whole tomatoes in sauce, fish stock, orange zest and more. The halibut was served with wild rice and the sauce spooned over both. I ate every last bite. Delicious. I will post the recipe when I track it down.
A creamy white chocolate filling, delicately spiked with white pepper is sandwiched between two spiced pumpkin ginger cookies dusted with sparkling sugar. Each 2" cookie is perfectly crisp on the outside, but cake-like on the inside.
A bittersweet Scotch Whisky-infused Madagascar chocolate filling nestles between two cookies studded with ground hazelnuts and rich chocolate chips. Each cookie is 2.25 inches in diameter.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I cam across this list of Dr. Perricone's Superfoods on Oprah's website. Click on each one to learn more about it. I always love these kinds of lists because they inspire me at the grocery store.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
My friend Whitney made Ina's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing yesterday and I had the pleasure of indulging in one last night. I ate every last crumb of that delicious little cake and have been day-dreaming about them ever since.
She skipped the chopped nuts on top which I think was a good call. I was kind of surprised to read that on the recipe actually. The frosting was so good although she said she wished it made more. Maybe it wasn't the recipe's fault and the fact that she was sneaking spoonfuls for herself (hmmm?). I thought they were perfect and plan to make them first chance I get. Give 'em a whirl! The recipe looks pretty easy and they won't disappoint!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast? said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.
Caps for Sale
My friend Whitney just shared some of her favorites and one is the delightful book Caps For Sale. Originally copyrighted in 1940, it is a clever little tale about a cap peddler and what happens to his caps one day during a snooze. My daughter and I thoroughly enjoy it. And any time she starts to get bored, I remind her that there are monkeys in the tree and she simmers back down into my lap. Fun little children's book.
A Bear and His Boy
Sean Bryan (Author) & Tom Murphy (Illustrator)
I can't remember where I first came across A Boy & His Bunny but my daughter and I both love it. Now she is loving another book by the same duo, A Bear & His Boy, and we've read it a couple hundred thousand times. We've liked them so much that I just ordered A Girl & Her Gator, and my husband and daughter are reading it now as I get a break to blog. I'm sure we'll be reading it ALL day tomorrow.
My friend Nicole first told me about Animal Kisses when her daughter fell in love with it. I picked one up for my daughter and she is also a fan. Come to find out there are several more including Baby Animal Kisses and the favorite in our house, Peekaboo Kisses, because it has different fabrics/textures like the other books AND it has flaps for the kids to flip. If you just get one, that would be the one to try. Fun for little ones!
ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book
And finally, I'm sure you've heard of all the wonderful picture books by Alison Jay. I love her ABC book because each page is full of items starting that page's letter and it's fun to go through and point everything out. We also like her book Picture This.So ... what to do with all those children's books you're collecting??? In addition to them being strewn throughout the entire house, I've collected three little bamboo shelves to store my daughter's books. You can find them at antique stores from time to time and they have a little more character than a plain set of bookshelves. And if you're lucky you can get a good deal on them so you're spending less than a traditional set. These two are from Pacific Galleries Antique Mall in Seattle.
Would love to know what your favorite children's books are so please post a comment and share!
Monday, November 17, 2008
If you're a fan of HBO's Flight of the Conchords or Extras then you may also like the new HBO series Summer Heights High. My husband and I caught a glimpse of it the other night while channel surfing and were instantly hooked. It's an Australian series with creator/writer Chris Lilley playing the show's three extravagantly dysfunctional characters.
Mr. G (my favorite)
Ja'mie (pronounced Jeh-MAY)
"It is a satirical parody of high school life epitomised by its three protagonists: effeminate and megalomaniac "Director of Performing Arts" Mr. G; self-absorbed, privileged teenager Ja'mie King; and disobedient, vulgar Tongan student Jonah. It lampoons Australian high school life and many aspects of the human condition and is filmed in a documentary style, with lay people playing supporting characters." -Wikipedia
If the rest of the season is anything like the first two episodes then we're on board. Too bad there are only eight episodes of this hilarious and twisted mockumentary. Flight of the Conchords will start just in time with the new season premiering in January. Can't wait for that.
Summer Heights High is on HBO, Sundays at 10:30pm.
I made menus and place cards using a version of the Chinese character Double Happiness, a symbol often used as a decorative piece for weddings (on invitations for example). The place cards would have been cuter but I was in a rush to get the names written on them. Not bad for how quickly I made them. I also got the little traditional red paper envelopes, used for Chinese New Year and Chinese weddings, and enclosed a brand new one dollar bill for each person for good luck.
Salt & Pepper Squid
Hot & Sour Soup
Prawns Sauteed with Honey Glazed Walnut
Crab with Black Bean Sauce
Chinese Broccoli with Cod Fillet
Diced Chicken with Cashew Nuts (Boneless)
Beef with Oyster Sauce
Chinese Long Bean with Black Bean Sauce
Barbecued Pork with Rice
Chicken & Chinese Green Chow Mein
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Star-struck for high-waisted jeans:Funny enough, I actually walked by Hilary Duff that day as I was coming out of the elevator! She looked great.
Now I don't know that I'd really call Kate's jeans "high-waisted" but True Jeans thought so and I'm borrowing the photos from them so I'll go with it. I have always loved that simple outfit of hers. Oh to look that cute in t-shirt and jeans.
2 T olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1/8 t red chili peppers
1/4 cup capers
1/2 t anchovy paste
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
2-3 T parsley, chopped
1/2 or 3/4 box of spaghetti noodles
1/4 c freshly grated parmesan
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for several minutes, making sure not to burn. Add red chili peppers and saute for another minute.
- Add capers, kalamata olives and anchovy paste. Stir to combine.
- Crush tomatoes with your hand to break down large chunks. Pour tomatoes and juice into pan, turn heat up to high and bring sauce almost to a boil, stirring a few times.
- Reduce heat, stir in parsley and let sauce simmer to thicken.
- Add salt to the boiling water and cook spaghetti noodles until almost done. Drain and toss noodles with the sauce, a little at a time so you can control for the level of sauce that you like.
- Transfer to bowls and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan.
Slice a baguette on the diagonal into ½ inch slices. Brush with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. Broil for one minute. Flip if the underside needs a little toasting too. Remove and rub the top of the toasts with the cut edge of a garlic clove.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Click on image to view in full.
I came across this great idea for a meal planner on a blog and loved it. (I can't remember or find which blog so I'm sorry I can't reference it or give credit). I took the idea and ran. On Sunday I planned my meals for the entire week. I'm the kind of person who loves making lists so this was a fun project for me. I figured out specific dinners, and some breakfast and lunch options. I usually prefer leftovers for lunch so I just needed a few options in case we pigged out the night before and didn't leave any.
It was great to have a complete list at the grocery store because when I don't know exactly what I'm cooking, I tend to over-buy. I spend more $ up front and then end up wasting food because things go bad before we can get to it. Knowing exactly what I needed for the week saved me money on both ends. I also saved money because I didn't buy so much meat. I did one chicken dinner, one fish dinner, and three meatless dinners. That definitely lightened up my grocery bill. And finally, because my list was so complete, I don't have to run to the store mid-week to get items I forgot. This was the cheapest grocery store excursion I've had in months. My husband was also impressed and it's nice to show that I'm doing what I can to cut costs while the economy is in a tail-spin.
Here are some basic meal planning tips:
- Plan meat dinners earlier in the week so you don't have to freeze your meat.
- Plan one or two meatless days. Sounds tough but it's not. See Michael Pollan post for inspiration.
- Always make more than you need for dinner. Leftovers are the easiest lunch for you and your kids and dinner is generally more nutritious than lunch options (chicken and veggies rather than grilled cheese for example).
- Make a big batch of soup once a week. It is SO good for you and provides meals for a few days.
- After you write your grocery list, take a quick inventory of your pantry so you're not buying things you don't need (chicken stock, tomato paste, beans, etc).
- Making a roast chicken on Sunday can provide a few meals (soup, chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, etc) throughout the week.
- Try to overlap food items ... if you're making tacos one night, use the leftover tortillas, sour cream, salsa and cheese for chicken enchiladas or breakfast burritos on another day.
- Try to imagine your food planner as a color chart. You want to eat as many colors in a day as possible so make sure you're meal planner has a colorful selection of foods (green, red, blue, purple, yellow, orange).
- You could also add a row for snacks or desserts!
- I've found that the more meals I have planned, the less likely I am to eat out (which saves money and is much healthier for you).
So plan ahead, save money and eat healthier! And please share your weekly meal-planning tips! I would love to hear how other people manage this piece of the puzzle. Thanks and happy planning!
The Social Security Administration website is another fun place to do research on names. They provide a list of the top 10 baby names for the previous year. Here is the list for 2007.
The website also has search options for:
- Popular Names by Birth Year
- Popularity of a Name
- Top 5 Names by State
- Top 1000 Names by Decade
- Top 5 Names Over the Last 100 Years
Fun stuff, especially if you are pregnant and can't lock down a name.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Wear your crocs shoes until the tread becomes worn and they reach their end-of-life.
Donate your worn-out crocs shoes at participating retail locations. You can recognize participating retailer partners through posted "authorized collection center" window stickers at the retailer’s entrance. Those without a nearby retailer can participate by mailing their worn-out crocs footwear directly to the SolesUnited program.
Once worn-out crocs footwear are received, they are sorted, ground up and made into new SolesUnited recycled shoes. These recycled shoes are loaded into containers and are picked up at the warehouse by our shipping partners, who then send them to approved non-profit organizations around the world.
SolesUnited shipping partners work with organizations that can assure shoes will be delivered to those who need them. To date we have donated over 1 million pairs of shoes. In 2008, our goal is to donate 2 million pairs of recycled shoes to those in need.
Show your kids a picture like this and they can feel good about helping someone their age in a country far far away.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
- complete run-down on equipment, tools, knives, pots & pans, baking necessities and more
- cuts of meat and basic preparations (stocks, braising, grilling, roasting, frying, poaching, stir-frying and more)
- complete guide to vegetables (various preparations, what to look for, how to store each variety and more)
- guide to making pasta
- section on dried beans and grains
- chapter devoted to desserts
- step-by-step photography to accompany instructions and recipes throughout entire book
If you know someone who is just learning how to cook, I highly recommend this book as a great gift. I bought one as a gift but might run back and get a few more. Available on Amazon for $29.70 or from Costco for $25.99. Cover-price is $45.
I dog-eared a few dozen recipes that I can't wait to try. This week's list:
- Braised Fish with Fennel & Tomato
- Brown Rice Pilaf with Currants (and toasted sliced almonds)
- Indian Spiced Split Pea Soup (for my meatless day this week!)
Tonight I made some roasted vegetables, inspired by her Roasted Autumn Harvest Salad. They were so easy and so good. Here's how easy:
4 small golden beets, peeled and cut into quarters or sixths depending on size
4 carrots, peeled & halved lengthwise
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 3” chunks (halve the thicker end pieces lengthwise)
2 T olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Heat oven to 450. Toss vegetables with olive oil on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, stirring two or three times, until fork tender. Remove any smaller pieces that are cooked through if larger ones need more time. Serve hot.
When my daughter was first starting to eat regular food I was on the hunt for healthy things to feed her. My friend Tara introduced me to quinoa and said it was a great source of protein and other nutrients. Quin-what? Quinoa? Never heard of it. So the next time I went to the grocery store I picked up a bag to test it out. To my surprise, my daughter gobbled it up. I mixed it with a little diced chicken, avocado and steamed vegetables and she loved it.
I came across this article in The New York Times on Monday "Quinoa: A Protein-Packed Alternative to Grains" which states:
"Quinoa is as versatile as rice but it has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains, because it contains all the essential amino acids. In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content."