Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm a New Woman

Meaningful Beauty finally arrived! It is a bit time consuming, but my skin already feels fantastic. The booklet it came with has a letter from Cindy Crawford herself and it says something like this: "my mother told me the face you have at 25 is the face God gave you. The face you have at 50 is the face you earn". So apparently I currently have the face from God. But since I won't be 25 for much longer (tear tear tear mid-to late twenties here I come... Or is 30 the new 21?) I am just in time to begin using this product. Look out world - I will soon have the face of a 24 year old.

Thanks to Gene-O and MarBear for the Jason Mraz tickets!!! The Little Potato and I will be at the Lakewood Auditorium tonight singing "So shine the light on all of your friends, When it all amounts to nothing in the end, I won't worry my life away, heey oooh oh, I won't worry my life away"

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Look

Check out what my sister, the Little Potato, made for the blog! Talent runs in the family ;) Thanks for the new look!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Update: Warning Contains TMI

Eating beet salad for lunch the last few days has turned my you know what bright pink! It is like I have swallowed magenta dye. If you ever wanted to make going to the bathroom a little more colorful, I suggest eating a whole lot of beets.

Spinach update, Day 6: The w.l.b.o.s. is 2/3 empty and I'm going strong. I think I have several more days before it will wilt away. Just call me Pop-Eye.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Team Coleen

Our local Cleveland gal just got voted off the Biggest Loser. Tears... I still like Amy though, I hope she wins. Speaking of Biggest Loser, I took their recommendation and bought the Banana Sundae Sugar Free Pudding and it is da-bomb.

Tonight will go down in history as the night I roasted beets. Actually it was really easy and not scary like I thought it would be. I used the epicurious recipe for Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges and Beet Greens. Except I substituted, you guessed it: Spinach! for the beet greens. Also I used apple cider vinegar and halved the recipe. Beets are beautiful! And yummy

As I reflect on my blog I realize that all I talk about is cooking, eating, and watching tv. Here are some interesting (err.. other) things about me non-food or tv related: I am really good at the Jumble, I drive a stick shift, and I love maps.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Dinner Party

Cleveland weather was particularly nasty yesterday, crazy windy and raining. On an up note, this makes for a perfect night to stay in with friends and wine and of course a fabulous meal. Ruby and I pulled together the menu yesterday morning after yoga. We wanted something healthy and light, but that would be enjoyed by boys as well. We decided on Cooks Illustrated’s The Best Light Recipe for Chicken Parmesan served with multi-grain Ohio City Pasta in olive oil and garlic, wheat rolls and salad (courtesy of the Little Monster AKA Tree), and an Apple Tarte Tatin for dessert.

My Food Assignments: Ohio City Pasta and apples for the tarte. There was only one place to go. I ventured out in the wind and rain (which has since turned into snow and I just overheard someone say they are calling for 6-8 inches, nooo!) and headed to one of my favorite Cleveland spots, The Westside Market. Check out all the stuff I got for ~$20. Hidden in the back is a container of fresh basil that was only $1 - love!

Is that the largest bag of spinach you have ever seen?? Maybe the picture isn't doing this thing justice, its ginormous! It was $6. Goal this week: do not throw away rotten spinach. I will definitely get enough Iron and Vitamin K - perfect for upcoming 5k race and Twilight weekend. As if I hadn’t given myself enough of a challenge this week by buying the world’s largest bag of baby spinach, in my attempt to come up with spinach related foods I decided it would also be a good idea to try roasting beets. Why do I do these things to myself?

It is now time for me to profess my love for Ohio City Pasta (and Westside Market, but that’s a given for any foodie-type in Cleveland). Ohio City Pasta, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love that you cook in 2 minutes. I love that you are lovely and delicious and local. I love that I can buy you by the serving from a colorful array of flavors and shapes. I love you for making a simple and elegant addition to our dinner party.

Assignment #1: check. And now for the challenge, Assignment #2: my first Apple Tarte Tatin. I purchased 3 granny smith and 4 Macintosh apples from the market. Huge timesaver: when I made the crust for my last apple pie, I doubled the batch. So the crust was simply pulled from the freezer to thaw and roll out. I followed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
I was very nervous about the boiling of caramel, and I let it go a minute or so too long. But it came out of the pan, and was enjoyed by all (even though slightly burnt in places). I think next time I can get this perfect. Let the feast begin!

Blaze – You cannot peer pressure me into making caramel corn. I am trying to be healthy and eat things like spinach and beets! I will consider making it as a party favor for the Twilight party this weekend, maybe!

An Open Letter to Meaningful Beauty

Dear Cindy Crawford, French Doctor, Rare Melon Extract, and Company,

I watched your infomercial several weeks ago and was enticed to buy. I am 25, it is time to consider an anti-aging skin care line as preventative measures. You are distributed by Gunthy Renker, Cindy’s skin looks amazing, you cost like $30, how could I not order you? And the only item I have previously ordered from an infomercial – Bare Minerals three years ago - I still use it to this day.

So why haven’t you arrived?? I am getting wrinkles from waiting. Please hurry. I have been patient. I need eye cream and serums and masques.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Asian Inspired Week: Night 2-4

Being busy at work is really getting in the way of my blogging. Also part of my re-dedication to getting in shape I took two yoga classes this week and poor CC has pneumonia so I have been on nurse duty. Needless to say, I am way behind on my week of asian recipes posts. Ready for some rapid fire recipes??

Night 2 was Green Curry Basil Chicken. This recipe came straight from the 'Thai Kitchen' green curry paste jar.

Green Curry with Basil

1 (14 oz.) can Thai Kitchen Pure Coconut Milk (Regular or Lite)
1-4 Tbs. Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste (I use 2, 4 would be crazy spicy)
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2-3 Tbs. Thai Kitchen Premium Fish Sauce
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1⁄4 cup chopped basil leaves
1 1⁄2 cups assorted vegetables, cut into 1” pieces (I like bamboo shoots, you could do red bell pepper, peas, or your favorite combination)
12 oz. chicken breast, cut into 1” pieces
Rice (I prefer Uncle Ben's 90 sec brown rice**)

Mix the coconut milk, green curry paste, stock, fish sauce, brown sugar and basil in a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the vegetables and chicken and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve over cooked Thai Kitchen Jasmine Rice and garnish with basil.

** Does anyone have a rice cooker that they are just in love with? I can't cook rice on the stove to save my life and rely on Uncle Ben's 90 sec microwave rice. But I grew up on basmati and want to make it myself. HELP!!

On we go to Night 3, and this is the gem of the week. Thank you Ruby for introducing me to this divine recipe for Crispy Ginger and Garlic Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps.

Crispy Ginger-and-Garlic Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (20-ounce) package lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, separated into leaves
  • Hoisin sauce (optional)


1. Cook carrots and 1/2 cup water in a large nonstick skillet over high heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes or until carrots are softened and water is evaporated. Remove from skillet. 2. Reduce heat to medium. Cook turkey in skillet about 5 minutes, stirring until turkey crumbles and is no longer pink. 3. Add carrots, mushrooms, and next 8 ingredients. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly, 4 minutes. 4. Add green onions, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. 5. Spoon mixture evenly onto lettuce leaves; roll up. Serve with hoisin sauce, if desired. P.S The trick to getting the lettuce off in nice full cups is to cut the stem and pull from the back where it was originally attached.

Sidenote: as I am writing this I am also watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This has to be the funniest show currently on television. FX 10pm Thursdays watch it.

Night #4 is another Ellie Krieger recipe, this time Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame, and Tofu. Except I always substitute shrimp for tofu and this time I also added shiitake mushrooms left over from the night before. It was not so long ago that I didn't even like mushrooms, but lately I cannot get enough of them. Speaking of, my friend Mrs. Brownie is going to guest blog a fantastic stuffed Portobello recipe soon - I'm holding her to it!

Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame, and Tofu
1 tablespoon plus

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cups leftover cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
  • 3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
  • 6 ounces firm tofu, cut into
  • 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic,scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3minutes. Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

I hereby declare Asian Inspired Week a success!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Asian Inspired Week: Night 1

I planned the menu for this week, four nights of Asian Inspired healthy food. Of the four planned Recipes, I have made 3 of them repeatedly. I tried the 1 new recipe tonight. It is Ellie Kreiger’s Soft Asian Summer Rolls with Sweet and Savory Dipping Sauce from her Food You Crave cookbook. This is a really fantastic cookbook for anyone looking for healthy and really delicious recipes, I have enjoyed many of them. So this recipe has good news and bad news. The good news is that spring rolls are easier to make then they sound. Really easy actually. The bad news is that I enjoyed the first one, but was overall disappointed. They definitely don’t compete with Saigon or #1 Pho’s spring rolls.

Here is the recipe in case you are interested. I think the problem is something to do with the basil and mint overpowering the rest of the roll. And the dipping sauce is really good, but really spicy with a full teaspoon of Sriracha. I think it would make a nice salad dressing. Don’t worry, I know the next three nights will be better.
For the summer rolls :
2 ounces Vietnamese or Thai rice noodles
6 rice paper rounds
1/4 cup, or 12 fresh Thai basil leaves (or regular basil leaves), rinsed and dried
6 medium shrimp , cooked and halved
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup, or 12 whole large fresh mint leaves, rinsed and dried
3 red-leaf lettuce leaves, leaves, spines removed, leaving 6 halves
Vinegar dipping sauce, recipe follows

Bring water to a boil and cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and cool (makes about 2 cups).

Line up ingredients in small bowls before beginning to make rolls. Fill a large bowl or saucepan with very warm water. Place a rice paper round in the hot water. Soak for between 30 seconds and 1 minute, or until rice round is pliable and pattern on the round is barely visible. Remove and place on a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel.

Place 2 basil leaves on the inner edge of the rice round, about 1-inch from the edge and leaving about 1-inch on each side. Top with approximately 1/4 cup cooked rice noodles. Place 2 shrimp halves on top. Top with about 2 tablespoons carrots, then 2 leaves of mint. Fold 1 piece of lettuce leaf and place on top of pile. Bring the edge over filling and tuck underneath. As you continue to roll, fold in the sides. Finish rolling, repeat with the other rolls, and reserve under a damp cloth or paper towel. When ready to serve, slice in half and serve, cut ends up, with dipping sauce.
Vinegar Dipping Sauce:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons warm water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili sauce (recommended: Sriracha)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon fish sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely shredded carrot
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Dissolve sugar in warm water, combine with other ingredients, and chill until ready to use.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Salad with Fig-Yogurt Dressing

Life is getting back to normal, no travelling this week and hopefully, no funerals. However, I cannot move forward without mentioning last Wednesday night’s dinner at Murray’s in Lexington, KY. G-Bone, Peter Wellington, and I gave this restaurant a 9.5 out of 10 for amazing ambiance, food and service. The restaurant is in an old converted manor house, and with last week’s fabulous weather, we opted to sit on their very large patio under sparkling white lights and the warmth of the fire place. To start, our adorable (and slightly prego) waitress, Morgan, brought out small loaves of warm bread. I had the house salad with roasted garlic and red wine vinaigrette, and was so impressed by the salad I knew that our dinner would be phenomenal. For the entree I had the Pork tenderloin filetsapplewood bacon wrapped and pan roasted, topped with Granny Smith apple chutney & maple chipotle butter sauce” and a side of corn pudding (what can I say, I love corn. I’m a mid-western girl through and through). For dessert, G-Bone and I split the seared pound cake in caramel with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Is your mouth watering yet?? Worth the drive to Lexington for this meal alone.
My grandfather passed away on Nov 1, which also happens to be the one year anniversary of running my first (and very likely only) marathon. My 11/1/07 self would be disappointed in my tubby 11/1/08 self. I ran 2 or 3 miles today in preparation for the Pigskin Classic 5k that Ruby and I are running on OSU vs Michigan game day (Nov 22, too soon!). It was a sad sight and I am surely going to be sore this week. But I am re-dedicating myself to getting in shape. I have planned out this week’s menu: four nights of Asian-inspired healthy, delicious, and fairly-quick meals with leftovers for lunch. I did my grocery shopping and the good news is that many of the ingredients overlap. This week’s preview: Shrimp fried rice, crispy ginger and garlic turkey lettuce wraps, chicken curry, and Vietnamese spring rolls.

CC came over today, pumpkin cheesecake with pecan praline topping in hand. Doesn’t he realize I am on a diet? Ok, one little itty bitty slice won’t hurt (I went running, my favorite excuse to splurge). OMG, amazing. The recipe came from this month’s food and wine magazine. I think the only way to possibly improve on this cheesecake’s perfection would be to use fresh pumpkins instead of canned purée. Also included in the magazine is an article claiming that yogurt is the new superfood. Who am I to argue? So, within this article I stumbled upon tonight’s salad recipe: Mixed green Salad with Fig-Yogurt dressing. As I was making it, I realized this was a fantastic tribute to my grandfather. The man loved figs, we gave him some every Christmas. And according to the recipe, figs are rich in vitamin K, hooray!

Mixed Green Salad with Fig-Yogurt Dressing

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dried figs, stemmed and halved
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 cups mixed greens (1/2 pound) (I used red leaf lettuce)
1 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (3 ounces)

1. In a small heatproof bowl, soak the figs in the boiling water until softened, about 15 minutes, then drain.
2. Transfer two-thirds of the soaked figs to a blender. Add the yogurt, lemon juice and vinegar and puree until smooth. Add the remaining figs to the blender and pulse once or twice, until the figs are coarsely chopped. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the greens with the dressing, top with the cheese shavings and serve right away.

Perfect parmesan shavings thanks to my new cheese peeler from Blaze, I love it! The dressing is very sweet, but the cheese is the perfect balance. Looking forward to tomorrow's leftovers.

Goin' Home

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a terrible memory. Hopefully this blog will serve to fill in the blanks. So I feel obligated to myself to write about my grandfather’s funeral services that have taken place the last 3 days. No one was particularly surprised when he passed. He was 97 and had been battling dementia among other things the last year or so. I am not qualified to elucidate on his legacy, but I have 25 wonderfully playful and inspiring years of memories with him. My reflections on the last three days:

Thursday: The calling hours were held at Hill Funeral Home in Westerville, OH. It was an open casket, so the first hurtle was seeing him. The second, seeing my family’s reactions. The third, seeing my grandmother’s. The kids huddled in the corner where a tv was playing a video of 50 photos, a few of which I had never seen. And Little Debbie told us funny stories from over the last few months. Most of mom’s family was able to make it and my dad’s three sisters came down. During the break, we went to the Davis-Tressler house for a light dinner and Kenny (three year old cousin) and JJ (their dog) served as our entertainment. At the end of the night we said our goodbyes before the casket was closed.

Friday: The funeral service was held at Church of the Messiah on State Street in Westerville. I was able to hold it together until the end. My grandmother asked the soloist to end the service by singing “Goin' Home”. The words couldn’t have been more perfect and it’s safe to say had the whole room in tears. The lyrics are posted at the bottom. I told her later that I thought it was the perfect choice and she told me “well that’s just how I feel about the whole thing”. My uncle Terry brought my dad’s mother down and Father Chris also attended. After the service there was a luncheon upstairs and we took turns talking about grandpa and our memories. It was only 7 years ago that we had his 90th birthday party in the same room and he brought down the house telling the most hilarious stories. That evening we met at the Old Bag of Nails for dinner and drinks and family photos.

Saturday: We drove down to Parkersburg, WV for the burial. On the way into town we got lost, but we passed the house on Juliana Street where Grandpa grew up and that we had all heard so many stories about. We also crossed the Little Kanawha River, which was the setting for the story we had all hear so many times: when WT Wiant moved his family down the river to Parkersburg. (And we have the furniture to prove it was not an easy task). It was cold and windy. He was buried near his parents and sister on top of the hill at the Mt. Olivet cemetery. Grandma was presented with the flag, there was a gun salute, the bugle played and then we said our final goodbyes. After the burial, we had lunch at the Blennerhasset Hotel in downtown Parkersburg.

Goin' Home

Goin' home, goin' home I'm a goin' home
Quiet-like, some still day
I'm jus' goin' home
It's not far, jus' close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Goin' to fear no more

Mother's there expectin' me
Father's waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew
All the friends I knew
Home, home, I'm goin' home

Nothin's lost, all's gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Goin' to roam no more

Mornin' star lights the way
Res'less dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life jus' begun
There's no break, there's no end
Jes' alivin' on
Wide awake with a smile goin' on and on

Goin' home, going home
I'm a goin' home
It's not far, jus' close by
Through an open door
I'm a goin' home
I'm jus' going home
Goin' home, goin' home

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

Sorry if last night’s post was a little grumps, that election coverage was so annoying. But I woke up this morning to the best news – OBAMA WON!!! I am so thrilled!

But let me tell you, Kentucky is not the place to celebrate….

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Warning: the following is in no way cohesive.

Election election election. It is amazing the amount of stuff the guys over at CNN can find to talk about when only 11% of the Poll results from Indiana are in.

Frankly I am having some trouble writing. But I am in a hotel in Lexington, KY and don't have much else to do except watch the election (umm... no thanks.) Relax, I voted, by absentee a few weeks ago. And the results are the results, so why do I need to know the up to minute projected results of 11% of counties in Indiana?? I'll just wait for the morning - it will give me something other than a Pumpkin Spice Latte to get out of bed for.

I had some very sad family news this weekend, but I don't feel like writing about that yet. I will, just not tonight. I also found out that my mom hit a deer and CC's mom's house was broken into. I hope that is bad news coming in threes, cuz I can't hear much more.

I have been enjoying some fun restaurants and even a UK basketball game while here in Kentucky. I think my favorite part is the hotel, they have Chupa Chups in the lobby and across the street there is not only a Starbucks, but a Sonic! What can I say, I'm easy to please (that's what she said! zing!) Yesterday, my travel companion G-Bone, and I ate lunch outside at Ramsey's, a cute little diner with homemade blue cheese dressing and an extensive pie menu. Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I have never heard of a Black Bottomed Banana Cream Pie and I can't wait to make one! Today's lunch was at Wine on Vine. I had a chicken breast sandwich with melted brie and apricot preserves on a baguette, mmmm, well done.

Tonight we went to a Mexican place for dinner. I go to Mexican for two things: (1) chips and salsa and (2) strawberry frozen margaritas. Well apparently you cannot order alcohol before 7pm on Election Day in Kentucky. Is this really a law?? To prevent drunk voting??

P.S. I am watching 90210 and someone needs to force feed these girls a cracker.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Load of Crop


And a very BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Snickerdoodle on passing the Bar! What an accomplishment!

As promised, here is my third food topic I can write about from the road. If anyone asks me for a recommendation to eat at a nice place downtown, the first place I always mention is Crop. They opened not too long ago and while I have only eaten here a handful of times, they won my lifelong devotion by offering one of my most favorite and almost never served at a restaurant foods: wait for it…. wait for it… Popcorn! Delicious popcorn with lots of yummy veggies, fresh herbs, and a balsamic glaze (tends to change a bit each time I go). Yes, I know it sounds like a strange thing to eat at a restaurant, but I would compare it to eating a salad. And I would recommend never getting it to-go because CC and I learned the hard way that it just turns to mush on the short walk from Crop to my apt. Which is why I have come up with a very easy way to make this dish at home. It starts with my no-fail directions for making stove-top popcorn. I guarantee once you master this, you will never make microwave popcorn again (unless its 99% ff kettlecorn, cuz that shiz is goood).

Stove Top Popcorn

In a heavy bottomed pot (I must emphasis the term heavy bottomed because I destroyed one of my mother’s pots by burning popcorn in it), heat 1tbsp. light oil over med-high heat. Place 3 popcorn kernels in the oil and cover. When you hear those 3 kernels pop, remove the pot from the heat and add 1/3 c. popcorn kernels to the oil, cover and count to 30. This method allows the oil to heat up and then the kernels to heat up together so that they don’t start popping at random times and thus you don’t get burnt or un-popped kernels. Once you count to 30, move the pot back onto the heat and keep covered. Wait for the popping to start and then shake the pot while it is still on the heat source. Remove once the popping slows down and salt to your desire. That wasn’t so hard, right?

Now to make it Crop-like. If you are adventurous you can roast your own peppers and onions. I prefer to go to the prepared foods counter at Heinen’s or Whole Foods. They usually have grilled or roasted veggies and I get ½ a red pepper, ½ green pepper, and ½ a red onion. I also really like peppadew peppers which you can find jarred or by the olives. Slice each of these into the thinnest slices you can. In a bowl, combine the thinly sliced peppers and onions with balsamic vinegar, just enough to cover the veggies. This next step I like to do in a paper bag. It works, so I keep doing it. Place COOLED popcorn in bag (if it is too hot, it gets mushy), add balsamic peppers and onions and shake to cover the popcorn. Serve with fresh torn basil or herbs of you’re choosing. I like to eat it with a big spoon. This is just the way I like it, but you could experiment with all kinds of fun things- like cheese!

Since I have mentioned peppadews in the last two posts, I must add that they make an awesome appetizer simply stuffed with feta or some type of marinated feta and a little piece of basil. It doesn’t get much easier (or much tastier) than that.