Wednesday, August 31, 2011

foodie wednesday: mexican stir fry

last night for dinner, i was feeling like mexican, so i whipped up a quick mexican stir fry.  though i love cooking (from scratch), i took some short cuts - like using a boxed rice mix - in order to save time and energy.  overall, the reviews were good, and craig and i both filled our plates more than once!

here's what went down:

1 box goya spanish rice mix - arroz con tomate
1 medium vidalia onion, chopped
2 red lombak peppers (i.e. mild cayenne)
1/2 cup baby portabellas, chopped
1/4 pound lean ground turkey
1 cup chopped romaine (optional)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp red curry
salt to taste
olive oil

cilantro or basil

1. get the rice going according to box's instructions, so it can cook while you prepare the stir fry.

2. saute the onions, peppers and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  season with garlic, curry and salt.  continue to saute until onions are translucent and veggies are beginning to brown.

3. create space in the center of the pan and add a bit more olive oil and the turkey.  season turkey with a bit more salt and cook until turkey is cooked completely.

4. allow stir fry to cool slightly and add in some chopped cilantro (i was completely out of cilantro, so i used some basil from our garden, which did the trick nicely!)

5. when rice is done, fluff it lightly before serving.

6. assemble plate: romaine covered with rice & stir fry mixture and topped with chopped avocado and salsa.  yum!

this recipe makes approx. 4 servings.  meaning craig and i both had a hearty dinner and there was still enough for our lunches the next day : )

want some more simply delicious dinner ideas?  check out vegetables & vodka {here}.  a FREE e-cookbook filled with healthy dinners and low-cal cocktails!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

bachelorette fabulousity

ok, mavens, here it is.  the bachelorette party recap. 

me with cocktail #1
as you might know, this past weekend was my bachelorette party.  my sister, hannah, my bridesmaids, cate & erin, had been planning for months.  so, needless to say, hurricane irene through them a bit of a curve ball.  true to form, the ladies pulled off an abbreviated weekend without a hitch, moving saturday night’s plans to friday night, while still trying to incorporate some of friday’s planned festivities.  i was kept in the dark from the beginning, so i was completely unaware of  what was changing – i was just along for the ride.  and i have to say, well done, ladies.  you’re the best!

erin, me, cate, han
we gathered at my parents’ house friday to pack the car for the whirlwind weekend.  i could not believe how many bags they were bringing!  han found these awesome reusable bags at marshall’s in fun, girly prints to pack all the food, refreshments, party supplies and presents(!) in.

as we rocked out to a fun mix in the car, we wracked our brains for bachelorette-party-themed adjectives, verbs and nouns to complete the adult madlibs that cate had brought.  (erin, quick, give me a an adjective!)

one of our rooms at the doubletree
when we got into philly, the bell hop filled two carts with all our stuff (there were 4 of us, staying for one night).  we met up with my 4th bridesmaid, val (craig’s sister), who flew down from boston just for the night!  when we got to the rooms – adjoining rooms with a door – we set up camp.  one room got a food buffet on the vanity, the other got the bar.

cate in the window
bar in the room
we were assigned funny party names – mine was sexy cougar, due to the fact that i’m a year older than craig – to indicate whose drink was whose.  with pink solo cups adorned with pink straws in hand, we sipped our first cocktail (recipe below) of the night as we waited for the remaining guests to arrive. 

food & decorations
i opened a round of gifts (i didn’t know you got so many presents – but it was very exciting!)  han got me a white fitted track suit with “mrs.  marone, established 2011” on the back, which was totally awesome.  i’m going o wear it to my after-party.  and she also made these gorgeous necklaces for me and all the bridesmaids – she’s the  best!  i also received a lot of off-the-charts hot lingerie, and being a girl who generally sleeps in sweat pants and a t-shirt, i’m not sure if these items were for me or craig.

view of the bellevue from our hotel (we're getting married there!)
after  a champagne toast and a lot of spicy white bean dip, surprise guest #1 arrived.  ashley, one of my college roommates and fellow a cappella girl.  she came down from nyc to celebrate with me.  the next to arrive was ashlee #2, a dear friend from college who’s become like family to me and han.  next came sara, a now philly girl who went to college with us and can drink any guy under the table.  watch out!  and last, but certainly not least, was my other college roommate, marissa, who braved the weather for a girls’ night on the town.  (thanks, ladies!)

truffle popcorn basket
we changed into our party clothes and headed out to dinner.  we had reservations at square 1682, which is the restaurant at the new palomar hotel in philadelphia.  we sat at a long table, back-to-back with another bachelorette party – small world! 
bread plates at square 1682
we were greeted with baskets of truffle oil popcorn on our table.  omg.  delish!  i’m a sucker for anything with truffle mushrooms, so i thoroughly enjoyed our pre-dinner snack.  we ordered a few bottles of wine and some appetizers for the table, all of which were completely amazing. 

our apps
baked goat cheese with saffron and roasted tomatoes served with toast points
tuna tostadas with avocado lime cream
crispy cauliflower with a spicy ginger sauce
lemon scented hummus with herb garlic naan bread

my mushroom tart.  divine!
for dinner, the orders were split almost evenly, with 3 of us getting the wild mushroom tart with truffle sauce and petite vegetables and 4 getting the amish chicken with polenta, taleggio cheese with chayote-pineapple salsa.  only two strayed, with erin getting the smoked duck with scrambled duck egg, lobster and potato rosemary galette (my 2nd choice after the mushroom tart) and cate ordering the wild striped bass with potato confit, sage gnocchi and anch chili romesco.  (are you drooling yet?!)  luckily, my foodie friends don’t mind sharing, so i was able to try a bit of everything.  and let me tell you, the food was truly phenomenal.  though we had no room for dessert, they sweetly sent over a complimentary (scrumptious) miniature apple tart.

sara & ashlee
while enjoying our decadent dinner, i was given a few more gifts to open.  a black and pink feather boa, a glitzy tiara and a hot pink sash.  there was no doubt who the guest of honor was in our group…

my crown at the lounge
after dinner, we headed back out into the night for a refreshing walk to prim lounge.  a very cool lounge/bar with fabulous atmosphere and great dj.  hannah, my awesome sister, got everyone wrist bands which entitled us to open bar for the evening.  fabulous idea, right?!  we ordered a round of drinks and were able to grab a few tables, which was great.  they brought over an ice bucket with champagne and glasses and more toasting ensued. but it didn’t take long for the beat to get us.  the mix was up tempo and fun, and we danced and sang to our hearts’ delight.

me dancing
after i don’t know how long and with 20 aching feet longing to get out of high heels, we walked back (slowly) to the hotel.  upon entering the doubletree, we were accosted by a female softball team who  was evidently collecting pictures of random people wearing a fanny pack.  of course i was all too happy to oblige, and thus a fanny pack was momentarily added to my outrageous ensemble for a brief pics.

erin & ashlee
back to the room and into the custom t-shirts han made especially for the occasion, we partied into the wee hours of the morning playing “never have i ever”.  fun times!

when sleep finally got the better of us, it was 3:30am.  and we only had a few sweet hours of sleep to enjoy before arising for a 9:30am breakfast so we could make our 11am check-out before philly was to be put on “lock down” because of irene.

communal table at le pain quotidien
for breakfast we wandered over to le pain quotidien – a bakery/café with a parisian feel, fresh baked bread and mouthwatering meals.  before we walked through the door, i knew what i was hoping for.  a comforting slice of french-style quiche.  of course, they did not disappoint.  i selected the “vegetarian quiche” filled with spinach, mushrooms and lots of gooey swiss cheese baked in a flaky, homemade crust.  yum!  alongside my quiche, i was pleased to find a lightly dressed mixed green salad which complemented it perfectly.  to cap things off, a small pot of earl grey did the trick. 

apricot jam & noisella (i.e. nutella)
for the others, omelettes were the choice of the morning – asparagus & goat cheese, smoked  salmon & scallion and chicken chorizo & cheddar, to name a few.

marissa, han, me and ashley at breakfast
cate, erin & ashlee at le pain
we reminisced about the night before and talked about the wedding…which is just 2 months away!  after breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to check out and bid adieu.  since han’s master plan for an entire weekend of bachelorette fun was shortened, she is already scheming about a night out so the friends who couldn’t make it because of the last minute switch might be able to join us.  though we had to cut our weekend short, it lacked nothing when it came to fun times, laughs and drinks! 

our table
thank you, girls, for a wonderfully fabulous bachelorette celebration!  love you all!

cocktail #1

1-2 shots pinnacle whipped cream vodka over ice
topped with:
½ raspberry seltzer
½ ginger ale
squeeze of fresh lime


Monday, August 29, 2011

om monday: law of attraction

sometimes, you have to just move forward, even though all the steps aren't clear.  recently, i was accepted into yogadharma - a yoga teacher training program.  if you've ever looked into teacher training, you know it can be expensive, and this program was no exception.  with our upcoming wedding, it didn't feel like the appropriate time to pursue my certification, though i wanted to so badly.

when weighing the options, craig came to me and said, "you have to do this.  you'll regret it if you don't".  with his support, the choice seemed easy and obvious, and i applied the next day.

the day after i was accepted, i received an email from a former writing client saying that they could use me on a regular basis, 1-2 days a week.  i.e. steady, reliable income.  music to my ears as a freelancer.

it's crazy how things like that happen.  you move closer to your goal/dream/passion, and suddenly your current reality shifts to support it.  the law of attraction at work.

have you ever experienced the law of attraction in your life?

[all images are of my teacher, amy, from yogadharma]

Friday, August 26, 2011

happy hour: bachelorette cocktails

this weekend is my bachelorette party!  i received a gorgeous invite that my sister created with a (vague) outline of the events.  she and my bridesmaids have been planning for months, and i am certain they've cooked up something spectacular : )

in honor of the girly weekend that lies ahead, i thought i'd highlight some bachelorette party cocktail favorites.

cosmo (you knew this was coming)

1 oz vodka
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz rose's lime juice
1/2 oz cranberry juice
squeeze of fresh lime

pour all ingredients in shaker over ice and shake.  strain into a martini glass and garnish with lime wedge.

sex on the beach (anything with "sex" in the title is always popular at a bachelorette party...)

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
2 oz cranberry juice
2 oz orange juice

pour vodka and schnapps into a highball glass over ice.  top with cranberry juice & o.j. and stir.



i'll be certain to fill you all in next week about my fabulous weekend in philly with my girls!  enjoy your weekend : )

Thursday, August 25, 2011

if i had my life to live over

this morning in yoga, my teacher started with a bitter sweet poem - if i had my life to live over.  the poem speaks to our tendency to put things off, dream of the future and forget the present moment - the only thing we ever really have.

if i had my life to live over

i'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
i'd relax, i would limber up.

i would be sillier than i have been this trip.
i would take fewer things seriously.

i would take more chances.
i would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.

i would eat more ice cream and less beans.
i would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

you see, i'm one of those people who live
sensibly and sanely hour after hour, 

day after day.
oh, i've had my moments,
and if i had it to do over again,
i'd have more of them.
in fact, i'd try to have nothing else.
just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

i've been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute.
if i had to do it again, i would travel lighter than i have.

if i had my life to live over,
i would start barefoot earlier in the spring

and stay that way later in the fall.
i would go to more dances.
i would ride more merry-go-rounds.
i would pick more daisies.

by nadine stair, 85 years old

we don't get any do-overs.  this one life is it.  pursue your passions, follow your heart and when you look back at 85, don't wish for a chance to do it better.

what can you do today to make sure you'll have no regrets tomorrow?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

foodie wednesday: blueberry & lemon tart

i was tasked for making the dessert for our girls' night this evening.  i'm meeting up with my former boss and co-worker for an evening of hors d'oeuvres, wine, home cooked dinner, wine, blueberry & lemon tart...more wine?

i tend to be more of a cook than a baker, so i decided to keep it simple.  fresh blueberries, lemon curd and (store bought) pie crust : )

1 pint blueberries
10 oz jar of lemon curd
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 egg
2 pie crusts (yes, two)
1 tbsp sugar in the raw

1. preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. in a bowl, combine lemon curd, egg and zest.

3. fold blueberries into lemon mixture.

4. for a free-form tart, spray baking tray with non-stick spray and create a foil ring to support the crust.  (if you want to make a more traditional tart, use an 8 inch tart pan.)

5. lay both crusts over foil ring and fill indented center with blueberry/lemon filling.  since the filling has a tendency to run, you need two crusts to support it for a free-form.  you could probably get away with just on crust if you're using a tart pan.

6. fold edges of crust up and over filling and "pinch" to secure the folds.  if it seems stable, you can remove the foil ring.

7. sprinkle crust with sugar.

8. bake for 45-50 min until crust is golden brown.

allow to cool before serving.  you can even pop it in the fridge to make sure the filling sets.

i haven't tasted it yet...because i'm bringing it tonight...but it smells divine!  i mean really, you can't go wrong with blueberry & lemon anything in my book.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

last beach weekend

this past weekend craig & i took our good friends (cate & chad) up on their offer to enjoy a final beach weekend at chad’s parents’ beach house.

we headed down early saturday – and after a bit of traffic – arrived in seaville (outside of ocean city, nj) around 11am.

after a quick change into bathing suits, we headed to the beach.  we spent the afternoon enjoying some sun, sand and delicious sandwiches cate had prepared.  turkey, tomato, baby greens and cheddar on whole grain bread smeared with mayo & grainy mustard.  sandwiches on the beach always taste great, but this one was particularly good.  and, we even had the privilege of watching an ocean-front wedding ceremony when we first arrived!

saturday evening found us back at the house for grilled turkey burgers and a garden-fresh salad.  after a few vodka cocktails, card games and a few rounds of “never have I ever…” ensued.  fun and very college-esque : )

sunday morning, we played tennis.  boys vs. girls.  cate and i are sad to report we lost our one set match 8-6…

early afternoon, we headed to downtown ocean city for lunch at a quaint sidewalk café.  we laughed as we placed our orders, realizing that both cate & i and both guys ordered the same things.

cate and i opted for the veggie-bomb sandwich on pumpernickel bread.  the sandwich was overwhelming huge…and delicious.  homemade bread piled high with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed greens, sprouts and avocado.  finished off with a bit of pesto mayo and provolone cheese.  omg.  amazing.  the guys opted for grilled chicken quesadillas, which did not disappoint, either.

the veggie bomb : )

after lunch, a long walk down the board walk reminded me of childhood summers.  the cool ocean breeze masked the hotness of the sun, and we had fun people watching before wrapping up our day.

once back at the house, craig and i quickly packed up, hoping to beat the impending rain which was threatening to slow our drive.  despite our best efforts, the rain won, and we slowly made our way back home.

it was almost fitting that our glorious (last) beach weekend was washed away by cold rain, reminding us that summer’s drawing to a close. 

craig & me
but…summer’s not over quite yet…i have my bachelorette extravaganza next weekend!!!  and i cannot wait!
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