Thursday, March 29, 2012

foodie: herb-butter pasta

with spring officially here, i love to enjoy simple dishes that highlight the flavors of the season. herb-butter pasta is a meal i remember having often during my childhood - it’s delicious, easy to make, and very satisfying as a side or main course.

credit {here}

you'll need...
  • 1 lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs (thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary, etc.)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 vegetable bouillon

1. cook pasta according to directions on box.

2. while pasta is cooking, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat and mix in vegetable bouillon until well combined.

3. drain pasta and return to pot. pour butter mixture over top and toss. add chopped herbs and toss again.

4. plate to serving dish and garnish with a sprig of herbs.

though this dish is perfect just as it is, feel free to add other "tastes" of spring - roasted asparagus, new potatoes, or caramelized spring onions.  or to brighten the flavors, add some fresh squeezed lemon and grated parmesan. 

bon appetit!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

where does happiness come from?

credit {here}
i, like many people, can confuse true happiness with that momentary contentment that arises from getting something, achieving something, or doing something.  that passing pleasure that arises from receiving the latest tech gadget, eating a particularly delicious treat, or hearing a compliment from someone you admire.  but things such as these, though pleasurable in their own right, are not true happiness - they are ephemeral joys.

so where the heck does real, true, authentic happiness come from then?  if it doesn't come from gifts, and dinners out, and holiday celebrations?  undeniable happiness comes from connecting with your inner bliss.  have you ever had a moment when you felt like everything in your body, mind and world were aligned in perfect harmony?  you may have felt physically lighter, like a weight had been lifted from your shoulders.  happiness felt effortless, and even though it was a somewhat ordinary day, everything you experienced in that moment felt truly extraordinary.  in that moment, however fleeting, you were tapping into your inner bliss.  that glowing wisdom and clarity that exists within us all.  that "knowing" that everything is and will be ok, even in your darkest moments. 

it's not always an easy thing to find.  so much of our lives are lived on auto-pilot - wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat.  but bliss doesn't require you to go elsewhere and escape your routine, it asks you to move inward.  and the more you work to align your body and breath to bring mindfulness into your life, the more inexplicably blissful moments you'll cultivate.  look around your world, don't be blind to it.  be kind to yourself.  and be grateful for all your blessings.  your bliss is here and now.

i want to share with you all a poignant poem my dad shared with me earlier this week.

love after love

the time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. eat.
you will love again the stranger who was your self.
give wine. give bread. give back your heart

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
sit. feast on your life.

by derek walcott

meditation prompt for your journal or cushion:

recall a time when you felt connected to your inner bliss.
what did it feel like?
what are some things in your life that offer you glimmers of your bliss?  (for me it's yoga and good conversations with my husband :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

foodie: pan-fried sweet potato dumplings

i love sweet potatoes.  they are probably one of my favorite veggies right now.  i usually just roasted them in the oven whole, but i wanted to do something a little different, so i came up with savory sweet potato dumplings.  and they were yummy!

you'll need...

2 medium sweet potatoes, roasted (i usually pierce the skin and then roast them at 400 for 1 hr until they're super tender)
1 egg
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
salt to taste
1 tbsp veggie or canola oil

makes approximately 12 dumplings

1. once sweet potatoes are tender, scoop out flesh and mix with salt, spices and garlic.  then mix in flour and breadcrumbs.  add in one whisked egg.

2. heat oil in a skillet until it sizzles when you spritz it with water.  drop dumplings by rounded tablespoon-full into the hot oil and cook for 1-2 min per side until nicely browned.

when finished, the dumplings will have a thin, crispy crust and a super-moist, mashed potato interior.  yum!  enjoy them immediately, or keep them warm in a 250 degree oven until you're ready to enjoy them.

i served ours with a super simple sauce: 2 tbsp mayo, 2 tbsp chopped pecans, 1 tbsp maple syrup, dash of cinnamon and curry, squeeze of fresh lime juice.

bon appetit!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

don't let nerves get the best of you!

butterflies in my stomach don't feel this innocent and beautiful.  credit {here}
yesterday, it was my turn to teach the free community at my yoga studio.  no big deal on a typical day.  but yesterday, i knew my teacher, an amazingly-skilled yogi, was attending.  as part of our yogadharma teacher training, she kindly offered to attend and evaluate a class taught by each student.  butterflies big-time.  it’s a funny thing about nerves.  you know they’re (to a large degree) unnecessary.  and when you reason your way through the situation that awaits and break it down, you realize that, in truth, there is very little (if anything) to be concerned about.  but often nerves still get the better of us.

and, the catch 22 is that when you’re nervous about doing well, you often hold yourself back from delivering your very best.  no good.  as a work-in-progress, i still definitely suffer from nerves from time-to-time, though way less than i used to.  i used to literally feel sick if i had to present a book report in front of the class.  ahh…4th grade…  now, i feel comfortable leading my weekly yoga classes and enjoy sharing my teaching with others.  but yesterday, with the curveball of “being watched” (lol), my nerves were definitely making themselves known.

so, what can you do when your nerves are getting the best of you?  first and foremost breathe.  and then breathe some more.  i’m sure you’ve realized that when you’re feeling anxious, the breath gets shallow – take a moment to sit quietly and breathe deeply in and out through your nose.  focusing on the breath is the quickest and easiest way to quiet the mind – and your nerves – if only temporarily.  plus it’s very “yogi” thing to do : )

also, when i’m nervous about something, i often try to keep myself from thinking about it, which just makes the nerves worse.  instead, take a moment to visualize the room, the people present, and how you would like to look and feel.  don’t run from thinking about whatever is on your mind, move into it.  you might realize it’s not as scary as it seems!

next time you feel butterflies in your stomach and find yourself worrying about something that’s on the horizon, focus the mind with breath and visualization.  know that “this too, shall pass”.  and remember that often the most uncomfortable situations are the most rewarding, because they force us out of our comfort zones.

meditation prompt for your journal or cushion:

start with 10 deep breaths in and out through your nose.

when was the last time you felt truly nervous?
what did the experience feel like in your body?  (where was the energy located?)

Friday, March 16, 2012

celebrate st. patrick's day!

happy (almost) st. patrick's day!!!  every year my parents host an awesome st. patty's day party.  it's open to family and friends, and this year's celebration is even bigger than usual - with upwards of 35 honorary-irish.  in celebration of my irish heritage (50%, baby!), i wanted to share a few things to get you in the green-wearin', whiskey-drinkin' mood : )

drink this...

credit {here}
irish ale cocktail
  • 2 oz irish whiskey
  • 3 lime wedges
  • 3 oz ginger ale
  1. add whiskey and squeeze lime wedges into glass.
  2. fill with ice and top with ginger ale.  stir to incorporate.

wear this...

i feel like {this} is what kate middleton would wear to a st. patty's celebration : )
eat this...

recipe {here}
after you've had your fill of irish soda bread and braised cabbage, these sweet treats would be the perfect way to end the night.  you can't go wrong with homemade caramel-dipped, white chocolate coated marshmallows!  yummmm!!!

happy st. patrick's day! 
may the enjoy the luck o' the irish : )

Thursday, March 15, 2012

foodie: sinfully delicious cake pops

i had a 1/2 dozen leftover brownies that were just ok, so i decided to reinvent them into something deliciously spectacular.  enter my idea to make brownie/cake pops.  if you're looking for a something divine that can be delivered to your mouth on a stick, you must make these.  they are mmm mmm good.

what you'll need (and feel free to use what you have in the pantry)

1/2 dozen brownies
1/2 cup frosting (i used whipped vanilla because that's what i had)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup butterscotch morsels (obviously, you could just go with 100% chocolate if you want!)
straws or popsicle sticks

this recipe made 14 cake pops

1. mash brownies and then mix in frosting.  roll mixture into ping-pong sized balls.  (if the mixture is too tacky to work with, you can refrigerate it for 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.)  line a baking sheet with parchment, and place balls on the tray and then put in fridge for 30 min.

2. melt 2 tbsp of chocolate and get your straws/popsicle sticks ready.  take the balls from the fridge and dip the sticks into the chocolate and then insert into the balls.  put them in the fridge again to let the chocolate set for 20 min or so.  (the chocolate on the stick will act as "glue")

3. put your chocolate chips and butterscotch morsels into a microwave safe bowl and heat until smooth.  in the meantime, put your sprinkles in small ramekin to get ready for dipping. get your cake pops from the fridge, and dip them into the chocolate butterscotch to coat them.  then dip them into the sprinkles for extra decoration!

4. you can put your pops upright into a block of styrofoam, but i didn't have any handy.  instead i laid some on their side and put others standing-up on the parchment-lined baking sheet.  both methods worked fine.  once all your pops are coated and decorated, put them back in the fridge for 30 min - 1 hour to allow the chocolate to set.

these are best enjoyed at room temperature, so remove them from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to enjoying them so that they aren't super hard when you bite into them!

be warned: they are dangerously good!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the ONLY diet you should go on

credit {here}
i am not a proponent of diets.  ‘nuff said.  but, with the risk of sounding contradictory, there is one diet that i think every single human on the planet could benefit from.  (drum roll please….)  the ‘diet’ of cutting out negative self-talk. 

listen to how you speak to yourself.  for most of us (for me, it was especially in my teen years), it’s often a steady barrage of negative thoughts and put-downs.  “ugh…you look soooo fat in that. / your hair is a frizzy mess today. / you think you can eat that?  it’s gonna go right to your stomach pooch!”  you women out there, can relate, i’m sure…which is kind of sad…

but that voice is not you – it’s talking “at you”, as if it’s a necessary commentator for your life.  for me, that voice is a mix of unreliable sources, like the media.  from reading magazines and watching tv, we learn that to be loved and adored, we have to be at least 5 foot 7 inches tall, 110 pounds, have gorgeous flowing locks and flawless skin.  i’m only 5 foot 5 – so according to this faulty belief system, i’m already failing!  that sucks!

purge yourself of your negative self-talk.  cut back on it as you would calories or carbs.  no amount of self-criticism will ever make you happier – has it worked yet?  so try something different.  if you see no results, and don’t feel any better, you can always go back to beating yourself up.

when a negative self-judgment pops into your head, notice it.  that’s the first step – just notice.  don’t judge because that’s a self-criticism, too!  (i know, it’s a tricky game to play, but it’s worth it!)  then just let it float away. 

if you’re feeling really bold, bring to mind something you like about yourself.  maybe your big beautiful eyes, your sense of humor, or your slender fingers that can play the piano (sort of).  even if it’s something small, it’s a start.  if you’re having a lot of trouble coming up with something, think back to compliments you’ve received from others – maybe you’re often acknowledged for your kindness, or your great smile, or your easy-going nature.  whatever it is, bring it to mind, and revel in the awesomeness that is you…even if it’s just for a few minutes.

for me, yoga has been key to eliminating my harsh self-talk.  yoga teaches you to accept all of your being - inside & out, mind, body and soul - just as it is now.  without forcing change, you're asked to become an observer of your body and mind, and then, from that place, you work to align the two with breath, movement and awareness.  pushing yourself to "change" with mean words and thoughts, only weakens you - you're pitting your mind against your body.  if you can, instead, work to combine the two, you have twice the power to affect positive change in yourself and your world.

as you crash diet your way out of negative self-talk, you may just notice that you feel a bit lighter in a way that has nothing to do with the number on the scale.

meditation prompt for your journal or cushion:
what are three things you like about your physical body?
what are three things you like about your personality?

Friday, March 9, 2012

when the boys are away, the girls will play!

tonight my sister, some friends, and i are enjoying a girls' night in.  craig's on his way to montreal as we speak for a friend's bachelor party, so girl-time is a must!  what's on the itinerary?  pizza, wine, fire in the fireplace, chick flick (maybe) and obviously lots of laughs and good conversation.  and maybe some just dance on wii...  sounds pretty prefect, right?

what we're drinking...

night harvest - sauvignon blanc
tapeña - dry rosé
rex goliath - free range red

i've had night harvest and rex goliath before, but the tapeña is a new one. cross-your-fingers it's a "goodie" - i love finding new vintages : )

what we're eating...

pizza!  usually we make-our-own, but tonight, to keep it super simple, we're opting for take-out.  i'm thinking a 1/2 broccoli garlic, 1/2 ricotta roasted red pepper pie.

broccoli pizza  - picture credit {here}
what's satisfying our sweet tooth....

cake balls.  it's such an awful name, but they really are delicious.  little tiny cake/frosting/chocolate-dipped bits of heaven.  (recipe to come next week.)

yes, that's right...i made those : )

hope you have some fun weekend plans, too!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

need a dinner idea? how about creamy butternut squash soup?!

this soup is truly divine.  it's rich, and creamy, and surprisingly healthy, too!  if you love a good butternut squash soup, this recipe can't be beat.  and, it's the perfect winter meal for a cozy evening by the fire. 

picture credit {here}

1 butternut squash (2 lbs), seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 vidalia onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 whole garlic bulb
3 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup cream sherry
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk or half & half
salt to taste
View full recipe
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. line a baking sheet with foil. place vegetables on baking sheet and brush with oil. trim off top of garlic bulb, brush lightly with olive oil, wrap with foil and place on baking sheet with vegetables.

2. roast vegetables in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes or until they are very tender. set aside to cool.

3. after they've cooled - squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins; scrape the flesh from the squash and remove outer layer of onion. add half of the garlic, squash, onion, and carrots to the food processor. add 1 cup of the vegetable stock and purée until smooth; repeat two more times until all veggies and stock are combined.

enjoy it with some warm, fresh baked bread, and you're all set!

bon appetit!

Monday, March 5, 2012

give yourself a break!

i don’t feel like doing anything.  the past week or so i’ve been suffering from a major lack of motivation.  my energy is waning, and i feel like i’m pushing myself to just get the bare minimum done, let alone all the other countless things that i could be working on.  my tendency when emotions like this crop up is to “power-through” to the best of my ability.  and when i inevitably crash, i beat myself up for not doing more…
credit {here}

instead of surrendering to and accepting the feeling, i continue to bump up against it and fight it.  pushing it away, only to have it bombard me again moments later.  that, in and of itself, is exhausting.  i must admit, i’m not new to this cycle of events – when i was younger and dissatisfied with the size and shape of my body, i would diet and force my body into a battle against itself.  instead of trying to work with my hunger, i fought it.  and fighting, especially when it’s with yourself, takes you in circles.

my mom says “if you want to keep on gettin’ what your gettin’, keep on doin’ what you’re doin’” – i.e. if i want this lack-of-motivation spell to end, i have to change the way in which i’m dealing with it.  easier said than done…

but let’s give it a go, anyway.  so, with that thought in mind, what could i do differently to change my current reality?  well, instead of pushing myself to my limits, i could honor the fact that i might need a break, and…take a break!  (a novel concept, i know.)  or, instead of continually thinking, “what’s wrong with me?  why don’t i want to do anything?  why do i feel like things are at a standstill?”, i could work to silence that inner critic with a deep breathing and mindfulness.  and perhaps, in the quiet, motivation or a new idea or peace of mind could creep in.  and honestly, just writing this post is making me feel better, so i guess just writing about it – and sharing my feelings with others – is helpful, too.

as a culture, we’ve been taught to fight against unpleasant emotion, because we are a nation of doers not experiencers.  instead of surrendering to the feeling, and letting it wash over us like a wave that will eventually ebb, we prepare for battle, thinking if we set up enough barricades we can stop the wave in its tracks…which never happens.   what if, instead of always doing more we felt more.  and instead of judging our emotions and feelings, we got curious about them and tried to look at them in a more objective way.  perhaps, we would discover that they are not something to be fought, but rather a lesson waiting to be embraced. 

i feel better already….

meditation prompt for your journal or cushion:
what emotion do you continually fight?
what would it be like to just sit with it, without pushing it away?

Friday, March 2, 2012

weekend menu: yoga & cocktails

this weekend i have yogadharma - my yoga teacher training - so there's not a lot of time left for cooking!  luckily, after visiting with my parents early this morning, my mom sent me home with a few servings of penne pasta with smoked mozzarella for my lunches this weekend. yum!  and though my time is limited, craig and i are still planning on meeting up with some friends at our favorite watering hole saturday night.

weekend lunches: penne with roasted red peppers, spinach & smoked mozzarella
recipe {here}.  picture credit {here}

happy hour with friends: cosmopolitan
cosmo recipe {here}.  for the best, go to bobby's!

saturday night dinner with friends: veggie pizza
we're looking forward to veggie supreme pizza from baked on main!  picture credit {here}.

happy weekend!

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