Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kat: Jackpot

One of my favorite feelings in the world is throwing together random ingredients from your almost-bare kitchen and making a surprisingly delicious meal out of what you considered nothing. This is one of those JACKPOT! moments...

Artichoke & Carmelized Onion Pasta

1 can artichoke that has been sitting in your pantry for about a year, drained and halved
1 onion, chopped in large pieces
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup veggie stock or water
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp chopped olives
Cooked Pasta for however many people you are feeding (I used TJs tricolor egg ribbon pasta)
Dash of soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and basil
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Caramelize onion by sauteing it in 2/3 tbs EVOO over low/medium heat for about 15/20 minutes. Cover while the onion is sauteing and make sure to stir occasionally.
2. Add artichokes and heat through.
3. In a small bowl, combine tomato paste and stock (or water), stir until paste has dissolved
4. Add the paste mixture, tomatoes, olives, soy sauce, pepper flakes, and basil and to the onions
5. Simmer for about 5/10 minutes, add salt & pepper to taste
6. Serve over pasta and enjoy

Another Jackpot recipe that happened to turn out on the same night....an easy whole wheat baguette. Usually, baking with yeast scares me, but this was fairly easy to put together.

Whole Wheat French Baguettes

1 envelope dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 c warm water
4 c whole wheat flour
1 egg
splash of water

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast, sugar, salt, and warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes
2. Stir in flour. Turn out onto floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes (adding more flour if dough is too sticky)
3. Put dough in a clean bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes)
4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, pat flat, and dust with flour. Fold in half and then fold in half again. Return to bowl and let rise for 30 minutes
5. Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball and let rest for 5 minutes
6. Shape each ball into an oval and roll up like a jellyroll. Place on greased baking sheet. Let rise until almost doubled
7. Beat together egg and water. Brush each loaf with the mixture
8. Bake at 450* for 20 ro 25 minutes

Jenna: Jackpot

I got a new job! Well, an additional job, actually...but never mind the details. The point is that I'm working in a whole new environment which is a great thing for many reasons. The more obvious among them are that I'm now employed at a multi-purpose arts venue in Brooklyn doing things that I'm passionate about and stimulated by (namely producing/marketing/performing in various types of theater and events). I'd say that this kind of initial excitement and promise of new experiences is better than sex, but you know I'd be lying.

'Oh no!', you must be thinking, 'How will our girl Friday find time to juggle two jobs and still have time to have hilarious dating experiences and blog about them?' The answer? These things are not as mutually exclusive as they appear. Among the other perks of this new job is the fact that this venue is heavily trafficked by attractive people of all kinds doing all sorts of wonderful things. There's a cafe where cute and pensive freelancers come to have a coffee and get work done during the day, various performers rehearsing or having meetings, and lastly, a gym upstairs that houses a super intense physical training program. In short, I feel like I've hit the jackpot. All day long, while I sit at my computer, central to all of the action in the building (there's no office space, per say), I chat with super cute guys on their way to or having completed a very strenuous workout. Id be lying if I said this wasn't a huge turn on and welcome distraction in my workday. Its true, I'm aware of the old adage warning about shitting where you eat, but my defense is that I only really eat there part time...how much harm could it do? Besides, there's nothing wrong with looking...and engaging in a bit of friendly conversation.

Plus, being employed in a publicity/marketing related capacity gives me an excuse to socialize, not to mention some relevant things to talk about. Not to mention a sense of ownership and confidence in the space. It excites me that the pool of people I interact with on a daily basis has suddenly expanded. Even if the focus isn't always romantic, it's fun to maximize the number of somewhat meaningful interactions I have throughout the day. I've already met a score of cool, new people which is always key when looking to expand your social pool, dating or otherwise. Of course, I'll have to focus on doing a good job too...but there's no reason I shouldn't get to flirt with some cute boys along the way. Especially when they happen to be everywhere I look. And some of them are sweaty.

I've definitely hit the jackpot.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Guest Post: Macro 101

By: Marisa Marinelli of Cooking Macro the Italiano Way

Let's start with: What's Macro? I usually get a response from people "Macro like Big?"

Yes! I'm talking Big, Great, Larger than Life. How about a GREAT-LIFE! How about we talk about Macrobiotics, in standard definition meaning "Living a Great Life."

At 26 years old I've seen enough doctors, needles, and medications than anyone should in their lifetime. You would never know it because five years ago I found a practice and a belief that would save my life. I discovered Macrobiotics. You may have heard that word before used vaguely, or some might associate it with being a stereotypical "hippie" life style. Believe me when I say I've never been a hippie. I'm more like the brainy beauty queen who wants world peace. Some of you might think macrobiotics is a strict diet where you eat seaweed off the beaches. "Um, yuck!" I'm here to clear some of these stereo-types that macrobiotics has been given. I'm here to say that because of this practice I'm alive today, and living HAPPILY and HEALTHY.

So, what is Macrobiotics? Is it a diet or a life-style? Well I say it's finding Balance with in both. Let's think scientifically for just a minute. For those who believe in the "Big Bang Theory," the world was created one day with one big burst of energy. Everything we are, to everything we eat is made up of energy. Energy moving up, energy moving down, energy expanding, contracting, etc. Have we ever stopped to think about what kind of energy we are putting into our body when we think about the food that we eat? When you eat something like a steak and pour salt all over it (contracting), don't you usually get really thirsty after that? And what do you crave, maybe mashed potatoes or french fries (expanded).

Expanded and Contracting are two types of energy that in Macrobiotics are considered Yin and Yang. I don't want to get into the scientific details too much because that would be boring. I'm sure what you really want to know is how all this knowledge and balancing act saved my life five years ago. I'm here to explain briefly how a diet that consist of Whole Grains, Non-animal source of protein, Leafy Greens, Fruits and Root Vegetables, and yes a little sea vegetables can actually put your body back into Balance.

Whether you are over-weight and just can't seem to shed the pounds, or if you have a serious illness which is preventing you from living a fulfilled life, or even worse if you're life is a risk, please know that most likely it's due to what we are eating. The quality of the foods that we put in our body can actually cause our bodies to attack themselves -- All auto-immune diseases fall into this category. Sometimes cells begin to over produce rapidly and can not be killed off -- Cancers are formed. And sometimes we can over-simulate our bodies with processed chemicals such as sugar and drugs where we can give our-selves heart attacks and strokes.

Food is the answer to a Great Life!

Without going into too much of the scientific of food energy, I want to provide a starting point for people. We all know changing your diet is probably the hardest thing anyone will try to do in their life-time. Avoiding sugar? I think I can probably convince more people to sell their souls to the devil. Here are my top Five suggestions in starting to make some changes in your life. I call them "Marisa's Suggestions for a Road to a Better Life"

#1 -- AVOID ALL SUGARS! This does not necessarily include natural sweets such as fruits, honey, and pure maple syrups. And who say anything about avoiding desserts. Eat away! In fact, most Americans don't even realize how their taste buds have been tainted so much with poor chemical sugars that we can no longer taste the natural sweetness of desserts. For more info and recipes I can be contacted at a later date. ;) Basically you're torturing yourself by doing this because sugar is not a natural product. It is "man-made." Sugar canes are cut down, grated and heated at a very high temperature which causes it to crystallize. Our bodies do not have the capability of breaking down this material therefore we store it as fat. The reason we crave so much sugar is because it's a glucose. We all need glucose in our bodies to give us fuel. However, this fuel is a very poor quality. We eat that snickers bar and an hour later we're crashing on the floor. We need to eat substances with a complex carbohydrate that will provide with a complex glucose molecule that will be used slowly and not burned off quickly. You might also have heard of this refereed to as an "empty-calorie".

#2 -- EAT ORGANIC - HORMONE FREE FOODS. Yes it's true that many people who are macrobiotic do not eat animal meat. The reason is because it's extremely hard to digest in our bodies and can cause acid in the blood. However, some people (and this is very individual) need more protein in their daily lives. Us who are very active is not going to get what we need from a salad. Fish is an excellent source of protein for the body. Other forms of protein are soy, beans, and even sea vegetables. I know how difficult it is to cut out meal completely. My suggestion is to cut-back meat and replace it with a more variety group of protein. And most importantly, when you do eat meat, it must be FREE-RANGED, AND GRASS FEED.

#3 -- EAT A VARIETY OF FOODS. Especially for those out there who are not trying to recover from severe illness and are just trying to make it through the day. Maybe you live in Manhattan like I do and we all know how much stress we are surrounded by. We are just looking for ways to feel better. The best thing you can do is eat something different every day. Always try to eat a whole grain every day. Bread is NOT a whole grain. Brown Rice, Millet, Quinoa, Barley, Oats. Bread and pasta are processed grains. Okay on occasion but not going to cut it for 7 days a week. Always try to eat a Vegetable with your meal and this means a green leafy vegetable and maybe something that's round or root. Be adventurous try new recipes. Home cooked meals are the best way to go. If you always eat something different every day and try to eat as much vegetables as you can you will always be fill of proper nutrients and energy.

#4 -- AVOID DAIRY -- 95% of people in this world do not possess the enzyme necessary to break down casin (which is found in dairy). It's stored in our bodies as fat and causes acidity in the blood. Just avoid it as much as possible, you might find out you don't even miss it.

#5 -- DIET IS NOT ENOUGH -- People, especially those who reside in large cities, are just so incredibly busy today. Working a corporate 9-5 job, or an artist trying to get a big hit, or single parents trying to raise children. We can get so wrapped up in the daily grind that we never stop to think about ourselves. When was the last time you asked your body "how are you feeling today? tense or relax?" I'm going to guess the answer is tense and stressed. We can't avoid stress in our life but we can learn how to handle it. Take time for yourself everyday! Read a book, take a bath, do some yoga, meditate and put your mind at peace. It's so important to constantly bring your body back to balance physically. As important as food choices are they can't solve everything when you can't even sit down peacefully and breath. There needs to be a balance between work and play. Who says you can't have fun when you get older...listen to your body.

Thanks for reading today and hopefully letting me inspire you. You can do it!

Ask me more about my experiences and guidance by emailing me at MACROMARINELLI@GMAIL.COM.

Have a peaceful day!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Random Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Pancakes

You had me at pumpkin....

....just looking at this can makes me drool.

OMG. I have been converted. I make pancakes every weekend, and I admit that I have....until now....always used a packaged mix. Trader Joe's Multigrain Pancake Mix was my favorite. I fell for it because it's packed with whole grains and is super quick and easy to make.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com last week. I made a couple of substitutions for things I didn't have on hand (pumpkin pie spice for the all spice, canola for vegetable oil, and rice vinegar for regular vingear). The best part was that it only took 5 more minutes to throw together than pre-packaged mix, but the difference was immedeatly obvious! The pancakes were light and fluffy and you can really taste all the different spices in the batter...it was fantastic.

Did I mention that I grew up in the PUMPKIN CAPITOL OF THE WORLD, Morton, IL? Some of my most vivid memories as small child was attending the Pumpkin festival which is held every fall. I just looked at the schedule for this years festival; I wish I could have been at this tent:
"Pumpkin Delight Tent: featuring pumpkin ice cream served in cones or dishes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin fudge, pumpkin chili, and pumpkin pie"
...This is my heaven.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guest Post: Who wears the (sweat)pants in your relationship?

Written by Mara Weinberg (Guest Blogger)

Who wears the (sweat)pants in your relationship?

In my case that would be me. Heck come to think of it my current boyfriend and previous guys I’ve dated would probably look better in a mini skirt and tube top than I would anyway (minus my c-cup rack of course). I’m 21 years old and through my 7 years of dating I have ALWAYS been heavier than the guy that I was dating. From the first to the current, that has simply been the trend, some girls have skinny jeans, I have skinny guys. Growing up I was always the chubby one. In my defense, I’m big boned, pleasantly plump, and simply have some stubborn baby fat that just doesn’t want to leave. I would always joke around with my friends saying “Ya know if I was only a few inches taller this (pointing to my tummy and thighs) wouldn’t even be an issue, I’d be a supermodel!” The truth is, I have grown as tall as I’ll ever be (unless you want to consider stilettos) and I’ve come to embrace my curves.

At times dating was a bit difficult as I was always looking for clothes most flattering to my figure, and hey let’s face it the “muffin top” was never really “in”. I would dread going shopping and looking at what size I was that month. My weight would always fluctuate between ten and fifteen pounds over the years, and after all that time I have finally decided to do something about it. I have joined Weight Watchers and have started a walk/jog routine with a close friend to get to a “better weight“. I have been on this routine for the past 7 weeks and have lost a total of 5 pounds so far. This may not seem like a lot to some people but to me it means a lot. To see the numbers go down on the scale little by little every week feels great.

I am currently in school to become a police officer and in order to do so I must pass a physical test. This test includes climbing over a fence, running up and down stairs, a push/pull exercise, running laps etc. I did not pass the first time around and I was crushed. I am now motivated more than ever to lose weight and to be in shape. Over the course of the past few weeks I have learned that I didn’t have to give up foods that I loved just simply eat them in moderation. Although at times counting calories, and tracking points is a bit annoying, it works. This program not only teaches you what are the good things to eat but also trains you in a way to stay away from things that are a waste. For example, a simple grilled cheese sandwich, when made with white bread and a slice of American cheese would ordinarily be 6 points, where as if you make a grilled cheese with a slice of weight watchers American cheese and two slices of weight watchers whole wheat bread it would only 2 points. (This may seem like gibberish to many but there’s a point system thing, you have a daily points allowance yadda yadda yadda)

Back to the dating aspect of things. Am I simply attracted to skinny guys? Deep down do I secretly like having the extra rolls on me in the relationship? Do I LIKE wearing the sweatpants in the relationship? The answer to all those questions is absolutely not. Out of all the guys I have dated I can’t remember one ever making a comment about my weight. There have been times where I have asked them, and the response would be something along the lines of, “as long as your comfortable”, “you’re just fine the way you are”, ”you could lose a few if you really wanted to”, and finally one I will never get tired of hearing from my current oh so lovely and charming boyfriend, “in my eyes you’re perfect no matter what”. So with that last comment stated you might think, “hey why work at this weight thing now? He really does love you no matter what, who cares if you lose weight?”

Since being in this positive and happy relationship for over a year now I have learned a lot about myself and just about life in general. I have learned that if you want to do something, you have to do it for yourself. Sure you can have motivation from a partner, friend, or family member, but first and foremost you have to want it for you. If you want it bad enough for yourself you can do it. Being in a relationship such as the one I am in now is probably the closest I can get to having my own personal motivational speaker next to me at all times. He pushes me when I want to be pushed, he’s positive when I’m having a bad day or week, and he’s there for me and supports me in absolutely every sense of the word.

It has been challenging too in many ways to be so open with my boyfriend about this because I know that he has never had to deal with being overweight and doesn’t really understand what it feels like not to be able to fit into a pair of jeans, not to mention he’s a guy so its always an emotional rollercoaster for us girls. Honestly, that used to drive me crazy! I didn’t understand how he could sit there and talk to me about my weight when he really didn’t know what I was going through, but as I sat back and actually listened he wasn’t trying to lecture me about eating better or telling me how beautiful I was he was just being there. He was being that supportive rock that I needed in my life so I wouldn’t get so down on myself, a sweet, 6”4’, handsome, nice and slender rock, my rock.

So now I can ask that question again, who wears the sweatpants in your relationship, and for me, I can proudly say that’s me, because I don’t need that mini skirt or dress or tight pair of skinny jeans to make me feel pretty cause I love my curves.

Guest Post: Thanksgiving Tips and Recipes

By: Amie Valpone, HHP, AADP Culinary Nutritionist and author of The Healthy Apple, www.thehealthyapple.com

The turkey table can be a real challenge if you are watching your waistline. This holiday harvest feast ranks in extra, unnecessary calories through mindless snacking and miscellaneous extras. By simply cutting back and replacing these extras with healthy substitutes, you can enjoy your turkey and fixings guilt free. With a little pre-planning and commitment to moderation, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to sabotage your healthy lifestyle. Here are a few of my tips for staying fit and healthy without depriving yourself.

Get Active.

Make fitness a family adventure; take a walk after dinner or play a game of tag football in the yard with the kids. Give a helping hand around the kitchen, offer to help set the table and clean the dishes after dinner.

Eat Breakfast.

Don’t save up on calories by skipping the most important meal of the day; be sure to eat a protein-packed breakfast that will hold you over until it’s time to dive into the turkey. Try a poached egg with whole grain toast or a bowl of oatmeal with chopped nuts and cinnamon; this will ensure you are not starving when you arrive at the feast.

Lighten Up.

It’s easy to experiment and create healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods with less fat, sugar and calories. Here are a few of my turkey tips for how you can reduce your caloric intake and become aware of your food consumption. All it takes is a pantry makeover of your family’s favorite recipes to reduce the ‘bad’ fats and empty calories, replacing them with healthy and nutritious fats and fiber-filled foods.

How to Navigate the Turkey Table- Thanksgiving Survival 101

Moderation is the key; if you cannot control the ingredients in your feast, simply limit yourself to a smaller portion as many side dishes are loaded with hidden fat and sugar.

  • Use chicken broth in lieu of butter in mashed potatoes
  • Instead of 1 whole egg, crack open 2 egg whites
  • Cook stuffing outside the turkey to lower the fat content
  • Substitute nonfat Greek plain yogurt for cream in green bean casserole
  • Ditch the sweet potato casserole and reach for a sweet potato (eat the skin too). These spuds are full of vitamins, fiber and flavor…drizzle with honey and top with Greek yogurt and dried cranberries.
  • Skip the butter on veggies and steam them with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of ground flax seeds.
  • Replace processed cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries; create your own unique chutney or salsa.
  • Opt for a turkey rub made from olive oil, thyme and sage instead of butter.
  • Replace white breads and white bread stuffing with whole grain bread and hearty side dishes such as a wild rice pilaf tossed with asparagus, apples and Dijon mustard.
  • Don’t swear off desserts, allow yourself a few bites and keep your portions in check. Choosing fruit is safe way to cure your sweet tooth instead of reaching for mom’s cheesecake.
  • Substitute agave nectar or stevia for refined sugar.
  • Opt for whole wheat flour over white.

Control Your Portions.

Be conscious about what you are putting into your mouth; sit back and take a sip of water or seltzer after a few bites to ensure you don’t overeat. Enjoy the harvest flavors; this is what Thanksgiving is all about, it’s more than just food, it’s about gratitude, family and community. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so savor your food, drink water in between bites and slow down. Give your mind a chance to catch up with your body and stop when you are full.

Overall, when Turkey day arrives, be sure to have a plan set; make smart choices, eat in moderation and keep moving. Most importantly, don’t forget that Thanksgiving is about much more than Aunt Suzie’s mashed potatoes and Grandma’s pumpkin pie. It’s about community, family and giving thanks, after all, these are the things that stay with us after the turkey leftovers have disappeared.

Thanksgiving Favorites


Roasted Root Veggies


  • 4 large onions
  • 5 large parsnips
  • 5 large carrots
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 Pinky Lady apples
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. star anise
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • Dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Chop onions, parsnips, carrots, zucchini, butternut squash and apples into 1” thick chunks.
  • Transfer chopped vegetables and apples into a large roasting pan; drizzle with olive oil, add rosemary, cinnamon, star anise, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper; gently toss to ensure even coating.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until onions are translucent and all vegetables and apples are tender.

Mushroom Macadamia Nut Stuffing


  • 1 lb. macadamia nuts
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable broth
  • 3 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 cups leeks, chopped
  • 2 cups baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 slices whole grain bread, sliced into crouton-size pieces and toasted
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • ½ tsp. coriander


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • On a baking sheet, bake macadamia nuts and sesame seeds for 10 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and vegetable broth until hot. Add onions and let cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add leeks and mushrooms.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine macadamia nuts, coriander, sunflower seeds, mushroom mixture, cranberries, raisins and toasted bread cubes.
  • Stuff stuffing into the turkey or transfer to a casserole dish. If using as a turkey stuffing, bake according to turkey directions. If using as a casserole, bake for 30 minutes or until browned and completely cooked.

Pumpkin Orange Bread Pudding


  • 12 slices stale bread, crust removed and cut on the diagonal
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tsp. ground flax seeds
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. all spice


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Create three layers of bread in an 8 x 8 baking pan sprayed with baking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk orange zest, juice, ground flax seeds, pumpkin, honey, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, butter, cinnamon, all spice and salt; mix well. Pour over the bread layers and let sit for 45 minutes.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until top is browned and edges and middle are set.
  • Serve warm.

    Turkey Leftovers?

    Try this Tasty Turkey Chili when you can’t face another turkey sandwich. Simply toss remaining turkey leftovers into this deliciously spicy chili. This recipe packs a hearty punch of protein with the addition of white beans and a powerful boost of antioxidants from the veggies.

    Tasty Turkey Chili


    • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • 1 tsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 cup broccoli, cooked and chopped
    • 1 can (19 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2 cups shredded leftover turkey
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 tsp. honey
    • 1 tsp. brown sugar
    • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice
    • ½ tsp. sea salt
    • ½ tsp. black pepper
    • Optional Toppings: Nonfat Greek yogurt, low fat cheese, chives


    • In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook garlic, onion, broccoli and green pepper in olive oil for 7-9 minutes or until softened.
    • Slowly add turkey, beans, flour, chili powder, cumin, lemon juice, brown sugar, honey, salt and pepper; mix well. Add broth and continue to stir.
    • Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes.
    • Serve warm with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt, low fat cheese and chives.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kat: The Morning After

This post is my love song to oatmeal.

I discovered oats as a breakfast choice about a year ago. Actually, "discovered" is the wrong word. I ate my fair share of those single serving sugar-drenched oatmeal packets as a kid; I vividly remember fighting over the strawberry packet from the variety box with my brother, and wanting to die when there was only banana or blueberry left. Nowadays, I don't think I could digest that much sugar in one sitting, and I think those things should not even be considered food, but I digress.

Oatmeal is by far my breakfast of choice. I eat it almost every morning and love every bite. My boyfriend looks at me like a crazy person when I dive into what he considers the exact same breakfast day after day. I think he is crazy for underestimating the possibilities of this warm, nutritious, and delicious food.

I generally rotate between three varieties of oats; steel cut (Irish), quick-cooking (Old Fashioned), and oat bran. Each have different textures and cooking times. Here's what I have learned from my Year of Oats:

Steel Cut
The inner part of the oat kernel and the least processed of the oats, making them chewier (in a good way!) and lengthening the cooking time
15/20 minutes to cook

Quick Oats
The oat is flattened, giving the kernel more surface area, thus shortening the cooking time
About 5 minutes to cook

Oat Bran
The finest texture of all three; produces what I consider a porridge-like consistency
Takes 5/10 minutes to cook

I use the same formula for cooking no matter which oat I choose:
1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. soy/rice milk
1/2 c. water
1/2 banana, thinly sliced

Bring water, milk, & banana to a simmer. Stir in oats. Simmer until grain is cooked to taste.

After the cooking is done, the creativity begins! When I first began eating oats this way, I had to mix in a lot of fruit, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla in it to make it sweet enough (like training wheels!). Now, I usually don't put much more than almond butter and a sprinkle of chia seeds or ground flax. Here are some variations:

The basic: steel cut oats topped with ground flax and a spoonful of almond butter

Steel cut again with frozen raspberries (my trick is to put 1/2 cup still frozen berries on the bottom of my bowl, and then pour the hot oats on top...this instantly thaws the berries and cools the oats down enough to start eating!), chia seeds, and almond butter.

Oat bran with ground flax and pecans

My all time favorite...pumpkin oats! Right before I take the cooked oats off the stove, I stir about a 1/2 cup of pumpkin and heat through. This is topped with chia and pumpkin seeds.

Oh, and I almost forgot, oats are good for you too! They are a great way to lower bad cholesterol and are good sources of both fiber and iron.

Bon Appetit!

Jenna: The Morning After


Bright beams of morning light stream through the unshuttered window and my heavy eyes open slowly. Vision bleary, head aching from lack of sleep and hydration, I quickly take account of my surroundings. This is not my bed. This is not even my borough. I am sleeping in someone else's old tshirt and I have no idea where the closest subway is. Where do I have to be today? When do I have to be there? Can I be wearing the same thing I wore last night? My whole day is turning into a walk of shame and I haven't even left the bed yet.

On the other hand, I'm being spooned, quite comfortably, this bed is warm, and I don't really mind the guy snoring softly in my ear, at present. Our feet are touching and its kind of sweet. Last night was fun, and though I know we don't have a morning's worth of conversation in us, I don't exactly want to dine and dash. Maybe I'll just lay here for awhile until he wakes up and we both start to feel a little awkward. Plus, I need directions to the train. I think I might be in Queens.

So riddle me this. How do you handle the morning after with someone you don't know that well? For you snarky people out there who answered "don't go home with them"...when was the last time you had some fun? You should try it sometime, asshole. I am open to actual ideas though. I sleep out a lot. I don't always have the sex when I spend the night with someone, however. I'm not that bad. But for the last few years, I've lived in one of the most geographically undesireable locations in all of New York when it comes to getting home late. I'm moving soon...which will change a lot of things, but that's a subject for another blog. Based on this fact, though, I have seen my share of apartments in this city (and several outer boroughs) by the grey light of morning. And its usually fine, but there is a bit of discomfort in knowing what to do next. A lot of the mystery is gone, obviously. It somehow cheapens the experience to discuss sports, the weather, or what i studied in undergrad when I was enjoying the throes of passion mere hours before. Its a little too late for first date banter, now. But its not as if this guy is my insta-soulmate, either. I don't want to tell secrets or discuss my plans for the future. So what's the happy medium here?

General conversation topics I find safe are adorable pets may have sighted, books that appear on his bedside table, how much he pays for the big and or convenient apartment he lives in, etc. Nothing too complex. You can always get into the whole "I had a really great time last night", which can transition into an early morning repeat performance if you both fancy it. Depending on how much I like the guy and if I still look like a human by the light of day, I might try my hand at charm. A little "Good morning sunshine," never killed anyone and worst case scenario, I look dorky. I try to avoid saying things like..."Man, was I wasted last night. That got out of hand."...but I'm not always successful.

If you're like me and don't like to chit chat early morning, you'll pretend to be asleep (or go back to sleep) til your new friend wakes up and invent somewhere cool you have to be fairly soon. It makes you seem important and in demand. Sometimes, I actually have something important to do...in which case this day is fucked. But I will smirk to myself about it, probably call a friend or two to brag, and be generally more satisfied with my actions than I would like to admit. Not to mention relaxed.

And the long train ride home gives me just enough time to collect my thoughts, take out my smart phone, and blog about it :). Mission accomplished.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mediterranean Things I Love

The Art...

The Beaches....

The Boys...

and the FOOD!

I have to share my new obsession: Dedemed.com. This blog has all the Mediterranean recipes that I've always wanted to try, in one fabulous place. Some of them seem a little complicated (homemade baklava anyone!?!) but one of the cool things is, there are videos for every recipe.

The first thing I made was Baba Ghanoush. IT WAS DELICIOUS. I've never really liked baba ghanoush from resturants (I guess I thought that I was more partial to hummus), but seriously this knocked me on my ass. I loved every second of eating it. Putting it together was insanely easy and the recipe only calls for four main ingredients (eggplant, lemon juice, garlic, & tahini) plus spices that you most likely have on hand all the time. Throw everything in a blender, put some pretty garnish on it, and VOILA! One of the most delicious things you'll ever eat.

If you read my very first post, you already know that I love hummus. I've tried making it once before (can't remember which recipe that I used) but it was disgusting. I was a little hesitant to try Dede's recipe because I still feel a little scared from my last experience, but after that delightful baba ghanoush, I was tempted to give it a try....

....and I'm so glad that I did! IT IS FANTASTIC! Lindi and I polished off the whole plate in about 4.5 seconds. I am scared to keep chickpeas in the cabinet because I will eat it constantly.

Here's a Mediterranean dish that I pieced together from a few different recipes:

Stuffed Cabbage

1 lb fake "ground beef" (or real, if that's what you're into)
1 head of cabbage
2 servings brown rice
1 carrot
1 leek
1/2 large onion
4 cloves garlic
handful of parsley
1 can diced tomatoes (with juice)
shredded cheese (garnish)

LARGE dash of each:
curry powder

1. Trim off stem of cabbage (I almost cut my entire hand off doing this....be careful) & boil as a whole for 30 minutes.

2. Get rice cooking
3. Pour out hot water and rinse cabbage in cold water to cool it off
5. Remove large outside leaves from the head an reserve for later, chop the rest

4. Saute chopped onion, cabbage, leek, garlic, carrot, & fake (or real) meat together
5. Mix in cooked rice
6. Stuff the filling (about 1/3 cup) into into the large cabbage leaves and roll
7. Place rolls into a baking dish and cover with sauce and cheese

(I can't believe I call myself a foodie and I don't own a 9 x 13 baking pan....how amateur)

8. Bake until cheese is bubbly (about 15 minutes)

Not exactly pretty....but delicious!!!

Jenna: Things I Love

I love going out with a mission. I love manipulating a situation so that I accomplish exactly what I set out to do, especially when my mission involves making out. One of my favorite things to do is to get dressed up all fancy for a night on the town with some friends (and friends of friends), throw caution to the wind, and charm somebody new. It's one of those fun things about being single...the ball is always in your court if you have a clear vision of what your immediate goals are. I love having a stimulating conversation with someone new, the thrill of the chase, and making myself blush with unapologetic flirtation.

I love brushing fingertips seemingly by accident. And kissing on the street. I love making every attempt to be charming and having someone silence my nervous banter with their bedroom eyes. I love looking closely at somebody's face, trying to remember the best details for future reference. I love being the little spoon. Or holding hands. And being a big softie on the inside, despite my outward appearance. I love feeling close to someone else, when everything is still exciting and brand new. That way you find yourself grinning for no reason for a little while...and no matter how long that lasts, it's unbeatable right then.

Think about the first time you really fell for someone else. It's hard for me to remember sometimes, having lived a little, been hurt, grown up, and realized more and more that people aren't perfect most of the time. I don't know if I'll ever put anyone up on a pedestal the way I did in my youth and be able to fall quite as I did before I knew better. It's a form of evolution and self preservation to protect our hearts from disappointment by talking ourselves out of hopelessly romantic notions. That moment before you think too hard though; when nothing but chemistry is surging through your veins and creates a sort of blissful euphoria...? I wish they bottled that shit.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kat: Teaching Myself New Tricks

About a year ago I was feeling pretty crappy. I got sick frequently, did not have a great deal of energy, and just felt gross. All I wanted was to feel better. I decided that I needed to start with the basics and eat healthier; because everyone knows if you put crap in, you're going to get crap out (is that really a saying!?!?)

My first step was to cut out processed foods. This was fairly easy for me since I was never a huge junk food eater, nor a soda drinker. Next, I amped up my fruit and veggie intake...also not very difficult for me since I loooove eating plants.

I once heard a nutritionist say "you can't get fat if everything you eat is cooked by YOU". Meaning that even if you eat similarly to what you would have at a restaurant, there is no way that you can pack as much crap into the food as they can...simply because you don't know how to. I took this to heart and was onto my next challenge: cooking the majority of everything I consumed all by myself....and learning to do it in a healthy and appetizing way.

This can seem like a pretty overwhelming task to take on, but it really doesn't have to be. When I started this process, I found it helpful to look at the things I already loved to eat (like pizza, canned soups, Chinese food) and tried to make that food myself at home. If I was craving pizza, I would make it at home with tomato sauce, cheese, and veggies on a pita. If I wanted soup for lunch everyday, I would make a big pot of it on sunday and save it to eat throughout the work week. Craving Chinese take-out? I've got a great recipe for you...

Eat-In Stir Fry

Sauce (got this off of All Recipes.com, but quadrupled the amount!):
1 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Stir-Fry (be creative with the veggies...it's not a science!):
1/2 head broccoli
1 red bell pepper
handful of green beans, trimmed
1/2 zucchini
1 medium sized onion
3 cloves garlic
1 green onion
16 oz shrimp (you can replace with tofu or just ignore all together)

1. Roughly chop veggies
2. Mix sauce and set aside
3. Grill/saute shrimp in a separate pan until cooked
4. Saute onions for about 5 minutes and then add garlic, cook for 2 more minutes

(Sometimes I'm amazed my tiny stove hasn't died yet...)

5. Add rest of veggies and continue to cook for about 5 minutes
6. Add sauce and shrimp and heat through
7. Turn off heat and let sit (sauce will thicken) for a few minutes
8. Garnish with green onion & serve immediately over rice, or my favorite, soba noodles!

....this dish is just as delicious as take-out!!

Sure, I eat the "real" stuff every once in a while, but I consider it a treat. It feels great to like what you cook even more than what you can get from a resturant. Knowing what's going into your body feels pretty amazing, saves money, and it doesn't taste that bad either.

Jenna: Teaching Myself New Tricks

I'd like to discuss a conundrum I've been faced with over the years. The thing about good sex with a partner is that (not all the time, but a lot of the time) it takes practice. So what's to be done when you're not in a regular, committed partnership and can't get in your sex practice time? If you're not getting it on the regular, I find it necessary to have a bag o' tricks up your sleeve to up your bedroom savvy. After all, knowledge is power, and sometimes you don't have luxury of time to figure out the combination to an enjoyable roll in the hay. I like to know what I'm doing in bed, know what makes me happy, an exactly how to communicate that to whoever is lucky enough to wind up in bed with me.

I'm not talking about the 69 hot sex tips you find in Cosmopolitan magazine every month that involve ice, propping yourself up on a pillow, or sticking food in strange orifices. You can't exactly show up in leather chaps on a second date. BUT, there is some research you can do on your own that makes you all the more ready to take an exciting plunge when the time is right.

We all know that masturbating is great. The whole world knows it. No surprises here. But as a woman, masturbating is incredibly crucial in helping you figure out the right formula for gettin' off. The more successful you are at knowing what tickles you right, the more likely you are to be able to communicate that to a partner and have a grand old time in the sack. Because let's be perfectly honest with ourselves. If you don't know how to crack your own code, you're going to have a hell of a time having a newbie figure it out on the fly. Of course, you have to be comfortable enough to make your point, but I think that kind of ownership over your sexual happiness lends itself to the necessary confidence. Plus a person who knows what they want and can communicate it gently and effectively makes their partner's job a whole lot easier and everything much more pleasurable for everyone involved.

What it boils down to is that good sex takes practice at first, no matter how connected you are to your partner. Knowing what you like in the bedroom and being able to openly and honestly share that with another person is 80% of the battle. The number one way to accomplish that is by doing a little recon on your own time and getting pretty damn comfortable with yourself. Plus, no one will deny that a bit of sassy assertiveness in the bedroom is totally hot.

I would like to state, for the record, that I always take the utmost precaution when having sex. Use condoms, people. Ain't nothing worth the stress of what comes from trusting anyone but yourself. And I stand by that. It's like my mom used to say for no good reason that I can discern, 'Herpes is forever.' Wear a condom when you have the sex.

And here are two amazing videos. I couldn't pick just one. They're both too brilliant.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review: Nature's Pride Bread

Nature's Pride recently sent me a sample of their new breads; 100% Whole Wheat and 12 Grain. A side-by-side comparison:

The whole wheat tasted pretty similar to other brands that I've tried in the past. Tasty, but nothing special.

The 12 Grain on the other hand, was surprisingly unique. The first thing I noticed was the the literal whole grains and nuts in the surface. Biting into a slice, it was hearty, crunchy, and a tad bit sweet.

I tried both in grilled cheeses, as toast, and as a vehicle for pumpkin butter. But, my favorite was as a sandwich, specifically with Lindsay's mock tuna salad. SOOOOOO good.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kat: Seeing is Believing

Let's cut to the chase....I did not BELIEVE this recipe was going to work until I SAW (and tasted) the results!! I came up with this gem after a chilly day at work (no one else seems to think that working in a 65* room is uncomfortable!). I knew that I wanted some comfort food (I LOVE traditional chili), but I also had some beautiful bell peppers and fresh wheat berries sitting on the shelf. Somewhere in the middle of my brainstorm Chili Chili in a Pepper was born!

I had never cooked with...or even tried...wheat berries before this meal. I was a little scared to throw an ingredient that I've never worked with before into a dish that I was making up on the fly. Thankfully, wheat berries are a delicious alternative to rice. Before you cook them, they look like this:

After you simmer them in water for about an hour or so, they turn chewy...a delightful combination of the taste of rice and the texture of fresh corn kernels. YUM.

I highly advise you to try asap!

Now to the main event:
Chili Chili in a Pepper

3/4 c. wheat berries, cooked
1/2 c. black beans, cooked
1/2 c. red kidney beans, cooked
1 large onion
2 large red bell peppers
1 serrano chili, diced (if you don't like spicy things, remove some/most of the seeds)
1/2 small zucchini, diced
1 c. tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili spice
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
dash red pepper flakes
handful of parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cover beans & wheat berries (in separate pots!) with water and simmer until tender (about 1 hour)...you can also use canned beans if you don't have the time
2. Cut the tops off (reserve for later) of the red peppers and onion.
3. De-seed the peppers. Hollow out the onion like a pumpkin:

4. Pre cook the onion, peppers, and their tops on a baking sheet at 350* for 25 minutes
5. While they are cooking, saute onions and garlic in a bit of oil (2-4 minutes).
6. After the onion turns translucent add a pinch of salt, tomatoes, and zucchini. Saute for
two minutes then add the spices.
7. Add the chili, wheat berries, and beans. Stir well until everything is evenly coated with the spices. Saute for several minutes.
7. When peppers and onion are done pre-baking, take out of the oven and fill with the bean mixture.

8. Place back on the baking sheet, close up onion & pepper with their "lids" drizzle with a little oil, then bake for 30 more minutes

9. When the peppers and onion are soft, wilted, and easily pierced with a fork, they are done
10. Serve with chopped parsley, maybe some grated cheese, salsa....get creative!

I was really shocked how well this turned out. The taste of chili and roasted vegetables along with the texture of wheat berries was a unique and delicious combination. I'm so glad I took the leap and incorporated a new (to me) ingredient....from now on I plan to make a habit of expanding the horizons of my taste buds. Any suggestions???

Jenna: Seeing Is Believing

I did it. I went on a date brought into action by the wonders of the internet. And ladies and gentlemen, I survived. Turns out I just had to bite the bullet and DO it. It wasn't even half bad...and the experience overall was a highly valuable one.

After a brief exchange (most of which was initiated by my colleague, Kat, because I was too busy bitching about the difficulty of beginning contact with anyone to actually do so), I agreed to meet an Internet Guy at a bar for a drink a few weeks ago.

The day was spent regretting this decision and worrying about how potentially embarrassing this whole situation could prove. As social as I am, I'm also pretty easily flustered and can prove an uncomfortable date. I have my theories about this which all lead back to a lack of confidence and probably fear of commitment...but that's another discussion entirely. Either way, I can't say I was exactly looking forward to my date, despite the fact that this is what I joined the cyber cruising community to accomplish in the first place.

I saw a show in Williamsburg at the Brick Theatre earlier that evening with a friend. The play was one of the more brilliant and thrilling pieces of theatre I'd seen in a long time (Infectious Opportunity, by James Comtois...who is probably a genius) and left me feeling refreshed, excited, almost giddy about all things life. I was truly intellectually and artistically stimulated, and it put me in great mind space to meet/talk to somebody new.

So I haul ass back to the city (I was still late, but this is indicative of who I am that someone should start getting used to sooner rather than later) to meet this guy for a drink. I am ready. Internet Guy was totally nice and we proved to have lots of things in common (he's involved in the arts as well) and carried on an excellent and lengthy conversation. He was a great sport about the meet a new person and go with it thing and we didn't have an awkward time of it at all. The unfortunate part is that despite all of these lovely aspects of him, I wasn't attracted to him in a way that made me want to be on a date. I would totally be friends with this guy and think he's awesome. Sometimes that spark isn't there though, and there's really not much to be done about it. Two bourbons later, we parted ways and said goodnight, mentioning what a nice time we'd had, but nothing more really. Though I got the feeling he wanted to hang out again.

He sent me a text the next day that I didn't know how to respond to, mentioning that he'd had a really nice time the night before. I chickened out and didn't respond...not wanting to have to break the news that I just wanted to be friends, and not even sure that it was an appropriate thing to do. What is the etiquette here? I figure most people aren't on dating websites and going out with others because they're looking for new friends...though I could be wrong. I wanted him to get the point without my having to come clean, of course, but I obviously also sort of ruined the possibility of us being pals with my negligence in responding to his communication. I feel bad, but it seemed like the gentlest option, and perfectly valid seeing as how we'd only met once. I probably should've emailed him. It would have been the brave and respectable thing to do.

But I never claimed to be a respectable woman. Though I must say, although I'm not about to focus on it, I haven't quite given up on dating via the interweb. And I've learned something new about myself. I win.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kat: There's No Crying in Baseball

I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but there is this horrifying time between grocery trips when all of my produce turns bad OVERNIGHT. I'm not joking. LITERALLY overnight.

I'm pretty good at assessing the veggie freshness situation in my fridge and adjusting meal plans/recipes to incorporate the things that are on their way out. I even did this last night and mentally noted that everything looked pretty solid. Then, I start making dinner tonight AND EVERYTHING WAS ROTTING. I swear I almost screamed. I hate food to go to waste, so what do I do? Cry? No. I sharpened my knife and turned those lemons into a delicious lemon meringue pie. : )

More specifically, I had a roasting extravaganza.

Exhibit A:

Red and yellow onions, parsnips, carrots, asparagus, and yellow squash.

All you need to do is preheat your oven to 350*, chop everything up into any size you like, drizzle with EVOO, salt & pepper to taste, and if you're feelin' sassy, sprinkle with Cajun spice.

Cook for about 30 minutes and toss halfway through.

End product:

I could live on roasted vegetables.

I also had a ton of garlic laying around, so I decided to throw one into the mix.

Just remove the excess leaves and and chop the tops off of all the cloves, like so:

Wrap in foil, and sprinkle a little EVOO on the bottom and top of the cloves. Bake for 30 minutes or until the garlic is soft.

You can then pluck a clove off and squeeze the garlic out. Spread it on bread, crackers, or just eat by itself. It pretty much the most delicious thing ever.

Lesson of the day: There's no crying in the kitchen. Unless you cut off a digit. Then I'll give it to

p.s. Jenna, this is just to make sure you read my posts. I CUT MY HAIR OFF (time noted, waiting for a phone call)