Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mediterranean Things I Love

The Art...

The Beaches....

The Boys...

and the FOOD!

I have to share my new obsession: 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 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 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, 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'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) 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)

Jenna: There's No Crying In Baseball

I love playing games. Not emotional games that screw with peoples' heads or hurt somebody else...but child-like games played for sheer pleasure, fun, and excitement. The actress in me just loves a good round of make believe.

As a grown up, this has also manifested in a kind of joy for different sorts of games. The sexy kind. Don't worry, I'm not going to use this as a forum to tell you all about my kinky self, but I found a pretty great connection the other day that might be worth sharing.

I have a friend who was about to embark on his first rendezvouz with a "cougar". Now, I doubt this term requires any elaboration, but for those of you who live under a rock, urban dictionary does a good job of explaining the cougar phenomenon here. Anyway, my friend was getting ready for his date and expressed a bit of apprehension, fearing that the situation might be awkward.

Being the loyal and pro-adventure friend that I am, I tried to reassure him. I told him that he should just treat the whole thing like a game. A dirty little game. Its not like they both didn't know what was going on, or how it would probably end. There was no use in denying it, so why not treat the whole interaction with that kind of sassy, knowing smirk? It adds this other layer of doing something "taboo and naughty" that only makes the situation that much sexier.

I drew a comparison from my own experience. I went out with a guy a few times who I found interesting and attractive, great in bed, but not exactly dating material. Did I mention he was great in bed? This fact kept his number in my phone, to be called upon as necessary. It was a matter of convenience and good times, two things I can never turn down. The one tricky thing was that we had mutual friends and professional acquaintances, but obviously desired discretion when it came to our little arrangement. No one wants to be the slutty talk of the town...or lose out on other opportunity based on a bunch of rumors. So we started to play a little game. That game where we would show up at the same function, exchange brief pleasantries, and move throughout the party flirting, chitchatting with others, having very distinct and separate good times, knowing that we would wind up in a cab home together at the end of the night. The 'pretend to barely know you until were playing footsie in the cab' game is very sexy. It was my favorite part about that liason. The game made everything that much better: it made me feel naughty, him seem sexy and aloof, and the hole thing feel very bad ass and hot. Its not like the game was all that necessary (it didn't really matter if anyone knew, we were both single and just messing around) but it sure was fun. And ensured that we never got awkward and ruined everything by taking ourselves too seriously.

The point was to love the game, the adventure, and the sexy challenge of it all. There's no point in worrying about what might happen and the fun lies in letting the thing play out the way it will. That's the thing about fantasies; be it a cougar or a dirty little secret. They're larger than life, based in myth and the idea that anything can happen. So you might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.