Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random Recipe of the Week: Pinto Bean Salad

I just threw this together one night when I needed a quick side to round out a meal. I was pretty shocked how delicious it turned out...

1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 handful of fresh dill, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
splash of apple cider vinegar (pretty key ingredient...the appleness gives the salad another
dimension of flavor that it wouldn't have otherwise.)
salt to taste

1. Combine all ingredients
2. Chill for at least 30 minutes
3. EAT

P.S. The fruit stand guy gave this to me the other day....does anyone know what it is?!?!?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kat: Some Things Never Change

I have to give my mom credit for this recipe. It was one of the things she taught me before I went off to college: how to win friends and make a kick-ass lasagna all at once.

I really didn't know how great this recipe was until I noticed my friends asking me to make it if it had been too long since the last one disappeared. So here it is, ladies and gents, my infamous:

Vegetable Lasagna!

1/2 package lasagna noodles
2 leeks, chopped
1/2 medium eggplant, sliced in rounds
1/2 large yellow squash, sliced in rounds
1/2 zucchini, sliced in rounds
2-3 cups of spinach, de-stemmed
28 oz. can marinara sauce
handful of fresh thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
1 small tub cottage or ricotta cheese (I recommend ricotta, but TJ's only had cottage when I
needed it!!)
1 bag shredded mozzarella
1 egg

1. Cook lasagna noodles
2. Once they are cooked, lay out noodles on sheets of parchment/wax paper to dry (so they don't stick together and rip apart)

3. Preheat oven to 350*
4. Mix the egg and thyme (and any other additional spices you wish to use) in with the cottage/ricotta cheese
5. Grease your baking pan
6. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan
7. Start your assembly line:

noodles, sauce, & cottage cheese mixture

(don't judge me by my crappy throwaway foil pan)

eggplant & leeks

squash & zucchini

spinach & shredded cheese

8. Repeat step 7 until you get to the top of the pan
9. Place one more layer of noodles and pour the remainder of your sauce and shredded cheese to form the very top of the lasagna.
10. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly

(oh my god, I am so embarrassed by my bakeware. I hope the Le Creuset fairy visits me soon)

11. Take out and let cool for around 15 minutes (so that the layers will not fall apart when you cut into it.
12. Serve and DEVOUR!

Jenna: Some Things Never Change

To all the ladies out there who think that being in a crappy relationship is better than being in no relationship at all:

A person who is lousy to you will probably always be lousy to you. You should never have to work hard for someone's love or attention. It's hard to remember this and easy to excuse going to great lengths in order to get someone to respond to you, but if things start out that way, it's never going to get any better. And without a mutual effort on both ends, the chase becomes very, very tiresome. Take it from a woman who's been there and done that.

I have a friend who I call my other single friend, because we always keep each other sane and entertained in the midst of our singledom. She's gorgeous, intelligent, and talented, as well, so I know it's not just me. :) Over a few glasses of wine the other night, we were discussing the pros and cons of being part of a couple, with her sister providing the perspective of the "others".

Don't get me wrong. It's nice to have someone to share experiences with. Someone who calls you first to tell you about the weird/funny/sad/amazing thing that just happened to them. A person who's voice you love the sound of, to watch movies with when it's shitty outside, a person that makes you want to go out of your way to do something nice. And sometimes you go a really long time without feeling that way about another person, and it drives you to look for this potential in others. To really search for those qualities about someone that you might be able to love. Because everyone deserves to love a little. It's hard to recognize somebody's bad qualities, the red flags, an imbalance in the way you care for one another when things are passable, a relationship is okay on it's good days, and the desire to not be alone overtakes your reason.

But here's the flip side. When you spend a lot of time with yourself, when you learn to be your own ally, cheerleader, best pal, and captain of your personal team awesome...you're investing in something. You're making an investment in the improvement and evolution of yourself and working on making yourself a sincerely fabulous person to be around. You build something for yourself. You learn that you don't need someone else to validate you, that you can be independent, and that youre completely worthwhile on your own. You learn how to talk to strangers, how to be in new social situations, and grow a confidence that you're entirely responsible. For those of us that have made it that far, I present a question. In what universe is it worthwhile to compromise all of that for a lukewarm relationship? You owe it to yourself to find someone who's worth it. Someone who doesn't require you to compromise any of it, but who was attracted to all of that in the first place. Someone who celebrates it and makes you want to be a better person around them.

And if that's not there from the get go, no amount of work is going to make that happen. Don't work for it. You're wonderful. And way, way better than all that.

And here's an interesting link to an article in the NYTimes sent to me by my friend Andy. Who sends the best articles and has always celebrated my inner goddess.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This one's a winner...

If I could only be so lucky as to find a stud like this on the internet...

And even better...this is what things were like BEFORE the internet. Seriously. Please watch this.

Relationship Survival Guide: Pick Up Lines - Watch more Funny Videos

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Recipe of the Week: Summer Squash Succotash

I went to a nice restaurant the other day and had a delicious side dish that trumped my main course....this is my attempt at recreating it. Make it quick....before summer gets away from us!!

Summer Squash Succotash

1 leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
handful of fresh green beans, stemmed and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and chopped
splash of vegetable broth (probably not necessary to use, you can substitute with water)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Sauté leeks in olive oil over medium heat until they become tender (about 7-10 minutes)
2. Add garlic, zucchini, squash, beans cook for a couple more minutes
3. Add broth, salt & pepper, and rosemary. Cover and cook until all veggies are tender (about 10 minutes)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kat: Empty Fridge

This is a great recipe for one of those nights after a long day of work when you need a quick meal and barely have anything left in your fridge. I always have an extra package of tofu, some parsley, garlic and pasta laying around, so if you're anything like me, you could make this at any given moment.

(Pssst....I can not remember for the life of me where the base of this recipe came from (I should really write these things down before I go to jail for copyright infringement). I do remember that I changed the herb to parsley...sorry ahead of time to whoever I stole this from!!!)


1 package firm tofu, drained
1 cup fat free soy milk
a fist-full of parsley
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp onion flakes
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp nutmeg
small pinch red chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup shredded cheese


1. Combine all ingredients in a blender
2. Blend until smooth
3. Heat in a saucepan over low until warmed

4. Smother your pasta with it

...for this specific meal I sauteed a few veggies and layered them in between the pasta and sauce. It added a bit of a crunch for a completely satisfying meal!

Jenna: Empty Fridge

I hate that feeling of staring into an empty fridge, starving, lazy, and just wishing that exactly what you wanted to eat was sitting in there waiting for you. Forget exactly what you want to eat, you kind of wish that there was anything at all in there for you to snack on. But life gets busy, career situations, social calendars, trips and personal obligations...so time goes by and you keep on picking on whatever is in there until finally, it's undeniable. You have absolutely nothing to eat. There's a gnawing hunger in your belly, but you've got very little time for food shopping, so you're just gonna have to deal with it for now.

One can liken this experience to having a complete lack of romantic prospects, based on one thing or another. This is totally boring and lame. It's not like I want to be dating all the time, or make it the main crux of my daily life, however it's nice to have a crush on someone, at least. I never value a crush so much (even one that'll never go anywhere) as much as when I'm staring out into the barren wasteland of no one interesting to think on. It's nice to get have someone to grin about occasionally, to make too much of small, insignificant interactions, and to add a bit of pep to your step when you see 'em. A person that makes me take the extra 5 minutes to put on makeup on the subway before I might potentially run into them. The point isn't the crush actually going anywhere, it's just nice to work those charming muscles we flex when we flirt. Heaven forbid we let them atrophy waiting around for the next best thing.

But sometimes, there isn't anyone on the agenda and one must simply keep an open mind. It's hard to have patience though...especially as it's starting to get colder. It's part of our natural instincts to want to stock up on the necessities for the winter time.

How does one distract themselves from the empty fridge syndrome? Go shopping? Try to stock up for the winter time and get some options in there to turn to when the weather gets too bad to do much adventuring? Or just grin and bear it. Things will get better, my time and attitude will shift, situations will change like the leaves on the trees and there is much to be discovered. Clearly, patience is the answer. And none of these analogies are working. Besides, I hate being one of those people who's preoccupied with finding someone to cuddle with, even though cuddling is nice.

Maybe I'll just go food shopping at Trader Joe's and wink at cute boys in the produce aisle. Yeah. That sounds good.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kat: Things I Used to Hate

Here are a few simple recipes based on a three foods that I used to hate....that is until I stumbled upon the right way to cook them!!

Fish: Rosemary & Lemon Broiled Salmon

This recipe works for a number variety of fish, but my favorite is salmon

Salmon fillets (number depends on how many servings you need)
1 lemon sliced
Fresh rosemary, chopped
salt & pepper

1. Lay fish out and salt & pepper both sides
2. On the side w/out skin, sprinkle chopped rosemary & layer lemons like so:

3. Flip the fish over so the lemons are on the bottom and broil (line your pan with foil for this one) in the oven for about 12 minutes. Eat immediately!

Brussel Sprouts: Oven Roasted
10 oz brussel sprouts (about 18 sprouts)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp cumin
dash red pepper flakes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup veggie broth

1. Preheat oven to 400*
2. Prepare the sprouts by cutting the stems off each and removing any outside leaves that come loose
3. Mix together broth and spices then with the toss sprouts
4. Place sprouts on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with remaining spice mixture.

5. Bake for 30 minutes- toss once halfway through cooking time

Coconut: Macaroons
from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 325*
2. Mix all ingredients then drop 2 tbsp worth of mixture onto a lined baking sheet
3. Bake until slightly golden brown (about 20 minutes). Let cool completely before you move from the sheet.

For the chocolate drizzle I mixed about 3 tbs Agave with 2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jenna: Things I Used To Hate

Everybody has something they don't like about themselves. Whether it comes down to a character flaw, a tendency towards inaction, or a bad habit that you can't seem to break...the feeling of hating something about yourself is a very common human experience. I like to think that I learn from all of the experiences I have, good, bad, and ugly. That every time I make a mistake or less than respectable choice based on a whim or impulse, I acknowledge and accept it, knowing I won't make the same mistake again. I think we all like to believe in this process of emotional evolution for ourselves, but that doesn't always make it true. There are certain things that I will never do again, for sure. I'll never stay in an unhealthy relationship that makes me feel like shit, causes me to lie to friends, or be a watered down version of myself in order to please someone else. But aside from a few big no no lessons I've learned well, I've come to accept that, at this point in my life, there are some things about me that are simple true. And I can go on hating and judging myself for them, thinking that maybe with enough self-flagellation, I'll change...or I can accept these things for what they are and get on with it already.

I have an active libido. I like having sex. I like it a lot. Being perpetually single, this creates something of a dilemma. I'm not promiscuous either (I value my physical health above all else), but to me, being single has never meant being celibate. I know there are people out there who consider sex a sacred act, only to be shared with someone with whom you have deep, meaningful affection for...and that's totally fine for them. I've realized, it doesn't work for me. Its not that I'm not looking to meaningfully connect, I'm just a little impatient and need to get my rocks off every once in awhile regardless of my relationship status.

This is where old habits die hard. I leave myself open to all the opportunities the world has to offer, but usually tend to have a gentleman caller on the side. Call it what you will: A Johnny, a booty call, a fuck buddy, a friend with benefits...a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. About as sweet as a familiar, safe, attractive individual whose one and only function is to pleasure you once or twice a month. The guy in question, for me, is often someone I've gone out with a few times with whom I had immediate physical chemistry, but not much past that. I used to feel very, very guilty about this. Thinking that the reason I let it happen was because I didn't respect myself or lacked will power or dignity or some combination thereof. There was a time in my life when I would try to force relationship chemistry to try to validate and make myself feel better about the dirty part, but it doesn't work that way and I'm over it now. Is it ideal? Clearly not. Is it a convenience that keeps me sane and happy, while allowing me a firm emotional distance from my romping? Absolutely. I've learned to stop hating/judging myself for this aspect of my world that isn't shifting and making a sincere peace with it, regardless of what society at large may think.

Of course there are negative consequences for engaging in "bad" habits and I'm not pretending I'm not aware of them. My preference for casual sex (even with one constant and familiar partner) affects the way I treat having sex in general. I look at it as a shared pleasurable experience, but not necessarily as something super special that I should make someone wait for to prove a point about my chastity. I think that game is silly and if I decide I think you're worthwhile after getting to know you, I think its ridiculous to wait on principle, alone. And I know that this can impact the level of respect men have for women in a new relationship. Guys like girls who are dainty and demure and being perceived as 'easy' can end things before they really get to begin. Having sex with a guy too soon or just coming off like I would be willing to has definitely worked against me in the past. But the way I figure it now is that if I've learned to stop playing games and respect myself for who I am, others should do the same. And if they don't, good riddance. The kind of person with whom I eventually have that meaningful kind of where you cry at the end or some shit, will not be the one who goes running for the door because I gave it up before a month had passed.

Besides, as far as bad habits go, it could be much worse. And I've definitely gotten over hating myself for it. I am what I am. Love it or leave it.

Jenna: Having Sex with an Ex Is Like Eating Sushi from Yesterday

Everybody does it every once in awhile. You break up with someone and a few months/weeks/ days later...you find yourself kind of drunk, very horny, and seriously considering calling that person you so recently swore off forever for a late night booty call. I'm almost always a little drunk when it happens and the fearsome barren land of zero prospects before me coupled with the appeal of instant gratification leads me to believe that this is the most logical choice. But in a moment of brief and sober clarity, I will share with you this wise analogy that may make you think twice next time you go to drunk dial that guy/girl whose number is now saved in your cell as 'crap on my heart'.

Having sex with your ex is like eating sushi from yesterday. You know you shouldn't do it, that you're not really supposed to eat leftover sushi. But, it was only yesterday that you ate it the first time, you remember how delicious it was, and you figure that so little time has passed that it can't be that much worse, right? Definitely not enough time for it to have spoiled completely. Additionally, its right there in your fridge, waiting for you when you get hungry, zero work required. It takes a lot more effort to make yourself fresh food and time/money to order something else. You're lazy and you want satisfaction now, this seems like the best idea. It can't be that bad. You convince yourself that tossing it out would be wasteful, even.

Lies. Madness and lies. Here's why, after all is said and done, the sex and leftover sushi are both bad ideas. Its never going to be as good as the first time around, when you first ordered your meal at the nice restaurant and it was served to you in all of its decadent glory. Never. No matter how hungry you are or how much you want it to be the same. You're a day late and a buck short and you'll have to settle for what's left. It might even ruin whatever nice memories you'd retained from the first time you'd eaten it as you realize that this present experience is somewhat unsatisfying. On that note, you only have a few pieces of sushi left! Definitely not enough for a whole meal. And even if you eat it and its not so bad, there is no way that the tiny portion remaining is going to satisfy your hunger. When you're done, you'll still be hungry and frustrated that your appetite remains unsated. You'll find yourself craving more, which isn't readily available as technically you've finished you're allotted portion. In terms of ex sex, this can lead to some very unsavory behavior in the form of reigniting a relationship that for all intents and purposes, you ended for a good reason. Thus, partaking in this sushu, dwindling and past its prime can truly only end in disappointment. At least that's been my experience. Toss that shit in the trash...its already past its prime.

After much consideration, I've found that its a better idea to suck it up, scrape up some cash and what's left of your dignity and just try something new. Even if its not the best meal you've ever had, you're avoiding certain frustration by not moving backwards, and you never know...the next thing you order might totally hit the spot. The possibility of discovering your new,fresh, favorite food is worth a little extra effort on your part isn't it?

Kat: I. Love. Sushi.

I. Love. Sushi.

I completely blame Jenna for the lack of sushi in my life pre-New York City. Indiana in the 90's was no place to find sushi, and especially in my house (my parents still refuse to try the stuff), so there was no way that I was going to get introduced. In college, however, there was a sushi restaurant a rocks throw away from our house. Being from the city, Jenna was a sushi pro. Or at least that's that she led me to believe. Long story short, I was not informed that you were supposed to use the ginger and wasabi on the rolls. I just though they were for show (glaring at Jenna). It wasn't until years later in Brooklyn when someone finally showed me how sushi was meant to be eaten. After that first heavenly bite I. Was. Addicted. After another year or so of eating restaurant sushi, I decided to give it a shot and make my own rolls. It took a couple of tries to get the technique down, but as long as you have the correct supplies, its as easy as pie. And the best thing is - homemade sushi is even better than takeout. And it happens to be dirt cheap to make!

Lets get started...

I get all my ingredients at a little gem of a Japanese market called Sunrise Mart, but you can find all of these ingredients at health food stores or large markets.

Basic Ingredients/tools you'll need:
A VERY sharp knife

Bamboo rolling mat

Square of saran wrap large enough to cover bamboo mat
1/4 cup brown rice per roll you plan to make (I'll usually make 2 rolls per person)
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar per roll

1 tsp wasabi powder per person (mix with a small amount of water until it forms a paste)

Nori sheets

Pickled ginger

Soy Sauce (get the economy size....you'll be making a LOT of sushi from now on!)

Filling (this is just what I used this time around; get creative!):
Tofu (I suggest trying a fried tofu....not the healthiest of choices, but it is damn delicious!)

How to:
1. Get your rice cooking (for me, that means get out the rice cooker....I couldn't make rice on the stove if my life depended on it)

2. Steam any of the tougher veggies you're using (in this case asparagus, carrot, spinach)

3. Cut the rest of your veggies (or fish if you're using) lengthwise as slender as possible

(the pile of diced tofu is for the miso soup)

4. Lay out your bamboo mat and cover with a layer of plastic wrap
5. When rice is done cooking, mix in the vinegar and set aside
6. Place a nori sheet on top of the plastic wrap and scoop 1/4 cup rice in the middle of the sheet
7. Smooth a thin layer of rice over the face of the nori

8. Place a few slices of the filling at the end of the mat

9. Roll everything together slowly and as tightly as possible

10. Slice and you're done! Serve with the usual; soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi

I always make a miso soup to go with sushi. It is delicious and incredibly easy to make:

Boil as much water as you want soup (I usually make about a cup per person), as soon as the water boils, add one heaping teaspoon of miso paste per cup of water.

Once the paste has dissolved, add a handful of chopped (firm) tofu and one diced sheet of nori.

Stir and place in bowls. Top with a chopped green onion.

My mouth is watering. If you don't love the recipe....you're crazy.

p.s. Jenna, I'm still angry about you denying me the pleasure of sushi for all those years. You owe me. Lets talk about it over homemade sushi.