I Gained 5 lbs Over Thanksgiving.. How and What I’m Going To Do About It

December 12, 2015 09:54 AM
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Well.. technically 4.6 lbs.  I told myself I wasn’t going to check the scale… because how you feel about yourself shouldn’t be measured by a number on a scale (most of the time I actually believe this). Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of strength training to build muscle which is the only reason why I’ve been weighing myself periodically. So weighing more (up to Thanksgiving break) has been a good thing since it’s meant that I’ve added muscle to my body.  Post Thanksgiving…. hmm not so much of a good thing because I can guarantee you that’s not extra muscle I’ve put on! I’m known to be quite disciplined with my exercise and eating so it’s a bit surprising to some how I did this (and no, I’m not pregnant!). I just really wanted to enjoy myself, recklessly. And now I’m paying for it.

How:

-Cheese… damn you, cheese.

The second helping of carrot cake after Thanksgiving dinner

-Cider Donuts.. Because you’re supposed to eat them when they are hot… and one is not enough.

-The late night pizza and fried ravioli in which each and every bite I consumed was dipped in ranch dressing

-Leftover pizza for lunch (not even mine… and I didn’t bother to heat it up properly)

-An excess of hummus and stuffed grape leaves. Because when in Detroit, why not?

-Sheetz made-to-order Burrito en route home from Michigan. And the side of onion rings. Oh the shame. (Yes, Sheetz is a gas station…ugh)

-No exercise all week except for a lazy turkey trot

What I’m going to do about it:

-No Cheese.. or any dairy for that matter.

-Back to my Vegetarian During the Week, Meat on the Weekend routine (been doing this for almost two months and I feel fabulous!)

-Monday, Wednesdays, Friday morning workouts (as per usual) with some additional exercises in between. Squats in the shower and ab-squeezing on the couch.

-Excessive drinking…. of water and NO booze for at least a week or two, if I can make it.  I’m flushing those toxins out of my body.

-Heavy veggie load, without the grains. Usually I add whole grains to my dinner dish but I’m going to cut them out for this week to achieve the quick effects of eating low-carb.  It’s just the reboot I need.

-Healthy on the weekend, too. I reward myself on the weekends with unrestricted eating since I’m healthy all week. Not this weekend. My body needs healing and breakfast sandwiches and wings isn’t the cure.

apple donut

Here goes!

My Favorite Holiday Recipes

November 11, 2015 12:06 PM
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Between hosting holiday parties and catering them, there are a few go-to recipes I always make for the holidays from savory bites to sweet ones and everything between, here are my favorite recipes to make.

Appetizers

Tuna Tartare with Homemade Wonton Chips– Ina Garten is the woman! She is my most trusted Food Network chef and I’m more than satisfied with over 99% of her recipes. This one doesn’t disappoint. It’s easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time- and then just assembled (tuna and marinade) 30 minutes before serving. It’s sophisticated and crowd-pleasing. To make my wonton chips, I just buy pre-made wonton wrappers, cut them in half and bake them into my desired “chip” shape by using mini muffin pans.  They can also be made ahead of time and store great.  Don’t forget to top with Black Sesame Seeds!

Herbed Feta, Sun Dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Dip Inspired by my favorite blogger, Smitten Kitchen, I do a slight variation of this awesome and unique recipe. It’s not your traditional dip which is why I love to make it so much. It’s great with both veggie sticks and pita chips. And honestly, you don’t feel so guilty when you find that you’ve eaten half of the dip all by yourself!

Mains

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna This recipe is great for many reasons: it can be made ahead of time, it feeds a crowd quite easily, you’re not paying an arm and a leg for meat/poultry AND even though it’s vegetarian, it’s unbelievably satisfying! Ina does it again! My tip- I add a variety of mushrooms and use extra herbs like thyme and parsley.

Chicken Marbella– To me, this is Silver Palate’s most popular and best recipe. Marinate the day before and bake it right before serving. Seriously- so easy! Who would have thought prunes could be so good? I serve mine over a bed of couscous. Mmm.

Silky Syrah Short Ribs– Okay, so this isn’t the easiest of dishes to make. But by golly, if you want to impress your guests, do not hesitate to make this. A client turned me on to this recipe, and therefore, I needed to buy the grand cookbook “Happy in the Kitchen” by Michel Richard (famous for Central and Citronelle).  It’s a stunning book and makes for a great holiday gift.  Back to those ribs- they are decadent and flawless (because you slaved away on them). You will not regret all of your hard work on this. KitchKat promise.

Sides

Creamed Spinach– This is a beautiful and elegant dish.  Have kids? They won’t turn down this veggie dish. Neither will your picky partner.

Cauliflower Au Gratin– Smitten Kitchen knows her sides. This can also be made ahead of time which is so helpful during the busy holidays.  No need to splurge on purple cauliflower!

Sweets

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie– This is a wow recipe! I mean it, every component in this dish is stunning and you could devour each one on its own. When I make this, I make 1.5 the filling and put it into a cheesecake springform pan. Bonus- this is the only salted caramel recipe that I make. Hold on to it!

Vanilla Pots de Creme– This is a wonderful, inexpensive and luxurious recipe that I’ve made over and over again. It’s creme brulee without the brulee! And guess what I add on top (just to be over the top)? That salted caramel I just raved about.  But even without a topping, this dish is simple and perfect.

 

Best of: Vitamix

November 11, 2015 10:36 AM
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Frequenting Costco as often as I do can be a blessing or a curse.  I definitely didn’t need to buy the holiday flannel sheets, fuzzy robe (I already have 2) or the countless purchases from their daily samples- though I’m totally grateful for discovering their Marinated Eggplant dish! But of the many Many great buys I’ve had, I’d say the ultimate purchase has been my Vitamix. I use it at least 5x a week- talk about getting my money’s worth! Mostly it’s salad dressings, smoothies, marinades and soups. Here are my fave recipes/uses for the Vitamix:

Whole Fruit Margarita– As in, you toss in whole limes, lemons and oranges, minus the peel. I skip the sugar and add Liquid Stevia.  This is one of the best Margarita recipes I’ve ever had- even better than Guapos!

Acai Bowl– My husband and I have these on Wednesdays and Saturdays (our special non-omelet days ;).  We mix ours with a frozen banana and a nut butter and then top with fage total, granola, fresh berries and honey. So GOOD!

Silver Palate’s Poppy Seed Dressing– When using an egg in a salad dressing you really want to make sure it’s blended properly. This recipe is my go-to for my Spinach Salad. It’s also amazing over pasta, coleslaw and plain broccoli.

Powdered Sugar– In a bind and don’t have powdered sugar? Just toss in granulated sugar, blend and boom!

Black Bean Soup– Soup made in minutes! Just add sauteed onions, garlic, beans, seasonings and chicken broth all together in the Vitamix and there you have it! This isn’t the only soup I make in there: Corn Chowder, Carrot and Ginger, Broccoli and White Bean, and Gazpacho are all my go-tos.

Every Smoothie You’ve Ever Wanted- Frozen fruit, veggies, nuts, granola, milk, honey- everything will get obliterated into a beautiful, silky-smooth drink.

My Favorite Restaurants (as of October 2015)

October 10, 2015 11:53 AM
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Ruan Thai– I’m not usually a yelper but right after I ate at this restaurant I went straight to my computer to write a rave review. In short, this is authentic Thai food that will make you forget you’re a random commercial strip in Wheaton let alone in the US. Do not miss: Yum Watercress, Panang Curry with Pork, Tom Kha Soup, Crispy Duck (Ped Pad Kha Prao). You’re welcome.

Modern Times Coffeehouse at Politics and Prose– When I’m not cooking in the kitchen you will undoubtedly find me on the computer responding to emails, creating new menus and doing food research. I seem to be most productive when I’m not in my home office so I like to go to coffee shops, specifically ones with food. And the food in the basement of DC’s beloved Politics and Prose is fantastic. Do not miss: Lentil and Cauliflower Salad, Quinoa with Black Beans and Corn and any of their soups. Also, if you can, try the Lemon Curd and a London Fog drink.

Comet Ping Pong– This is one restaurant that should be on my Favorite Restaurant for All of Time list. One of the saddest parts of moving out of Chevy Chase, DC was no longer being walking distance to this Pizzaria. I’ve had every item on the menu and none of it disappoints. Best pizza in DC, in my opinion. Why? Because of the crispy yet somehow still gooey crust. Do not miss: the Wings, the Smokey, the Stanley, the Hottie, the greek salad and the Yaley. And do yourself a favor and request the wing dipping sauce to enjoy with your pizza crust.

Mini Bar by Jose Andres– I was fortunate enough to indulge in a Mini Bar outing for a family christmas gift from my Dad this past winter. I’ve been to Komi (I know, I’m lucky), and thought that I wouldn’t need to experience another high end 12+ course dining adventure that costs half my monthly mortgage. So I was reluctant to try something like it again. I was not disappointed. It was a fabulous meal, better than Komi, and I say that because we had intimate interactions with everyone who touched our food, from the multiple chefs who worked on each dish to the various knowledgable and charming servers throughout the whole evening. The courses were memorable (hello lemon meringue rubber duckie filled with foie gras ice cream!) and plate-licking.

Thai X-ing (Florida Ave location)– So I like ethnic food. And I like casual settings with BYOB. And I like using restaurant bathrooms with a shower curtain. Because I’m pretty sure this is someone’s house (actually it is) and you’re going to use their private bathroom. This joint is as authentic as it gets. Straight up home cooked thai food. Pre fixe dinner with 5 or so courses. The pumpkin curry will knock your socks off- it’s unexpectedly packed with flavor and the texture is delightful. The sticky rice and mango- by far the best rendition of this classic thai dessert that I’ve ever had. Go on a Sunday- it’s their vegetarian, and therefore, slightly less expensive night. You won’t miss the meat. I promise. DISCLOSURE- I haven’t been in over two years (though I hope that still speaks to how much I love their food) but I can’t say for sure that the quality is still as top-notch as it was when it was less known. I’ll just hope for the best.

On KitchKat Staying Fit

August 08, 2015 03:44 PM
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Being that I’m around food all day, it’s important that I mix in a good amount of exercise to balance my frequent gnoshing.  I’ll be honest though, I don’t always have the time or energy to get a rigorous workout in– and that’s okay, because I add in other healthy habits to help pick up the slack. Here they are:

Low Carb:  Low carb does not mean NO CARB. I definitely eat carbs.  You know, like whole grains, whole vegetables and fruits, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds and rolled oats. They give you energy, tons of nutrients, fiber and help stabilize your blood sugar levels.  I try to have one small portion of healthy grains per day and that’s it.  BUT I’m no saint and sometimes I eat the bad carbs. That leads me into my next habit.

Binge Day: Okay, more like, binge weekend.  I try to eat healthy during the week and on the weekends, I splurge a bit and eat foods that I really like (read, food with bad carbs) such as PIZZA (my all time fave), fried food (it happens) and dessert.  To deprive yourself of ALL foods that you love ALL the time usually results in an inevitable binge anyway, so why not allow yourself some small joys in life. If you can plan for it, you may not binge to the point of a guilt-hangover right after.  Plus, when I know that I get to treat myself on the weekends it motivates me more during the week to stick to my healthy routine… and to exercise.

Workouts:  I am not the type of person who can workout by myself.  I need to be in a group setting.  This is something you should know about yourself.  When I was a member of Crunch Fitness, I stuck to a routine of the same classes each week and got in an awesome workout at least three times a week. THEN I moved… Away from my beloved gym… and I was back to my own devices.  So I started working out with my husband in our basement.  This leads me to my next habit.

Early Workouts: My husband is a morning person. I am not. The idea of working out at 6am is tough but since he does it I do it too- because the alternative would be me working out by myself and I already know that I’m less likely to do that if I’m on my own. The thing about working out early though is that once it’s done, you don’t have the “workout guilt” hanging over you for the rest of the day.  You don’t have to dread getting in that work out after a long day come 6pm.  Getting your workout out of the way first thing in the morning not only gives you more energy throughout the day but it kick starts your metabolism.

YouTube:  Surprised by this one? You shouldn’t be. With endless videos out there, my husband and I tapped into the world of YouTube fitness channels and feel the burn. Our favorites: anything from Jillian Michaels but especially her 6 weeks Abs and Shred videos, GymRa (do anything with Christine Currie) and Fitness Blender. Fitness Blender is a wife and husband team (hmm, maybe us one day) and they have hundreds and hundreds of videos of strength-training, HIIT, cardio and pilates.

Five Favorite Summer Recipes

August 08, 2015 08:25 AM
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Here’s a list of tried and true summer recipes that I love. Of course, I do like to still make these even in the colder months, but I find the most pleasure eating these when I’m outside on my backyard deck listening to 60’s music or classic rock.

Husk’s Pimento Cheese– From my days down south, a barbecue (or any tailgate) wasn’t complete without this classic dip. This pimento cheese recipe is by far the best I’ve come across. That’s probably because it was created by Chef Sean Brock of the very popular Charleston restaurant, Husk. My KitchKat twist: instead of serving it in a bowl as a dip, I pipe it on a toast point and garnish it with either a tomato or bacon jam mmm. Of course, I’ve never made this with pickled ramps (who has the time?!) but bread and butter pickles do just fine.

Watermelon, Feta and Kalamata Olive Salad- SO simple! Cube up a Watermelon, Crumble Feta (your choice of how much- I like a lot!), Add halved Olives (make sure there are no pits!), Add thinly sliced Red Onions, Salt and Pepper and your favorite Red Wine Vinaigrette. Add Basil or Mint to add a little color and oompf. Mmm. If you’re keen on following a recipe, try Ina’s version with Arugula here!

Barbecued Ribs– I request these from my husband at least once a month- and not just in the summer. Slow cooking the ribs in the oven and then finishing them on the grill makes this dish finger-licking and bone-sucking good. My favorite store-bought bbq sauce (for the chef on the go) is Sweet Baby Ray’s original sauce.

Southern Cucumber Cocktail– Like bourbon? Then you will love this. It’s refreshing and unique- definitely a cocktail that you can wow your guests with. I enjoy mine in copper mug but if you don’t have one, a nice mason jar will do!

Ina’s Lemon Curd Tart– Ina Garten has outdone herself with this delightful and fool-proof dessert. It is also one of the most outstanding lemon curds you will ever have. This is also the base for a lemon meringue pie.  Please don’t pass this one up!

My Five Favorite Books of All Time

August 08, 2015 08:16 AM
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1) Outlander Series- You will forever look at red-headed men differently. Historical fiction is just a bonus for this steamy love story. Or is it the other way around? Did I mention that Starz has made a series of the first book?

2) Jane Eyre- An empowering and enlightening novel every woman should read. So much wisdom to be gained. After you’ve finished the book, spoil yourself by watching the 2011 film version with Michael Fassbender 😉

3) To Kill a Mockingbird- All serious topics (racism, discrimination, morality and injustice) that we still deal with today, told to us by a little girl named Scout. I had the pleasure of listening to this as an audiobook with Sissy Spacek as the narrator. Highly recommend!

4) Tuesdays with Morrie- Mitch Albom is a brilliant writer (and storyteller) and recounts his meetings with his former college professor who is dying of ALS. Life, love, faith, happiness- it’s all covered. And it will make an impact on you. Have tissues handy.

5) The Lorax- “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Take twenty minutes of your life to read this Dr. Seuss classic. I still get goosebumps when I read it.

**After reading this book recently, I have to now make this list the Top Six. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is “hauntingly beautiful” as the New York Times puts it. It’s a story about a blind Parisian girl and a German orphan prodigy set in the terror of WWII. How their lives intertwine, you’ll have to find out. Oh, and the novel won a Pulitzer Prize too.

Five Household Cleaning Products I love…

July 07, 2015 08:33 PM
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Five Household Cleaning Products I Swear By…

I’ll be the first one to admit it (or maybe, my husband will) but I am not the neatest person. I’m trying to be, and believe me, I’ve come a long way! Fortunately, I am of the mind that “less is more” – something for another post, so there’s not too much clutter around me. While I may not be the neatest, I certainly think I’ve become quite the cleaner in the last eight years. With these five household cleaning products, I think I’ve got my home under control.

  1. Method All-Purpose Cleaner, Lime and Sea Salt First let me just say that this smells AMAZING, and I really mean it. The bonus: it’s nontoxic and eco-friendly.  I use it on everything!
  2. Bar Keepers Friend– Do you have any grimy pots or pans? Sticky Le Creusets? I did. And then a friend pointed me to this bad boy and all the gook and grime went bye bye.  All that was left were some well-used arm muscles. A little elbow grease takes away the grease!
  3. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Surface Scrub– Yet another deliciously smelling product that really works. And speaking of grime… this gentle scrub is great on your kitchen stove. I also use this every time I clean meat or poultry in my kitchen sink. Never disappoints, always smells good.
  4. Ecover Liquid Dish Soap, Lime Zest– I make a lot of dishes dirty as you can imagine and so I’ve tried all sorts of dish soaps. I like using natural and eco-friendly products and this one hits the mark. Not only does it smell amazing (I’m clearly lead by my nose) but it cleans easily, isn’t harsh on my skin and it lasts a LONG time. Love this product!
  5. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Foam Pad– When I first tried this product I was convinced that the hype was for naught. Then someone informed me that you had to wet the darn thing first! Life changer.  It works.  My favorite use- erasing the scrapes and marks off of our walls. Also, in the bathrooms. It’s great, just great.

favorite food blogs

June 06, 2015 11:22 PM
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I’m constantly surrounded by food. It’s my thing. And so when I’m not in the kitchen making food, I’m on the internet looking at food, food recipes and food pics.  Over the last few years I’ve honed in on my favorite sites for inspiration for my weekly kitchkat meals, catering events and family meals.  Here are my top three favorite food blogs and I’ll give you my reasons why:

  1. Smitten Kitchen– She takes classic recipes from all over the culinary world, from Julia Child to the Home Sick Texan and adds her own subtle twist to the staple recipes.  Highly recommended recipes: Creamed Spinach, Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella and Blue Cheese Salad Dressing
  2. Joy the Baker–  While she is primarily a baker, she dabbles in alcoholic drinks, savory breakfasts and dinners. And all of her recipes are wonderful. I’ve had yet to make a bad dish. I even bought her first cookbook.  Highly recommended recipes: Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie, Cold Avocado Soup with Bacon and Corn, Peanut Butter Fudge Treats
  3. Food Network: Ina Garten – OK so this isn’t a blog, per say, BUT it’s an aggregrate of all things made by Ina Garten, aka, the Barefoot Contessa.  She’s my favorite food network star and her recipes are almost 95% guaranteed to be great. Her food is often sophisticated but easy to make.  Highly recommended recipes: Pesto Pasta with Peas, Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, Rosemary Roasted Cashews