Monthly Archives: April 2012

April Showers Bring May Flowers and Another Foodie Pen Pal Package

Since I had such a great experience participating in Lean Green Bean’s Foodie Pen Pal program, I jumped at the opportunity to participate again this month, further connect with other food-obsessed individuals, and try some new (hopefullly tasty) treats.  April did not disappoint.

I was paired with a total sweetheart named Shreya M.  Here’s a little bit of what she told me about herself:

I am not a blogger but like reading them. I am an electrical engineer by profession. I like adventure sports, and like running. I have done 2 half marathons and 1 marathon (all this year). I am hoping to do a half iron man in October. Hopefully an ironman next yer. We will see about that.

I love to travel. I haven’t traveled a lot but have visited France, Costa Rica, and Toronto. I am from Mumbai, India and live in a Houston suburb (Sugar Land) now. I went to School at Syracuse University and of course bleed orange.

Just the mere thought of two-half marathons and a marathon in the same year makes me sleepy and my IT band ache.  Iron m(e)n? THUD <– The sound of me collapsing in disbelief.

Not only did her athletic feats leave me in awe, her very, very generous pen pal package left me with a very, very happy tummy.

Apple Banana Crisps: Dehydrated strawberries and bananas. It tasted a bit like space ice cream which made me nostalgic for grade school planetarium field trips. I could imagine these tasting great slightly reconstituted in cereal.

Artisana 100% Organic Raw Walnut Butter: I was so excited to receive the walnut butter. Last year, I unsuccessfully searched far and wide for walnut butter and, when I couldn’t find it, I ventured into the world of homemade nut butters and made it myself.  The concoction from my kitchen was good, albeit heavy. With the addition of the cashews, Artisana’s blend was a bit lighter and very delicious. I ate it on a baked sweet potato.

Apricot Green Tea Gummy Pandas: These are so good. I chilled these in the refrigerator to give them a little more bite. Kurt really liked these.

Banana Walnut Bites: Remember last week when I admitted to eating an obscene quantity of walnuts? No? Ok, I probably wouldn’t remember either. Well, anyways, I failed to mention that said walnuts were these amazing banana walnut bites. They are flavored with real banana so there’s none of that awkward fauxnana flavor. I ate them by themselves but next time I buy a bag you can bet that they will find themselves atop oatmeal and, if I get bit by the baking bug, inside a cookie.

Hail Merry Raw Vegan Gluten-free Macaroons: In my very humble opinion, coconuts were made for chocolate. These macaroons were not too sweet and very much yummy.

Picky Bars (Smooth Caffeinator & Lauren’s Mega Nuts) and Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate: Admittedly, I only tried the Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bar. Call me a sucker for Sade references, coffee and hazelnuts.

Fredericksburg Farms Peach Salsa (and a sincere apology): This salsa is homegrown on a farm in my pen pal Shreya’s home state of Texas. Am I the only one who is imagining a “salsa tree.” (Yerp.) Regretfully, I haven’t yet tried it for no particular reason because I love salsa. In fact, I am no stranger to poor man’s gazpacho (salsa + spoon).  I promise to try this soon and report back.

Shreya, thank you so much for so many great treats, and best of luck with the Iron M(e)n training.

What I Wish I Ate Wednesday

While most Wednesdays I participate in What I Ate Wednesdays (WIAW), where blogger’s gather at Jenn’s Peas & Crayons and post photographs of the previous days’ meals, I’ve opted to share what I wish I ate instead.*

A few weekends ago, Kurt and I visited Long Island for two nights to outlet shop and tour wineries. En route to the hotel, a stop at Angelo’s in Carle Place for a slice was non-negotiatiable. A while back, Kurt discovered the joint in an unassuming strip mall during a workday break and it blew the pizza aficionado’s mind. He made me a believer last summer when he brought home a par-cooked margherita pie that we finished cooking in the oven. Up until our recent sojourn, I had yet to experience a straight-from-the-brick-oven slice. Everyone knows pizza loses a certain je ne sais quoi upon hitting the box.

What ensues upon the first bite of Angelo’s margherita can only be described as a religious experience. The crust is thin, the crushed tomatoes are robust, and most importantly, the mozzerella is house-made, fresh, and encapsulates the creaminess and ever-so-slight brininess that’s characteristic of a high quality mutz.

If you’d like to get in on the action, you can find Angelo’s at

215 Glen Cove Rd Ste D
Carle Place, NY 11514

*In case you are wondering: yesterday, I had a two-egg omlette with Lisanatti’s almond cheddar cheese (the cheddar is far inferior to the pepper jack… sigh), an apple with a blob of almond butter for lunch,  an obscene amount of walnuts throughout the day, and for dinner, I had grilled chicken thighs dipped in cacik (turkish chilled yogurt, cucumber, and dill soup — recipe can be found here).

Marry Me

A year ago today, the sweetest man asked me to marry him.  He took me to the overlook in Weehawken on a sunny Sunday afternoon. As we enjoyed the view of the New York City skyline and talked about our future together, I was surprised by an acoustic serenade of Train’s “Marry me.” The crooner was Kurt’s very talented friend and beside him sat his then-girlfriend, now-fiance with a video camera.  Kurt dropped to his knee, presented me with a gorgeous cushion cut solitaire, and asked me the easiest question I ever answered, “Will you marry me?”  Through my uncontrollable giggles, I said “Yes… Yes…”

The whirlwind year that followed will forever be a reminder that with love the sum is greater than its parts.

I love you, Kurt.

Stress Gives You Wrinkles

“We often hear of people breaking down from overwork, but in nine out of ten they are really suffering from worry or anxiety.” -John Lubbock

Just when the hibernators come out to play, FreshMutz went into hibernation. By “hibernation,” I mean cooped up beside a desk littered with to-do lists dying to be done. I spent the little free time that I’ve had enjoying the sunshine with my sweetheart and friends. Prone to anxiety, I’ve found that these tips allow me to tackle the to-dos without overdoing the stress.

           1.     Prioritize. Sometimes, I have to accept that Rome wasn’t built in a day and, likewise, lesser feats can’t be accomplished in a workday. Every morning, I spend the first few minutes when I get into the office determining my order of operations for the day.  I also decide what needs to be done that day and what can be held off for the next.

            2.     Exercise. If you have a few minutes, spend it moving and get those feel-good chemicals going. I can’t think of better stress-relief than jumping on my mini-trampoline or a quick jog. However, don’t fret if you can’t squeeze it in. I’ve had bouts of obsessing over my daily cardio and found myself, at times, squeezing it in at midnight which is admittedly wacky.  Truthfully, I began to stress when I couldn’t find the time to workout which was counter-productive.

           3.     Meal Plan. It goes without saying in these parts, I make sure to fuel my body with the right balance of complex carbs, fruits and vegetables and proteins. With proper planning, a delicious meal can be assembled in a few minutes. When an extra-busy week is on the horizon, I’ll make a soup, a whole chicken, and a weeks worth of rice or quinoa. I’ll also be sure to stock up on pre-washed baby spinach for swift lunch salad preparation.

           4.     Take a break. When you know you’re in it for the long haul and facing a 12 + hour day, be sure to take a few ten minute breaks. Read an article, peruse the internet, go for a coffee run; whatever floats your boat but whatever you do, step away from the work. I’ve found that this really helps to break up my day so that I don’t feel chained to my desk.

           5.     Plan something fun. If you’re in the middle of an especially arduous project, give yourself something to look forward to when your project is completed. A few weeks ago, I faced back-to-back all-nighters. I booked a massage and facial for the weekend and, when the going got tough, I had my eye on the prize.

… and when all else fails, take a look at this:

 

 

I can’t look at this photo without getting giddy. Kid’s got swagger.

Tell me, how do you tackle lengthy to-dos?

Easter Feast-er

“Marriage is to family what legs are to a table.” -Betty Jane WylieFamily: An Exploration

Buona Pasqua blog friends! Happiest Easter and/or Passover for all those celebrating. I’d be lying if I said today wasn’t bittersweet. Things for the past few months have not been quiet on the home front, but if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that family is where the heart is and today my heart was warmed by the kindness and love of my new husband and in-loves, Baba and Mom. Truth is, love is all you need and it was in abundance today… and so was the food. Mom made a feast fit for kings.

We started off with nuts, olives, chips, crackers, hummus, a dip made with ajvar which is a relish consisting of red peppers, eggplant, garlic and chili peppers, and baba ganoush.  Admittedly, I arrived famished and over-did it on the appetizers. I had little appetite left for the main event.

Lamb, salad, artichoke hearts, asparagus, rice, beans, and borek… oh my. While I may not have been hungry, I am no stranger to eating for pure enjoyment and I enjoyed every single morsel. I especially enjoyed the lamb, which was made in Baba’s new favorite gadget: The NuWave Oven.

Kurt and I scoffed at the notion that our lamb would be prepared by this as-seen-on-tv contraption. Yet, we swallowed our snickers upon the first delicious, tender bite. It was perfect. Baba knows best.

peep show

For me, Easter isn’t an Easter without Peeps. I can’t even say that these little chickies are tasty. In fact, I think they are sickeningly sweet. Yet, this is a fact I’ll overlook as they are too cute and too fluffy. I love them. I love them more when they’re stale and I always eat the heads first.

Dessert was peanut butter pecan ice cream, chocolate pudding, cookies and a rouge peep. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal. As it is often the case on holidays, dessert was followed by a serious food coma.  Had I not had so much tea there would have been a nap, too… like this sleeping beauty.

Question

What’s your favorite easter candy? Aside from peeps, I love jelly beans. 

Fabulous Favor and Other Things I’m Loving Right Now

Yesterday, I had the chance to shower a very special woman with plenty of happiness. Linda is Kurt’s friend from college and boy does he know how to pick them. She’s bubbly, fun, and oh-so-stylish. Even better, she is marrying Kurt’s other college buddy, Steve.  In fact, Kurt introduced the happy couple, so we’re taking their engagement, wedding, and everything in between very seriously.

What made the shower extra-special was that it was at the restaurant where Linda worked in high school as a hostess. It was her very first job and her family is close friends with the owners. Good thing I have nothing but great things to say about the food… and there was plenty of it. I present to you Chinese deliciousness:

What made the shower extra-extra-special was the favor: A book of all recipes near and dear to Linda’s family from Aunt Carole’s Crisp Sugar Cookies to Nanny’s Banana Bread (courtesy of Cousin Johanna).

Feat. A Beauteous Photo of 7-Year-Old Linda

What a great idea! Congrats, Linda! I can’t wait to try the recipes and really, really can’t wait to see you walk down the aisle!

Here are some other things that I’m loving right now:

Sinful Colors Nail Polish

I bought this color only because it's called "Unicorn"

Nobody puts hot pink nails in the corner. (RIPPS #sadface)

A gagillion gorgeous colors and $1.99 a bottle? Yes! Lasts for a week without chipping? You have to be kidding me! You’re not? Ok, I’ll obsessively purchase every color including two blues that are so similar but one has a hint of sparkle and the other does not but I can buy both anyways because it’s less than two bucks a bottle. Run-on sentences aside, I am obsessed.

Yes, that is Dirty Dancing in the background. It’s my favorite movie. I can recite the whole thing start to finish. My freshman year of college I didn’t have cable (or basic cable). I had a TV and a DVD player and a very limited supply of DVDs. Consequentially, I watched Dirty Dancing more than a few times a week, and was A OK with that.

High Waisted Jeans

I bought these from the Victoria’s Secrets catalogue. I think they are very flattering but I am still trying to figure out what tops with which to wear them. I have a black cropped tie-front, button-down blouse that works. I’ll probably also wear this with solid tanks tucked-in. I don’t love the shirt the model is wearing. I mean she looks great (because she is a model) but it’s just not my style. Any suggestions?

Chicken Rice with Garlic Yogurt

chicken with rice makes a boring picture so here's some bunny and puppy cuteness. collective awwww.

Since poor Kurt was sick last week it was Nurse FreshMutz to the rescue. On his wish-list were Mom’s chicken soup (chicken broth and vermicelli) and chicken rice with garlic yogurt. This dish is super simple and super scrummy. Boiled chicken pieces, buttered rice, topped with yogurt mixed with minced garlic. The first night we had it, we didn’t have yogurt and used goat’s milk kefir instead, which was also great.

My New Glasses

I saw. I loved. I bought. That’s the glorious bride-to-be, Linda, beside yours truly. On another note: I barely wear my hair up because I have a wacky hair line. I’ll deal with it. Back to the glasses: “Don’t they make me look smarter?” (“Nah, we can still see your face.”) Name that movie quote: Grease. That’s my second-favorite movie. When I was a tyke, it was my first favorite movie and I rented it so often that the movie rental guy gave it to me. Joy!!!

So tell me: What are you loving right now?