Saturday, December 31, 2011

Twenty Twelve

As usual, I'm spending this morning thinking about 2011 and all that the past year has brought. Since I've been writing this blog, this is the fourth New Year's Eve to come and go, and with it plenty of reflection and resolution. I'm sure life will slow down and pick up, but I must say that the past four years have been filled with some of life's most enormous changes, making way for lots to consider on New Year's Eve. 2011 was one of the most exciting, and crazy, years so far. We survived and thrived through a year of long distance; I made the decision to move to Boise; I packed up my New York life and said goodbye to friends, family, a job, an apartment; Jeff and I moved in together; I started a new job; I'm making a new life for myself. When I think about 2012 and the wonderful joys of another year, I say bring it on. I love my life, and I know that this coming year will be extraordinary on many levels. There is still a lot of settling down and settling in to do, but I'm thrilled to be where I am, with love and happiness to spare, looking forward to what's to come.

Resolutions for 2012:

Exercise! I started taking hot yoga at Sumit's Yoga over a month ago and am loving it. Except for dance, this has been the best kind of exercise that I've tried so far. I see how fit, healthy, and happy this kind of yoga can make people, and it's inspiring to go to class and watch Boise's yogis kicking butt. I want to push myself to get stronger and work harder.

Make new friends! For anyone who's spoken to me in the last few months, this is clearly on my mind. I love my home, my job, my new city, and the icing on the cake will be a great group of girlfriends. This is the one piece of the puzzle that I can't control, but I strive to take the bull by the horns and put myself out there.

Try new things! I probably say this every year, but that's because it's important to me. I love the feeling of succeeding at a new achievement, and I want to give myself more time to do so. I've taken stabs at DIY projects and have been cooking and baking up a storm this year, trying new recipes and techniques. I'm proud of what I've created and I want to become more confident to take on new ideas.

Live in the moment! I mentioned this the other day, and there's a personal story behind it. A few weeks ago while attending a sporting event, my first impulse was to ask someone to take a picture of us. He who shall not be named turned to me and said something along the lines of "Let's just enjoy ourselves, in the moment." As rudimentary as that may seem, a light bulb went off in my mind. Sometimes, I want so badly for days, events, meals to go well that I spend more time trying to make them perfect than I do actually enjoying whatever messy, delightful, chaotic moment is in front of me. I have a great life - right here, right now - and it is up to me to take it all in, one moment at a time.

This practically goes without saying - to be a loving, caring person who shares that infectious positivity with everyone around me. Life is yours to love and to celebrate.

Happy New Year and lots of love!



Friday, December 30, 2011

Dress Me Up

When it comes to New Year's Eve, my first thought is always what to wear. I love a good party dress and my favorite night to don a new look is certainly when I'm ringing in a new year. I love sparkle and shine, shimmer and sequins, and anything that resembles a disco ball. This year, I've been most taken with the subdued but dramatic looks I've seen on racks and online. Here are a few of my festive favorites:

* I'm rocking this gorgeous black and gold number, and adding my Zoë twist with a black bow around the waist, fun pumps, and big hair. Can't wait to see ya, 2012!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Last night, I returned to Boise from a whirlwind week in Marin filled with eating, laughing, sleeping, sunning, playing, and relaxing. I enjoyed long mornings in my pajamas, lunches and glasses of wine with my closest friends, and festive dinners with family, all under a blanket of sunshine and warm temperatures. Going home as an adult is always a bit odd - you have a home that you've created for yourself, yet you're sleeping in your childhood bedroom, surrounded by a hodgepodge of memories; your time is limited so you pack in all the fun and excitement of family and friends that used to be everyday life; on some level, you look forward to returning "home," to the normal place that you spend your days, with your possibly newer friends and family. In an effort to live in the moment (it's like a baby New Year's resolution trying to creep its way into my mind), I just took it as it came. I was stressed by family overload, so I breathed deep breaths and took moments to myself. I was sad to leave my people, but treasured each moment as a memory to keep with me. When yesterday arrived, I couldn't wait to come back to Boise, to my house, my man, my dog, my job, though, probably for the hundredth time, I wished my mom could be in multiple places at once. But I learned yet again that this is the life - to have so much love and goodness around me that I wish for more time to enjoy it.

California palm tree as seen through my window


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday 13

My co-worker and fellow blogger Annelise started a new series today called Thursday 13. Each Thursday, we'll get to learn a little something about what she's doing, where she's going, and what Simply Aunie thoughts she's having that day. See below as I take a stab at my first Thursday 13:

1. Wearing: Grey cardigan with faux diamond buttons, black lace eyelet pencil skirt, black flats, and my newest addition - Bonnie & Clyde glasses. Call it geek chic ;)
2. Doing: Working, eating all of the chocolate in the office, enjoying the sunshine through my windows.
3. Drinking: Martinelli's Sparkling Cider from our staff meeting, cheers!
4. Music in the background: The Christmas tunes from the next office over, fa la la la la la la la la.
5. Plans for the evening: Pack and fly to California! Home for the holidays commences.
6. Hairstyle of the day: Flat iron curled waves
7. Nail design: Forever 21 Safari Elephant polish
8. Eating for lunch: Whatever speaks to me at the hospital cafeteria, which usually translates into a salad and iced tea.
9. Positive for the day: No work tomorrow, which means today is Friday!
10. Negative for the day: My flight home is delayed :(
11. Lusting after: Every coat on the Tulle website.
12. Looking forward to: Seeing my family and spending Christmas with my niece and nephew. The holidays are so much fun with a couple rug rats around the tree.
13. Thinking: About my favorite pair of weekend and after work shoes at the moment. Can't wait to wear these with skinnies all vacation long.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gifting Gingerbread

I'm sure you haven't noticed, but it's been a long time since I did a foodie post! Trust me that it's not because I haven't been eating great things, it's more that I have been devouring them before I have the notion to record and publish. Last night, I got back on track. I'd been thinking for a while about what I wanted to bake for my co-workers as holiday gifts. My original thought was whoopie pies - ginger cookies with lemon filling and pumpkin cookies with cream cheese filling, to be exact. I did my research, found my recipes, and then realized that I have 10 co-workers, to whom I would want to give three whoopie pies apiece, meaning that I'd be making 60 cookies and filling. Achieving this after work one night the week before I leave town seemed like a recipe for disaster, so back to the drawing board I went. I was committed to something gingerbread and when I stumbled upon Martha's Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies, I knew it would be love at first bite. Blessed with a free night and leftovers for dinner, I set to work to make a double batch.

Batter and chocolate madness

Sugary dough balls with ginger garnish
Sampling the first batch
Gifts for the office

Recipe, *adapted from Martha:
(Single batch, as seen below, makes 30 cookies)

7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
30 pieces of crystallized ginger

- Grease two baking sheets. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
- Beat butter until soft. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
- In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap.
- Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
- Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and flatten, roll in granulated sugar, add crystallized ginger pieces, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
- Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I omitted the fresh grated ginger and cocoa that the original recipe calls for, and added crystallized ginger pieces to the top of each cookie before baking.

When I first looked at this recipe and its accompanying comments, I was a little intimidated. Being a novice myself, the idea of experienced bakers considering this to be a difficult recipe made me think that it would be a circus for me. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by how manageable the recipe was, and how delicious the cookies turned out. You can quote me on this - they were some of the best cookies I've ever had. Insanely sweet and ridiculously chocolaty, I would probably cut down on the sugar and even some of the chocolate to let the ginger sing a little more. That being said, chocolate chunks are far superior to chocolate chips, and despite the extra effort in chopping them up, I would choose them again and again. In other words, get out your supplies and make these cookies! Your taste buds and tummy with thank you.

P.S. Remember how I was trying to avoid making 60 cookies by skipping the whoopie pies? I made 59 chewy chocolate-gingerbread cookies last night. I guess it was meant to be.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Driving north on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands on the left

When I was four, my parents made the extraordinary wise decision to move from Montclair, New Jersey to Mill Valley, California. I will always love NJ and my family who lives there, but I believe that I was born to be a Bay Area girl. I feel so lucky to have grown up around the most liberal, loving, open minded, intelligent community in the world, not to mention that every angle looks like a postcard. This place has completely shaped the person I am and the beliefs I have and I couldn't be more pleased. On Thursday, I'll be heading home to the suburbs of the City by the Bay to envelope myself in family, friends, food, and sunshine. See you soon, California!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday: Today

I've been thinking about writing some sort of weekly post, and then I stumbled upon the little things we do and Fill in the Blank Friday. Yet another reason to just love Fridays!

1. My most favorite "little thing" is morning coffee. Whatever beans are on sale, a generous splash of nonfat milk, and I'm happy as a clam. Aside from omitting sugar a few years ago, I've been enjoying this ritual since I was about 13.

I give anything to be curled up on the couch simultaneously sleeping, finishing my book, and watching Bravo marathons.

I can't believe that I'm going home to Marin for Christmas in a week! It's been too, too long and I cannot wait.

The one thing I'd like to achieve today is to be fully invested in each moment as it comes, to not focus on the future, but to enjoy the present.

The last thing I want to do today is lay around knowing that the weekend has arrived!

6. If I were writing my own blank today, it would say My favorite Friday indulgence is...

7. My favorite candle scent is anything ocean or linen, nice and clean.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sun Valley is for Lovers

As aforementioned, Jeff and I had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend nestled among the mountains of the Wood River Valley, eating, drinking, and enjoying all that Sun Valley and Ketchum had to offer. Like many getaway destinations, this one was like a breath of fresh air that forced us to relax, unplug, and take in our surroundings. It never ceases to amaze me how easily I can transition from the hectic life of busy work weeks and errand packed weekends to being completely at peace with rest and rejuvenation. Of course, it is always fleeting - as soon as I get my dose of calm, I'm ready to get back to the routine and schedule of an on-the-go gal. No matter what, the opportunity to escape with my favorite boys is one I'll never pass up. Just thinking about it gets me excited for our next mini vacation. Here are a few highlights from our wonderful weekend:


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

Aside from the cinematic triumph, The Mighty Ducks, I have very little experience with ice hockey. So when my hospital gift shop advertised discounted tickets to the Idaho Steelheads, Boise's minor league hockey team, I jumped at the chance to try something new. I picked out seats near the ice so we could take in the whole experience, but definitely didn't know just what I was signing up for. We arrived partway through the first period after a delicious dinner at Mai Thai, grabbed a couple beers, and found our seats in the first row on the glass, right behind one of the goals. About 30 seconds passed before a league of enormous, padded men on skates came racing down the ice towards us. In the fight for the puck, they collided with each other and the glass, causing me to literally leap out of my seat. I knew I was protected, but man, you can't help your instincts! Over the course of the game, we saw three fights, countless collisions and pucks flying in the air, and heard from some die hard fans. My next seat neighbor has been a season ticket holder since the team's fruition in 1997, and from the way he talked to the rest of the people in our section, it was clear that he wasn't alone in his dedication. It felt great to be surrounded by so many intense fans who have been with this team through its ups and downs, and it's nice to know that being a spectator of the Steelheads is accessible for everyone. Tickets, drinks, and food are inexpensive, and the games are conveniently located in the heart of Boise. Not to mention, this is an incredibly exciting sport to watch! The Steelheads have certainly found their next fan.

Our view for the evening


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fa La La

O, Christmas Tree! O, Christmas Tree! We picked up these lovely branches, along with some delicious apple cider, from a local farm stand today. We spotted the little guy right when we walked onto the lot - just perfect for our first Christmas with lots of room to grow. Bear is a bit unsure of the shimmery foliage taking up roaming space in the living room, but I think he'll come around with a little more sniffing and inspection. The ornaments are a mixed bag of something old, something new, something borrowed, and a whole lot of glitter, collected from Jeff's parents' house and stores in town. I can't wait to build our own collection over the years, as well as bring my favorites back from my mom's house in Marin. The tree is the icing on the holiday cake, and I'm excited to enjoy its quirky glow every evening for the next few weeks.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In the Holiday Spirit

Little by little, our house is filling up with festive bits and pieces of holiday cheer. There are some things that will forever remind me of this time of year - delicious treats to share with family and friends, Christmas music in every store, the shrinking numbers on the thermometer - and I am always happy when the familiar sights, smells, and sounds begin to tell us that the season has arrived and Christmas is right around the corner. Here's what I'm loving right now, as captured by my iPhone:

Yummy, and flattering, citrus
Pre-loved decorations from the thrift store
Dressing up bouquets with holiday flair
The cutest pup with his new plaything


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deck the Doors

To celebrate life in a house with doors, I couldn't wait to make wreaths for the holidays. I set out to Michael's with no plan other than the hope to be inspired and was greeted with the most festive display of red, green, and sparkle. I wandered the aisles, scooping up sleigh bells, pine cones, and ornaments to adorn my greenery. Having never made a wreath before, I didn't know how much loot I needed, but it's better to be safe than sorry so I brought home quite the collection.

This was a really fun project, one that I recommend to anyone with a creative bone but without a real green thumb. You can't really make a mistake and nothing's permanent. Even better? All of the supplies cost only $30, a steal compared to the less personal wreaths you can find at department and grocery stores. Now our doors are decorated, with sleigh bells giving a little jingle every time they open and close. I would say that the holiday season has officially arrived in our house. Next up - Christmas tree!

2 faux wreaths
2 big bows
1 package of small multi colored ornaments
1 package of small gold sleigh bells
1 package of small gold pine cones
1 branch of gold leaf
1 branch of faux cranberries
1 branch of gold baubles
1 branch of red fabric flowers
2 wooden letters
1 container of gold shimmer spray paint

Wreaths and decorations
A little glitter gold spray paint for our letters
I used green wire to attach the goodies to the wreaths
Wrapped for extra strength
I started with my big red bow
And added pieces as evenly and somewhat strategically as possible
Finished product #1!
Decorating the front door
And a little guy for the back door
Welcome to our home :)


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A December to Remember

With December right around the corner and a snowy weekend behind me, I am definitely getting into the holiday spirit. This weekend, Jeff and I are entering decoration mode (or at least I am, and he will assume the role of brawny man who helps carry the tree), and I'm planning to get quite crafty around the house. I've made my list and checked it twice, and can't wait to start shopping for gifts for my family, work Secret Santa, and more. I love this time of year, of gift giving and being with loved ones, and I'm excited to shop, bake, and create.

December always reminds me of the many holiday seasons past - when I've been out of school, with the fire roaring, something baking in the oven, and favorite tunes blasting from the stereo. While it never gets too cold in Marin, December is a wonderful occasion to be wrapped in a chunky sweater, lounging by the hearth with a good book, a delicious beverage, and a great family cat to snuggle with. I will be home for only a few days, the shortest "winter break" I've ever had, but I'm planning to make the very most of it. I have a new niece to fall in love with, lots of friends in town for the holidays, and great spreads of home cooking to look forward to.

December is even more special to me because four years ago today, Jeff and I got together, and a week later, went our separate ways for a month of winter break. It was during that time that I got to know this wonderful guy, through texting, phone calls, and Gmail chat conversations, and I believe that the month apart solidified the relationship that we would go on to have - one of great communication, mutual appreciation, and understanding of where we came from and who we are, both independently and together. While we won't be spending Christmas together this year, we'll be with our own families and missing each other, which we got way too good at last year, but which will make for a very happy New Year.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving, Sun Valley Style

Over Thanksgiving, Jeff and I escaped to Sun Valley, ID for a long, luxurious weekend. We had an absolute blast, and I can promise that the full report will be coming to you in multiple posts. First up? Food, of course! We ate and drank like royalty, taking the word "indulgence" to a new level.  Sometimes, it feels so good to just let yourself enjoy exactly what you want, especially when it's the holiday season and you've got fine dining on the menu.

A delicious bottle of red • Crunchy red grapes • My beautiful Thanksgiving plate • 
Gotta have my pumpkin pie •  Baked oatmeal • Butternut squash soup with creme fraiche and pancetta

Baked Oatmeal Recipe, adapted from Tasty Kitchen:
(Makes 6 servings)

2 cups peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup non fat milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups oats
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Arrange peaches in a 9-inch baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon
In a medium bowl, mix butter, milk, eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar
In a large bowl, mix oats, baking powder, and baking soda
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients
Pour over peaches and spread evenly
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until top is brown and crunchy


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


I am thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones. I am thankful for the special time I had with those who are no longer with us, especially my darling Aunt Susan and one of my favorite mothers, Serena.

I am thankful for this little life that Jeff and I have, and to be celebrating four years of love and togetherness. I am thankful to have had my partner by my side for some of the craziest times so far, to make me laugh, to be infectiously enthusiastic, and to remind me just how sweet life is.

I am thankful for the gifts my parents have given me – an education in school and in life. I am thankful to be so blessed, to have been able to follow my heart and achieve my goals, and to have the tools to continue to work for what I believe in.

I am thankful for my friends and family, near and far, who know me for me, who remind me constantly how wonderful it is to love people, and who bring out the very best in me. I am thankful to be in such incredible company.

I am thankful for Broadway tunes at the top of my lungs, for Bear, for a perfectly baked goodie, for belly laughter, for cuddling on a great night of television, for dancing, for a glass of wine after a long day, for down comforters, for fall leaves, for happy people, for love.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday Supper

Sometimes, the best meals are the ones thrown together with what you've got in the kitchen. This was proven last night when Jeff and I were sent straight to the clean plate club thanks to a dinner of part fresh and part frozen foods that were all delicious.

Pork Chops with Béarnaise, Spinach Souffle, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

(Makes 4 servings)

4 medium sweet potatoes
4 boneless pork chops
1 packet Knorr Bearnaise Sauce
1 cup non-fat milk
1/4 cup butter, plus a few tablespoons to taste
2 packages Stouffer's Spinach Souffle
Brown sugar to taste
Pepper and garlic powder to taste
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil, prick sweet potatoes with a fork and place on foil
Bake for 45-60 minutes, until tender
Heat olive oil in large skillet
Place pork chops, two at a time, in skillet and season on both sides with pepper and garlic powder
Cook on each side for 3 minutes or until no longer pink
Remove to plate and cover with tinfoil until ready to eat
Remove spinach souffle from box and remove foil, cook for 6 minutes, stir, cook for 6 more minutes
In a small saucepan, mix 1 cup milk, Bearnaise Sauce packet, and 1/4 cup butter
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat to simmer and allow to thicken for approximately 1 minute, stirring frequently
When potatoes are cooked, slice into rounds and add a little butter and brown sugar

And that's all folks! I would be a little embarrassed that two of my four dinner components came from a package, but it was so delicious that I don't even care. The bearnaise tasted pretty authentic to someone who's never made the real thing and the spinach souffle is a staple in my freezer (and a great choice for anyone who's on the fence about spinach). I'll be recreating this meal again in the future. Bon appetit!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Night in the Life

For all intents and purposes, I am an event planner. For the past two and a half years, I have organized events that raise money for kids, first at a girl's school in New York and now at a children's hospital in Idaho. I love what I do - not only does planning events feed my type A personality and desire for order, but there is no feeling quite like looking around a room full of happy people who are contributing to a wonderful cause and raising funds that truly make a difference. Last night was my first big event since starting my new job here in Boise, and it was a great success. Everyone was dressed to the nines, the decor was beautiful, the band was in full swing, and best of all, we were all there to celebrate the philanthropic efforts of members of our own community. Here are a few snapshots from what a night in my professional life looks like...

Setting up with fellow blogger and fundraising pro Annelise from Bye Bye Beehive • Rocking my ring corsage courtesy of Craig + Co. • The ballroom all dressed up • In our formal wear!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From Start to Finish

In the name of celebration and rewards for a job well done and completed, Jeff and I had ourselves a little pizza party last night. Pizza was our last meal before our gluten-free adventure began so it's only fitting that it would be our first meal back. As I mentioned, we're going to keep up the gluten-free life for the most part (I actually felt guilty when I considered ordering a normal sandwich yesterday, very odd how we become accustomed to things so easily), but we needed to commemorate the journey properly. Our whole wheat Boboli was smothered with sauce, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onion, turkey Italian sausage, and sauteed mushrooms. Happy groans and tummy rubbing ensued.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Final Countdown

Today is the last day of our gluten-free challenge. Phew, we made it! It has been a great month and I'm really proud of what we've accomplished. Going forward, we're going to continue to eat gluten-free for the most part, but enjoy at least one dinner a week that doesn't follow the rules. For our final week, we tried gluten-free pasta, and I gluten-free sandwich bread, for the first time, escaped to Thailand for take-out, and enjoyed delicious home cooked meals. Here are the recipes that I created in the kitchen:
Pumpkin Sage Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Butternut Squash

Recipe, adapted from Nat the Fat Rat:
(Makes 4 servings)

1 box gluten-free pasta (I used rotini rice pasta)
4 turkey Italian sausages, cooked and sliced
1 large butternut squash
3 cups cooked spinach (one bag of fresh spinach)
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 gloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Peel and cut butternut squash into 1-inch pieces, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
Pour onto baking sheet and put in oven for 30 minutes or until soft
Bring water to boil in large pot
Add pasta to boiling water and stir freqently for two minutes
Cover pasta pot and turn stove down to simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta in cooked
Drain pasta and transfer into large bowl
Saute garlic and sage in olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat

Add pumpkin and water
Whisk together until combined
Stir in brown sugar
Season with salt and pepper to taste

Add squash to pasta, pour sauce over and stir to combine
Top with sliced sausage, spinach, and Parmesan cheese

Disclaimer: It is rare that I don't love, on some level, a meal that I make. I had read Natalie's post about her famous pumpkin sage pasta and couldn't wait to make it. Maybe because I didn't follow the recipe to the letter, or because I used fairly flavorless gluten-free pasta, it didn't turn out tasting too impressive. It had very little flavor, so I was happy for the additions of squash, sausage, and spinach. I will definitely be trying this again, and next time following her recipe - I want to love this pasta!

Turkey and White Bean Chili

Recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart and originally blogged about here:
(Makes 4 large servings)

1 large onion, diced
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 cans reduced sodium white beans
1 cup canned diced jalapenos or green chiles
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 lime
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado, sliced
Chili powder or cumin to taste
Olive oil

In a large pot, add white beans, jalapenos or chiles, chicken broth, frozen corn
Bring contents of pot to a boil for a few minutes, reduce heat to simmer and cover
Heat olive oil in large skillet
Add diced onion and cook until soft, then move to pot
Heat olive oil in large skillet
Add ground turkey and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, then move to pot
Season with chili powder or cumin
Continue to simmer for 25-30 minutes or until thickened to your liking
Top with sliced avocado, lime juice, and cheddar cheese

Pork Chops and Saffron-Veggie Rice

(Makes 4 servings)

1 package VIGO yellow saffron rice (found in ethnic food section at local supermarket)
2 cups water
2 green zucchini, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 thin cut pork chops
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
Hot sauce to taste

In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to boil
Add package of rice and stir
Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes
Heat olive oil in large skillet
Add vegetables and cook until soft (I added first onion, then peppers, then zucchini)
When rice is cooked, stir vegetables into rice and continue to simmer, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
Heat olive oil in large skillet
Add pork chops, two at a time, and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until white inside
Move to a plate and cover with tinfoil until ready to serve
Scoop rice onto plate, add hot sauce, add pork chop


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bringing City Back

Weekend mornings in New York were usually defined by sleeping in, throwing on something comfy, and walking to the nearest establishment to get in line for coffee and breakfast with the rest of the drowsy 20-somethings in the city. If this sort of culture exists in Boise, I have yet to see it. So in the city spirit last weekend, Jeff and I bundled up, got the pup on his leash, and strolled through the North End in pursuit of hot espresso. The walk was about a mile and a half each way, along tree lined streets, passing just a few neighborhood folks grabbing their newspapers or raking leaves. It couldn't have felt more different than walking the same distance in New York, from 54th and 8th to the American Museum of Natural History, with taxis whizzing by and sidewalks filled with strollers and noise. Yet, with lattes in hand and the sun shining, I was transported to a better version of the Big Apple, especially because despite the change in location, we were still in our Saturday morning routine.

(photos by Jeff)