Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Recap

I can't believe it is November and what a month October was! We attended 2 special weddings and celebrated 3 big birthdays! Can you guess who turned 1, 102, and 60 in this picture?! I love this picture of my family and coincidentally they all have October birthdays. Cheers to many more!!!
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween

First of all, I want to give a shout out to my former coworkers, the amazing nurses and health care personnel of NYU Medical Center that carried patients down 15 flights of stairs using med sleds! Y'all are my heroes and I wish I could have been there to help!

Switching subjects, here is a picture of my finished costume. I think I pulled off the look I was going for but being a "zombie" was not part of my original plan. My husband decided that we should take our 80s costumes to another level. His reasoning, "it is Halloween!" I hope those of you living in the Northeast can get some comic relief from my Halloween costume because I still can't believe I agreed to this!
Happy Halloween!
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Friday, October 26, 2012

80s Rocker

Halloween is just a few days away. We have an 80s party to go to on Saturday night. Here is who I am aspiring to be...
Sarah Jessica Parker meets Madonna in the 80s
FP 3580175 Sex And the City Friday Fun: 80s fashion on the Sex and the City set
Here is my checklist of things I must have to complete this look:
1. Big bow
2. Finger gloves
3. Lots of bracelets, necklaces
4. Lace arm sleeves
5. Corset
6. Tutu
7. Leggings
8. Pumps or short boots

Check back on Monday to see if I was able to pull this look off with my thrift store finds. I am still short a few items so I have until Saturday to find the rest of my costume!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken

I was very nervous cooking these chicken rollups. I feared undercooking the chicken and/or the chicken being bland. However, it was anything but either of those things. The chicken turned out moist and the asparagus was crisp! I prepped my chicken rollups about 5 hours before cooking them. I do not think it is a necessity to do this but if you have the time, it definitely gives the chicken more flavor. Also, I doubled the ingredients for the apricot mixture. This will give you some extra dressing to baste the chicken with when you starting cooking it on the grill! Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Adapted from Rachael Ray
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons apricot preserves (I used sugar-free)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Toothpicks (to secure rollups)
Fill a medium-sized skillet halfway with salted water. Bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes (no longer). Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix together jam, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons olive oil.
Preheat your grill to medium.
Pound each piece of chicken to about 1/4 inch thick and season with salt and pepper.
Place skinned side down on a baking sheet.
Divide the asparagus evenly among the chicken breasts and roll each cutlet. Secure with toothpicks. 
Using a spatula, cover each chicken rollup with the jam mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
*Do not throw away the extra jam mixture. You will use it when you are cooking the chicken.
Transfer the chicken rollups to the grill. When you put the chickens on the grill, brush all of the chickens with the extra jam mixture. You will see that a lot of the jam gets left on the plate when you transfer the chicken to the grill. Cook the chicken, turning occasionally until browned, about 15 minutes.
I served my chicken with couscous and a big salad. YUM!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

It's been forever since I've made spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is something everyone would love if they just tried it. You also have to get past the fact that you are substituting pasta for this. I even think kids will love this recipe as long as you do not tell them it is squash.

Semi-Adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen
Yield-2 people
Ingredients (pictured below minus your meatballs!)
1 extra large spaghetti squash
Your favorite meatballs (my recipe is the best!)
2 cups of pasta sauce
1/2 cup of fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slowly, key word slowly, slice the squash in half. I got very close to cutting off a finger because the knife kept getting stuck in the squash. Then, remove the seeds.
Drizzle each half of the squash with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Generously season both halves with salt and pepper.
Turn cut side down and bake the spaghetti squash for 40 minutes. It may need a few extra minutes if your spaghetti squash is the size of a football. Your spaghetti squash is done when you can easily scrape the inside of the squash into strings of spaghetti.
Now, increase your oven to 400 degrees.
After you fluff the spaghetti strands, place 1 serving of meatballs and a little less than 1 cup of tomato sauce over the meatballs and squash in each half. Don't worry about mixing it all together. You will do that when you are ready to eat it.
Top with 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese to each half.
Return your spaghetti squash to the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly and everything is cooked through.
Top with fresh basil and serve!

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Monday, October 22, 2012

My Favorite Healthy Meatballs

I am back from my hiatus or at least for this week I am.

Surprisingly, this was my FIRST time to make meatballs! I was shocked at how easy it was to make these. I incorporated these meatballs into a spaghetti squash dish but these would also make great appetizers too. Of course, I made these healthy but you would never know because they were filled with flavor.

Adapted from Wishful Chef
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely diced white onion or shallot
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a sheet pan with nonstick spray.
In a bowl, mix all ingredients together.
 It is easiest to just mix the ingredients with your hands! 
Roll into  about 20 meatballs and place on a pan. 
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes or until cooked through and not pink in the middle.
I promise if I can make these, you can too! Be sure to check back tomorrow for the best spaghetti squash casserole!
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Europe Purchases

Being such a shopper, it is hard to believe that I only found two things in Europe! However, it is hard for me to justify buying rugs, furniture, and china when I do not even own a house yet. The two things I found maybe small but they are timeless.
This butter dish is large enough for two sticks of butter! I found it more beautiful that the Waterford butter dish. This will complement my crystal collection just perfectly.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Gift Ideas

It has been a whirlwind of a week. We have had two weddings since we have gotten back from Europe! That combined with working, is my excuse for not posting. My hope is that after Austin City Limits, I will be back to my normal routine.

My sister-in-law got married this past weekend and she gave me two wonderful gifts. Since wedding season is upon us, I figured this post could be useful.

Pictured below is a monogrammed silver cup filled with flowers. Unfortunately you cannot see my monogram but it is there! You can drink out of this cup, use it as a vase or even as a place to hold makeup brushes! This versatile cup comes from The Menagerie in Austin, Texas.
I also love this travel jewelry case. It comes in a bunch of different prints so you can get everyone their favorite color. It is also personalized which I think makes everything more special. You can find these on Etsy.
All my other gift ideas can be found here if you missed my post last year!
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Prague Day 3

Today was more relaxing than our past two days. We took a tour of the Municipal House, where nightly concerts and other events are held. The Municipal House is one of Prague's greatest displays of Art Nouveau. Czechs know this building as the place where Czechoslovakia was pronounced its own independent nation in 1918. Next to the Municipal House is the Powder Gate, one of the original entry points to the city.

Afterwards we headed for American food at Globe Cafe and Bookstore. They had everything so we opted for the French onion soup and buffalo chicken wrap. Random, I know, but both sounded really good at the time.

We walked by the "Dancing House," designed by Frank Gehry, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in New York! This building sets itself apart because of its unique modern design.

We ate a flavorful Indian dinner at Lal Qila. On our way home we stopped to buy individual servings of the "Marlenka" honey cake! Wow! We tried the original and chocolate versions of the cake and both were equally as good. I need to figure out a way to get them shipped to me on a monthly basis! My last post is tomorrow then back to reality!

1. Boxes of the famous Markenka cake.
2. Soup at Globe Cafe!
3. Municipal House
4. Dancing House
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Prague Day 2: Castle District

I am glad we planned an entire day to explore the Castle District. We preserved our energy and took the above ground tram to the bottom of Petrin Hill. Then, another tram or "funicular" as they call it, takes you up Petrin Hill. Once on top of this hill, we climbed 299 stairs up Petrin Tower for 360 degree views of the city. From here, we walked down to Strahov Monastery. This is the library where Jef and Emily from Bachelorette laid on the floor and he told her he was falling in love. Unfortunately, we could not reenact this scene due to the strict restrictions on entering we had to settle for pictures from the doorway.

Walking down from Strahov Monastery to Prague Castle, the views were more spectacular than those seen from Petrin Tower.

Once at the Prague Castle, we bought an audio guide to see St. Vitus Cathedral, Basilica of St. George, Old Royal Palace and Golden Lane. Of these places, St. Vitus Cathedral was the most notable.

Afterwards, we walked around Mala Strana and checked out this hilarious sculpture in front of the restaurant, Hergetova Cilhena. The picture borderlines being R-rated so I will not post. Afterward, we wandered over to the Lennon Wall and the bridge where people place locks for good luck. We thought this was kind of cliche considering we have seen this done in the other cities we have been to but it is still a cute idea!

Our walk lead us to a forgettable Italian meal but I am glad we went there otherwise I would not have found my "medovnik." Medovnik is one of two types of honey cakes that was discovered here in Prague. Although it is not considered a Czech specialty because the founders are Armenian, the company still started here and they now ship worldwide. Personally, I liked the other version of honey cake, Marlenka, better. More to come on that tomorrow.

We bought tickets for Don Giovanni's Marionette Opera. Again, this is another one of those things we had to do but we had no clue what was going on after the first fifteen minutes so we left at intermission. It was a long day and I feel like we have hit the main sights of Prague so we will use tomorrow to sleep in and see whatever we missed!

1. Bridge of love locks
2. Lennon Wall
3. Walk from Monastery to Prague Castle (check out the views in the background)!
4. St. Vitus Cathedral
5. Enjoying the views along the Vltava River.
6. Medovnik
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Prague Day 1

Today we prearranged a tour of the Jewish Quarter. We organized our tour through Wittmann tours which was well worth our money. Our guide, Vida, a Prague native, was the best tour guide we have had! Not only did she grow up during communism and accurately depict what happened during that time period, but also her father is a survivor of the Holocaust so she had lots of stories about that!

We started our tour on Parizka Street, "Paris Street," which is lined with high end stores like Ferragamo, Gucci, etc. We first walked to Maisel Synagogue which only serves as a museum now. Then we walked to Pinkas Synagogue which was one of the most memorable synagogues of our trip. The first floor memorialized the fallen Jews from Prague. Interestingly enough, the name of our tour guide's father was on the wall. She said that by the time her father identified himself to the government, they had already written his name on the memorial. The second floor of the synagogue contained drawings from the children at Terazin Concentration Camp. It is fascinating and heart-wrenching to see how the children depicted what they were going through.

Our next stop was the Old Jewish Cemetery. Historians believe this to be the grave site of over 100,000 Jews from the mid 1400s to 1700s. They are piled on top of each other 7 feet deep. It was also unbelievable to see the detail on the head stones.

Next to the cemetery was Klaus Synagogue which was another museum of Jewish memorabilia. Following this, we went inside the Old-New Synagogue. It was built in the 1300s and is still in use for Orthodox Jews today. I was surprised at how small it was. Women and men are still separated in this synagogue.

We finished the tour at the Spanish Synagogue where reform Jews pray today. Of all the synagogues we saw today, this was the biggest and most lavish.

We ate a late lunch/early dinner at Kmotro which came highly recommended from a friend who lived in Prague. It was nice to have a neopolitan pizza and large greek salad after last night's heavy Czech food.

We concluded the night at the Image Black Light Theatre. Black Light Theatre was created in Prague. It is a show where the performers wear neon outfits and use props that give the illusion they are floating, flipping in mid air, all while in the dark. In between the performances, there was a hoakie pantomime show that was so stupid it was funny. I am glad we went and saw this unique show but 1.5 hours was plenty for me!

Tomorrow we are checking out the Castle District of Prague.

1. Pizza at Kmotro (please ignore the black pepper stuck in my teeth)!
2. Old-New Synagogue (pictures are not usually allowed but our tour guide sits on the board of the synagogue and said it was okay!).
3. Glimpse into this neat historical cemetery.
4. Please note the headstone coming out of the tree.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Travel Day to Prague

We had an early morning train to Prague which took 5 hours. I paid extra so we could sit in "first class"... what a gimmick! There were nicer seats in first class but it seemed like more people were sitting in first class than on the train. We moved to "second class" where we got our own cabin with no one sitting next to us. Oh well!

We arrived at our trendy hotel around 2:30 pm. I knew beforehand that our hotel was also a hostel so I was unsure of what to expect. Our penthouse room is sweet!!! Our room is spacious, the shower is modern, and we have a balcony which overlooks all of Prague.

With only dinner plans in mind, we decided to take to the cobble stone streets of Prague. In the Old Town Square, you will find many historical sites. One of the main ones is an astronomical clock which chimes every hour. Hoards of tourists stand around this clock at the bottom of every hour to witness the clock chime as well as a man blowing his horn. It was silly and I am glad we just happened upon it.

From Old Town, we continued down Karlova Street to the Charles Bridge. I was told to either go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds but there sure seemed like a lot of people there at sunset! The bridge was lined with artists, musicians, opera singers, etc. The setting made for some picturesque photos that I will treasure forever (Adam was so sick of me taking photos at this point).

We ate a traditional Czech dinner including goulash at restaurant Kolkovna. The Czech version of goulash is much thicker and heavier than the Hungarian one. Although tasty, we both agreed that we would not be ordering it again and are ready for a "lighter" fare.
1. Astronomical clock
2. Goulash
3. Old Town with clock and Tyn Church in the background
4. View from Charles Bridge at sunset
5. "2nd Class" train car
6. Our room at the Mosaic House!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Vienna Last Day

We enjoyed our breakfast so much the first day that we returned to the same area for breakfast today. We ate a hearty Greek breakfast at Tewa, 672 Naschmarket. In addition to the open air market with all the produce, there was also a flea market. I went through each stall hoping to find a treasure! I saw what appeared to be a glass cup and I picked it up to see the price. Low and behold, it was a glass inside a glass and when I turned it over to see the price, one of the glasses shattered. I was mortified. I sat there in disbelief while this guy yelled at me in German. I kept telling him how sorry I was but he soon looked away and just ignored me. Obviously it was not worth much otherwise he would have made me pay for it. Awkward!

We made our way to Marahilfer Strabe, Vienna's main shopping street. Unfortunately it was chain store after chain store so I did not find anything worth getting.

After a 2 hour nap, we headed for Weingut AM Reisenburg, a heuriger or winery, outside the city. This heuriger was located just beyond the town of Grinzing, so it took two subways, one bus, and about a 1/2 mile hike to get there. Despite all the transfers and time spent walking, it took us less than an hour to get here.

The winery reminded me of those you find in Napa set amongst rolling hills. The greenery was lush with grapes filling the vines everywhere. We ordered sturm, wine that is in the fermentation stage. I loved it because it was so sweet!! My dinner of a sweet red bell pepper filled with meat and drizzled with a red sauce was equally as good. Most heurigers serve their dinners cafeteria style but this one was the exception. I must say that this was one of the highlights from our stay in Vienna and it was a good break from site seeing. We are off to Prague tomorrow so will keep you posted!

1. Appetizer of basil spread served with freshly baked bread.
2. Greek breakfast.
3. Secret street off the main road that you have to walk down to get to the winery.
4. Adam's favorite sign.
5. Walking on this narrow roadway down to the winery (heuriger).
6. View at the winery.
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