Monday, November 30, 2009

Chocolate Cream Raspberry Tart - Cooking Light



This year for Thanksgiving, I was in charge of desserts.  Sounds great...in theory.  I've never claimed to be a great baker...there's something about following directions EXACTLY that I can't seem to do.  I'm more of a make-it-up as I go kind of cook.  BUT, this is a Cooking Light recipe I made a few years ago, that has been such a big hit I've made it about 10 times now.  I just have to remember to follow the directions exactly and viola!  It just keeps surprising me how amazing it is!  And (believe me) people will be seriously impressed because this dessert looks like you spent hours making it.  It's a beauty!  And it's COOKING LIGHT!  Sorry again for the stock photos...my camera is still injured.

Chocolate Cream Raspberry Tart
  • 1 1/2 tsp unflavoured gelatin
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced calorie whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup red currant jelly, melted
Preheat oven to 350.

Combine gelatin and 1/4 cup milk in a bowl. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in a saucepan. Gradually add 3/4 cup milk, stirring with a whisk. Bring milk mixture to a boil over medium heat (about 5 min), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add chocolate morsels, stirring until melted. Stir in extracts.

Add chocolate mixture to gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin disolves. Place bowl in a large ice filled bowl for 3 min or until chocolate mixture is cool, remove from ice filled bowl. Add whipped topping, stir gently until well blended. Spoon into tart shell. Arrange raspberries (top down) on top of tart. Gently brush raspberries with melted jelly. Chill 2 hours. Serves 9.

Graham Cracker Crust
  • 40 graham crackers
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large egg white
  • Cooking spray
Place crackers in food processor, process until crumbly. Add sugar, butter and egg white; pulse 6 times until moist. Coat 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray.  Prepare graham cracker crust (recipe below), pressing mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9 inch round removable bottom tart pan. Bake at 350 for 10 min, cool on a wire rack.










Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I am Thankful For




I am thankful for...
  1. My husband, especially when he does things for me like clean the house or pick up dinner or grocery shop, just to make my life a little easier.  (He did all 3 yesterday!  Best husband ever.) 
  2. Friends that get better and better with time. Some people you out-grow and some people you grow into. I love those friendships that just keep getting better. 
  3. Mally, who always makes me smile and loves me no matter what.
  4. Jigs, who attacks me in the hallway every morning but lets me hold her paw when we go to bed at night.
  5. Family...no matter how crazy they are. 
  6. San Sai. Fast food sushi is the best idea ever. 
  7. That I no longer have to bill hours.  
  8. Everyone that reads this blog!  
  9. Fuzzy sweaters, slippers and blankets. 
  10. Cupcakes. 
  11. Pottery Barn, BCBG, J. Crew, World Market, Crate & Barrel, Neiman Marcus, Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, Whole Foods and Target (plus the fact that they're all within a 5 minute drive of work!) 
  12. Shopping on my lunch break. :-) 
  13. Pumpkin flavored anything. 
  14. Vacations. This year's vacations included: Naples, Jackson Hole (twice), Chicago (three times), Miami, Location X, New York, San Antonio and soon BELIZE. 
  15. Stroung cups of coffee. 
  16. My grandparents.  
  17. Home grown vegetables from my dad's garden. 
  18. Books, books and more books.  Plus 2 new bookcases to house them all.
  19. Pomegranate martinis.
  20. Having the wedding of my dreams.  


Monday, November 23, 2009

Mally's Adventures in Duck Hunting

While I was in San Antonio this weekend, Mally spent the weekend with her dad ducking hunting out at a friend's farm.  She chased the 4-wheeler, barked at ducks, barked at leaves, barked at the wind, got crazy dirty, rolled in the mud, jumped in puddles, barked some more, and was too tired to even greet me when I got home last night.  I think she must have had a great weekend.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Honey-Hoisin Pork Tenderloin


This is another fabulous recipe from my new Cooking Light cookbook.  It was easy (although a little sticky/messy) and really delicious.  I'm not a huge pork fan, but Ryan loves it, so I try new recipes every now and then.  I definitely like the tenderloin the best.  This was really juicy and tender, so I was pretty pleased.  I served it with a spring greens salad (with almonds, mandarin oranges and ginger dressing) and a side of sauteed green beans.   Sorry for more stock pictures...hopefully my camera will be fixed soon!


Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sage honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400°.


Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Pour 1/4 cup honey mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag; reserve remaining honey mixture. Add pork to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Remove pork from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle pork with salt. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork; cook 2 minutes, browning on all sides. Brush 1 tablespoon reserved honey mixture over pork; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place skillet in oven. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink) or until desired degree of doneness.

Place pork on a platter; let stand 5 minutes. Cut pork across the grain into thin slices. Drizzle with the remaining honey mixture.

* Hoisin sauce can be found in the Asian section of your market.
** Regular honey would work for this dish if you can't find sage honey.  (I used regular honey.)
 
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces pork and about 2 teaspoons honey mixture)
 
CALORIES 195 (20% from fat); FAT 4.3g; IRON 1.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 74mg; CALCIUM 12mg; CARBOHYDRATE 13.6g; SODIUM 633mg; PROTEIN 24.7g; FIBER 0.5g 
 




This is a seriously good cookbook...I suggest buying it immediately. 



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cypress Wedding Album



The amazing and talented (and pregnant!) Carrie Patterson and I have been working on finalizing our wedding album for the last few weeks so it would be ready by the holidays.  Included in Carrie's photography package, is a 40 page Cypress wedding album.  Hard covered with thick pages and bound with a beautiful ribbon, it's really stunning!  Similar to the one pictured below (from Carrie's website), we chose a green fabric outer covering with an ivory ribbon. 






It took me forever to pick only 60 pictures from the 300+ images she took at our wedding.  They were all so amazing.  On my first round through picking, I choose 240...and that was still really hard!  My next round, I probably only cut another 30 or so.  Ugh.  See why it took me forever?!  So I had to make some tough choices.  Finally, I got it pared down to the basics and 60 (plus a few more) of our most fabulous and favorite pictures.  Carrie arranged them in a way that told the story of the day as your flipped through the book.  I cried when I saw the PDF proof, I can't imagine the bawling that's going to happen when I get the actual book.

I'm not going to show you the whole thing...I don't want to ruin the surprise!  Next time you come over to the house, hopefully it will be there waiting for you to look through!  Here is a sneak peek at a couple pages...


















Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shopping for a Red Dress


New York was a blast!  I spent most of the day Saturday shopping up and down 5th, Lexington and Madison Avenues.  I spent about 2 hours in Saks, 2 hours in Bloomindales, 30 minutes in tears pining over the shoes at Bergdorf's, and was in and out of a hundred more stores.  Most of the time I was looking for 1 particular item -- a hot red dress.  I want a red dress to wear to Ryan's firm holiday party next month.  It has to be fancy (it's a black tie event), a little bit sexy (but definitely not too much, you know how lawyers are, plus I'm a pilgrim), preferably not strapless or super plain, and within my budget (which isn't much since I'm trying to save for Belize).  I found about 20+ that were unbelievably gorgeous...but way over budget (I'm talking well over $500 - ouch!).  So, the search continues...  But now that I'm back home, I have considerably less options.  Luckily, there's this thing called the internet which make shopping at all the best stores possible, from the convenience of your desk at work!  Yay!

So, I've been doing a little searching and here's what I've come up with.  Let me know what you think...

ABS Strapless Bow (below)
Not crazy about being strapless, but the bow is super cute

Aidan Mattox (below)
Like the ruffle, but not sure about the rouching.  Can't imagine it's flattering.

Ann Taylor (below)
I'm not sure if this is going to be unique or fancy enough. 
Would hate to have someone else at the party wearing the same dress.

Banana Republic Sheath (below)
I tried this on and it just didn't blow me away.  Kinda plain and boring. 
Maybe I just needed fun jewelry.

BCBG (below)
I think this bow and bubble hem might dwarf me.  If only I was 5'10 (and had those legs!).


BCBG Laser Cut Sheath (below)
Perhaps this is a little too "come hither" for a law firm party?

BCBG Pleat Neck Halter (below)
Super cute, but I already own this in yellow. 

BCBG Ruffle Sleeve (below)
I have a feeling the shoulder ruffles are not going to work for me.

Elie Tahari Ruffle Jersey (below)
It's cute, but jersey might feel a little too dressed down.

Eliza J Ruffle Front (below)
I've tried this on in black and it's cute, but maybe a little too cutesy?

Kate Spade (below)
Love it.  Not very sexy though..kinda goody-two-shoes (which is so me!).  And a little pricey.

Kay Unger (below)
Boring?

Laundry (below)
Love the ruffles, but not crazy about strapless or chiffon.

Max & Cleo One Shoulder Asymetrical (below)
I like this one, but Tim Gunn said asymetrical was so "out" on Project Runway a few weeks ago.  Hmmm.

Nicole Miller (below)
This one's a contender.  It's a little tight, but that's what Spanx are for, right?

Adrianna Rosette Taffeta (below)
Cute.  I like.  Too plain?

Shoshanna One Shoulder (below)
Again with the aysmetrical.  I like it, but would Tim Gunn approve?

Amsale (below)
Similar to above, but chiffon. 

Elie Tahari (below)
I like the dress, but I wish the color was a brighter holly red.



So, what do you think?  Which ones do you like?  What ever will I do?!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Turkey-Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy



So, I made this recipe last week from my new Cooking Light cookbook.  Delicious!!!  It took a bit of time and a ton of different ingredients, but was well worth it.  Sorry, I forgot to take pictures, so this is the one from CL magazine.  Please note that this recipe calls for steaming the bok choy, so make sure you have a steamer (or a dutch oven and a steamer basket)...I didn't and overcooked it, but it was still good.

 
Meatballs:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup uncooked jasmine rice*
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Cooking spray

Bok choy:
  • 6 baby bok choy (about 1 1/3 pounds)**
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon shredded peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
To prepare meatballs, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in jasmine rice; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is almost tender. Drain; cool. Combine rice, breadcrumbs, and next 6 ingredients (through 1 garlic clove). Shape mixture into 18 meatballs.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Cover and reduce heat to medium; cook for 10 minutes or until done, turning often. Remove from heat; keep warm.

While the meatballs cook, prepare bok choy. Cut each bok choy in half lengthwise. Rinse under cold running water; drain well. Arrange bok choy in a steamer basket, overlapping pieces.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup onions, ginger, and 1 garlic clove; sauté 30 seconds. Place steamer basket in pan. Combine water and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper); pour over bok choy. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and steam over medium-low heat 20 minutes or until bok choy is tender, rearranging bok choy after 10 minutes. Remove the bok choy and steamer basket from pan; cover and keep warm.

Combine sherry and cornstarch; add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until slightly thick.  Serve sauce over meatballs and baby bok choy.

* Jasmine rice has a pleasant aroma that underscores the other Asian ingredients, but any long-grain white rice will work to help keep the meatballs moist and add a bit of texture.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 3 meatballs, 2 bok choy halves, and 3 tablespoons sauce)

CALORIES 251 (35% from fat); FAT 9.8g; IRON 2.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 75mg; CALCIUM 135mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18g; SODIUM 832mg; PROTEIN 21.3g; FIBER 1.9g
 
By the way, I think baby bok choy may be the cutest vegetable ever!  I mean, they're adorable.  They just make me smile!

** Chopped bok choy can substitute for whole baby bok choy, but they won't be nearly as cute.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York, New York


Tomorrow I'm going to New York!  I'm totally pumped.  My bestie is in New Jersey for the next two weeks taking training courses for her new job.  She's never been to the city, so I decided to hop on a plane, meet her in Manhattan and be her personal tour guide for the weekend.  It's been a couple years since I've been to New York and I cannot wait to be a tourist again! 

Our hotel is basically in the middle of Times Square.  Not a bad cental location for us tourists.  Checking out the scene in Times Square is a must for any tourist.  And I think it'd be great if we could find some time to catch a show while we're there. 




Central Park is definitely on the list.  Not sure if we'll just walk around and take in the sites, or go ice skating, or go to the zoo.  Maybe lunch at the Boathouse.  However, I can't see Kasey being all that excited about the carousel, so that's probably out. 





Maybe we'll be in a cultural mood, wanting to enrich our minds at some of the best museums in the world.




Or perhaps we might even take the opportunity to visit some of the classic NYC landmarks.



This might take some work on my part, but I'm going to try to convince Kasey to visit some of my favorite NYC places and let me make a few quick pit stops here...

and here...

and here...


After a long day walking around (and hopefully shopping), we're definitely going to need to replace all those burned calories...enter this NYC favorite.

We can split one of these.


As for dinner, since I'm obsessed with Top Chef, I figured it was only appropriate to dine with Tom Colicchio himself.  We've got reservations at Craftsteak.  Not the original Craft, but it'll do.  I'm a total sucker for bald heads and Ryan's already warned me that I'm not allowed to make out with TC.  He said it'd be ok if Kasey did though, so I'm going to have to live vicariously through her.






Am I missing anything?  What are your favorite things to do in NYC?