Boston Bound

25 May

Stefano and I are Boston-bound for the long weekend! Wishing everybody a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and I’ll check in with you next week!

20130525-051443.jpg

Advertisements

Oklahoma

21 May

Stopping in quickly today to express my deepest condolences to those who have been affected by the storms and tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas. It is crazy to think that one moment everything is normal and the next moment people have lost their homes, stores, and even lives. I am sending my thoughts and prayers towards those who are in harm’s way, as well as the rescue workers who are doing their best to save as many lives as they can.

If you wish to help by donating money, here are some aid organizations that were curated by Ree, who lives in Oklahoma.

Salvation Army
Supporters are encouraged to give online at http://www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”

Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse has deployed a team to Moore, Oklahoma and will respond to the current needs in any way they can.

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, in partnership with Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, is asking that the public support all rescue, recovery and disaster relief efforts with donations of cash to your favorite responding charity. Financial donations will allow disaster relief agencies to purchase whatever items are deemed necessary without resulting in the additional burden of securing warehouse space and volunteers to work donated product. To make a tax deductible donation to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, go to http://www.regionalfoodbank.org or call 604-7111 or text FOOD to 32333 to give $10 to relief efforts.

Feeding America
Feeding America will deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to impacted areas through its network of more than 200 food banks and 61,000 agencies. The organization’s food banks will also set up additional dropoff sites.

American Red Cross
People who wish to make a donation can support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas as well as disasters big and small throughout the United States by visiting redcross.org, dialing 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Mother Nature is a powerful and mysterious force, but it makes me sad that nature taking its course means that people will lose their loved ones and homes. I am keeping the people of Oklahoma and Kansas in my thoughts today.

Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Arugula

20 May

I am a person of routine. From my brand loyalties to my beauty regime, I like the same things over and over and over again. The same love for the familiar extends to my meal choices.

IMG_2612[1]

The greens base for my lunch salads has been Romaine for a solid six months now and I’ve been perfectly okay with it. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me to change things up.

IMG_2613[1]

Last Thursday, while perusing Trader Joe’s and rocking out to the Shakira radio on my Pandora (my hips don’t lie), I spotted a big sign advertising the big bags of peppery arugula and stopped in my tracks. Glancing from the package of Romaine hearts in my hand to the weed-y arugula, I contemplated a break in routine.

IMG_2614[1]

Feeling rather daring, I tossed the lettuce aside and reached for the rocket, as if I were making a big decision and not simply deciding what I’d be bringing for lunch this week. Still, it felt almost naughty to break up the monotony and since then I have been finding excuses to put arugula on everything, including grilled cheese.

IMG_2615[1]

Now normally the only thing I like my grilled cheese is cheese, cheese, and more cheese. I make an exception for butter’s guest appearance but the real star of the show is the warm, melted creaminess of hot cheese on crisp bread. It just screams comfort and I was making a calculated risk by adding any semblance of health to the mix.

Still, the peppery greens were calling to me from the fridge and I am glad I didn’t resist because the spiciness of the arugula really balances out the creaminess of the cheese while adding a nice satisfying crunch to go along with the bread. The colors don’t look bad either.

If you’re wary of adding salad to your sandwich, have no fear – this recipe has more than enough cheese to make clear what the main attraction is. A combination of parmesan, mozzarella, and sharp cheddar blend in a complex medley of saltiness and richness to make this a truly sophisticated grilled cheese.

IMG_2616[1]

Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Arugula

Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 1 small Roma tomato, sliced
  • A small handful of arugula
  • 2 slices bread of choice
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, softened enough to be easily spreadable
  • 1 oz. of each sharp cheddar, grated parmesan, and shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice.
  2. Heat a large skillet over low-medium heat.
  3. Put 2 bread slices in the skillet, buttered-side down.
  4. Layer half of the cheddar, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese on each piece of bread.
  5. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese melts and the bread is golden (not burnt!)
  6. After cheese is melted, remove from skillet and place on plate then top with arugula and sliced tomato.
  7. Close sandwich and cut diagonally.

Including instructions for a grilled cheese seems a little silly, but the art of the grilled cheese does take some work – it’s a delicate balance to make sure the cheese is melted without burning the bread. In my experience, it is absolutely necessary to spread butter liberally on each side of the toast to keep it golden and crispy.

If you’re a grilled cheese purist, do me a favor and go on a limb like I did with my salad – change is good for the soul.

Kindred Spirits

17 May

She doesn’t like alcohol, she enjoys cooking, and she loves Ryan Reynolds.

I’m pretty sure Blake Lively and I are kindred spirits.

Happy Friday, folks!

Signs of a Poser Blogger

16 May

I have to tell you guys, since I decided that I was going to use this blog to write about whatever I darn well please, I have felt great. You may have noticed that my posts have dwindled from twice daily to daily, to a couple of times a week. Somebody asked me why I never post on weekends and it’s because I like to use my weekend actually living my life and not just documenting it. I don’t get to see Stefano during the week because we don’t live together and his job eats up a lot of his time, so those weekends are precious and I don’t want to waste a moment of them sitting behind my laptop screen.

I came across and oldie but goodie post from Sarah at the Smart Kitchen and found myself nodding and smiling at all the ways she describes that she’s not your typical healthy living blogger. I wanted to say, “that’s me!” at so many of them because it’s true! Behind each blog is a different author but it’s amazing how uniform some of the blogs can be – same foods, same exercises, same recipes. I don’t know if it’s because somebody pioneered the definition of a “healthy living blog” and decided that you must eat and participate in x, y, and z, but it’s a formula that many seem to follow (with success, I might add!).

I tried that for awhile and it didn’t work for me. It didn’t feel genuine and I felt like such a poser. The title (for now) of my blog is Magia e Pasta, emphasis on the pasta. I like real pasta and when I get a craving for it, spaghetti squash just doesn’t do it for me.

Inspired by Sarah’s post, I came up with a list of “typical blogger rules” that I don’t adhere to.

Signs of a Poser Blogger

You don’t like kale. With the exception of Post-Modern Foods’ kale salad, I am not a fan of the stuff. I know it’s so good for you and it’s versatile and all that good stuff, but I just don’t dig it.

You hate running. Now this is something that is slowly evolving, but for the most part I am not a fan of running. I have no plans to sign up for a half marathon, a marathon, or some sort of Iron Man race. I love to be active and move and sweat, but, in the words of Frank Short, I just don’t really enjoy the bio-mechanical movement of running.

rnr

You take photos with your iPhone. Now good photography is something I aspire to. I love food blogs that have gorgeous photography where the meals seem to jump off the screen and you think, “I HAVE to make that”. Simply put, I’m not there yet. I don’t have the money for a really nice camera and I don’t have the time to create all the recipes I have in mind nor edit all the pictures I do take. Which leads me to my next point…

You have a full-time job that is not work from home/blogging or social media-related. I am at the office from 8:30-5:30 and by the time I go work out and I am home from the gym, it’s past eight and all I want to do is make a quick dinner and call it a night. On the weekends I am spending all my time with Stef because it’s the only time we see each other. Call me lazy (you totally can, there are bloggers with full-time jobs and children who consistently put out quality posts – it baffles me) but I just don’t know when I would create, make, photograph, and post all the yummy foods I’ve got floating around in this noggin’ of mine.

You eat the same things every day. One of the main reasons I decided to call it quits on the standard ‘post what you eat and talk about what your exercise was’-type of posts was because I am so boring. I eat the same foods basically every day (it takes me 10 minutes at Trader Joe’s to get my weekly groceries, it is that routine) and my workouts follow a pretty regular routine. If all I talked about on this blog were my daily eats and workouts, I could virtually copy and paste the same post every single day.

IMG_2107[1]

Overnight oats, all day, every day.

You eat real sugar. I can’t tell you how many times I come across a recipe that has a sugar substitute I’ve never heard of. Between Truvia, Stevia, xylitol, erythtritol, Splenda, Sun Crystals, dessert starts to sound like a mad scientist’s lab. Monday I talked about my need for the ‘real thing’ when I’m eating foods. I use real egg and actual cheese and *gasp* sugar when I cook/bake and I don’t plan on changing that. Yes, I enjoy making healthy substitutions when it’s convenient and doesn’t change the taste (shout out to the magical baking substitute, Greek yogurt!), but most of the time it is better for me to eat a smaller amount of the real thing than try to fake it and feel unsatisfied. Some people can feel satisfied with fruit as dessert. I am not one of those people.

IMG_1880[1]

You aren’t vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/Paleo. This is not meant to bash on people who choose one of the aforementioned dietary lifestyles, especially if you suffer from Celiac or Crohn’s disease or IBS. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not eating meat (I myself only eat meat when I’m out, I never buy it at home) or avoiding grains if that’s your cup of tea, but certain diets (read: gluten-free) are turning into the latest fad and it drives me crazy when people blindly adhere to a specific way of eating as doctrine, especially without doing their own research or seeing if it works for their body. Everybody and every body is different – don’t be a cookie cutter.

You don’t advertise/tweet about your posts/blog all the time or work with sponsors. For many people, blogging is a livelihood and source of income from their families. It’s a business and they run it like one. I totally get it and I’m not knocking it, especially when it’s putting food on your table. It does drive me crazy when I see ten tweets an hour about your ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ post and every single new post you write is sponsored or a giveaway for a company or a free class/conference/trip you got because of your work with a company. I don’t read your blog because I want a review of how awesome that free product is, I read it because I want to know about you and your life! Again, product reviews, sponsored posts, and giveaways are all part of the game if you’re trying to monetize your blog, but keep it all in balance, please?

So there you have it folks: a step by step guide to being an outcast blogger by yours truly. I’m sorry if it came off as kind of rant-y, but it’s meant to be taken in jest and poke fun of some of the generalizations that come with healthy living blogging. I think the blogging community is wonderful and supportive and I am happy to be a part of it, even if it’s not paying my rent or allowing me to spend all day making and eating food (a girl can dream!).

Food For Thought: If you’re a blogger, what part of your lifestyle doesn’t mesh with the ‘HLB’-lifestyle? If you’re a reader, have you noticed that there are particular things that are rampant across all blogs?

%d bloggers like this: