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Eclecticisms: October 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tickled Tuesday

Feel good about yourself. Easier said than done, right? Many of us constantly double think ourselves, feel inadequate or an intense need to "keep up", get overwhelmed frequently or just generally feel unsatisfied with ourselves. Granted, you always want to better yourself and work towards becoming or staying true to who you really are, but kind, happy and fair at the same time. (At least I do.) Finding this balance can be really tough sometimes, and with the way media portrays the way "real" people should be (our obsession with celebrities and "reality" TV is disgusting, if you ask me) it's easy to forget that you are wonderful the way you are. So, you didn't invent anything, make millions of dollars or make the cover of Time. So what? Does that make you any less as a person? Nope.

This song came on Pandora and although it sounds more geared towards a romatic relationship, it really applies to any sort of relationship. Ones with family, friends, co-workers... strangers.

I don't mean to get heavy with you on Tickled Tuesday, but I think the key to being happy (which is the point of these posts) is to accept yourself for who you are. Come on- you know you can do it.

"I'm just little old me
And that's fine by me"

It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to. 
-W.C. Fields

Confidence is preparation.  Everything else is beyond your control. 
-Richard Kline

Happy Tuesday!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Greek Salad Pita Sandwiches

I'm going to say it, but you might not like it. I'm not, generally, a fan of Greek food. *gasp!* I do like dolmades (but prefer them Middles Eastern style) and feta, but that's really about it. I usually end up with heart burn when I eat Greek food and just never found anything that is vegetarian that I really, thoroughly enjoyed. That is, until I tried this recipe.

Greek salad was always hit and miss for me; I'll admit that almost each time I've tried it, I was in more of a "fast food" atmosphere and not a nice restaurant or at someone's home. My eyes have been opened! This salad is fresh and full of flavor, balanced by the taste of a delicious, warm pita. Great as a meal on its own, or served with a side, this will fill you up and taste delicious!

Recipe from the amazing Jeanne Lemlin's Quick Vegetarian Pleasures.


Yield: 4 servings.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup slivered red onion
1/4 pound (about 3/4 cup) feta cheese, crumbled
12 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 2 small tomatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups diced romaine or iceberg lettuce
4 (6-inch) pita breads, halved

Ready for one of the easiest recipes ever?

In a large bowl, combine the oil, vinegar and oregano


Mix well and add all the shopped veggies. toss in the oil mixture and add the feta.

Serve immediately on warmed pita bread. 


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tickled Tuesday

This is from one of my favorite comic sites, Natalie Dee. She's right, but she can still shove it. Give me my carrot cake, and I won't feel TOO bad. (Maybe that's why I have a large rear-end...)

Happy Tuesday!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Shitake Mushrooms

Do you want a recipe for a fantastic main dish that doesn't contain pasta or rice? "Wait! I need pasta or rice for this to be a meal!", you say? False. "How will the dish be complete?", you ask? I've been there. Just trust me on this.

You all know that I move shitake mushrooms. If you didn't know that, well... I love them. They're one of the most perfect foods out there, as far as I'm concerned. Mushrooms haters, back off. You're missing out and I don't want to hear it!

I made a few changes to this Bon Appetit recipe, but nothing substantial. This main dish (serves 2) is rich in flavor and completely filling when served with a salad or soup. You can also serve it as a side, if you'd like (serves 4). I had it as my main course with some Thai soup. Yum.


1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
3.5 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
12 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoon dried tarragon + a bit more to sprinkle on the veggies, if desired
1 tsp dried Chervil
salt and pepper
Garlic Salt (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 475. On a medium cookie sheet, lay out the asparagus and drizzle with the olive oil. Turn to coat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I omitted the pepper.) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until desired tenderness. (This dish tastes best when the asparagus isn't too limp.)

While that cooks, melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat and add the minced shallot. Cook for a minute or two and add shitake mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have begun to release their juices. Cover, and cook 3 minutes more.

When the mushrooms are ready, add white wine and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add dried herbs and garlic salt (sparingly, adjust to taste). Serve the mushrooms over the asparagus.

Enjoy! This dish smells so good cooking that your neighbors will beat down your door if they catch a whiff. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. They'll wish they did though.

Happy eating!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brown Sugar Pound Cupcakes with Brown Butter Glaze

My cousin Stephanie and I were baking this weekend, and I let her choose the recipe. These cupcakes are ones I probably would never have tried. I'm not a huge fan of pound cake (or a lot of cake in general, honestly) and thought these would be pretty plain. The results? They're fantastic! Lesson learned. I think I'm going to start making more "I'd never make that" recipes. How else will I find new and wonderful things?

Recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.

Ingredients- Brown Sugar Pound Cupcakes

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
Brown-Butter Glaze

Line a cupcake tin with paper liners and pre-heat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream butter and brown sugar until light brown and fluffy (using your mixer, about 3 minutes on high).

Add eggs, one at a time. Beat thoroughly between additions.

With your mixer on low, add buttermilk and flour intermittently, starting with the flour, the flour in 3 parts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until the dry mixture is completely incorporated.

Pour batter into cupcake liners until about 2/3 full and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.When the cupcakes are out of the oven, make your glaze.

Look at that shrimp on the top left!

Ingredients- Brown Butter Glaze

1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

In a small saucepan or pot, melt the butter for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. It should have a slightly nutty scent. Pour into your mixer's bowl, leaving any burn bits in the pot.

Mix in sugar and vanilla and beat well.

Now, add milk gradually until the glaze is the desired consitency. *Use the glaze immediately, as it might begin to separate.

Glaze your cupcakes and enjoy!

Happy baking!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tickled Tuesday

Today I am grateful for the absolutely gorgeous weather we're having! The sun is shining, the breeze is cool and the leaves are turning vibrant oranges, yellows and reds.

Today is a happy day! Here are some great fall quotes.

"Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns."
-   George Eliot

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made.  The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."
-   Eric Sloane

"The Indian Summer, the dead Summer's soul."
-  Mary Clemmer, Presence

"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."
-   Elizabeth Lawrence

 "Swinging on delicate hinges
the Autumn Leaf
Almost off the stem"
-  Jack Kerouac

  Happy Tuesday!

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Giant Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Fall is wonderful for many reasons. The sun beats down warm through the crisp, cool air, smells of leaves and  plants preparing for their hybernation are all around, you can start picking out your Halloween costume and best of all.... it's finally cool enough to wear clothes that will hide any gut you get from eating baked goodies! Ok, I kid, I kid. Well, only sort of.

I'm not big into symmetry when it comes to baking cookies.

This is a cookie that is absolutely delicious but also filling and semi-healthy. Healthy is relative here though- let's not kid ourselves. You're eating a cookie, not a vegetable. I added flax seed to the recipe for added health benefits though, and that counts for something, right?! These are the only cookies (or food, really...) that I can nibble on over the course of an hour and feel satisfied. (They're filling enough for b-fast!)  This recipe makes 14 large cookies at 345 calories each.

I think these cookies can be summed up by what a co-worker told me after trying one. "You should open a cookie shop." Make these- you won't be disappointed!

Recipe from The New Baking Book. I love this book not only because it's full of amazing recipes, but because it offers tons of tips and tricks, including substitutions. (See below for the apple pie spice substitution it gives.) The recipe uses cherries, but I accidentally bought cherry infused cranberries. (Damn it.) Any dried berries or raisins will do.

1/2 Cup shortening
1/2 Cup butter
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 tsp apple pie spice*
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 Cups flour
2 1/2 Cups regular rolled oats
2 Tbs flaxseed meal (I added this)
1 1/2 Cups dried berries
1 tsp finely grated orange zest

* Apple pie spice substitute:
1 tsp= 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp all spice
dash of cloves or ginger
Since this recipe calls for 2 tsp apple pie spice, be sure to double this.

Grease or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 375.

Using your mixer, beat shortening and butter together for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat on high until fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon, mix remainging ingredients in.

Using a 1/3 measuring cup, scoop the batter onto cookie sheets and pat down so the cookie is about 4" diameter. Place cookies about 3" apart. (I always put them closer because a) I'm too lazy to bake more batches b) I'm too lazy to wash more dishes c) I'm a hardcore rebel at everything I do.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden. The original recipe calls for 8-10 but I found that wasn't enough time. Keep your eye on them, as all ovens differ.

Let stand 1 min and transfer to wire rack to cool.

Eat and enjoy!

Happy baking!

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tickled Tuesday

A couple of weekends ago, my cousin Stephanie and I went to a Native American PowWow, and it was wonderful. To see real Native American dancers and to experience their rich culture on a gorgeous blue-skied day was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. Before we left, we decided to walk over to a small lake just across from where the PowWow was, and found a field of wild flowers. We walked along a path made by fisherman (I know it was made by fisherman because it led to a very small clearing where a fisherman sat... a perfect place to fish) and took some pictures. The area felt magical. The day and its colors, scents and warmth couldn't have been better and I am grateful for it!

Happy Tuesday!