One More Time with Feeling!

Yes. It was as good as it looks.

Yes. It was as good as it looks.

Well hello /family/friends/fellow bloggers/followers! It’s been a while. As per usual, I kept up my blog for some time and then completely abandoned it for a while. The good news – the last time I kept it up for five months. The time before that, it was only two months. Maybe this time I’ll keep it up for eight months. I’m clearly on a four-year plan for a consistent blog.

Anyway, last we spoke I was cooking up simple yet delicious recipes in my NYC kitchen and sharing them with you on this blog, along with some anecdotal story that I found hilarious or heart-warming and you perhaps thought was “meh”.

There is a new and exciting component to this blog that I’m working on. It is fresh, fun and will help you plan parties for 2-100 people. What is it, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to stay tuned to next Thursday morning for the post. For now, you can wait with bated breath for its arrival.

Since I last blogged I turned the big 3-0 and I’m loving it. There is something about being 30 that gives me a sense of confidence that I didn’t have before at work and in my every day life. While I was always outspoken, I did come into contact with people who I allowed to speak to me in a way that I didn’t like and made me feel pretty terrible. Since this whole 30 thing happened I’ve stood up for myself a lot more, and it feels good. I’m also working on letting go of feeling guilty for things that are out of my control. But I’m Jewish, and that whole “Jewish-guilt” thing is true. So I have a feeling this will be a long battle.

I’ve also cracked the code on cat-sweater wearing grandmothers. Yes, that’s right, people. I’ve done it.

Just me and my paw prints.

Just me and my paw prints.

Back in December, a friend of mine and I decided we were going to wear some ugly-Christmas gear to a non-ugly-Christmas sweater party. My friend found me the cat’s pajamas of a sweater – A red sweatshirt with kitties prancing around (one has a real-live bell on its tail!) and the sweatshirt reads, “Grandkids leave paw prints on our hearts”. I paired that sucker with a nice green turtleneck, a pair of leggings and some Christmas socks. I arrived at the party to major laughs. After a cocktail I realized how happy I was to be in such comfortable clothes. No adjusting some skirt I was wearing. No worrying about eating too many appetizers so that my jeans would feel tight. No rearranging a shirt to make sure it stayed where it was supposed to. I was in my cat-digs and I was at peace. My friends all accept me and love me for who I am, so I wasn’t worried that I needed to dress to impress. I looked at my husband and said, “Is it sad that I can envision myself as this type of grandma?”. Suddenly, I started to get excited about the prospect of eventually embarrassing my unborn children and grandchildren. These cat-sweatshirt wearing grandmothers have it all figured out. They are at an age where they aren’t concerned with what anyone thinks about them, their friends and family will love them no matter what they wear. Plus, they can have some fun embarrassing everyone around them because they are so confident in who they are. They know how the world works, and realize that things they worried about for so many years just don’t mean a damn thing. They know what truly matters. It’s actually genius.

Now to food. After New Years I found myself at Fairway where they were having a major meat sale. And I mean major. I got myself a beautiful 1.5lb beef tenderloin (already tied up!) for a total of $13.75. As you may or may not know, beef tenderloin is very expensive. Looking back on it, I should have stock-piled those suckers. But alas, we live in NYC and don’t have much freezer space. Last night, I made this delicious and EASY beef tenderloin recipe that impressed my husband so much he said it tasted like we were at a fancy restaurant. I love when he says that stuff to me. I paired it with these Brussels sprouts and a sweet potato with cinnamon and sugar. Overall prep time was 15 minutes and total cook time was 1hr. So all in all, for 45-minutes I watched Downton Abbey and sipped a Bourbon on the rocks while my dinner cooked. SOLD.

Get The Fat Outta Here

Creamy, delicious, amazingly satisfying...CAULIFLOWER!

Creamy, delicious, amazingly satisfying…CAULIFLOWER!

A few weeks ago while I was at the gym I got the most intense craving for something creamy. Mac and cheese? Mashed Potatoes? Vichyssoise? I almost got up and left the gym in the middle of my ab workout. I could barely control myself. However, Neil and I are on somewhat of a healthy pattern (I use the term lightly). So instead of jetting out of the gym and bulldozing anyone who stood in my way, I finished my ab set while trying to think of a way to create something really creamy, delicious, flavorful AND healthy.
Cauliflower. That was my ticket to cheat a world of creamy-overindulgence. I have read a million different recipes that use cauliflower as a substitute to make them healthy. Pizza. Steaks. Mashed Potatoes. I could totally do this!

I exited the gym, carted myself to the grocery store. Leeks were on sale (because to be honest they looked like they had about 15-minutes of life left in them) so I grabbed those along with some cauliflower. I also picked up some nonfat Greek Yogurt (I prefer Fage over other brands because of it’s thick consistency).

I headed home and created this recipe that tasted unbelievable. I actually impressed myself with how simple the recipe was and how devilish it tasted. Next time you’re craving something super unhealthy but don’t feel like blowing a bazillion calories, search the wonderful world wide web for what you’re craving and just add the word “healthy”. You’ll be amazed at what you can find!

Overindulgence Inspired Health

All this took 15-minutes. BOOM.

All this took 15-minutes. BOOM.

After a weekend of binge eating in Bloomington, Indiana, Neil and I were craving a simple and healthy dinner. We had been at Indiana University, my alma mater, with Neil’s brother and our sister-in-law to watch the Little 500 bike race. Neil’s brother Brian also went to IU so we were both very excited to get back to our college town and show our significant others all of our college memories. Most of my memories included food.

I hadn’t been back to Bloomington since I graduated in 2006, so it was a special treat. We ate a giant dinner Friday night at Scholar’s Inn. I demanded that we hit up Scotty’s for waffle fries and ranch dressing for lunch on Saturday before the race. Scotty’s came out with a gluten free menu and a few days before we left for the trip I noticed both the ranch and the fries weren’t on the menu. I figured this would happen, but to be safe I gave them a call while I was still in New York so I could prep myself for depression. Of course, the lovely Scotty’s hostess confirmed that both items were not gluten free. I cried for a minute, but then took solace in the fact that at least I had the memories of how amazing those delicious spiced waffle fries were, especially paired with the most amazing ranch dressing on the planet.

I also had to hit up Jimmy John’s. They serve an unwich, which is just a lettuce wrap, so it’s not all that exciting – but on principle I had do go. And here’s why…Neil (unintentionally) took away my last shot at ever eating a proper Jimmy John’s sandwich. It was October of 2009. Neil and I were in Athens, GA – his college town – to watch the UGA play LSU. The dreaded celiac had not been diagnosed yet and I told Neil that my only request while we were in Athens was to hit up Jimmy John’s. NYC has no Jimmy John’s. I missed it. It was a quick and simple request. Well…we ran late to to the tail gate (and G-d forbid we miss out on 10-minutes of drinking) so Neil promised we would stop at Jimmy John’s on the way out of town. Well…on the way out of town everyone wanted to go to some calzone place (which honestly wasn’t all that good, if you ask the person who was craving a Beach Club sandwich). Needless to say, time ran out and there was no stop-off at JJ’s. I was devastated. Neil told me cheer up – “You can always get Jimmy John’s next time we are in Atlanta. It’s not like you’ll never eat it again!”. I believe in that moment he put a gluten hex on me. Three months later I was diagnosed with celiac.

So after stops at all the Bloomington highlights – including the ever famous my-parents-are-in-town-so-let’s-go-to Malibu Grill – we got home, felt gross and needed to do something healthy. I was craving a fancy meal, but didn’t feel like doing much prep – as per usual. My friend Stephanie makes incredible salmon and always talks about how simple it is. She inspired me to come up with this disgustingly easy baked salmon recipe. I paired it with this simple watercress salad as well as some bagged frozen rice that I doctored up with a little lemon, scallions and salt. Dinner took a total of 15-minutes. And it was so good that I made it again on Friday night for company.

I made a Cake…and Some Soup

Neil went out of town last week to head to Vegas with a bunch of his guy friends to celebrate a buddy’s birthday. I’m sure they all got drunk, acted like idiots and had the times of their life. I on the other hand had an extremely productive weekend which included a potluck dinner with some gals, writing, reading, a concert, a book fair, an 8-mile walk with a new amazing friend, the gym and cooking. I packed in a lot and still managed to catch 7 episodes of Felicity on my couch with my cat. (We recently purchased Hulu Plus which has proved to be the best thing that has happened in regards to my love of late 90’s television.)

Neil is out of town for the entire week – after Vegas he had to head to San Francisco for a work conference. For some reason his exodus sparked the Suzy Homemaker inside of me. I decided I was going to make a giant pot of soup for the week – it’s so friggin’ easy to make and that way I would have dinner for the week and I could come home every night from work, jump on the couch and get lost in Kerri Russel’s hair debacle from season 2. With all that extra time on my hands not cooking dinner every night I could get through at least 3 episodes an evening!

I had a ton of leftover broccoli from potluck dinner. I made this broccoli salad for the potluck I mentioned above and the typical Jewish mother inside of me purchased two extra heads, just in case. My mom had mentioned an easy soup recipe, so I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few items I needed. This is a combination of her recipe with my own tweaks.

While at the store I suddenly had a craving for cake. I marched myself down the baking aisle and picked up what I needed to create this delicious vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.

A few hours later I was in the kitchen with the soup on the stove and the cakes in the oven. I NEVER bake. It’s not my thing. But this was truly simple. And the soup. Oh man. It was DISGUSTINGLY easy and so delicious.

Our Anniversary & Ben Affleck

Neil & Me on our wedding day.

Neil & me on our wedding day.

Some thoughts on marriage – and I swear I’ll bring it back to food.

April 3rd was my two year anniversary. It’s kind of hard for me to believe that I have already been married for two years. I adore my husband. He is my rock. And sometimes, I want to kill him (and he wants to kill me).

Neil is a few years older than me and we grew up in the same hometown. We went to the same high school and when I was 16 and he had just graduated we went to a toga party where I got way too drunk, chased him around a basement, kissed him for a fleeting moment before I ended up dry heaving in his mouth and promptly escorted myself to the bathroom. Needless to say the story went down as my most embarrassing moment and I was happy that I didn’t see him again. That was, until 10 years later when a mutual friend mentioned that Neil was moving to New York. I semi-repeated history and chased him down via Facebook. We started chatting over gmail and a few months later when he moved to New York we started dating. I was smitten early on and knew that this was the man I was going to marry.

I had previously been in a 6-year relationship with a really great guy, but we weren’t right for each other. As much as we fought to try to make it work, the bottom line was we wanted two different lives. It was difficult to end, but from my professional stalking skills I see that he is happily married to a beautiful woman living the life he always wanted to live. I like to think we groomed each other for the real thing.

So when the real thing did come along I clung to it. 16-months later we were engaged and here we are, married for two years. While watching the Oscars this year I teared up during Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech. And when he got to thanking his wife, I just about lost it. In all honesty, I was pms-ing, so I was a bit more sensitive than usual, but still. I thought it was the most heartfelt, honest and loving thank you to his wife. Marriage is hard work. It’s not a constant walk in the park with rainbows and sunshine. But it’s the best damn thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t want to be walking through life with any other partner. The next morning I was raving about the speech and most people who I talked to about it had the complete opposite reaction – they thought he was insulting his wife.

I stumbled upon this article that states, “If you’re partnered for life, if you’re fighting this good fight against biology, then you understand that — and you see that there is nothing Affleck could have said that would have honored his wife, and HER work, more.” I couldn’t agree more.

Now back to food. Neil and I decided we wanted a nice home cooked meal for our anniversary. My best friend always talks about a lamb recipe she makes, so I called her up for the details. Rosemary, garlic, honey, lamb-loin chops. Delicious! I tweaked her recipe just a bit and added some dijon mustard. This is what I came up with, and it was honestly the best meat I’ve ever made in my life. I paired the meat with roasted potatoes and asparagus and started the meal off with my aunt’s caesar salad. Neil played bartender and made a round of delicious cocktails and then we opened a fancy bottle of red wine.

The evening was perfect. After dinner we watched our wedding video. In my dad’s speech he talked about how when times get tough during our marriage, which they no doubt would, that we should look at each other, think about our beginning, reminisce about our wedding and say “I remember why we did this.” While we watched the speech on our second anniversary Neil took my hand, squeezed it hard and said, “I remember and I promise never to forget.” While my stomach may not flip anymore with his every phone call and text message, and his half-smile and affectionate stare can no longer immediately get him out of trouble, he has my heart. Forever and always. He is my partner and our marriage is the most important job I have. It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with. Thank you, Ben Affleck.

Ridiculously Easy Caesar Salad

My aunt makes the most incredible Caesar Salad Dressing and recently my husband and I have had mad cravings for the salty-deliciousness. There is something about cool crisp lettuce tossed with creamy dressing and topped with shredded Parmesan and crunchy croutons. I emailed my aunt for her recipe, but she was in Israel for a family wedding, so I had to fend for myself. I found a recipe by the one and only Martha Stewart. It was so easy to make and was fantastic. It was not creamy like I remember my aunts recipe to be, but it hit the spot when I was in a moment of Caesar desperation.

I combined Martha’s dressing recipe with a few touches of my own for the salad to create this final recipe. I topped the salad with some warm grilled chicken. I LOVE the way a warm protein mixes with the coldness of a Caesar salad.

My husband and I were recently on an “ordering-in binge” which can happen quite easily in NYC with over 10,000 restaurants at your fingertips. It becomes sort of a habit to peruse a menu quickly, call in an order and sit and wait. That whole process can take about an hour and end up costing a pretty penny. This entire meal took 20-minutes to make, which includes prep and cook time. Plus it only cost me $9 (I had to buy anchovies, Parm and lettuce- outside of that, I had everything else in my freezer, pantry or fridge).

The finished product.

It’s All in the Timing

I know, I know. I’ve been gone for a while. I needed to spend some time on some personal stuff. But I’m back! I never really left – just needed a mental break. But I’ve been thinking about Simply in the Flavor every day. :)

Often my friends will ask me how I’m able to time meals that I’m cooking so that everything is ready at the same time. My trick is simple. Everything that I cook is pretty easy and does not need a lot of attention. For example, tonight I’m making ridiculously easy roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts with even more embarrassingly easy pork chops. The potatoes and sprouts all go in one baking dish and get popped in the oven for a little over and hour. Meanwhile the pork chops take about 10 minutes total. I’ve had the potatoes in for about 40 minutes and am taking the down time to write this blog post. Multitasking is so hot right now.

Anyway, this bone-in pork recipe makes incredibly juicy and flavorful chops. The potatoes and sprouts add a colorful and tasty pop to the plate. While the overall time on this meal takes about an hour and thirty minutes, you’ll have time to throw in a load of laundry, play a few rounds of letterpress, update your blog and check Facebook 27 times before you even have to worry about throwing the chops on the grill pan. Bon appetit!