Friday, November 30, 2012


How was your Thanksgiving? Were you daring cook, adding a new recipe or two into your day? Or did you stick to the tried, true, and delicious recipes that you almost have memorized? Either way, I hope it was a delicious, restful, and filling day for you and your families.

Mike and I flew south to visit some of his family for the long weekend. I missed my own family so much – craving to be around the table sharing our traditional dishes and pies. I cooked and baked a little, enjoying the space and amenities of a kitchen the size of our Manhattan apartment, but also, strangely, missing our cozy kitchen.

I imagine there might be more than a handful of people who still have the very last of the turkey leftovers to consume. Sometimes those last few meals of leftovers can be a bit difficult to get excited about, after consuming turkey for days on end. Not to worry! I have the perfect vessel for you to create a flavorful Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich. And, just in case the thought of returning to the kitchen after last week isn’t exactly the most appealing thought, this recipe is a cinch to make.

Yields 8 to 10 4-inch pastries

Choux Paste
1 1/4 cups skim milk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced

1 large egg
Grated Gruyère cheese for sprinkling
Coarse sea salt (I use Maldon) for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a SilPat or parchment paper.

To make the choux paste, combine the milk, butter, and salt in a heavy saucepan and place over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a full boil. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the mixture has formed a smooth mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan and some of the moisture has evaporated. This will take about 3 minutes.

Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or to a heatproof mixing bowl. If using a mixer, add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed, incorporating each egg before adding the next. When all the eggs have been added, the mixture will be very thick, smooth, and shiny. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, add the cheese, pepper, and thyme, and mix in with a rubber spatula. If making by hand, add the eggs one at a time to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon, incorporating each egg before adding the next one, then proceed as directed for the mixer method.

Use a large ice cream scoop to drop the dough into mounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

To make the topping, in a small bowl, whisk the egg and then gently brush the top of each pastry with the egg wash. Lightly sprinkle the top of each pastry with a little cheese and a bit of sea salt.

Place the pastries in the oven immediately and bake until they have puffed, are nicely browned, and feel light for their size, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and poke a small hole in the side of each pastry with a toothpick to allow the steam to escape. Releasing the steam keeps them from collapsing. If splitting and filling, let cool to room temperature; otherwise, they may be served hot, warm, or at room temperature. Or, let cool completely, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days, and recrisp in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Am Thankful

I am thankful that while hurriedly running errands on Monday, I took a moment to look up at the sky and see this beautiful tree. Hurricane Sandy pretty much stole our fall here in New York City and the vibrant colors were just what I needed to see.

I am thankful this year has been filled with so many joyous moments.

I am thankful to be in the very beginning stages of making a long-time dream into a reality. I am thankful for the days I feel energized about making progress; I am more thankful for the people in my life who encourage me when I begin to doubt myself.

I am thankful for what the new ring on my left hand represents: our relationship, our dreams, our impending adventure, our love. I am thankful every single day that I am lucky enough to share my life with my very best friend. For the failed relationships, rivers of tears, and moments I was sure I would never find someone, I am thankful. Without them, I never would have found him.

I am thankful for our families coming together and sharing in this exciting time in our lives. It is sometimes crazy, chaotic, and overwhelming, but that’s family. I am thankful for so much love in our lives.

I am thankful for a mother who taught me by example how to be a good person, woman, and wife. I’m thankful she was on the other end of the phone when I reached my breaking point. I’m thankful she encouraged me to follow my heart to Manhattan and talked me into staying when I wanted to move home. I still don’t have her patience, but I’m working on it.

I am thankful for a father who stepped into the role whole-heartedly. I’m thankful that he believes I will succeed in anything life throws my way. I’m thankful he never let me settle for anything less than I could achieve or deserve. I’m thankful that in a moment of weakness, he assured me my future had nothing to do with my past. I’m thankful he loves Mike like a son.

I am thankful life has been so kind to my sister this year. I am thankful she has a loving husband, a new job, a cozy furball, and a safe apartment. I am thankful she takes time to enjoy the outdoors.

I am thankful for my entire family that keeps me strong and grounded.

I am thankful that I am (finally) starting to fall in love with New York City. I still have my moments and this place still has it quirks, but it is getting harder each day to imagine living anywhere else.

I am thankful for my gym – for the workouts and the people. I am thankful Mike encouraged me to join because he saw that I needed a push. I am thankful that it has completely changed my view of what it means to be healthy. I am thankful that it makes me feel strong, peaceful, and beautiful.

I am thankful to be on this winding road of life. I am thankful for the people in my life who make it bright and worthwhile. I am thankful for the unknown opportunities and joys that await me and thankful for the disappointments that will make me that much stronger. I am thankful for today.

A New Design!

When it comes to the design of this blog, I am sorry to say that I am one of those people who is never, ever satisfied with the design. Like my mother repainting a bathroom 103 times before she found just the perfect shade of blue, I am a tweaker and a perfectionist. I want the fonts, colors, layout, and feel to be just right for my readers.

But after almost four years (what?!) of blogging, I have come to a not-so-startling conclusion: I am not a blog designer or coder. Shocking, right? The past few months have been filled to the brim with things in life that need to be planned and accomplished and I am slowly (and a bit reluctantly) learning that I cannot do it all.

And that’s okay! I cannot begin to calculate the hours upon hours I have spent working on the various designs for my blog, hours Googling and watching tutorials on how to code. I was stubborn enough to think that this was time well spent – why pay someone to do the work when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself?

Turns out, I’m not actually that capable, I don’t really enjoy it, and there are plenty of very talented people out there who can do a much better job than me! This space was ready for a refresh and, as I am very happily starting to receive a few photography assignments here and there, I really wanted this space to instantly reflect my personality for my readers. With this in mind and still on a tight budget, I decided to outsource the design of my blog to much more able hands. For an incredibly small cost, I have now freed up those previously frustrating hours to focus on clients, projects, planning, blogging, and life.

So, what do you think?! The lovely team of Designer Blogs is responsible for this beautiful update and I am just so thrilled!  I tweaked a few things (I had to!) to make the layout just perfect and I added a bit of sparkle (because it makes me happy!) with the gold glitter social media icons from Mint 102. I feel relaxed and inspired every time I open my browser and I cannot wait to use those extra hours to actually be able to share my photographs, stories, and recipes!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Project Life 2012 | Week Forty-Four

I'm playing catch-up (again) on Project Life.  Funny thing is, sometimes life can get in the way of actually documenting each week.  But I am trying really hard to keep this going through the end of this year and to complete each week, even those past weeks that still need photos and words.  I absolutely love the results of the project.

Week forty-four was the week Hurrican Sandy hit our region.  I decided to dedicate an entire page to the storm, incorporating my photos of the Upper East Side and some from Mike's co-worker of half of Manhattan without power.

On the following two pages, I documented the strange week that followed, with no subway service, the cancellation of the NYC Marathon, our Halloween, and an anniversary party at our gym.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner & Dessert Ideas

Thanksgiving - my favorite holiday of the entire year - is this Thursday!  I will not actually be cooking, as Mike and I will be visiting family in South Carolina.  But I figure there might be a few people out there looking for last-minute ideas of delicious things to make and share this Thanksgiving.  Below are some ideas from past posts that just might be exactly what you need! To those who are cooking, good luck and remember to have fun!  And, if all else fails, just be sure to have plenty of wine on-hand.  To those, like me, who are just consuming, remember to thank those who have worked hard to ensure you have a scrumptions meal and lend a hand with the dirty dishes!

If you are having family or friends over for dinner, adding the warm smell of Mulled Apple Cider to your home can be incredibly welcoming.  You can even mull the apple cider the day before and rewarm before guests arrive.  The spices become even more flavorful when they have the chance to sit overnight. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Crema is a great appetizer for your family and friends.  Make the soup and crema on Tuesday or Wednesday and then just rewarm when you are ready to serve on Thanksgiving.  Like the apple cider, the flavors will just get better!

A big basket of Nana's Oatmeal Rolls are always on my family's Thanksgiving table.  This is another recipe that you can make on Tuesday or Wednesday and then rewarm prior to serving.  They also make perfect little vesels for consuming Thanksgiving leftovers.

Ahh, Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie.  This is my twist on the Southern classic, where the chocolate actually helps make this pie a bit less sweet and a lot more delicious and balanced. Be sure to make the pie crust a few days ahead - you want to give the butter plenty of time to get really cold again, yielding a perfectly flaky crust.

Whether you serve this Bourbon Ice Cream on its own or with a slice of Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie, your tastebuds will be rejocing with some of the best Southern flavors.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hot Bread Kitchen's Night Market

Last Thursday night, I headed uptown to Harlem for the annual fundraiser at Hot Bread Kitchen.  Not even an incredibly pesky, lingering cold could keep me from enjoying the evening.  My boss introduced me to this amazing organization almost two years ago and I have so loved learning more about their programs, success stories, and impacts in the community.  Hot Bread Kitchen is a bakery (and so much more) that employs immigrant women who might traditionally have difficulty finding work in a new country, or might be chastised for even dreaming of doing so.  These women share and produce the breads of their homelands and childhoods and, in turn, receive culinary training, English classes, and job-placement assistance.

The evening was filled with many supporters, lots of delicious dishes, and a bubbly glass of hard cider.  Perhaps my favorite moment was watching the hands-on demonstration of making m'smen, though not more than eating a piece right off the griddle.  Afterwards there were more treats – cookies from Dorie Greenspan and a tour of the tiny kitchen that now produces all things sweet for her newly launched company, Beurre & Sel.

If you would like to learn more about this organization, FOOD & WINE wrote a great piece, complete with a few recipes, on Hot Bread kitchen a few years ago.  Or you can head straight to the official website.  And if you are in New York City, you are lucky enough to have their breads offered at many retailers and green markets!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our Halloween

Our Halloween was very quiet.  In a city still trying to get back on her feet after Hurricane Sandy, it hardly felt like a day for celebration.  It was hard to wrap my head around handing out candy when almost the entirety of downtown Manhattan continues to be without power, water, food.

Mike walked home from the office last night, as subways were at a standstill and packed buses were stuck in heavy traffic.  After dinner, I baked a fresh batch of Halloween Monster Cookies and we watched our favorite Halloween specials before calling it a night.  Simple and sweet.

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