Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mohonk Mountain House

I posted on Tuesday about my 2 year wedding anniversary and since we started blogging I have been meaning to share with Jesse and I did for our 1 year anniversary last September.  Jesse surprised me (/tricked me: he told me we were going "antiquing" which seemed like a weird choice for him, but I was willing to go with it) with a weekend at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY.

Mohonk, a Victorian castle hotel, was built in the late 1800s and still maintains that old-timey feel today.  Fireplaces everywhere, grand staircases, huge porches overlooking the lake.  It actually feels like the resort in Dirty Dancing, albeit a fancier version - big dining rooms, family activities, boating, etc.


Jesse and I had both been to Mohonk as kids and as soon as we arrived we hit the hiking trails.  That makes us sound more hardcore than we are.  Let me specify: I was wearing jeans and pearls.  

Mohonk has a "rock scramble" that culminates in a climb through a very narrow rock cave, aptly called "The Lemon Squeeze".  I could tell right away that perhaps rock scrambles weren't for me:

... and here we are, post-Lemon Squeeze.  I wouldn't let Jesse take any pictures mid-Squeeze because a) I was crying and b) I almost died (picture Jesse behind me right now shaking his head and mouthing "No, she didn't").

Post-hike, we paddle-boated around the lake...

...had an amazing dinner, and enjoyed drinks out on the back porch overlooking the water.  Delicious food and such a relaxed and historic atmosphere.

While at Mohonk we also visited the spa (the MOST AMAZING spa I have ever been to) for massages and a hot spring soak.  Mohonk's spa was recently named the #2 Resort Spa by Conde Nast for 2012 (I wonder what #1 was... get me there, now!).  Since taking photos around a spa is generally frowned upon, here's a shot from their website.  So relaxing:

Before we left we also wandered through beautiful gardens and a hedgerow labyrinth:

I definitely recommend Mohonk as a weekend trip away - very easy for New Yorkers and not so tough from New England spots.  It was perfectly romantic and relaxing and I can't wait to go back soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Giada and Ralph Squatting on a Tree... K-I-S-S-I-N-G

I think we found Ralph a girlfriend.  In fact, I know we have.  She's blonde and she's wonder we I like her so much.  Giada, the little beauty below, belongs to our dear friends Thano and Nicole.  After attending their gorgeous wedding, we have the privilege of watching their fur baby, Giada, while they honeymoon in Hawaii.

I must have been saying something interesting ball or breakfast.

Giada had a really hard time adjusting...

...the shutter of the camera didn't make sleeping any easier...

Sorry princess.

This is Giada with her new Halloween baby.  She likes her baby.  A lot.  This is also me trying to work.

 I put my Halloween baby here just for you Jaisa...


What about now Jaisa...

Maybe if I step back you'll see my Halloween baby better...

No?  How about now? 

Yay.  Giada's happy.

This is exactly what we see at the end of our bed every night, shortly before she joins us.

No more pictures, please. 

We've SO enjoyed watching little Giada.  She's so soft and sweet and just so loving.  A perfect reflection of her Mom and Dad.  Stay houndy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Jesse!

Two years ago today, on an unexpectedly sunny Indian summer day, Jesse and I got married next to a beautiful vineyard and among our friends and family.  Two years!  I can't believe it!

The wedding turned out to be perfectly rustic, relaxed, and fun.  After months of planning out all of the little details, I loved seeing everything come together.

Many thanks to my parents for throwing us such a great party.  Happy Anniversary, Jesse!  Thanks for all of the adventures over the last two years.  Here's to many more!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Skinny Recipe Makeover: Buffalo Chicken Cigars

Charlie and I are on a health kick.  I know, I'm ticked off too.  I really wanted to make my buffalo chicken cigars for Super Bowl Sunday but they aren't really skinny friendly.  This could be a problem.  A real problem. 

I understand our blog readers don't want to read about my kale and balsamic salad (and neither would I) so I've decided to take some of our most popular recipes and give them a skinny twist.  That brings us to, the Skinny Recipe Makeover Series.

If it isn't enthusiastically hungry and husband approved, I will not post it.  

I promise.  Hardly Housewives pinky promise.

There is no ingredient shot because I didn't totally know what I was going to make.  Don't worry.  I got ya.

6 Large Egg Roll Wrappers 
1/2 Lbs of Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs 
1/2 Tsp of Garlic Powder 
1/4 Cup Hot Sauce 
Cooking Spray 
1/3 Cup Reduced Fat Finely Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbs of Reduced Fat Sour Cream 

Begin by brushing off the excess flour with a dry pastry brush.  You can also use a dry kitchen rag (that's what I did).  Next, cut 4 rounds with a small cookie cutter. 

I only made 16, but the recipe detailed above is for 24.  Gently press each of the rounds into a mini muffin pan and spray individually with cooking spray.  Crisp in a 375 degree oven for 2-4 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.  Watch these carefully - they crisp up fast.

 I'm a huge fan of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  The dark meat has so much flavor.  You can definitely use white meat as well, but it's a bit drier and won't really make a difference calorie wise. Chop up the chicken so it cooks evenly...but we'll chop it up more after it's done cooking.  You can also use ground chicken or ground turkey.  Whatever your little healthy heart desires.

Throw the chicken in a non stick skillet that's been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle some garlic powder and then add the hot sauce.  Sautee on high until the chicken is cooked through - about 4-5 minutes.

 Add the chicken to a clean cutting board and finely dice it.  Add to a bowl with the cheese and the sour cream.

Stir it up.

Now, plate it up.  I garnished each with some homemade low fat blue dressing and some finely chopped celery.  I used my Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing except I used Light Hellman's mayonnaise and reduced fat sour cream and skim milk.  BOOM.

These were SO GOOD.  Like really, really really good.

Let's take a closer look...shall we?

Crunchy munchy licious baby.

Mmmmm totally delicious and a perfect healthy appetizer for company.  No one will even know.

34 calories per piece.  Weight Watchers Points Plus:  1 point per piece.  Complete nutrition below.

What recipes do YOU guys want made over?  Let us know and stay hungry!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Homey Daily Reads

I start most mornings by firing up my computer and reading a few of my favorite home and design blogs while my emails load (and my basset hounds calm down after breakfast excitement and my husband loudly sings songs that he makes up on the fly while he's waiting for the coffee to brew).  While Jaisa and I do a lot of brainstorming and sharing of our ideas, I love seeing what other ladies across the blogosphere are up to so I can steal pin their awesome ideas and get some daily inspiration.

Here are my daily standards:

Young House Love - Pretty much the gold standard on home blogs.  Adding their new book to my birthday list...

House of Earnest - I was introduced to Erin's pretty and practical blog last year and check in every day to see what she's up to.  House of Earnest is sort of like an Anthropologie catalog meets somebody you could be friends with in real life.

Brooklyn Limestone - Ooooh, have I mentioned I am from Brooklyn?  Mrs Limestone at Brooklyn Limestone is living the beautifully & creatively decorated life I like to imagine Jesse and I would have had if we had stayed in the gritty city.

I Heart Organizing - As a person actively attempting organization, I need a daily dose of inspiration.  Jen has great ideas (plus a new group of organized and creative contributors) and an insanely organized and tidy home.
Mini Manor Blog - Ashli has recently become a contributor to I Heart Organizing, but I started reading her blog a few years ago.  Simple, classic decor and easy to follow tutorials (where I learned to make envelope pillows). 

What blogs do you hit up every day?  Anything major that I am missing?  Let me know and stay homey!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sausage and Kale Soup

So it was 78 on Monday.  I had the AC on and everything.  Then on Tuesday, it was Fall.  Chilly, 60 degree, Fall.  I LOVE IT.  

Fall has always been my favorite season.  Don't get me wrong - drinking on a patio is one of my favorite things in the world.  But Fall...I just love it.  It's refreshing, crisp, and a good soup just makes it so cozy.  You know what also comes with Fall?  Colds.  Everyone (including myself) has some kind of something.  My friend Katie, who I work with and who also lives in my building, was feeling particularly not so great.  So soup it is. 

This was a totally random soup.  I'm not sure how I came up with this.  I think I was craving Italian Wedding Soup and was too lazy to roll the meatballs and all that jazz.  This, was delightfully easy, and had deep, tremendous, garlicky good flavor.

Here's how you do dis:

1.5 Lbs Italian Spicy Sausage (without casings)
8-12 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth 
1 Large or 2 Small Dried Bay Leaves
1/2 Cup of Ancini De Pepe Pasta 
4 Large Garlic Cloves (roughly chopped) 
10 Cups of Chopped, Cleaned, Kale (one of the huge bags)  
1/2 Cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan 

Brown the sausage in a large pan (mine was 6 Qt) on high for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.  If the sausage sticks at all, add a bit of water.  Drain any excess fat from the sausage by either resting cooked sausage on paper towels, or by carefully pouring the fat out. Add the sausage back to the pan.  Add half of the kale.  Pour in 4 cups of the chicken stock.  Once kale begins to wilt, add the rest of the kale and about 4 more cups of stock.  Add garlic and bay leaves.  Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes or so.  Next, add 1/2 cup of ancini di pepe.  If you can't find that kind of pasta, you can use ditalini or any other type of small pasta.  The pasta will puff up and absorb a lot of liquid.  Depending on how brothy you like your soup, add more stock accordingly.  I ended up using about 12 cups total to make it stretch.  If you run out of stock, you could easily add 1-2 more cups of water.  It'll still taste great.  Right before you're ready to serve, add the grated parm and stir.  Of course, add more Parmesan on top of each serving.  Serve with some awesome crusty bread or just eat alone.  It's delish. 

Stay hungry! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Clean Sheet Day

There are very few days nearer and dearer to my heart than Clean Sheet Day.  It's not one specific day of the week, though maybe one day I will be organized (and clean) enough for that.  Every week and a half or so (is that too long? Is it gross that I'm admitting that?), I chase my crabby grey cat off the bed, wash our sheets, dry them, and remake the bed with great fanfare.  "Clean Sheet Day," I'll shout up the stairs to Jesse, "Cleeeeeeeean Sheet Day!".

Here are my tips for making Clean Sheet Day as lovely and cozy as possible.

1)  I use my homemade laundry soap with no dryer sheets.  Since I stopped using commercial detergents, I have gotten very sensitive to scented laundry products.  I like my sheets to feel crisp and clean but not to smell like potpourri.

2)  Though I troll Garnet Hill and West Elm for pretty sheets almost daily, I have a strict white-sheets-only rule in the master bedroom.  It feels peaceful, hotel-like to me to have only white bedding.  Also that way, if you need to replace part of your sheet set (as we did recently with the fitted sheet), you can just buy that a la carte instead of needing to track down part of a patterned set.

3)  No dogs on the bed!  Our dog free bed policy may be surprising to you, but you can thank Fred for that one.  Back when we lived in Seattle, we bought a new mattress and sleigh bed frame.  As soon as we left for work every day, Fred promptly jumped on the bed and peed on it.  Thank goodness for mattress protectors.  We wised up and started closing the door when we went to the office, but all dogs are banned from the bed thanks to Fred's actions.  Also, now that we live in the country, both of our dogs are constantly tracking dirt (and sometimes worse: ticks) into the house.  No, thank you.  Especially not on Clean Sheet Day.  As for our cats, one sleeps on the bed all day every day.  Maybe I should get her tested for kitty mono?

4) Every few washings, I will take out the vacuum and use the upholstery cleaner bit to get at any dust that has gathered on the mattress.

5) On nicer days in the winter, I'll hang our feather duvet out on the back porch to air it out.  In the summer, we use a light quilt, which I will pop in the wash occasionally.

So this is where it gets sort of intimate - how often do you have Clean Sheet Day?  What are your tips for a cozy bed?  Let us know and stay cozy homey.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie For The Soul

Ah, Fall.  More clothing and less bathing suits.  Thanks to baby Jesus.

Fall also makes me think of orchards, apple cider, apple cider donuts, and...get ready for it...pot pie.  My mom made pies a lot in the Fall when I was growing up.  She would cook chicken pot pie and pork pie (I MUST post that recipe's ridiculous). Anyway, I've been drooling and day dreaming about pot pies so I hit the net and came up with a beautiful variety...I. Want. To. Make. Them. All. Now. This Second. Like, yesterday.

Here is Eat Little Bird's Beef, Onion and Guinness Pie.  I love the Irish twist and the small, easily portable sizes.

I think a lot of people shy away from pot pie because they think it's incredibly unhealthy.  And they are, for the most part.  Eat Drink Love created their own "Skinny Bitch" version so if you are craving something comforting but don't want to throw your diet down a man hole, check out their Veggie Pot Pie recipe.

I looooove this next recipe.  Simply Delicious just made my night with their Chicken Chorizo Pie with Puff Pastry.  Sweet Moses I need to make this like NOW.

Chicken & Chorizo Pie

I've been following Bev Cook's blog for awhile now.  I actually bought my camera on her recommendation.  Her pictures are beautiful and her writing is hilarious.  Oh yeah, her recipes are also REE DONK.  Check out her Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes!  How awesome is this? Totally portable, totally savory, totally creative.  Love.

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

My husband and his brother would go absolutely bonkers over this one.  Domestic Fits came up with this awesome Blue Cheese Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie.  I love how she took a totally traditional recipe and spiced it up.  Genius.

Any creative or tasty and traditional pot pie recipes out there?  We'd love to hear about them.  Stay hungry!