Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkins, Plus One...

Excited to share some BIG news at Chez Homey... we are happily, excitedly, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first baby, due April 2, 2013.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and basset hounds are all thrilled.  Until then, we've got an empty bedroom and lots of DIY and decor to complete!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Proper Irish Breakfast for Two

It seems a little odd to be posting about food when the entire eastern seaboard is getting owned by Sandy.  I'm sitting in my cozy, dry, Chicago condo and am safely watching the storm from under my duvet.  My entire family (including Caitlin, well she's not family but almost) is on the east coast.  I don't like it.  I don't like it one bit. Stay safe out there my peeps. 

Anyway, the food show must go on so here we go.  On.

Our dear and oft mentioned friends, Rick and Jenny (Ralph's parents) returned from Ireland and brought back a TON of amazing goodies.  In addition to a giant box of chocolates, nativity calendars, jam, etc. they brought us the key items to make a proper Irish breakfast.  Sigh.  Begin the waterfall of drool.

To begin, they brought us soda farls.  Basically it's soda bread that has been flattened and broken into four pieces or "farls."  Don't worry.  I didn't know that.  I had to look that up. 

It was doughy but light, and just delish.  I grilled each side in a skillet with some butter until it was nice and toasty and crispy.  YUM.

Next, came the potato farls. This was unlike anything I had before.  It was like a dense, savory pancake made with mashed potatoes.  I know, sounds loco, but it is SO good.  I grilled this in a pan as well.  Also with butter.  Duh.

Oh lord.  Oh sweet lord.  RASHERS.  Rashers how do I love thee?  Let me count the (ten) different ways.  One for each of you.  Rashers are like bacon but like a hundred times better.  They are sliced thin and aren't cured, but are still nice and salty.  It's as though bacon and ham had a baby and named her Rasher.  Actually, that's exactly what it's like.


With a couple fried eggs, Charlie and I kicked off our Sunday in true and utter bliss.  You can see the difference in the soda farl vs. potato farl.  The soda farl is bigger and fluffier and the potato farl is smaller and more dense. 

 This makes me want to move to Ireland.  Ralph?  You coming with?

THANK YOU Rick and Jenny for such an amazing and thoughtful gift.  If you would like to sample some amazing, authentic Irish food like rashers, you can order them from Tommy Moloneys.  

Stay hungry!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm Prep (a.k.a. Hey Sandy)

(Anybody else remember "Hey Sandy", the theme song to The Adventures of Pete & Pete?  I've had it stuck in my head all weekend as I hear more and more news coverage.  You're welcome.)

For the last few days, we've been hearing lots about Hurricane Sandy (alias: Frankenstorm) and how we need to be prepared for flooding and power outages.  Though I am hoping it somehow blows out to sea or isn't as bad as expected, we spent most of yesterday battening down the hatches in case it hits as it's supposed to:

Halfway through moving all of our lawn furniture into the garage, Jesse and I reminisced about how much easier this would be if we still lived in Brooklyn.  Our usual hurricane ritual was to head to Smith Street to drink hurricanes with friends, then head back to our apartment, order in food, and hope that the cable didn't go out.  Sigh.  The good life.  But after securing all projectiles, stabilizing the beehives, and stocking up on peanut butter, it looks like we are all set here.

I think we have all of the necessities.  Food.  Water.  A fully charged Kindle.  I dug out all of our flashlights and candles.  (After searching at stores all over the area for D batteries, I decided to stop in at a local Toys R Us.  Jackpot - every type of battery and not at all crowded with people buying candles and Poland Spring jugs.  Definitely my new, unlikely emergency preparedness store.)

Fred, on the other hand, is worried about unspeakable inconveniences such as Milkbone shortages and reduced access to the backyard.  He's planning on riding this thing out on our couch.

Stay safe, readers!  See you after the storm!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Skinny Ricotta Pumpkin Pudding

This recipe couldn't have been more random.  Really.  Like, the weirdest.  It turned out so good though.  I'm so proud of my baking. 

Ok, so nothing actually got baked.  But it was a dessert.   Hey!  That's a big step for me.

In my hunt for pumpkiny skinny goodness, this recipe is a keeper.

Ricotta Pumpkin Pudding ingredients for two:

1/4 Cup of Low Fat Ricotta Cheese 
1/4 Cup of Pure Pumpkin Puree (canned) 
1/4 Teaspoon of Cinnamon 
2 Tbs of Honey
Pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt  
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract 
1 Cup of Fat Free Cool Whip
1/8 Cup of Graham Cracker Crumbs 

Mix together the ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, vanilla, honey and pinch of salt.  Taste and add additional honey if you wish.  Gently fold/swirl in the cool whip. Add some of the graham cracker crumbs to the bottom of the bowl or dish (reserving a little to sprinkle on top).  Spoon the pumpkin, cheese, cool whip mixture on top of the crumbs and then finish with a little sprinkle.

Only 5 Weight Watcher points per serving.  Here are the full facts:

Mmmm fall and pumpkiny and not too sweet.  Basically the perfect dish for me.  Stay hungry!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chalkboard Labels for Storing Seasonal Clothes

I don't know about where you're from, but around here it is officially fall.  Red-leaves-swirling-down, fire-in-the-fireplace, overnight-frost, get-me-some-apple-cider fall.  Which means that it's officially time to pack up my summer dresses and pull out the sweaters.

While unpacking fall & winter clothes, I realized that there were two full plastic tubs of summer stuff that I missed last spring when unpacking summer clothes.  Imagine my frustration at losing a year with the platform espadrilles I bought last summer.  First world problems, I know.

I got to thinking about the best way to pack up this year's summer clothes in the most organized way possible.  Labels necessary.  Time to break out the chalkboard paint for easily changeable labels...

We own a hodge podge of large plastic storage tubs.  Some are clear, some are opaque, few of them are the same size.  In a perfect world, I would have stacks of matched containers, all marked neatly.  Unfortunately, I'm just not that kind of girl, so I will work on labeling my tubs as I use them.  As you can see above, my chalkboard paint is in no danger of being depleted.

One layer of chalkboard paint in, which is a little too thin...

but three layers in, my new "labels" are ready to rock...

Easily switchable for the seasons and very helpful in helping me get ALL of my summer clothes out next year!  Stay organized and stay homey!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Skinny Stuff It Veggie Wrap

When I was growing up my sister and I would get veggie wraps from a place called Stuff It.  They were incredible.  I remember texting her awhile back, asking for ideas for the blog and she challenged me with recreating the recipe.  Now let's get something straight.  We would get veggie wraps just because they tasted amazing, NOT because they were healthy.  A typical veggie sandwich from a deli has around 600 calories, 50 carbs, 30 grams of fat, and very little fiber.  Ouch.

We can totally do better than that.

I've made my version a couple of times, base on some of her suggestions.  It has never been exactly right, but close enough.  Last weekend I made a lighter version and it came out simply amazing. Mmmm I'm looking at the above picture literally drooling.  Yum.

 Here is what you need for about 2 very large, overstuffed wraps:

1/4 Red Onion, Sliced very very thin 
1/2 Cup of Bean Sprouts 
1/2 Cup of Alfalfa Sprouts 
1/2 Cup of Pre Packaged Broccoli Slaw 
1/2 Cup of Pre Packaged Sliced Red Cabbage 
1/4 Cup of Carrots, Freshly Shredded if Possible 
2 Slices of Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese, Sliced Very Thin 
2 Mission Carb Balance Tortilla Wraps 
1/4 Cup of Light Hellman's Mayonnaise 
2 Tbs of Tamari 
1 Tbs of Lemon Juice, Freshly Squeezed 

Mix mayonnaise, tamari, and lemon juice together.  Add vegetables to dressing and toss well.  Line each tortilla with 1 slice of cheese.  Jarlsberg Swiss slices are rather large so one should work just fine.  Add a large scoop of the dressed veggies to the center and wrap together, using wax paper to hold everything in place.  The point is to have an overstuffed, decadent wrap of veggies.  You could easily make 3 smaller wraps out of this if you prefer. Enjoy. 

Each wrap has 6 Weight Watcher Points.  Here is the complete info: 

Wow.  About half the calories, half the carbs, and about a sixth of the amount of fat and ALL the flavor.  Yes.  We're on to something. 

Stay hungry! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Best Flannel Sheets

We take flannel sheet season seriously around here.  At the first sign of chilly night weather, I wash and pack up my cottom summer sheets and pull down my favorite flannel sheets.  After some trial and error (and some sleeping on scratchy flannel sheets), I have finally found a winner - L.L.Bean's Ultrasoft Flannel Sheets:


Soft, warm, and so cozy, they are also reasonably priced (our king-sized set ran us just under $100).  I went with the "Natural" colored sheets, since I like white & ivory sheets, but there are lots of pretty colors and patterns if you prefer a brighter bed. 

Is this not the coziest looking bed you have ever seen:


So now that it's cold and fall 2012 is upon us, trust your friends up in Maine and check out L.L. Bean's flannel sheets.  Stay cozy and stay homey!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Low Fat Dill Chicken Salad

There is this Jewish deli right by our place in Chicago that has the best chicken salad I have ever had in my life.  I almost faked an allergic reaction to it once so they'd be legally obligated to list off every single ingredient.  Even the secret ones.   

Don't judge.  I do these things for you. 

Anyway, it's so creamy and so delicious and mmm just perfect.  I was craving it bad last weekend, so I thought I'd try to make a lighter version at home.  What turned out was a soul satisfying, company-worthy appetizer that I will be making over and over and over again.

Here we go:

3 Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/3 Cup Hellman's Light Mayonnaise 
1 Tbs Soy Sauce 
3 Ribs of Celery, Very Finely Chopped  
1/3 of a Red Onion, Very Finely Chopped 
1 Tsp of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Tbs of Fresh Dill, Chopped 
Freshly Ground Pepper 
1 Seedless Cucumber 

Poach the chicken breasts until done.  While still warm, but not hot, finely shred the chicken with your hands.   Finely chop the celery and red onion.  I put them both in a food processor to make sure they were minced as fine as possible.  Add the veggies and the rest of the ingredients to the shredded chicken.  Work everything together with your hands until it becomes nice and creamy.   Cut 1/2 inch slices of cucumbers and spoon out a little from the center, making a little divot. Spoon about a tablespoon of the chicken salad onto each cucumber rounds.

1 Weight Watchers point per piece.  Complete info below:

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Champagne & St. Germain (& Raspberries!)

Have you guys ever had St. Germain before?  Jaisa introduced me to this delicious liqueur back in my Brooklyn days, when she would visit and we would bar crawl up and down Smith Street ordering champagne & St. Germain cocktails.  It never ended terribly well, but it was always a lot of fun.

We recently celebrated my mother-in-law's 60th birthday and she is a real champagne enthusiast.  I had a few of these little "TSA approved" (that's what I call them, at least) St. Germain bottles left over and decided to mix up a tasty, bubbly cocktail (with some local raspberries thrown in for good measure):

You'll need champagne (or prosecco), St. Germain liqueur, & raspberries (I used 2 per glass).

First, I poured in a shot of St. Germain into my flutes (approximately 1.5 oz), filled up the rest with champagne, and then tossed in two raspberries:

It took about 10 seconds to make each drink (& not that much longer for my in-laws to take them down!).  A tasty, celebratory drink that I think would be nice with many different fruits (raspberries were just what I had on hand).  Maybe a sliver of pear during this harvest season?

And, as somebody who has learned my lesson the hard way with these delicious cocktails, please drink responsibly!  Stay thirsty and stay hungry!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vanilla Bean Pumpkin Smoothie

Boy do I have a treat for you.  A trick or treat.  It's a treat that won't play a trick on your thighs.  (Sorry). 

Every time I walk into Starbucks this time of year, I'm bamboozled with delicious smelling, very high caloric wafts of pumpkin temptations.  Pumpkin Latte.  Damn you.  Damn you and your 13 grams of fat and 49 grams of sugar!  

I was craving something pumpkiny, but also cold.  So I came up with this concoction and BOY IS IT YUMMY.

It's also super easy to make.  Here is the recipe for two servings:

1/2 Cup of Canned Plain, Pure Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1/2 Cup of Fat Free Greek Yogurt
1 Cup of Vanilla Almond Milk, Unsweetened
1/2 Tsp of Ground Cinnamon
2 Tbs of Honey
1 Vanilla Bean, Seeds
Small Pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt
2 Handfuls of Ice

Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the seeds out. Add vanilla seeds and rest of ingredients to a blender.  Blend on high until mixed well.  Add more almond milk for a thinner smoothy or add more ice to thicken it up.  If you don't have vanilla beans or don't wish to go through the trouble of looking for them, just use 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  

Only 4 Weight Watchers points and TOTALLY satisfying.  Here are the complete nutrition facts:

Yum.  Totally yum and totally skinny biotches.  Stay hungry!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chocolate Pretzel Favors by Rosie

So this isn't actually a project I've attempted myself, but it's one I have eaten before (with gusto) and I am excited that I finally know how to make them at home.  Our Bates friend Rosie makes these delicious chocolate pretzels for various parties and gatherings and she photographed the process for me last weekend when she made some for her friend Julia's baby shower.

Three very easy things to start with - pretzel rods, chocolate molds, and meltable chocolate wafers.  The molds and wafers are available at most craft and party stores.  Rosie made these pretzels with dark chocolate and milk chocolate, but there's a whole assortment of colors and flavors you can buy.

First, melt the chocolate according to the package instructions.  You can do this in a microwave or on the stovetop in a double boiler.  (I don't own a double boiler - usually when I need to do this sort of thing, I place a heatproof glass bowl over a pot of boiling water.)

Rosie is a serious chocolate maker, so of course she has a double boiler.  Once your chocolate is melted, spoon it into the molds...

... and add the pretzel rods, with some chocolate on top.  Allow to cool.

Once Rosie popped these out of the molds, they packaged them up in cellophane wrappers and served to the baby shower guests as favors...

Salty, sweet, and super cute!  Thanks for sharing, Rosie.  You know my birthday is coming up... right?  Stay hungry!

PS - Thank you, Mrs. D, for teaching and helping Rosie in all of her chocolate making endeavors!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Swiss Chard Pouches with Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato

I want more cookie dough dip.  I mean mmmmm doesn't this Swiss Chard contraption look good???

I'm kidding.  Really.  This was awesome.  I saw this in a cooking light magazine and knew I had to try it. You know those times when all you can think about is ooey gooey cheese but you're trying to take it easy?  You know for me it's from, like, 6:45am to about 3:59 am.  Well, anyway, this is an excellent alternative.

This is what you'll need: 

1 Large Tomato, Sliced Thin
1 Large Ball of Fresh Mozzarella (includes a few snacking while cooking pieces)
2 Large Swiss Chard Leaves, Rinsed 
Olive Oil
Sea or Kosher Salt
Balsamic (get a good thick, syrupy one)

You want to soften the leaves up so they become pliable.  You could simmer them in boiling water, OR you can save a pan from being washed and just pop the leaves in a microwave for 20-30 seconds until they begin to wilt.  Next, you want to cut out the stem and then cut the leaves in half, lengthwise. 

Next, get a slice of tom and a slice of mozz and roll 'em up. 

Brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with sea or kosher salt. Add them to a grill pan that's been heating up over medium high heat.  Spray a little cooking spray to ensure they don't stick.  Grill each side until cheese begins to melt.

Drizzle with some good balsamic vinegar and rejoice. 


Low carb and loads of flavor.  This is something I can get behind.  Stay hungry!