Archive for December, 2009


I was way too anxious for Christmas last night, so Stas and I exchanged gifts 1 day early (we usually exchange them on Christmas Eve, before we head over to my parents’ house). I have him 2 casual button-down shirts, flannel pajama pants to match mine (I want to have matching pajamas on Christmas morning!), some small things for his trip to Everest, a big warm coat for Everest, and 2 t-shirts. Believe it or not, the t-shirts were my big special surprise gift to him...

During our honeymoon in New Zealand, Stas forgot some clothes at a hotel in Queenstown. One of the items was his Icarus Canopies t-shirt, given to him by the company when he bought his canopy (his “skydiving parachute”). Although he retired from skydiving earlier this year, I knew the shirt had special meaning to him. As soon as we got back to the States, I contacted the company via Facebook, told them about the lost t-shirt, and they sent me 2 new ones! Stas was very happily surprised when he opened them 🙂

My gifts were gift certificates (1 hour massage, Nordstrom, sushi, and a voucher for 1 week of not having to take care of the bunny), an infinity scarf from The Limited, a “Cute Overload” page-a-day calendar, and he paid to have my car serviced earlier this week 🙂

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we spend each Christmas Eve with my mom’s side of the family. This year, my mom wasked me to bring 2 appetizers – the first was the butternut wontons, and the second is this salad.

This was my first time buying and cutting mangoes… and I didn’t do a great job at either. One of the mangoes was perfectly ripe, but I think the other 3 were a bit under-ripe (I’m hoping that with the cheese and prosciutto, no one will notice). To cut the mangoes, I used this site as a guide – but it was still tricky as hell!

Aside from that, the recipe was easy – only 4 ingredients and 1 step.

I haven’t tasted it yet, but it got great reviews on the Cooking Light site.

Prosciutto, Mango, and Parmesan Salad
from Cooking Light, December 1998

4  cups  coarsely chopped peeled mango (about 4 mangoes)
4  ounces  thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
3  ounces  shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4  to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and toss gently.

Serves 15

ready to serve

1 serving = 1 Weight Watchers point

Calories: 64
Fat: 2.3g (1.2g sat.)
Protein: 4g
Carbohydrate: 7.7g
Fiber: 0.7g

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Christmas Eve is tomorrow… can you believe it?! The holiday really crept up on me this year – especially since we spent the end of November/beginning of December in New Zealand.

This year, my mom has asked me to bring 2 appetizers to the family get-together. Unfortunately, I have to work the first half of the day tomorrow, so today I pre-made 1 of them – the crispy butternut wontons.

I probably should have doubled the recipe, but there will be so much other food there, so I’m not too worried about it.

I’m pleased with how easy this recipe was, and the wontons certainly smelled good while in the oven. No taste-test until tomorrow!

The second appetizer is a simple prosciutto and mango salad, which I’ll have time to make tomorrow – and eventually blog about.

(The original recipe for these wontons also included a recipe for a spicy tomato sauce. To save time and money, I just bought some  tomato-basil sauce at the store!)

Crispy Butternut Wontons
from Cooking Light, November 2003

1  small butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2  cup  water
1/2  cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3  tablespoons  grated Parmesan cheese
2  tablespoons  dry breadcrumbs
1/4  teaspoon  sea salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1  teaspoon  water
1  large egg, lightly beaten
24-30  wonton wrappers
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare wontons, cut the squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane. Place the squash halves, cut sides down, in a 2-quart baking dish; add 1/2 cup water. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork; cool. Scoop out pulp to measure 1 cup, and reserve the remaining pulp for another use. Combine 1 cup pulp, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stirring until well combined.

Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg, stirring with a whisk. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to prevent drying), spoon about 2 teaspoons squash mixture into center of each wrapper. Brush edges of dough with egg mixture; bring 2 opposite corners together. Press edges together to seal, forming a triangle. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and squash mixture.

Place the wontons on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and brush lightly with remaining egg mixture. Bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until golden and crisp. Serve with the sauce.

Serves 8

(Note: I actually forgot to brush my wontons with the egg mixture, so they didn’t come out as nice and shiny as the recipe’s picture)

(the following nutritional information comes from the original recipe, which called for whole ricotta and included the spicy tomato sauce)

1 serving = 3 Weight Watchers points

Calories: 157
Fat: 4.6g (2.1g sat.)
Protein: 6.8g
Carbohydrate: 22.3g
Fiber: 2g

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Stas and I had our engagement shoot in June. It was shot by the very talented Jeff Newcum, who also did our wedding photography.

We chose to do the shoot in Boston for several reasons: (1) Stas works there, so it was convenient, and (2) since our wedding was going to have more of a romantic, garden feel, we wanted our engagement shoots to be different – urban and colorful.

We started at the “gateway” to Chinatown:

Then we found a red wall nearby:

… and a small park:

Next, we headed towards the park and stopped to pose along the way:

And we finally arrived at the park…

I never get tired of looking at these pictures – I love them so much!

Some couples may choose to skip on a professional engagement shoot, because it’s an extra cost – and weddings are NOT cheap! But I highly recommend it. The day of the wedding, you’re going to have so much going on that you’re not going to have time to step away from and take a lot of shots like this. AND you’ll be able to use the shots in Save-the-Dates, Thank You Cards, Invitations, reception decor, etc.!!!

Wedding pictures coming soon 🙂

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Another soup, and another Martha recipe 🙂

I found this recipe a little over a month ago, and I’ve made it twice since then – that should give you an idea of how simple and tasty it is. Start to finish, it takes about 30 minutes – unheard of for soup!

The first thing that makes this recipe so quick is that it uses already-cooked turkey. Ideally, you’d use leftovers from Thanksgiving or Christmas. I did not, so I used Butterball Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Strips.

The second thing that makes the recipe quick is that it uses already-made stock. The original recipe calls for stock that you made yourself ahead of time (it is a Martha Stewart recipe, afterall). But I’ve never had great luck with homemade stocks – they take forever and they never seem to taste as good as the store-bought stuff! So I used “Better Than Bullion” Turkey Base.  It was my first time using it, and I’m a big big fan!

(I modified the recipe a bit – I added a potato and omitted a sprig of rosemary.)

Turkey Noodle Soup
adapted from Everyday Food, (month unknown) 2009

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 celery stalks, diced medium
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 medium white onion, diced medium
coarse salt and ground pepper
8 cups turkey stock (if using Better Than Bullion: 3 tablespoons turkey base + 8 cups water)
1 large potato, cut into dice-sized pieces
2 cups wide egg noodles
3/4 pound shredded cooked turkey

1. In a 6-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion softens and slightly browns, about 3-5 minutes.

2. Add stock and bring to a rapid simmer. Add potatoes and cook 5 minutes. Add noodles, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer until noodles are tender, 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat and add turkey to heat through.

Serves 6

winter is soup season

1 serving = 5 Weight Watchers points

calories: 257
fat: 6.8g (2.3g saturated)
carbs: 24.6g (fiber: 3.0g)

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I love creamy soups – but I very rarely eat them, because they’re often loaded with heavy cream (helloooooo calories!). But I was pleasantly surprised to flip through the October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living and see this recipe – no cream!

And what’s better than a warm, “creamy” soup on a cold fall or winter day?! You could eat a large bowl of it as your main meal, or have a small bowl with a sandwich (maybe a warm panini – yum!).

(To be honest, I made this back in October – but was just too damn busy to blog about it!)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, October 2009
3 2/4 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded (you could also use a sugar pumpkin)
1 onion, peeled and quartered through the stem
2 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps wiped clean
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1. Preheat Oven to 450 degrees. Cut squash into 2-inch pieces. Combine squash, onion, mushrooms, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Add oil and 2 teaspoons salt; toss to coat, then spread in a single layer. Roast until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes, rotating pan and tossing vegetables halfway through. Let cool, then remove skins.

2. Transfer vegetables to a medium saucepan; heat over medium. Pour in 2 cups stock; puree with an immersion blender until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock, and puree until smooth. Bring soup just to a simmer. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Serves 4.

I served mine in my pumpkin-shaped soup tureen – isn’t it cute?! It’s from Crate & Barrel:

my pumpkin-shaped tureen

dig in!

The magazine doesn’t provide nutritional information, but I used a recipe analyzer and estimate that each serving is around 232 calories or 4 Weight Watchers points.

Calories: 232
Fat: 7.2g
Carbs: 44.2g (7.5 g fiber, 9.3g sugar)
Protein: 4g

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I made this dish for the first time about a month or two ago, and I was all set to blog about it – until I realized that the pictures had been deleted from the camera.

I made it again tonight and loved it just as much as the first time. And it’s surprisingly fast and simple to make! It does take a little planning ahead though, since you’ll have to make sure you have dried cherries and pomegranate juice on hand.

The pictures didn’t come out great – I was hungry and rushing to take them. But I hope you’ll try the recipe for yourself!

Stas and I returned from our honeymoon in New Zealand this past Saturday, so expect pictures and a full report at some point soon. And we finally got our professional wedding pictures back, so I’ll be posting some of those, too!

Pork Medallions with Pomegranate-Cherry Sauce
from Cooking Light, November 2009

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon butter

1. Cut pork crosswise into 12 1-inch thick pieces. Sprinkle both sides of pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side, or until done. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

browned pork

2. Add juice, cherries, wine, and vinegar to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 2 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water in small bowl (this step is important – if you don’t combine the cornstarch and water separately, you will have lumps). Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts.

don't be scared of a little butter!

3. At this point, you can return the pork to the pan and coat each piece in the sauce. OR, you can serve the pork and sauce separately (I serve it this way, so that people can choose to add as much or as little sauce as they like).

the finished dish

Serves 4 (serving size: 3 medallions and 2 tablespoons sauce)

1 serving = 6 Weight Watchers points

calories: 269
fat: 10.1g (3.6g saturated)
carb: 17.6g
fiber: 1.4g

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