Month: October 2014

Party Fails and Killer Cocktails

Something happens to me when the seasons change. Maybe it’s something in the weather, but I get a sudden stroke of inspiration and I need to throw a party. I cherish my time with friends and family and I love making my home warm and welcome to everyone, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I often just need a bunch of people to eat my food, drink my cocktails and in general, use as guinea pigs for my party ideas. Somehow I don’t think they mind πŸ˜‰

So this past weekend I threw a Fall-themed party. On the menu: Lentil soup with chicken sausage and chili fusili, crusty bread with lemon thyme butter, smore’s with homemade marshmallows and assorted flavored chocolate bars, and bourbon apple cider cocktails. I envisioned us all huddled together on the roof deck warming our hands around our bowls and dunking crusty bits of bread into the soup, sipping cinnamon-laced apple cider libations and licking marshmallow fluff off of our fingers after toasting them over our (my landlords) firepit.

That all happened, mind you. Well, more or less.

My sisters called me when they got to my door, but my phone never rang, so after 20 minutes of standing out in the cold they left for a bar across the street. When their call finally came through, they gave me a hard time and said they would be over after they finished their beers. Fair enough.

It was too windy to eat outside so we settled for my couch and a football game.

The soup was everything I dreamed of and the chef had the brilliant idea to put out balsamic and truffle oil cut with olive oil on the table with the thyme butter. A mason jar of maldon sea salt completed the spread.

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Because it was so windy outside, the fire pit wouldn’t light. We did get to huddle together though. We huddled around my stove to toast our marshmallows over the gas burner.

Moral of the story: Throwing a party is tougher than it looks. You try to plan your ideal scenario and more often than not, it doesn’t go the way you hoped it would. That doesn’t mean the party is a failure. It really just means you have to be willing to go with the flow and laugh at the things that go wrong.

That said, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error and I’ve figured out a few secrets to throwing a great party.

  • I always like to make a signature cocktail. It’s a great conversation starter and your guests will feel like you went to a lot of work for them. Also have beer and wine available for variety.
  • Pair your drink options with the food you will be serving. Because it would be weird to offer margaritas with Italian food. When in doubt, red or white sangria goes with most everything and can be made ahead in large batches.
  • If your guests ask if they can bring anything never say no! They will feel obliged to bring something anyway and will now have to guess what you might want or need.
  • Take care of the main course and dessert and let your guests handle the appetizers. This goes with the tip above. Have a friend who makes killer guacamole? Ask them to bring it and have someone else supply the chips.
  • Have one interactive element to your party. This time I had smore’s for dessert where everyone chose their flavor of chocolate and assembled their own treats. At a recent brunch party we had a DIY mimosa bar with different juices and garnishes like blueberries and peaches. It adds a wow factor and something fun for your guests. Get creative!

My Fall-themed party was a lot of fun regardless of a few things not going according to plan. One thing that went over better than expected, however was this cocktail!

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Bourbon apple cider! If you haven’t guessed already my favorite season is Autumn and this drink is perfect this time of year, what with the cinnamon and the apples. You know you have a winning cocktail when you’ve just finished passing them around and the first person you gave one to asks you for another because they’re already done. Oops!

This bourbon apple cider cocktail was such a hit, I’m sharing the recipe with all of you. A delicious cocktail recipe is reason enough to throw a party, right?

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Reason enough for me!

 

Β Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

1 part bourbon

2 parts apple cider

2 parts ginger ale

3-4 drops angostura bitters

3-4 drops lemon juice

1 apple slice for garnishing

1 pinch of cinnamon for garnishing

Optional: pomegranate arils or cranberries

Combine the bourbon and apple cider and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. When ready to serve, add ginger ale and pour over ice. Add bitters and lemon juice and garnish with an apple slice. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Notes to take your cocktail to the next level:

  • Buy your apple cider at the local farmers market if you can. The fresher, the better.
  • Use a good ginger ale with pronounced ginger flavor. Try not to use a generic soda brand.
  • Don’t stress if you don’t have bitters. They enhance the cocktail, but they won’t be missed.
  • Grating fresh cinnamon over the cocktail will impress your guests and give it an extra special touch.
  • Sprinkling pomegranate arils in your cocktail gives it a festive flair. Take it one step further by making pomegranate or cranberry ice cubes and adding one to each drink.

Pomegranate or Cranberry Ice Cubes

Boil water in a tea kettle or sauce pot. Let water cool. Add 6-8 pomegranate arils or 2-3 cranberries to each cup of an ice cube tray. Fill with water and freeze. Use one cube to top each cocktail.

*Boiling the water removes impurities and creates clear cubes better to see the garnishes through.

 

Do you throw parties for reasons other than holidays or birthdays?

Would you like me to post my lentil soup recipe next week? It was pretty phenomenal if I do say so myself πŸ˜‰

Have a great Thursday everybody!

 

 

Love Your Flat Sexy Stomach

Hey there my loves,

I have a treat for you today. I’m going to share with you my number one way to get, and keep a flat tummy!

But first, I have a question for you…

How’s your poop?

Lol, so this obviously isn’t going to be a heartfelt post about loving who you are, but it is going to be about something that will make you feel really good about yourself.

Come on now, be super honest. Don’t you feel great after a good poop? I do. No shame. I poop every day and I can tell you, I get super cranky if I skip a day.

Kidding aside, paying attention to your poop will tell you everything you need to know about your digestion and your digestion is the key to your health and getting a trim, tight tummy you feel confident about.

So how do you improve your digestion, you ask?

There are many ways, but to keep it simple I’m going to focus on an easy, effective method that’s going to give you immediate results.

Eat. Fermented. Foods.

Fermented foods should be a part of your diet just as much as fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. They are full of gut-healthy probiotics and good bacteria that keep your intestinal flora balanced and maximize the absorption of nutrients in your food. Fermented foods should be an every day requirement.

There are so many different kinds of fermented foods, you can really pick your favorites, or like me, make sure you have a bunch of different kinds in your fridge at one time for variety.

Here are some of the most common types:

Sourkraut

Kimchi

Pickles

Yogurt

Kefir

Miso

Tempeh

Kombucha

All of these fermented foods will deliver good-for-your-tummy probiotics, but my top three for ease of use, effectiveness and taste would have to be kimchi, saurkraut and kombucha.

Kimchi

Kimchi may seem intimidating, but once you taste it I think you will change your mind. Kimchi is made from cabbage so it has a great crunchy texture and a pickled, spicy, slightly garlicky flavor. Any kind of egg dish topped with kimchi is delicious. You can also add it to sandwiches or stir-fry. You can find kimchi in any specialty grocery store or Asian market.

Saurkraut

Most people grew up eating saurkraut on their hotdogs or alongside pork chops, but did you know you were eating something super healthy!? Well, almost. Commercial, processed saurkraut isn’t the good stuff I’m talking about, but look no further than good ol’ Trader Joes to find raw, naturally fermented saurkraut. A great sandwich topper and slaw-enhancer, I’ll be completely honest-I snack on saurkraut straight out of the jar while making my eggs in the morning. The chef thinks it’s gross, but you only need 1 tablespoon a day so I’m not shoveling it in, and I prefer to do my bathroom business in the morning so it works great for me :b

Kombucha

Probably my favorite fermented food, you don’t have to figure out what to do with kombucha. You just drink it. Easy, peasy.Β  Kombucha tastes like a tangy, effervescent slightly sweet tea, which is exactly what it is. You can find kombucha in most bodegas, grocery stores and markets nowadays, but a typical 16oz bottle will run you about $4. I prefer to make my own homemade kombucha. That way I can make multiple jars that end up costing pennies.

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Making kombucha at home is a pretty simple process as long as you follow a few rules:

1. Make sure your tools, jars and anything coming in contact with the tea and scoby (the culture used to ferment your tea and turn it into kombucha) are clean and sterile.

2. Only use wood or plastic tools. Metal will weaken the kombucha and it won’t ferment properly. I learned this one the hard way πŸ˜‰

3. Most people are afraid of brewing their own kombucha because they are afraid it could go bad or moldy without them knowing. You will know if your kombucha is bad! You will see blueish green moldy spots on your scoby. If that is the case, throw out the batch and start again. In all my years of brewing, I’ve never made a bad batch of kombucha.

You can find a scoby on the internet or sometimes at farmers markets. I got mine on Etsy. The scoby was free with $6 shipping. Pretty sweet if you ask me! The scoby itself was organic, thick and the seller had great reviews.

Once you have your scoby, you can get to brewing!

1.) Start by boiling 10 cups of water. Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of sugar and 8 tea bags to the water. Any plain black or green tea works. I use Lipton black tea. Simple and cheap.

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2.) Let your tea come to room temperature before adding it to a 1 gallon glass jar. Add the scoby and the starter liquid it came packaged in. The scoby may sink to the bottom or float on top. Either is perfectly fine.

3.) Cover the opening with a paper towel or cheesecloth and a rubberband. I like to write the date with a marker on the paper towel so I can keep track of how long my tea has been fermenting. Find a dark place to keep your brew where it won’t be disturbed.

4.) Check the kombucha after 7 days. There will be a baby scoby floating on top by now. It should look like the momma, but it will be a little thinner. Use a plastic spoon to taste the brew. If you would like it stronger, leave it for a few more days and check again. Keep checking until you’ve reached the flavor you want.

5.) When you like your brew, transfer it to glass jars and seal with lids. Save 2 cups of kombucha and submerge your scoby in it to keep it for your next batch.

6.) One more step! Place your kombucha back in it’s fermenting spot and leave it for 1-2 days. This develops carbonation so your kombucha will be refreshingly fizzy :)

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There you have it! I like to throw away the oldest scoby after 2-3 times, but you can reuse the baby ones or gift them to friends. Maybe make sure they know about kombucha before handing them a bag of liquid with a beige thingy floating around in it, haha!

I hope I cleared up a few things about fermented foods and maybe encouraged you to give them a try. Eat them on the regular and I know your tummy will thank me :)

Do you already eat fermented foods?

Which are your favorites and how do you like to eat them?

Anyone else going to admit they feel great after a good poop? ;D

 

The Truth about Fat Talk

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver

Will you count calories?

Will you poke yourself in the stomach when you’ve had too much to eat?

Will you spend an entire afternoon trying to find an outfit that doesn’t make you feel fat?

I’m going to lay down the facts here, my love. You have one life. The timer began when you were born and it’s going, baby until you die. What you chose to do in that limited time is up to you, but I think you would want to do something useful with it.

Fat-talk is a distraction. It’s a way to ignore the real work that needs to be done. You complain about your muffin top, the fast-food you ate last night, anything to avoid the real issue at hand. You feel unlovable.

As long as you keep complaining about your physical body, maybe no one will notice how unlovable you are.

But they notice, darling._DSC6301

They notice that you are scared shitless.

Only when you pry your fingers from your eyes and are willing to really look at yourself will you be able to see the truth. It’s terrifying and extremely uncomfortable to look at yourself with no judgement, but that’s what you have to do. You may realize that you’ve never looked at yourself without something harsh to say. I urge you, desperately to try it. The quality of your life depends on it.

Are you willing to see things differently? If you said yes, I first have to arm you with some facts that you may not want to hear.

~You are made of Love. Babies die if they are not loved because they are made of Love and need a constant source of it to grow. Your life force, your very essence is Love. So how can you be unlovable if it is the very thing you are made of?

~Every person put on this earth has a purpose. There are no obsolete people. Your responsibility is to find out what that purpose is. It is not your responsibility, however to force anything. If you force, you block. Leave yourself open. Trust that it is coming. Be patient and pay attention.

I have a practice that I stumbled upon one day that I use as a gentile yet firm reminder that I am loved and I am being guided. I had just finished watching a movie on my laptop. I was sitting on the floor of my tiny apartment bedroom and I noticed that the sun was flooding my room with light. On a whim I sat up, closed my eyes and began to meditate. I don’t know how long I sat there and I didn’t do any special breathing or mantras. I just felt like my mind was cluttered and I wanted to sit still for a minute. When I felt I had meditated long enough, I was just about to open my eyes when I had a peculiar impulse to place my right hand over my heart. I thought it was strange, but I was willing to go with it. As I lifted my hand I felt a magnet-like force drawing my palm to my chest. As soon as it made contact I was surprised at how strong and rooted my hand felt over my heart. I heard a voice from the deepest part of myself say, “I’ve got you. No matter what happens I will always be here for you. You will always be all right.” As soon as I heard those words I felt Love flood my body. It was the most overwhelming feeling I had ever experienced. It subsided after a few minutes and when I opened my eyes I took stock of what happened. I felt grounded and strong and more sure of myself then I had ever felt before. And this at a time when I had no idea what I was going to do with my future.

Now any time I feel unsure, or unsteady I place my hand on my heart and I feel a flicker of reassurance. I know that I am being guided and I know that I am worth so much more than I think I am.

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I’m sharing this with you because it’s so powerful to know that the deepest part of yourself has your back. It’s like having a safety net below you at all times. It frees you to do the things you are afraid to do and, by the way, the things that scare you the most are the things that will lead you to your purpose.

Try this meditation when you are feeling distracted by a sense of uncertainty or self-doubt. Sit quietly for 10-20 minutes, as long as it takes you to still your mind and feel grounded. When you feel yourself coming back to consciousness, place your right hand over your heart and feel the weight and stability of your palm on your chest. Pay attention to any sensations that come up for you. When you feel ready, open your eyes and reflect on what just happened.

Don’t do yourself a disservice. Fat talk helps no one and improves nothing. Your time would be much better spent focusing on your unique talents and what you can offer the world.

Delve into your work and focus on what fires you up. Focusing your attention outward does the most extraordinary thing. It makes you forget about yourself and at the same time gives you the best sense of worth. So, forget the fat talk. It’s just noise distracting you from your purpose. Ignore it and get living. Your one wild and precious life is waiting.

Xoxo,

Sam

The Ultimate Protein Pancakes

Hey Loves,

I am so freakin excited to share this recipe with you! I seriously heart these pancakes. I have been making them for years and now I am going to share them with you! They are the perfect breakfast to refuel with after a sweaty workout. You know, when all you want is a filling, indulgent treat because you worked out and you earned it.

Right? Right.rp_075-1024x768.jpg

Well, these pancakes are that, and they’re also healthy. High protein, low fat and filled with ingredients you can feel good about. So you can feel indulgent without your breakfast negating all the work you just did.

Cause a doughnut will. Just saying.

Protein pancakes are made at least once a week in my house. Not only do they make a great breakfast, but they also make a perfect on-the-go snack. Just spread one with almond butter, or any other nut butter you like, maybe add some sliced fruit, roll up and go. So good.

Wait, wait! I’m not done! Just this past week I found a trick that makes my darling flap jacks even better than they already are!

If you’ve ever made some kind of protein pancake before you might have noticed they are denser than regular pancakes. This is fine except when you’re craving a fluffy, light, buttery batch or you are making them for whoever slept over the night before πŸ˜‰ The chef in my case, who sleeps over every night. We live together. Jeez.

The extra step of whipping the egg whites makes the texture of these pancakes super fluffy!

Healthy, delicious, fluffy.

(Drops mike)

Done.

 

Ultimate Protein Pancakes

Makes 4-6

1 medium banana

2 tbsp ground flax

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

2 tbsp oat flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

5 tbsp vanilla almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup egg whites

In a medium size bowl mash the banana with a fork. Add in the next 8 ingredients (everything but egg whites) and mix to combine. In a separate bowl (or in a stand mixer) whisk egg whites until they develop stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Add half of the whipped egg whites to the pancake mixture and stir. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites. Be careful not to over mix.

Heat a non-stick pan to medium and coat with cooking spray. Pour in batter and flip when you see bubbles. Only flip once for really fluffy pancakes.

Top with almond butter and blueberries. At least that’s what I would do πŸ˜‰

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THEY’RE SO FLUFFFFYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!! <—shameless Despicable Me reference. I had to.