Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The list of 'dis'Like

I often find myself saying, "I don't like that."  Sometimes, I wonder if I like anything at all.  Maybe I'm just an overly picky person?

Last night, I was in a particularly crabby and cranky mood.  We were looking for a movie to put on, and after going through all of the movies on HBO, MAX, Showtime, Starz and EPIX on Demand (which totals over 200 movies), I had professed that I didn't want to watch any of the movies.  There were a few movies that I had previously watched, but Scott wanted to watch "sometimes new" - ie, something I haven't watched before - and after complaining about everything he suggested, I ended up going to bed at about 8pm.

So, why couldn't we pick a movie?  Because my list of DISlike greatly overshadows my list of Like.

So here goes:
The list of 'Dis'like:
  • I haven't enjoyed a movie produced by Adam Sandler since '50 First Dates'.  I know that he's successful.  I know that he makes gazillions of dollars with every movie.  But I just find myself bored and not amused by his "humor" lately.
  • I don't like Kevin James.  There's something about him.  I don't think he's funny and most of the time I find myself cringing when everyone else is laughing.  Something happened to him.  He was funny in 'Hitch' and then all of a sudden, he became this guy that I don't like.
  • I don't like Tom Cruise (GASP!) and I am not interested in watching anything that he's in.  No, I don't even like 'Jerry Maguire' and I've never seen 'Top Gun' or 'Risky Business'.
  • Don't put anything on that has Jonah Hill in it (except for 'How to Train your Dragon').  I can't stand him.  Or his voice.  Or his face.  Or anything.  He's awful.  He even annoyed me in 'Superbad'.
  • I always complain about anything with Ben Stiller.  He's another one who I really don't like.  I find myself cringing when other people are laughing, just like with Kevin James.  I absoluterly hate the 'Meet the Parents' movies.
  • 'Inception'?  I have no interest in seeing it.  I don't care how good you say it is.  It looks way too confusing.
  • I don't like any of the 'Matrix' movies and I have no interest in seeing any of the 'Bourne Identity' movies.  I've tried to watch them, I don't like them.
  • I don't mind Romance Movies, but I can't stand those stupid "Chick Flicks" or anything that contains Cameron Diaz or Jason Segel (I absolutely can't stand Jason Segel).  Someone once told me they went to see 'Bad Teacher' and were disappointed with how bad it was.  I was like, why would you go see it in the first place?  There was your first problem!
    • I think my issue with Jason Segel stems back to 'How I Met Your Mother.'  The character of Marshall that he plays is just so annoying and horrible, that I believe it put a stamp on the actor...It's sad...
  • I'm OK with Drama movies - but I absolutely cannot do horror movies. 
  • Anything that's considered an "edge of your seat" type of a movie?  You can put it on, but you better be telling me what's happening as it goes along. 
I essentially have an excuse for almost every single movie out there.  And the biggest problem of all is that sometimes, Scott will refuse to listen to me, put the movie on, and after spouting how much I know I'll hate the movie, I actually end up liking it.  I seriously have issues.
  • Scott made me watch 'Gulliver's Travels' - It was great!  I often say that I don't like Jack Black, and I have also stated (many times) that I don't like Jason Segel.  
  • I watched 'A Christmas Carol' the other night (the newest one with Jim Carey) and enjoyed it.  I remember saying to myself that I wouldn't like it at all.
  • I didn't really have any desire to see 'Bridesmaids'.  Scott really wanted to see it, got it from the Redbox, and I watched it about 4 times.  Literally.
  • I complained about being made to watch both '16 Blocks' and 'Something the Lord Made' and yet I ended up enjoying both.
  • Ended up enjoying 'Easy A'
  • Sat in the movie theater with a big scowl on my face for 'The Hangover' and tried not to let Scott see me laughing.
  • Definitely not a huge fan of Ben Stiller.  He can be funny, but I find myself feeling like he takes things too far.  I like 'Tropic Thunder'  but there were a lot of places where I felt like he had gone too far, and I was cringing with embarrassment while others were laughing.  Same with many other of his movies.  I did enjoy 'Night at the Museum.'
Is it just me???

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving was truly a feast.  This year, we had a record number of people for Thanksgiving - 8.  I don't remember a holiday where there were so few people, but as we get older and we start to celebrate with our own families, it seems the numbers get smaller and smaller.

The menu this Thanksgiving:

(Everything here except the olives were homemade.  The pickled peppers and the marinated vegetables were all prepared one to two days prior....Super easy!!)

Prosciutto, Mortadella, Capicola, Salami, Prusitini, Slice Provolone, Chunk Provolone, Pickled Peppers, Giardenere, Fresh Itri Olives, Marinated Mushrooms, Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Sweet Gerkin Pickles, Fresh baked Italian Bread

Main Meal:

Turkey stuffed with stuffing ,
Corn Bread stuffing (on the side), Home-made Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli Casserole, Creamed Onions (my absolute favorite), Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, Turnip (yuck!), Cranberry sauce

Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Pecan Pie, Lemon Squares, fresh whipped cream, ice cream

I made a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie this year:

Nonni made a pumpkin pie....But taste tested it before she brought it over...

All in all, a delicious meal (with way too much food!)!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving!  Italian style.

This year, we're headed to my mom's house.  I'm in charge of the following:

  • Antipasto (My dad and I are working on this together)
    • Cold Cuts include Prosciutto, Salami, Mortadella, Capicola, Prusitini, Provolone (sliced and cubed)
    • Marinated Mushrooms
    • Marinated Artichoke Hearts
    • Pickled Peppers (and I also did some giardenere)
    • Fresh Olives
  • Pecan Pie
I'm not sure what the rest of the menu holds in store.  I would assume Turkey and gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing (I like it best outside the bird), and then some veggies.  Maybe some greenbean casserole.  Or broccoli casserole.  yum.

I will update and post pictures accordingly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spin Spin Spin

So last night marked my very first Spin Class.  I've been a member at World Gym in Seekonk for almost 2 years now, and I've never taken a single group exercise class there.  For $14.99/month, and free classes, you really can't go wrong.  As Scott and I got into Biking over the Spring/Summer, and I haven't been out on my bike in quite a while, I decided to suck it up and go to a Spin Class.

Me and Scott on the 'On Time II' going over to Chappaquiddick with our bikes over the Summer

I was honestly surprised at how well I did in the class.  In all honesty, I haven't been on a bike in probably 2 months, so I was a little nervous.  Plus, riding a bike (even a spin bike) indoors is completely different than riding a road bike outside. 

We got to class about 10 minutes early, it gave me a chance to let the instructor know that I had never taken a spin class before, and ensure that my bike was set up correctly.  I was surprised to see that the pedals were double duty - you could either slip your feet into the holders, or, if you flipped the pedal over, you could clip in with your bike shoes.  It's definitely something to remember for next class!

So the class was an "interval spin class" and we did a lot of variation with speed, as well as with tension.  All in all, a very fun class!

How do I feel today?  GREAT!  My butt hurts (most likely from how I was sitting on the seat) but the rest of my body feels very refreshed.  I'm thinking of possibly taking the class on Thanksgiving Morning at 8:30.  Work off the turkey even before I eat it!!!  :o)

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Last week, I spent a good amount of time making duckies.  Yep, Duckies.  And I had a blast!

As you know, I love to bake.  I had previously made a Rubber Ducky Cake for a birthday party, but my friend called and asked if I could help with making some cookies for her baby shower, and I never turn down an opportunity to bake.

We started on Tuesday.  The dough we made needed to be refrigerated, so I made all the dough and refrigerated it, and then we got to work rolling out the dough, cutting out all the cookies and then baking them.  There were going to be about 75 people at the shower, and each person was going to get 2 cookies each.  So the way the recipes worked out, we made about 200 cookies.  We were smart about it, though - We actually baked half of them "upside down" so that we could put the cookies back to back in the package.

On Wednesday, we started the frosting process.  It took a while, but the cookies looked AMAZING!  We used a Royal Icing recipe that I found, which actually worked out really well.  It's just a combination of Confectioners sugar, meringue powder and water.  For the first batch of icing, we made the icing on the thicker side, in order to be able to put a border on the cookies, and not have the icing run.

Once we finished putting the border on all of the cookies, the first cookies we iced had hardened.  We added more water to the icing, to make it easier to spread, and using a little squeezy bottle, we put the icing into the middle of the cookie, and used a toothpick to move all the icing around inside the border.

Once that had dried (being a very thin layer of icing, it did not take long to dry), we added a black dot for the eye, and then let the cookies dry completely overnight!

The final finished product?  A very stylish (and delicious) table seating!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The truth about Allspice

I don't normally cook with Allspice.  Actually, I really only use it in Pumpkin Pie (and most recently in my edited version of previously posted Pumpkin Pie Pudding).  But I feel like there are a lot of questions around Allspice.  The name would lead you to believe that it's a combination of spices.  BUT IT'S NOT!!!

So Let's have an Alton Brown moment.

Allspice is also known as Jamaica Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta and Newspice and is a dried, unripe form of Pimenta Dioica, a tree native to the Greater Antilles.  It's called Allspice because the English felt that it combined the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Traditionally, the fruit is picked when it is green and unripe, and then dried in the sun.  When they're dry, they actually look like peppercorns.  When left whole, they have a longer shelf life and when ground freshly before use, they have more flavor and are more aromatic.

Some uses of Allspice:

  • Allspice is a key ingredient in Caribbean jerk seasoning
  • Allspice is an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders
  • In Middle Eastern Cuisine: specifically in stews and meat dishes
  • In America:  It's used mostly in desserts, as well as chili
  • In Great Britain:  It's used commonly in many dishes, including cakes

Some extra history:  Allspice was found by Christopher Columbus while on his second voyage to the new World.  It was found in Jamaica and introduced into European and Mediterranean cuisines in the 16th century.  It's primarily grown in Jamaica, but is also produced in a few other Central American countries.

My opinion of Allspice:  I love it.  I agree with the "culinary experts" in that it encompasses the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, but I like it a lot because the flavor blend is much more subtle than that of actual nutmeg and cloves (which I don't really like).

So there you have it.  Allspice is it's own berry, but it tastes like other seasonings.  


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The best banana bread you’ll ever have

I’m a stickler for old family recipes.  Most of the recipes I have are titled with either “Nonni’s …” or "Mom's … .”  I love carrying on the family traditions and making food for people that I have grown up on. 

In the past, I have always made my Auntie Ginny’s Banana Bread.  It’s absolutely delicious, but it’s somewhat of a finicky recipe.  If you overcook it in the slightest, it really dries out.  Over the weekend, my mom and sister were talking about Banana Bread, and I assumed they were talking about Auntie Ginny’s recipe, so I naturally chimed into the conversation to say how much I loved that recipe.  But my sister corrected me, this was a new recipe that they got from Nonni’s hairdresser.

I decided to make it for a “pot luck” at work today.  Since the meeting was at 9:30 am, I figured something like Banana Bread would be perfect (other people made tortellini, Swedish meatballs, cookies and toffee bark).  So, since my mom and sister raved about this new recipe, I decided to try it. 

I doubled the recipe, and made it in my super long loaf pan.  I left out the nuts, just because I know a few people here at work are allergic, but if I make it again, I'll probably put in the nuts.

There’s not much left, and while there aren’t enough words in the English dictionary to describe how moist this was, I do have pictures of how beautiful it was.  There are about 2 pieces left.

I’d say, SUCCESS!


Mix together:

1cup sugar 
3 Tablespoons vanilla

2 eggs

3 bananas

½ cup oil

½ cup milk

Mix together, then add to wet ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Baking powder

½ teaspoon salt (optional)

Stir in:

½ cup nuts (optional)

This can be doubled and baked in a tube pan (or a super long loaf pan).

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Roast Chicken

Friday, I made a roast chicken.

I roasted it upside down.  That is, I roasted it breast side down.

I had slathered the chicken with a butter/garlic/basil compote and it looked amazing.  All delicious and browned.  And then I realized as I went to cut it that I put it in the pan wrong!!!

Still moist, still delicious, but a bit disappointing!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The amazing uses of Baking Soda

I think that at one time, Baking Soda was regarded as one of the greatest and most versatile things possible.  However, throughout the years, we have put out different products that essentially contain Baking Soda, but are advertised as something else.  In all honesty, I had no idea that Baking Soda could do what it does!

I came across this revelation this morning, actually, because over the weekend, I made eggplant (possibly one of the most delicious foods in the world).  Now I usually look for the healthy way to make foods, but when it comes to eggplant, the best way to make it is to fry it!  Now, with frying just about anything, I've found that you're going to make a mess.  And this frying experience was no exception.  I used one of my beautifully shiny tri-ply shallow pans and fried a ton of eggplant, and found that I had grease stains all over it that neither soap and water or white vinegar would take off.  How upsetting!

As I was making my morning coffee this morning, I all of a sudden said, what about Baking Soda?  Poured some all over the pan, ran some super hot water, took a little scrubby (not metal) and ..... results!  I'm so excited.  So in a follow up to my awesome revelation, I've done some research, and here's a list of just a few things that Baking Soda can do!

  • In the Kitchen
    • Put a small box or bowl in the fridge/freezer/cupboard to keep away odors
    • Sprinkle a little in the bottom of the garbage can, and a little more after you put a new bag in, to reduce garbage odors!
    • Put out a grease fire with a little B S
    • Sprinkle B S on a damp cloth to clean surfaces.  Rinse with clean water.
    • Rinse food containers with hot water and B S to remove stale smells.  Soak longer if the smell persists.
    • Sprinkle the floor with B S and wipe with a warm, damp cloth.  This will help remove scuff marks and grease spills.
    • For burnt-on food in the bottom of pots, sprinkle with B S, then add hot water.  Let soak overnight, the dried on food will come loose much more easily
    • Clean the Microwave, oven, coffee pot, or tea pot
    • Polish your silverware with 3 parts B S and 1 part water - rinse thoroughly
  • In the Bathroom
    • Make toothpaste and use as a mouth wash
    • Use as a facial scrub and exfoliant
    • Use as a deodorant
    • Use to treat bites and itches
    • Use with your shampoo to help your hair to be healthier
    • Use a B S paste (3 parts BS, 1 part water) to remove stubborn stains from most surfaces.  Apply, let stand, then scrub or wipe clean.
    • Clean hairbrushes and combs in a combo of BS and water
    • Pour 1/4 cup BS down the drain weekly, rinsed with hot water to avoid clogged drains.
  • Around the House
    • Sprinkle smelly carpets with BS, let stand for at least 15 minutes then vacuum.  This will help remove the smells.
    • Put B S in the bottom of each ashtray for smokers.  This will help keep away some of the stale smoke smell
    • Children's toys can be cleaned using 1/4 cup B S in 1 quart warm water.  Submerge the toy in the mixture, or wipe with a damp cloth, and rinse with clear water.
  • In the Laundry
    • Replace half of each measure of laundry detergent with BS to keep clothing fresh
    • Pretreat grease stains on clothes with a BS paste
    • If using chlorine bleach, BS will increase effectiveness.  Add 1/2 cup to your laundry along with the usual amount of bleach.
  • Yard and Garage
    • Helps clean up grease spills
    • Remove burnt food from the grill.
    • Cleans lawn furniture
All items were found via here and here.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Monday!

You know that when you turn on your Pandora and the first song to play is Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" it's going to be a good day!!

Happy Monday People!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite Thanksgiving deserts.  And I only ever have it around Thanksgiving, which makes it that much more delicious.  Being that it's finally November and Thanksgiving Season, I'm so excited to see the Halloween decorations move out of the stores, completely ignore all of the Christmas decorations and focus on those delicious Thanksgiving foods.  

My cousin Debbie sent me a message the other day telling me about this Pumpkin Pie Pudding recipe that she wanted to share - and I can only say, THANK YOU!!!!  Can we say delicious, easy, and even (GASP!!!) low fat?!?  I think so!!!

The Recipe:

  • 1 package fat free sugar free instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 12-oz can fat free evaporated milk
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • Cinnamon (dash) - I'm sure you can add some more "Pumpkin Pie Spices" here too, ie Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice, Cloves - but that's all up to you!
    • UPDATE:  November 16, 2011:  I've recently updated this recipe.  I've changed from fat free evaporated milk to 2% (I think it has a better taste) and I've updated the spices to be 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and 1/8 tsp of Allspice.  Points update: Total is 14, so four servings is 4 points plus.

The Method:

  • Mix together the vanilla pudding and the evaporated milk (Like you would for regular pudding)
  • Let the pudding mixture set in the refrigerator for at least 5 minutes
  • Add the pumpkin and cinnamon and mix well.

Yup.  That's it.  Easy as Pie!!!  Actually, I'd say it's just a little bit easier.

The entire mixture is 13 Points Plus.  Divide it into as many servings, and viola!!  (4 servings would be 3 points, 6 servings would be 2 points, you get the picture)  .

Yummy! - Add a dollop of cool whip, and you're really cooking!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's November!!!

Halloween is over.  To me, I feel like it should still be August. I can't believe how fast the last few months have gone by.  It's kind of sad, because for the first time in a long time, we didn't celebrate Halloween.  Last year, we dressed up as Mary Poppins and Bert - and I had so much fun making the costumes!  This year, however, we just didn't do anything.
So now, it's November.  Sunday we have daylight savings (I don't know what we're saving, as we're really just losing daylight....But we do gain an extra hour of sleep).  And we have Thanksgiving.  Now, in my opinion, Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays ever.  There are no religious ties to it and you don't have to buy gifts.  You just have to visit with family, cook, and eat food.  How is there a better holiday???

My favorite Thanksgiving drinks/foods/desserts:
  • Hot Cider.  My mom makes the best hot cider in the crock pot with mulling spices.  Deliciousness.
  • Turkey.  We seriously only have this about once a year (on Thanksgiving) so I always look forward to it.
  • Sweet Potato Bake (Or as my sister-in-law would call it, baby poop).  yummmy mini-marshmallows!
  • Stuffing.  My mom makes  Seriously, not a lie.  So delicious.  It's not Thanksgiving without mom's stuffing.
  • Broccoli Casserole.  My Auntie Regina makes this.  It's another delicious dish that for some reason we only have on Thanksgiving.  A mixture of cream of mushroom soup, cheese and broccoli.  YUM.
  • Corn Pudding.  Another Auntie Regina concoction that we only have on Thanksgiving.  I remember the year she left the butter in the microwave.  It still tasted good (but not as rich as usual, lol).
  • Apple Pie.  Now I know that apple pie is a "fall food" but I always associate it with Thanksgiving.  My mother in law makes the best - I've tried to make it, but I need my sister in law to help me.  
  • Pumpkin Pie.  Not squash pie.  Pumpkin pie.  Delicious.
  • Pecan Pie (insert Billy Crystal from "When Harry Met Sally" here.
Anyway, it's my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year.  The fall is so calming to me and I love seeing the leaves turn color.  It was strange this weekend to see snow on the ground when the leaves on the trees were still green, but such is life, I suppose.  
So let's enjoy the season!  Christmas decorations are already up, but I refuse to listen to Christmas music or decorate until Thanksgiving is over!  Let's enjoy the seasons in the order to which the are on the calendar!!