Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays

Hope you all had a nice holiday! Ours was filled with family, food and fun. Little J had a blast opening presents, hanging out with her cousins, and eating tons of sweets. Such is the life of a toddler.

Christmas Morning with her loot from Santa
 We celebrated with a pre-Christmas dinner with my husband's side of the family, and then on Christmas eve with my side. It was so great to spend quality time with family, and really reminded me of how lucky we are to live so close to our loved ones. Both dinners were a family effort, with traditional Indian elements, and lots of seasonal flavors. Desserts were probably the highlight! Hubby's cousin made chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, another made delicious gingerbread cookies, and my sis-in-law wowed us with adorable and delicious creme brûlée.

Candy Cane creme brûlée....too cute to eat!
Little's J's grandparents spoiled her with so many presents! I'm pretty sure she got everything on her wish list (and more...)

The kids loved playing together, and torturing my parent's poor dog....

Most of all, we really enjoyed each other and having four blissful days of uninterrupted family time. Does it get any better than that??

Happy holidays to all... and to all a good night.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Recipe: Latkes & Quinoa Veggie Salad

This is a belated post about a light lunch we had last weekend, in between hectic tourist and holiday attractions in the city. Little J went down for her nap, and I fried up some potato latkes (with a spicy mint chutney) and a side of quinoa salad with veggies. Perfect mid-afternoon lunch with our legs up on the coffee table while we lounged in front of the tv :)

I make this or a similar chutney every week, and manage to use it in all different ways -- from spreading it on toast with a kraft single (sounds gross, but trust me, its delicious in all the right ways), to eating it with an indian parantha (warm, stuffed bread) -- its always good to have it handy. Recipe below:

Spicy Mint Chutney:
2 bunches of washed mint leaves
diced chili peppers (jalapeño and habenero will work)
diced red onion
1 clove garlic
2 table spoons lemon juice
paprika or spicy indian red masala
1 table spoon salt

blend in the vitamix on variable setting until smooth & creamy
add plain yogurt (1 cup per 5 tablespoons of chutney)
serve at room temperature

Potato Latkes:
The potato latkes are warm and filling, and great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Great for toddlers too!

I used this recipe, but added a little heat with a diced jalapeño. YUM.

Quinoa Salad with Veggies:
4 cups boiled quinoa (I used plain and red)
thinly sliced cucumbers
sweet peppers

Lightly sauté the veggies in olive oil, stirring frequently, but turn off heat after 5 minutes to maintain the crunch of the cucumbers
Toss with the boiled quinoa
Add seasonings to taste (I added my favorite veggie seasoning)
Add a touch of salt

Serve warm!!

I'll be taking a break from posting for the next few days to spend some time with my family over the holidays. Hope you all have a restful, peaceful holiday. Wishing you good food and lots of fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pan Seared Scallops with Spicy Stir fry & Bok Choy Flowers!

Hope you are all having a great week. Here is a recipe for a quick & easy non-veggie dinner I made for my hubby last night before I headed out to meet the girls for our holiday dinner.

Pan Seared Scallops with Spicy Stir fry & Bok Choy Flowers
A handful of sea scallops (dry)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
Sea salt, fresh black pepper and a dash of cumin seeds
Veggies for stir fy - I used baby corn, bok choy, carrots, snow peas and shitake mushrooms
Siracha sauce (2 tea spoons)
Dash of teriyaki sauce and soy sauce
Stir fry:
Bring olive oil to a sizzle in a wok, and add chopped veggies to the wok
Stir frequently until wilted
Add salt, siracha sauce, a dash of soy sauce, and a dash of teriyaki sauce
Cover and let simmer while you prepare the scallops
Add the butter and oil to a 12 to 14-inch saute pan on high heat, add cumin seeds
Salt and pepper the scallops
Gently add the scallops to the pan, making sure they are not touching each other
Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side, using a tong to carefully flip
Serve immediately
Use the bottom of the bok choy to make these beautiful flowers (crunchy and lovely), chop the butt off and these will appear :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Favorite Holiday Happenings in NYC


This is such a fun time of year... especially if you know the streets to avoid and the perfect time of day to venture out. Yes, its cold and tourists are overcrowding our city, but the holiday season in NYC can be perfectly magical if you play it right. Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly activities this time of year...

1. Meeting Santa at Bloomingdales. If you don't mind a 15-20 minute wait, and your kids are okay with skipping the trip to the North Pole like Macy's promises, the Santa at Bloomingdales on 59th St is your best bet. I would say there is minimal holiday madness and price inflation here, and visiting the 6th floor afterward for some chocolate at Martine's and to peruse the beautiful ornaments, is the ideal finishing touch.

2. Holiday Train Show at Grand Central. This is on a much much much smaller scale than the amazing train show at the NY Botanical Gardens, but it's easy, free, and the kids will love it. The replica of GC station is actually done quite well, and while there are few bells and whistles, little J got a kick out of seeing so many choo choo trains!

3. Ice Skating at Bryant Park. I cannot wait to take little J, hopefully next weekend! Unlike Rockefeller Center, this rink is quaint and ice-skating is free! (skate rentals are $12). I plan to stick around and check out the Bryant Park Holiday Shops as well.

4. Little J is probably too young for this, but I'd love to take older kids to see Elf on Broadway... it's a perfectly festive introduction to broadway!

Little J and her cousins at Rockefeller Center

5. The Grinch's Holiday Workshop at Children's Museum of Manhattan - we took J to this after Thanksgiving and she loved story time with Dr. Seuss. We spent an entire afternoon exploring this amazing museum... it was fun for the whole fam.

Happy Holidays!!!

Hope you are all enjoying this wonderful season!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Coping and Making a Change

Liking so many Americans, I've been struggling to cope with Friday's senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When I became a mother, as I held little J for the first time in the hospital, I thought about how much my life had just changed. I felt such an overpowering love, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. She was healthy and happy and we were so blessed. I knew that I would do everything it took to take care of her. I knew even then that I would never be able to stop worrying about her. It is the blessing and curse of every mother everywhere. After the mass murder of 6 and 7 year olds, now parents have to worry about their children's safety in elementary school. What has our world come to?

I cannot fathom how the parents of 20 beautiful, innocent children, will be able to go on with their lives after what happened last week. That in just a week, there will be Christmas without their children. That after the grief and devastation, there will have to be a sense of normality. How does a mother cope with such a tragic, horrific death of her child? What do parents say to the surviving siblings? How do the survivors move on? I get goosebumps everytime I think about it.

My thoughts went from the innocent children and their families, to the family of the perpetrator himself. What made him act this way? Why did he have access to deadly guns? What can we as a society, or our government, do to stop this insanity? The violence in America is an issue with many roots -- mental health, gun control, media violence and bullying. All we can do is what we can do:

Sign this petition to limit access to guns

Do whatever you can to help children with mental illness and their parents who are crying for help

Talk to your kids about bullying

Praying for everyone in Newtown, CT... the lost lives, the bereft families, the heroes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Brunch

We hosted a low-key holiday brunch this past weekend... it was a great time with good friends and good food. For drinks, I made blood orange mimosas, and candy cane punch. The punch was sufficiently strong and the mimosas were perfectly bubbly!

The spread included two types of devilled eggs (spicy with worchestire sauce, and chili cheddar chive), and two types of mini quiches (bacon, and broccoli/cheddar). We had hot pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes (as per this previous post), which were a big hit. I also made a shrimp artichoke salad with sweet peppers in a lime vinagrette, and an orange pomegranate salad with pecans in a homemade sugar syrup (I kind of just made this recipe as I went along). For sides, we had oven-roasted tri color potatoes (so pretty!) in olive oil with rosemary, and fresh berries. My hubby picked up delicious bagels and 3 types of cream cheese from Tal Bagels (our favorite!), and we had a variety of cookies, rugelah, and mini pecan pies for sweets. I attempted to bake by making a cinnamon coffee cake which was beautiful, but a little dry :(

Overall, it was a great party. It's so much fun to see everyone over the holidays, especially in a more relaxed setting where tots are welcome too. Little J had a blast, and ate wayyy too much sugar. But I guess we're all a little guilty of that around this time of year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Decor

The holidays are busy time, so I am all about easy and elegant decor. I found some amazing pieces to go with my snowy christmas/glamorous holiday theme... mostly in white and gold, and I love how my tablescape turned out. I added touches of red and green, but was careful to keep the overall look clean and polished. What do you think?


Sometimes, home-made decor can look a bit cheesy, but I love these ideas for beautiful home decor. I'd love to hear if any of you try these out....

via Beloved Events

via BHG

via Midwest Living


via Mazel Moments

Monday, December 10, 2012

Recipe: Corn & Pimento Pepper Soup/Penne in Pumpkin Marinara

Hi friends! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Ours was filled with holiday parties, a birthday celebration for my dad, and even a small holiday brunch hosted by yours truly. This is definitely a happy and busy time of year...

Last week was all about holiday gift guides -- hope you enjoyed them and found them to be helpful. This upcoming week is going to be filled with fun holiday posts, but for tonight, I leave you with an idea for a delicious dinner.

Corn & Pimento Pepper Soup

Fresh corn off the cob (2-4 cups), after the cobs have been flame-roasted
Chopped Pimento peppers, after the peppers have been flame-roasted
1/4 chopped onion
Pinch of garlic powder
1 Tablespoon of Sour cream
1 Cup Veggie Broth
Paprika, Salt, Black pepper

In a saucepan, bring 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a sizzle
Sautee the onion, garlic, and peppers together
Add the corn to the mixture, stirring frequently
Grate together in the Vita Mix, and return to saucepan

Season to taste with paprika, salt and pepper
Add the veggie broth, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of a corn cob!

Penne in Pumpkin Marinara with Veggies

Whole wheat penne pasta, boiled and drained (let it sit in a dash of olive oil and crushed red pepper)
Organic pumpkin puree
5 tomatoes
Chopped asparagus, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Peas -- whatever other veggies you have in the fridge!
1/2 baked sweet potato
1/4 chopped onion
minced garlic
1 chili pepper or jalapeño
Crumbled goat cheese

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, add tomatoes. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes
Add other vegetables for sauce, cover and let simmer
Puree in VitaMix or other blender
In a saucepan, bring 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a sizzle
Sautee the baked sweet potato, with onions and garlic and diced pepper
Add 1/2 can of pumpkin puree, stirring well
Season to taste
Pour into blended sauce, stirring well
Mix with the boiled penne
Serve with crumbled goat cheese

The slightly sweet pumpkin and sweet potatoes are the perfect contrast to the chili peppers in this sauce.  I served this with jalapeño cheddar bread baked freshly that day from Whole Foods. I over-warmed the bread, but my friends graciously ate it anyway :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Top Gifts for your SECRET SNOWFLAKE so they hope you draw their name again next year

Secret Santa/Snowflake/Elf gifts are the hardest... usually they are for co-workers, the budget is limited, and you have to lug them to a party after work. Here are some great finds under $10 and $25 for your co-worker or your spouse's stocking:

$10 or Under:

A monogrammed coffee mug to get the morning started

For the major coffee addict, this is a fun office plant 

Jingle Bell wine charms, perfect for entertaining around the holidays

Who wouldn't love these adorable thank you notes

Cute socks for a fun guy

Useful and adorable dog travel kit would be ideal for a puppy lover

Get your favorite doodler this stencil set to make your next team meeting a success

This is an awesome gift for a tech junkie

These come in every color and variety, sure to please everyone on your list... and great for the environment, too

Keep one at home and one in your office kitchen for perfectly hot teas every time, with a place to keep the teabag! genius.

For Soft lips even in dry office heat

$25 or Under:

Beautiful cheese board for entertaining over the holidays

To keep her cosmetics in a cute pouch

Whiskey stones for a cold, but not diluted, whiskey or cocktail

Beautiful leather phone case to keep ID, cash and your iphone

I'm obsessed with these flexible trivets...

Incredibly warm earmuffs that won't mess up your hair!

Heavenly bath products that are as yummy as they are pretty

Cheeky card case to impress clients (and opposing counsel...)

This adorable Jonathan Adler keychain to brighten their day

How cute is this sweet & festive rolling pin to keep those holiday goodies rolling in....

CUTEST appetizer plates

For perfectly chilled wine without planning ahead