Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shop Local

It is very easy to shop local when the local bakery is the best around.

It is no secret that Josh and I are huge fans of Cheryl Ann's challah. But really, who isn't? Shabbat is not Shabbat without it.

If you have never had Cheryl Ann's challah you are truly missing out. It is hands down the best challah in the entire world. It smells delicious and tastes amazing. There is something about this fluffy, eggy bread that is just wonderful. Any other challah (and I have had many) pales in comparison. Cheryl Anny's is absolutely the gold standard for challah.

Their challah is not only wonderful for Shabbat, but the leftovers are perfect for snacking and making sandwiches too. You have not lived until you have tried a fluffernutter on Cheryl Ann's challah.  

Or challah French toast. It is AMAZING.

But as much as Josh and I love Cheryl Ann's challah, nothing, I repeat nothing, lives up to their black and whites. These amazing cake-like cookies covered half with vanilla frosting and half with chocolate are from heaven I swear! I have been in love with these tasty treats since I was a little girl. It was always a special day when my mom brought home Cherly Ann's black and whites. These days Josh sometimes brings them home and it is just as exciting as it was when I was a kid. They are that good. 

As if that were not enough, Cheryl Ann's is not only a kosher bakery, but a parve one too. That means we can eat any delicious treat from this wonderful bakery whenever we want (within reason!) And how lucky for us, Cheryl Ann's is only 15 minutes from our house! It doesn't get any better than that!

Spring Fever

I know we are supposed to get snow on Friday, but I have some serious spring fever. When I look out my window and see the sun shinning all I can think about is how much I love the summer.

I can't wait for carefree summer nights of staying up way too late,
margaritas on the patio, and long lazy strolls around the neighborhood.

I can't wait for iced coffee, pedicures, and ice cream cones.

I can't wait for days on the beach, sunglasses, and outdoor concerts.

Summer is right around the corner and I am more than ready to embrace it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meat Once a Week

Despite my well-documented issues with meat (here, here, and here to name a few) I have agreed to eat meat one day a week in the spirit of compromise.

This week's meat attempt was steak tips. It seemed like a really good idea. I enjoy red meat much more than chicken, and since steak tips are small, they should have been easier to theory.

Josh did a great job preparing them. He got them all cleaned up and ready to go before they marinated for a few hours. He really is a good sport!

Then he grilled them and made sure they were cooked the "Samantha Way." I wish I could describe the way that I like to eat protein of any kind. The general rule of thumb when cooking either meat or chicken (and sometimes tofu too!) is that it needs to be cooked all the way through so that it is firm. I hate when anything is slimy or too mushy. Josh, on the other hand, prefers to eat all protean rare, or close to it. This makes grilling more complicated, but again, he is a really good sport! Josh's food comes off first and mine stays on.

All and all I have to say, it was a pretty tasty meal. Sure I ate a lot more broccoli, challah, and salad than steak tips, but the one or two I had were cooked perfectly.

Don't Forget To Smile

10 more things that always make me smile!

  1. Date Night
  2. Sunshine-y Days
  3. Gilmore Girls
  4. Sushi
  5. Old Friends
  6. Concerts
  7. Dance Parties
  8. Coffee
  9. Good Music
  10. Being Silly

I love that I get pleasure out of the simple things, and that I get to enjoy life with a big toothy grin.

What are the little things that make you smile?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Kitchen Must Have

When I first started cooking with tofu I had no idea what to do with it. I was a complete fish out of water. Looking back, it is pretty funny to see what I novice I was.

All I knew about tofu at the beginning was that it needed to be pressed. The more water that is taken out of the tofu, the better the meal tastes in the end...especially when using a marinade. Since I am the first one home at least 50% of the time, often pressing the tofu falls on my shoulders.

At first I tried squeezing the tofu with my hands. Next I attempted to lean on it with all of my weight. While these methods worked pretty well, they were not practical and were sometimes painful. Finally I started to wise up. I came up with different ways to rig my own tofu press, none of which went really well.

My first contraption was a large bowl with a paper towel and a cooling rack resting on it. The tofu sat on the cooing rack with another paper towel on top of it. Then 2 dinner plates sat on top of the tofu. This not so ingenious idea relied on the plates to press the water out of the tofu. The rack would direct the water into the bowl. However the results were not as successful as I would have liked.

The next idea I had was a whole lot simpler. The tofu was placed in between 2 cutting boards with paper towels on each. Then 3 large cookbooks were set on top to apply enough pressure to drain the tofu. While in theory this plan was just simple enough to work...

It too had its flaws. I could never get the books to stay on top of the tofu long enough for them to be effective.

Finally, Josh's sister Jana solved my problem. She sent us a tofu press. And now my days of trying to figure out how to drain tofu are over.

All I have to do is open up a package of tofu when I walk in the door, place it in the press, fasten the top, and walk away.

30-45 minutes later my tofu is pressed, allowing me to make perfect tofu meal every time. It is so easy to use and makes the tofu so much firmer and better tasting, it truly is a must have kitchen item for every vegetarian or tofu lover.

The tofu press has truly revolutionized the way I make and enjoy tofu. How do you press your tofu?

Ladies Who

Lunch Drink Coffee!


I am a total Dunkin girl through and through. I love the stuff. Can't get enough of it. I start every day with 1 4 cups (you may think that is a lot, but I have actually cut back!) of freshly brewed French Vanilla Dunkin Donuts coffee. I love waking up to the smell in my house, can't get enough of the flavor, and enjoy drinking from my reusable mug.


So when my friend Amy suggested that we meet for coffee at Starbucks I was very unsure. Of course I have had coffee from Starbucks on many occasions, I don't live under a rock after all, but it never tastes as good as Dunkin's to me. That said, it turns out that with the right company, any coffee can taste great!

Having a girls afternoon with Amy was just what the Dr. ordered. We do not see one another nearly enough and it is clear that that needs to change. We talked about everything under the sun from her latest amazing adventure in India, to world events, to grocery shopping, to shoe shopping, to our significant others, to our future plans, both professional and personal. It was a wonderful afternoon that went by way too fast.

Good thing we are the brink of pedi season. I have missed our monthly pedi/chat dates and can't wait for them to start up again!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meatless Monday: Tacos 2 Ways

In honor of Meatless Monday, check out one of our favorite meals, Tacos 2 Ways.

Morning Star is a staple in our kitchen. We use it for everything. Josh takes the burgers to work to add to his salads, and I love the meal starters. They truly live up to their name as the perfect meal starter. Our favorite thing to make with Morning Star Meal Starters is tacos, 2 ways!                                    

This is one of the easiest meals to make and is beyond tasty. Plus, it's meatless! While Josh heats up the meal starter in a pan, I collect all of the fixings: cheese, low fat sour cream, salsa, and a salad. Then I add some BBQ sauce to the meal starter while Josh makes his famous homemade guacamole (recipe to come soon!) A few minutes later, we have a delicious, craveable meal.

Josh likes to eat a taco salad.
I prefer to eat my tacos burrito style. Fixin's on the bottom.
Meal starter and cheese on top.
All rolled up in one yummy package.
Tacos 2 way, you can't beat em.

How do you go Meatless on Mondays?

Spring? Not Quite

I know that the calendar says spring, but around here it still feels like winter. I swear Mr. Phil assured us on February 2nd that by now winter would be over and spring would be in the air. And yet, as we approach the end of the March, I am still sporting sweaters, heavy jackets, and boots! CRAZY

I so long for the days of this:
Santorini = pure heaven
and this:
Summer in the Mediterranean
Too bad I am stuck with this:
Super layered up in my marshmallow jacket,
many gloves, hats, and sweatshirt...brrr
Ah New England. As they say, if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes for it to change. Gotta love it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pretzels, Get Your Pretzels Here!

When Josh came home craving soft pretzels, we immediately turned to 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt. This cookbook is fantastic. It not only describes how to make the pretzels, but it also explains how to use the bread machine. Any cookbook that can make baking easier is number one in our book.

These pretzels were extremely easy to make, tasted delicious, and left the house smelling amazing. The total baking trifecta.

1 1/4 cups of water
1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
4 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon of bread machine or instant yeast

1 egg
1 tablespoon of water
1/4 cup sea salt (or sesame seeds)

Measure pretzel ingredients into the bread machine baking pan.
Select Dough Cycle recommended for pretzels by the bread machine manufacturer.

Remove dough from bread machine and place it on a lightly floured surface.

Divide dough into 12 equal portions.

Roll each into 16-inch rope.

On a lightly greased pan, form each rope into a circle with the ends overlapping the circle. Grasping one end in each hand, cross the left end over the right and twist once. Then bring the top of the circle over the twisted ends.

Brush topping on each pretzel
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes

Let cool

Windows Phone or iPhone...Any Advice?

The day I have been waiting for for months is almost here! I am so excited; I can't wait! My upgrade for my cell phone is about to arrive...FINALLY!!!

For the last year and a half I have been using the blackberry pearl.
It was great for all of my phone and email needs for the first year, but now I want more. I am dying to have access to all kinds of social media and my blog. Plus, I am a total phone talker and can't live without my work and personal email too. I have my eye on 2 phones, but I am not sure which one to choose.

I'm stuck between a windows phone and an iphone.

I am not sure which one to choose. The windows phone seems fancy and new, but I'm a loyal Mac user. They both have so many features and seem to meet all of my social media needs. Are you a windows phone or iphone user? What do you like best/least about your phone? Which one do you suggest?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What is it?

Who cares! It's Delicious!

I love edamame. So Much. It is hands down my most favorite vegetable legume soy bean green. As the girl with so many allergies, especially to many other greens, edamame is pure perfection.

After enjoying edamame so much at restaurants, it was time to bring the tasty goodness to our home.

Thank goodness for Trader Joe's amazing frozen food section! Making our very own edamame is a snap!

Just boil some water, place pods in the water for 5 minutes, drain, and enjoy!

Seriously, enjoying my new favorite healthy treat could not be easier!

We like to add a little sea salt for authenticity

Pure Perfection!

Don't Pass Over This

Now that Purim has passed, it is time to start thinking about Passover. I know, I know, it is still a month away, but there is a lot of prep to be done, food to purchase, and logistics to figure out.

Luckily, my friend David (you might know him from when he graced the pages of the Boston Globe Magazine last week) has the Passover must-have of the season. 

As David says over on

This is not your grandfather's seder!
Enjoy your own The Wandering is Over Haggadah, downloadable right from here. This thirty-minute version includes optional supplements, discussions, and Passover songs.
Think it's too long? Not long enough? You can choose either the PDF version or the Microsoft Word option, which enables you to add or delete whatever you'd like. Go ahead, have Passover your way.
While you are looking over this hot off the presses haggadah, check out David's other Passover Prep tips. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Another week, another battle with chicken.

Day to day my opinion about chicken and meat in general changes. Some days I hate it so much that the thought of eating makes me feel sick to my stomach. Other days, though few and far between, I actually look forward to eating it. Mostly though, I stay as far away from chicken as possible.

Josh, on the other hand, is a huge fan of chicken and meat. He would eat it every single day if he could...actually, he did eat it every day. I think that is part of where my new aversion to chicken comes from. He is a really good sport though. 9 times out of ten he happily goes along with my new adventures in vegetarianism. But occasionally, usually on Shabat, he just really wants meat. And really, how can I say no? I had to find a way to tolerate chicken.

My biggest issue with chicken isn't so much the flavor as the texture. There is something about the cutting into the chicken, biting into it, and going through the process that bothers me. On the other hand, when Josh cooks, the flavor of the chicken is always delicious. Especially when he makes his own marinade mixtures hours and hours before grilling. The flavor is just so unbelievable that it is almost easy to forget about the texture.

On the nights when Josh is craving chicken it is time for a serious compromise. He takes care of the prep and cooking of the meal. I work on the salad and sides. Then, just before dinner is served, I cut up my chicken (like I'm a little kid!) and put it on my salad.

Somehow when the extremely flavorful chicken is cut up into small pieces and mixed in with salad and some dressing it isn't so bad. In fact, it's almost pretty good. While chicken is still far from being my favorite food, it is nice to know there are ways around my current difficult relationship with Josh's favorite meal.

Compromise is the key to a happy marriage...or so they say.

Biggest Runner

I am a Biggest Loser fanatic. And not just because I am a HUGE Allison Sweeney fan or have an awesome twitter relationship with Bob Harper. I truly find the show inspiring and entertaining.

So inspiring in fact that I have made my own little life change. Hey, if these contestants are able to lose so much weight when they need to the most, all while making remarkable strides in gaining confidence and self assurance, surely I can make a change too.

As I've mentioned before, I am a huge gym rat. Over the years I have taken on the elliptical, bike, dance classes, weight lifting, all kinds of aerobics, and countless exercise classes. Together Josh and I have gotten fit and accomplished our goals. We have tried many classes and logged miles and miles on the treadmill. But always, there was one thing I dreaded...RUNNING.

During our last shape up week, something inside of me changed. Since classes were not an option due to the new schedule at the gym, I had no choice, I had to get on the treadmill. And when I was on the treadmill, for the first time, I got out of my own way. While I am not new to the treadmill at all, I am new to the idea that I can just hop on, start running, and not stop for 30+ minutes. But by channeling my inner Bob and Jillian, believing in mind over matter, and sheer determination, I did it! And then I did it again, and again, and again!

What's next? A 5K? A 10K? The sky's the limit!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This or That

I love the 'Eat This Not That' segment on the Today Show. I always know I am going to learn something, be shocked by something, or confirm something I already knew.

Here is my own twist on Eat This, Not That.

Generally Josh and I eat try to eat like this:

and this:

and this:

Even though we know we shouldn't, we sometimes eat like that:

and that:

and that:

I guess it is a good thing that we eat much more of THIS than THAT