Monday, November 30, 2009

My Thanksgiving

Hi All!

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for this year and I love that there is a holiday devoted to giving thanks.

Because my mom had gotten gourmet pecans from Georgia in bulk this year, I decided to try to make a pecan pie from scratch! Including the crust, of course.

I followed Martha Stewart's recipe to a T!


I kneaded the dough a bit then used a rolling pin to make it fit my pie plate with a bit of overhang. I then folded over the crust to make a bit of an edge.



Using my pointer finger and middle finger on my right hand and thumb on my left, I made a (quite uneven) crimped crust.





For the filling, I just made a tiny adjustment to Martha's Pecan Pie recipe. (It was all about the Martha this weekend!)

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups pecan halves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack set in lowest position.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
Mix in pecans.
Pour mixture into chilled pie crust.


Bake until filling jiggles slightly in the center when gently shaken. About 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool pie completely in plate, 5 to 6 hours. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.



I knew that this recipe would come out well considering it required 3 cups of pecans as opposed to 1 cup that most other recipes required.

It was definitely a hit and SOOOOOO easy!


While running errands with my dad, I spotted some ivy creeping up a tree in our front yard. For some reason I was really intrigued and felt I had to capture it on film. Unfortunately, the tree sits on an incline near our very steep stairs and I may or may not have taken a slight tumble while taking the pictures. I am a dedicated photographer, that's for sure!



I never really see a single ivy vine going up a tree. Usually more than one, no?


We then waited for the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. J.


My mom set a beautifully festive table!


And then filled it with deliciousness!


We had Japanese style mustard green beans...


Broccoli casserole...


Candied sweet potatoes...



Stuffing...


Probably my favorite part of the meal.


Turkey from Peking Duck Restaurant...



Looks kind of vulgar, doesn't it?

My dad cut the turkey...


And then my mom promptly took over.



We're both control freaks in the kitchen. :)

My best friend's mom made us a delicious carrot cake! This is my dad's absolutely favorite cake and only Leslie's cake is accepted. Thankfully, at most major events, Leslie is kind enough to make it for us. Sometimes Amy does, too!



My dessert plate of course, had a slice of each baked good.


Sigh...
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. We missed my brother, Joey, who is hard at work in Seattle designing video games. We wished he could be with us but he will be home for Christmas!
Being Japanese and not having family here in the States, Thanksgiving was always a time for us to have other orphaned Japanese families over. My mom would always make a turkey with all of the trimming so that we would experience the "American tradition." This year, it was just us which makes for an intimate affair but also translates into: more food for Shion. Which, as we all know, is a very good thing. ;) In fact, I'm pretty sure I ate more than Adam and Sonoko combined...
Of course, anticipating a huge Thanksgiving meal, I had went for a run in the morning but I'm PRETTY sure I didn't burn nearly enough calories to justify helping myself to seconds.

But hey - what are holidays for if not for eating excessive amounts of food, right? RIGHT?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble, Gobble!


Happy (day before) Thanksgiving!!!

nothing says Thanksgiving like a cornacopia, no?


In celebration of Thanksgiving, I wanted to let you know that I'm thankful for you, blog readers!

Your positive, encouraging responses to my posts mean a lot to me. You've all been so supportive and looking at my Google Analytics to see how many people have read my blog in a given day always makes my day! And I know that a lot of you are passing along the blog to your friends and I appreciate that as well.

I know that I've been a little inconsistent with blogging in the past month and a half (and especially this week) but I want to assure you that I will be back in full force. And when I say "back in full force" I mean that I will have a revamped blog in just a few weeks thanks to some amazing friends - Zach (one more Zach link) and Brad! Two amazingly, talented guys. I'm grateful for you, too!

So please be patient with me. I promise you, it's worth the wait!

I'm headed home to Jersey for Thanksgiving today. Woot! I'm excited to eat my mom's wonderful cooking and even more excited to be baking my first pecan pie from scratch!

You won't hear from me until next Monday so in the meantime, I thought I would leave you with some of my favorite cards from someecards.com in honor of the holiday.










Friday, November 20, 2009

Homemade Granola...whaaaaat?!

Goodness - this is the week of awesome breakfasts. True to form, I'm starting to get slightly tired of my regular bowl of oats in the morning so when my co-worker Erin presented me with HOMEMADE GRANOLA, I was jumping for joy!

I topped my blueberry yogurt with half a chopped up apple and Erin's granola. I ate the other half of my apple with some peanut butter.


I'm using the dish towel that Kate wrapped her lovely present in as a placemat since I still haven't gotten any. I just ordered winter-themed ones from amazon.com and I was told this morning that they were being shipped out now! Yay! One step closer to my apartment being decorated. :)

The granola tasted DELICIOUS!!! It has all kinds of nuts and seeds and dried fruit. Certainly the best I've ever had! I'm going to have to try to make this on my own one day... It was crunchy, not-too-sweet and fresh tasting!



I love starting my day off with a good meal!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The upside and downside of not having a microwave


Newsflash!!!

I don't have a microwave. Yes, it's true. It takes up too much room in my small kitchen and I am convinced that a study will come out in a few years that will tell us those electromagnetic rays are harmful and will cause cancer or something.

And while we're at it, I don't have a TV either. Or internet right now (although hopefully that will be remedied soon) so you can imagine, living on my own has been....peaceful.

I don't miss my microwave because I hardly used it in my old apartment, except to melt chocolate for bon bons, but I had a brief moment last night where I kind of wished I had one. All in all, though, it's made me eat a LOT healthier so no complaints from me!

I was starving when I got home so using some turkey my mom had frozen for me, I made a lovely and simple quesadilla. To "defrost" the turkey, I just added an extra step and sauteed it in a pan with a drop of olive oil. Then I used two whole wheat tortillas, cheddar cheese, and the turkey to make a delicious meal! I added a dollop of plain greek yogurt and HOT SAUCE since I didn't have any salsa on hand.


I think I'm going to use hot sauce from now on since it tasted even better than when I use salsa. Usually the salsa has been sitting in the fridge so it's cold and takes away from the lovely taste of melted cheese :) The hot sauce is a simpler taste and complimented the quesadilla perfectly!


As my vegetable side, I made mustard green beans.



Just boil the green beans (I had a little less than 1/2 pound) for about 7 minutes, cut up into little pieces, toss it into a bowl and add the following mixture:

1 Tablespoon mustard (any mustard will do)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper

You can add a crushed garlic clove and lemon zest as well but I was too lazy and hungry to do it.

Toss it all together.


Yum!!! I think this whole meal took about 15 minutes total to prepare.

It was also a very exciting mail day for me.

My friend Kate sent me this beautiful plate as a housewarming gift! I love it because it has flowers on it but it's still modern and edgy. And it looks so scientific with those numbers! Definitely one of a kind.


And it goes perfectly with my coffee table!



And yes, I still have not decorated my apartment...

Getting this thoughtful gift in my hands though, has been quite a feat. I got home on Sunday afternoon and saw that I had a petite package in my equally petite mail box. I was so excited to get mail that I immediately shrieked and went to take it out. But wait...I couldn't actually get the package OUT. While the mailperson could drop it into the mailbox from the top, the door of the mailbox makes it challenging (okay, impossible) to get it out. I tried to start unwrapping it while it was still in the mailbox but that didn't work since it seemed like the packaging was pretty structured. It was then that I saw there were stickers on the outside and knew it was from Kate!

After about 10 minutes of struggling (and yes, residents of my building were giving me strange looks) I called my super to see if he could help me out. He said that he didn't have the key to the mailbox so he would have to wait until the mailperson came so he could receive the package for himself. It was definitely comical, to say the least!

Just one of the many challenging of New York City apartment living...

I also got this in the mail:


It contained 6 different flavors of instant coffee. I used to drink a lot of instant coffee in Japan so I'm not above drinking it at all.

I know I've shared my love of wisebread.com on this blog before but really, it's sooooo great! You can get all of this free stuff!!! Definitely check it out!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good-bye, Erica!

Sometimes it feels like college was just yesterday and then other times I look back and think of how far we've all come in five years! Most of my friends are friends I made in college and they are some of the most amazing women I've ever met. One is applying to B-schools overseas, two are getting their Ph.Ds, another is traveling the world and pursuing her passions, another headed cross-country to start a fabulous job at Google, another is quite the marathon runner and will run her first Boston marathon next year, and the list goes on and on...

Erica is leaving for LA in just a few weeks and we decided to have a going-away party for her. Here are the girls I lived with in my first apartment ever. I also lived with them senior year!


Oh, the memories! How far we've all come!!! :)

The theme of the party was food - naturally - and we all brought Erica's favorite foods. They included:
dumplings from Rickshaw Dumpling

Chicken nachos


Levain cookies


Lahmajun (Armenian pizzas)


They get a second picture because I ate three of them. I even cut down on dessert so I could have more of these and that usually NEVER happens!

Jennifer's cupcakes (too cute!)


Chocolate Cream Pie!


It was a day of good eats, good friends, and some suspicious pictures...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weekend with the Sister

This past weekend, I headed out to Westchester to visit my sister and nephew, Peanut. Of course, when I say nephew, I mean my sister's spoiled cat who liked to jump from the window sill onto my stomach multiple times during the night. I'm not bitter.

After joining her friends for wine at Ayza on 31st between Broadway and Fifth, we hopped on a Metro North train to her home. I love train rides, I have to say. I love train and airplane trips and love love LOVE train stations and airports. Is that weird? I feel like all rules are out the window and you're allowed to buy whatever magazine, candy, and tourist-y stuff you want without the guilt.

Once home, my sister made me a Tazo tea - the Calm blend - which is one of my absolute favorite type of tea. It's a bit expensive for my taste so it was a nice little treat.


For dinner the next day, we tried Sonoko's friend, Cait's, tried-and-true recipe for garlic chili chicken! It featured this:

Which tasted a lot like the garlic chili sauce I used for my summer rolls. I hope I'm not giving away a secret recipe but here goes (we slightly modified the recipe):

Ingredients:

4 chicken pieces (I don't remember if they were breasts or thighs or whatever) with bone

1/2 cup chili sauce

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1 cup Italian bread crumbs (I recommend plain bread crumbs with salt and pepper)

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix pineapple juice and chili sauce in medium sized bowl. Add chicken and marinate for about five minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs and olive oil. Add chicken to bread crumbs mixture and coat.

Place on baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until baked through.

DELICIOUS!!!!

It was nice and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It was the perfect amount of salty and sweet with a kick. Yum!

It was a pretty easy recipe, too, so I highly recommend it!

I'll leave you with some pictures of my nephew.



Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAIT!!! Thanks for the delicious recipe!