Friday, August 31, 2012

Crafty Me: I Love Labels!

One might wonder why a person who lives alone would need to have labels on 3 little bins in their closet. I'm afraid I can't really come up with a good answer for that. I would just have to say that I love organization. I love when a plan comes together. And I love graphic elements, fonts and consistency. Yeah. Crazy. So I already had a beautifully organized master/walk-in closet with matching, padded, canvas and wood hangers; rolling carts full of bins and wire drawers; wide PVC hanger bags for holiday clothes and seasonal linens; a wide shelf full of covered totes for dust protection; plenty of hooks, a full length mirror and, finally, baskets for additional sorting of clothes meant for handwashing, dry cleaning or donation. Now comes the really crazy part: adding labels to my finely tuned closet system. {LABEL NUMBER ONE}...I have a little clothing quirk: I only wear long, dark pants. No skirts, no dresses, no shorts, no white slacks. I have multiples of all kinds of dark pants: long, black, dress pants; short, narrow-leg, brown pants; wide-leg, cropped black pants; loose, comfy, weekend, black pants...well you get the idea. Thing is in the morning, with my eyes at half-mast and the sun nowhere near flooding in my closet, it's kind of hard to figure out which is which! So I made a big, retro-style label for each hanger. Now I can know at a glance where to grab the one I want. Love this idea! {LABEL NUMBER TWO}...Next up: totes and bins. This was an easy fix now that I had the hanger label design in hand! {LABEL NUMBER THREE}...The last problem that needed solving: to launder or not to launder? I read many years ago that you actually prolong the life of your clothes and preserve their condition and shape if, in lieue of harsh cleaning after every wearing, you simply let them air out once in awhile. Now after every other use or so I'll hang  each garment on a separate hook overnight. In these cases I like to mark the hangers before placing them back on the rack to insure I don't pack or store the item before re-laundering. I customized some old business cards with my new design, cut each in half and punched a hole in the center of each piece - star-shaped just for fun! I keep a bunch of these in a bowl in the closet and drop one over the neck of the hanger when I put a lightly worn blouse or jacket back on the rod. And there you have it - a peek into an obsessive-compulsive's closet dream!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sweet Open Faced Pork Sandwich

Mmmm. Pig. The other white meat. This dish is one of my creations. I really like pork roast - tenderloin or fresh ham - both ring my bell. While the fresh ham is a bit more flavorful, thanks of course to the higher fat content, a pork tenderloin is easy and quick. And prepared with the right combination of flavor profiles, it can be just as enjoyable. I often like to buy the prepared pork from my food market's rotisserie and have it ready to go for several meals. Last weekend however I was feeling energetic so I made my own. Since this pork would be the base for a variety of recipes I thought I would use restraint in choosing my ingredients. I created a dry rub of five-spice powder, salt and pepper and some fresh parsley and thyme. I cut a tenderloin in half, coated all sides with the rub and braised the pieces in a fry pan over high heat with a little oil to brown on all sides. Then I lowered the heat and let them cook through.  Fruit is always a great choice to accompany pork and I love this particular combination of sweet and savory. So here's what I did: toast 1 slice of Ezekiel's Bread for Life Sprouted Raisin Bread. Once crisp spread with one tablespoon of Smucker's Sugar Free Peach Preserves. Top with 2 oz. of your beautifully roasted, thinly sliced Pork Tenderloin. Sprinkle with some Balsamic Vinaigrette-Dressed Spring Mix and 1 tablespoon of chopped Pecans. Chicken? Who needs chicken?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crafty Me: More than Friends

C'mon, you know you want these! Did you go to camp when you were a kid? I did not. Did you have craft projects when you were in grade school? I did not. Did you and your BFFs share secret pacts and friendship trinkets when you were growing up? I did not. But then along came my BBF (best blog friend) Joy turning me onto this post at Honestly WTF and I was off! The hardest part was finding the Chinese knotting cord, which I ended up ordering online from the link Erica gave us. I already had these little silver bits from a past project. I only had to finish one before I got the hang of the right knot tension. I made 6 or 7 after that and all came out perfect! I love them - they are so cute and young. But they're still nice for us old gals - they don't look like we're trying too hard cause they're JUST FUN!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On The Way, Week 20

{1|} Mandevilla Vine, Mahwah, NJ {2} Old Time Truck Graphics, Suffern, NY {3} Home Sewing, Middletown, NY {4} Pumpkin Raisin Muffins, Whispering Hills, NY {5} Victorian Home, Goshen, NY {6} DIY Bracelets, Whispering Hills, NY

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

White Pizza

When I was younger pizza was all about cheese and tomato sauce. That's it. No variety. No crazy toppings. No choice of crusts. And I loved it! When I lost lots and lots of weight in a relatively short time some years ago, I got many compliments and some good-natured ribbing. Friends "worried" that I would waste away to nothing. My stock retort was "fear not - if you see that happening just shove some pizza in my face: problem solved!" I adore pizza. And I'm not a pizza snob either - I can totally get behind everything from wood-fired artisan pies to the English Muffin pizzas my Mom used to make on meatless Fridays. So it is nice to find a really, really tasty healthy version of my favorite dish. This one starts with a Thomas' Whole Wheat Pita Pocket. Turn the whole pocket upside down (the slightly concave shape will hold your toppings better). Brush with 1 Tablespoon of Pesto and sprinkle with fresh minced Garlic. Scatter 1/4 cup of Low-Fat or Fat-Free Ricotta in large spoonfuls over the entire pocket. Top with 1/4 cup of Organic Valley's Italian Cheese Blend. Broil for a minute or two until the cheeses melt and bubble. Indulge.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

On The Way, Week 19

{1} Clouds, Chester, NY {2} St. James Episcopal Church, Goshen, NY {3} Healthy White Pizza, Whispering Hills, NY {4} Beach/Park, Ridgewood, NJ {5} Cornflake Crusted Chicken w Local Heirloom Tomatoes and Corn, Chestnut Ridge, NY {6} Historic Racetrack, Goshen, NY

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sizzled Shrimp and Heirloom Tomatoes

This is a dish I got right off the Prevention website and - oh! - is it ever full of summer goodness. I saw the recipe and planned to make it last week because I had an unexpected craving for shrimp. Happily I decided to stop by the local natural food co-op to pick up the few ingredients I needed and lo & behold I found absolutely gorgeous pints of mixed, locally grown, organic patio tomatoes - perfect for this quick and easy recipe. One serving of this recipe is only about 250 calories so you can add a nice bit of pasta or rice, a side salad or tortilla to round out the meal. I recommend you do whatever must be done to get real tomatoes - not those mealy, mushy, flavorless pink fruits sold year-round at the supermarket. Although a few sun dried tomatoes and sweet corn contribute a lot to the flavor, this dish really relies on farm fresh summer tomatoes to knock it out of the park!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Farmer's Breakfast

I am a cheater. Done. Said. It's all out there now. Sunday is a particularly good day for me to cheat. I like to keep one day of the weekend without firm plans. I can get up when I want to, do what I feel like. I often feel like having an early cup of coffee in bed and a big, old-fashioned breakfast later on which offers a fine opportunity for cheating. On my "diet" that is. There I finally said it! You can't "cheat" on a meal plan but you sure can "cheat" on a diet. But I am also a liar because it's not really cheating. This luscious version of the classic diner bacon-egg-n-hash brown breakfast is less than 400 calories, relatively low in saturated fat and cholesterol AND has lots of veggies packed in it as well! So if you're going to cheat - please - let it be as harmless as this: Add 2 tsp of Olive Oil to to a hot, non-stick fry pan. Add 2 frozen Dr. Praegar's Broccoli Pancakes. Cook, untouched until crispy and brown - about 2 minutes. While the pancakes are cooking separate and place 3 Egg Whites in a small bowl with a little cayenne pepper or whatever seasoning you prefer (crushed red pepper flakes, sriracha sauce, salt and black pepper, fresh herbs are other good choices). Thinly slice about 1/4 cup of your favorite vegetables - this morning I used some Heirloom Patio Tomatoes and Red Onion. When crisped on one side flip the pancakes. Add the veggies and 2 slices of Applegate Farms Sunday Bacon to the pan. Once the bacon is done and the pancakes crisped on the 2nd side remove to a paper towel, transfer to a serving plate and keep warm. Spread the vegetables out in the pan and continue to cook until tender. Give the egg whites a good whisking and quickly dump into the pan with the veggies, cover and cook over low heat until set. Fold the omelet in half and transfer to the serving plate. Chow down!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On The Way, Week 18

{1} Baby Coyote, Bear Mountain Zoo, NY {2} Shrimp with Heirloom Tomatoes, Chester, NY {3} Post Stormy Sky, Whispering Hills, NY {4} Chocolate Cherry Waffle, Goshen, NY {5} Hanging Out, Whispering Hills, NY

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Better Berry Muffins

Remember how I said I like to bake for breakfast? I've tried Cranberry-Pecan Scones. Eh. In the spirit of the Olympics, I give 'em a 7.5. Using only whole wheat pastry flour and very little sugar or fat - they were a little dense and bitter. Next time I think I'll substitute some or all of the nuts for chocolate chips. I tried the Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins which are quite good - a solid 9. The fresh fruit adds a natural sweetness, allowing more calories to be dedicated to a bit of canola oil for a nice texture and mouth feel. The Double Corn and Pecan Muffins - well the BATTER went in the garbage. It looked and smelled so bad - with a significant amount of soy flour  - that I didn't even want to bake them! Today's recipe is from Chef Meg over at Spark and this, my friends, is a big winner! As pointed out in several of the "user" reviews these muffins are high in sugar and therefore not appropriate for a  diabetic-friendly diet. But one of the great things about a 4-4-4 meal plan is that there is very little sugar consumed in an average day. So the 20 grams per muffin is not something I'm going to worry about. It makes me feel better that some of that comes from the amazing fresh blackberries and strawberries I used. The recipe calls for them to be chopped but I left them whole or in big chunks and oh boy are they tasty. I stuck pretty close to the recipe, reducing the brown sugar by just a bit and adding a 1/4 cup of chopped pecans to the topping. By a rough estimate these fantastic breakfast treats are under 150 calories each! The American judge gives them a 10! That's good math.

Monday, August 6, 2012

On The Way, Week 17

{1} Podcast, Whispering Hills, NY {2} Horse Farm, Wallkill, NY {3} Spectacular Skies, Chester, NY {4} Better Berry Muffins, Whispering Hills, NY {5} Closet Re-Organization, Whispering Hills, NY {6} Local Tomatoes, Chestnut Ridge, NY

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The New Kid On The Blog, August 2012: Tea & Cookies

This is a lovely blog that is all about my closet life! Just read the subtitle ... recipes, travel, books, gardening, coffee! Fabulous! Hmm? It doesn't say "coffee"? Okay - well it's kinda the same thing, right? Anyway - check it out. I gave you the link to the particular post that lead me there, courtesy of Shutterbean's "I Love Lists Friday" post of July 13th. "Crossing the Street" is such a beautiful essay. By the way - I happen to own that exact tea strainer shown in the blog's masthead! For reals. I bought it many years ago and it holds the same kinds of wonderful memories that "Tea" conjures on her blog. I was spending a late spring day in the city, before late spring in the city was filthy, hot, sticky, pretentious and smelly. What is that you say? It was never NOT filthy, hot, sticky, pretentious and smelly? Well then maybe it was just before I minded that so much. Anyway I was treating myself to a special day at the salon, a quiet lunch alone and leisurely strolling and shopping on Madison. I came across the darling antique shop in the lobby of The Barbizon Hotel. Such a throw-back! If I were living that day now I'd say it reminded me of Mad Men, of a day when an adventurous young woman might come to live in "the Big Apple" but would need watching out for. Of a day when women wore gloves to work and men were just beginning to rebel against hats and ties when stepping out. Tea & Cookies...a pleasure to savor.