[grapefruit]

For me, whenever I see a grapefruit I always think of my grandpap. He ate a grapefruit for breakfast every single morning after returning home from mass [which he faithfully attended at the crack of dawn each day] . There was a quiet comfort in this ritual; I remember his silver jagged edged spoon, the sprinkling of sugar to sweeten the tangy fruit. When I was little I couldn’t stand the taste of grapefruit, it was too tart for me. As it is with most things, I developed an appreciation for it as I grew up.

It’s funny how the smallest, seemingly insignificant, moments are the ones you hold onto the tightest. This is one precious memory I’ve tucked away and will have with me always.

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It was the Monday coming off of a Bears playoff loss [frown] but a Steelers playoff win [semi smile]. Allow me to explain. Let it be known that under no circumstances am I a Steelers fan [I'm a proud Browns fan and always will be], but seeing as how my parents and extended family hail from Steel City, I’m happy for them. There, I said it.

Tonight, dinner needed to be easy. This high-fiber, protein packed salad was so quick & simple I’m not sure I can call it a recipe. I must advise you to take heed if you’re averse to the strong flavor of raw garlic. I happen to love it but many people don’t. Raw garlic has been proven to boost your immune system, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, among other health benefits. Though regarded as an herbal whiz kid, it will clear you sinuses as well as anyone within a five-mile radius. Your breath will be a lethal weapon, consider yourself warned.

Garlic + Bean Winter Salad

  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame beans
  • 1/2 cup chick peas
  • sprinkling of parmesan cheese

For vinaigrette:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 palmful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt
  1. Combine the edamame beans, cannellini beans, chick peas, and parmesan.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette. Pour over bean mixture until all ingredients are evenly coated. Enjoy!

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Now that the fun parts of winter {family-filled Christmas + lively New Year’s parties} have passed us by at whirlwind speeds, we’re left with a resounding….

“Well now what?”

Let’s face it, when the temperature takes a nosedive it’s all-too-easy for your spirits to plummet right down with it. Although the winter can be downright demoralizing, I’ll admit that it can be kind of nice too. There’s just something to be said for a cozy winter night by a crackling fire, mug of hot cocoa in hand {extra marshmallows please}, with the falling snow and good conversation to keep you company.

We winterize our cars with snow tires and antifreeze, so why not winterize us? Here are a five ways to help you fend off the winter funk and keep you smiling ’til spring.

1. Walking around with a chapped mug is a buzz kill any time of year. Keep your lips moisturized with a balm that is light and has a heavenly scent, like this C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve [$5.50].  My aunt got me some just in time to replace the one I’d had for three years {as seen here}.

2. Dash through the snow in style this winter with some fancy footwear, like these haute Burberry Winter Boots [$295]

3. This one may seem like a no-brainer but exercise truly makes a difference in elevating your mood and revitalizing your spirits. In case you’re snowed in, keep a jump rope [$9.99] handy so you never have an excuse to miss a heart-pumping cardio session.

4. Adopt a low-maintenance skin care regimen that will keep your skin radiant all winter long. I really like Bio-Oil [$16], it’s a hot-seller overseas and just recently became available in the US. The Australian based product contains PurCellin Oil which improves the appearance of scars, stretch marks, uneven skin tone, aging and dehydrated skin. While we know there’s no such thing as a miracle in a bottle, this stuff is pretty close.

5. Manicures only last a week at the most, besides, why trudge out in this weather when you don’t have to? Cuticle oil, a nail buffer, and a shiny clear topcoat will make your DIY mani look {nearly} professional. I layered Urban Outfitters navy polish with glitter* to lighten things up, plus every time I glance down at my sparkly digits I can’t help but feel happy. Tip: if going for a dark polish, keep nails short and square to keep them neat & chic instead of goth-gone-bad.

*unfortunately neither of these polishes are available online. i purchased them as part of a 10-piece mini polish gift set for $20 from the urban outfitters at clark + diversey [chicago].


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While perusing my new favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s, I came across this sweet canister of Irish oatmeal. Satisfied with the retro aluminum can [my mind was already busy figuring out other uses for it once empty] I added it to my bounty and went on my merry way.

Last night I set about making a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with my new purchase. I’d never seen Irish oats before, much less cooked with them, so I assumed they were the same as Quaker’s. Ah-hem, I was wrong:

This is how they appear cooked. I think they look more like rice than oatmeal but I was determined to see how they tasted in the cookie so I forged ahead. I found a way to use them in place of the “rolled oats” the recipe called for – in my case the recipe asked for 3/4 cup rolled oats so I placed 3/4 cup cold water and 3/4 cup Irish oatmeal in a pot and brought to a boil. Once cooled, I continued with the recipe as usual.

Irish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature [if you use salted butter just don't add the extra salt]
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt [again, omit this if you are using salted butter]
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats [to use Irish oatmeal, use the method I described above. you just need to pre-cook it a bit because it's starchier than rolled oats]
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F [175 C]. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth [you don't need a mixer. i hand-mixed with a spatula]. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stir into the creamed mixtute. Finally, stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto the cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. [My oven completely ignores things like temperature settings and is a blazing inferno no matter what the set degree, therefore my cookies were done in 7 minutes. Keep an eye on them, they'll burn quickly.] Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. Makes around 18 cookies.

*adapted from this recipe


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I really like the notion that even on the darkest of days there is an exuberant spirit within us all: we just have to remember to turn on the light.

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As I’ve mentioned, Giada DeLaurentiis is one of my favorite chefs and TV personalities. Giada was trained at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and while there she picked up on the Parisian philosophy surrounding food, which is essentially quality over quantity. A great Parisian meal could entail several hunks of exceptional artisan cheese, some crusty, thick slices of French bread, and a glass of wine. It’s a simple but fulfilling meal.

Last night I took a cue from this philosophy and made a clean, Parisian-inspired meal of my own. It’s all about incorporating a myriad of rich flavors without being overindulgent. Although a departure from my traditional comfort food go-to, spaghetti, it’s a dish that is satisfying in it’s own right and is just as fun to eat as it is to prepare. Bon appetit!

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Experts are saying 2011 is finally the year America will experience an economic revival and once again have a healthy, robust economy.  Until then, it’s a budget-savvy babe’s duty to see where her hard-earned green is going. Plus, this is the time of year when retailer’s slash prices the most, which means everyone from Gucci to Gap is offering goods at low, low prices. Here are some of my “cents-ible” picks [wink] that will save you some serious dough.

1. Calvin Klein Funnel Collar Double Breasted Coat [$380 $189.99]

2. New Balance for Nine West Cyber [$89 $62.30]

3. Banana Republic Beardsley Ring [$49.50 $24.99]

4. Gucci Driving Gloves [$370 $247]

5. Bird by Juicy Couture High Waisted Shorts [$258 $77.40]

6. Halston Clutch [$245 $121.90]

7. J.Crew Metallic Suede MacAlister Boots [$145 $79.99]

8. Ann Taylor Silk Scoop Neck Dress [$215 $89.88]

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What a year, huh?

The words that come to mind when I think of 2010: faith, growth, change, renewal, fulfillment, and strength. This year brought on it’s own set of scary challenges and unexpected curve balls but despite said bumps-in-the-road, it managed to be one of my happiest years in recent memory. Tears were shed, laughs were had, wine was drank, hands were held, roadtrips were taken, and stories were shared.

This year I intend to bake more cookies, learn how to cook a proper Pad Thai, play more tennis, and master the elusive art of keeping my closet organized. The latter may be a bit far-fetched but I’ll certainly give it a shot.

May 2011 be a year of triumph, joy, and sparkles.

{all images via we heart it}

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[coffee break]

{ slam dunk }

Sometimes all it takes is a little cup of jo and a homemade pizzelle [made by your talented mama] to kickstart your morning routine. I like my coffee sweetened with some good old-fashioned sugar and milk. Over Christmas the girls in my family made a couple batches of my mom’s lightly-sweet and satisfying vanilla pizzelles. Behold, a recipe that’s been in our family for generations and guarantees a deliciously delicate cookie every time.

Pizzelles

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups of flour (approx)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 4 tsps baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp anise or 2 tblsp vanilla

Beat eggs adding sugar gradually. Beat until smooth. Add cooled melted butter and vanilla or anise [some people don't care for the black licorice flavor of anise]. Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture. Dough will be sticky enough to be dropped by spoon in pizzelle maker. Cook in pizzelle maker and then store in airtight container.

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[this fur coat is really coming in handy]

[maybe if i stop waking mom and dad up in the middle of the night, santa will bring me cheese this year]

[welp, for now i'll just stick to the fluffy white stuff]

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