Turkey Day 2012

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Twenty-two pounds of bird, twelve people, five hours of cooking, and two miniature schnauzers schnauzers. The food. Ohhhhh the food! Roasted turkey, butternut squash and sausage stuffing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato and spinach salad, green bean bundles, roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry pear compote with port wine, and turkey gravy. (Wipes drool from chin.) Then, to end the night, a trip down to Stafford to see Sean’s parents, where they had ALL THE PIES.

Yeah, I think it was a pretty good Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚

Exciting Announcements

Hi there, amigos! I hope you all have had a great weekend/week so far. I had yesterday off from work in honor of our brave veterans, and today I have a couple of exciting pieces of news for you all!

So first off, I have some relatively exciting (day)job related stuff. Part of the reason I’ve been so busy, and not blogging as regularly/in as timely a manner lately (er, beyond the whole “I’m publishing a book thing“, hehe) is that I’m actually transitioning into a new position at work! I’m not 100% in my new job yet, I’m in kind of a dual-job limbo right now, but that means there’s a lot of running back and forth (my new position is in a different building a couple blocks away from my old one) and a lot of training and whatnot. Still, a lot of changes and things to keep me busy, which is kind of a good thing!

My second piece of news may actually be a little upsetting to some of you. See, for years now, I have been a devoted Apple fangirl. Early adopter of each new iPhone model I’ve been eligible for, I’ve also been in love with the Macbook I got my senior year of college (even after I accidentally cracked the glass display with the heel of my foot… oops), Apple has never let me down. And yet, this weekend, something happened…

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Whoops?

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Yep, I am now the proud owner of an Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook. 13.3″ screen, white and aluminum, and like, 3 pounds. Sa-weet.

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Complete with Windows 8, I tested this puppy out for the first time a week or so prior, and was immediately smitten. I thought I’d had my heart really set on getting a Macbook Air, as my old Macbook has been increasingly slow (and, you know, cracked…) but was going to wait a while before doing so. As it turns out, however, my old laptop had other intentions. Recently, the wifi stopped working on my laptop, so I knew it was time to start the replacement process.

Sean and I stopped in the Microsoft Store at Tysons a week or so ago, to check out their new Surface tablets. While we were there, I started looking at the new laptops, all fitted with Windows 8, and was seriously blown away. The new system is really intuitive, looks GREAT, and was just a lot of fun. Plus, the aesthetics of some of their new machines (especially my new Acer), really give Apple a run for its money. I know that for some of you, looks are the least important part of a computer, but c’mon, nobody’s immune to a really sleek-looking comp. We left the store that day and the cogs were already turning, trying to weigh what I already knew about Macbooks (sleek, fast, great design, reliable) with what I liked about the new PC Ultrabooks.

We went back to the store this past weekend to check them out some more, and after spending over an hour in the store (and watching a Windows 8 demo, etc), I knew what I wanted. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the best part!

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Yep, my new ultrabook has a TOUCHSCREEN. A super responsive and awesome one, too. They say that Windows 8 really was made for touchscreen, and I believe it. I love getting to scroll through things with a swipe of my hand, and it really feels seamless. That said, if you are considering getting Windows 8 installed on your non-touch computer, I’ve heard that it’s a fairly disappointing experience because all those buttons just scream “TOUCH ME!” (Um, in a non-sexual way, obvi.)

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I painted this WITH MY HANDS. Well, and with a ridicuslouly overpriced touchscreen paintbrush that I couldn’t NOT get. I mean, c’mon. I know I’m no fine artist, but dang it if touchscreen doesn’t make it fun to try.

So, there you have it. A couple of exciting snippets for you. Oh, I had a third one, too. Slightly less exciting to normal people, but to people like me who are obsessed with food, this one is a good’n. I’ve officially started testing out new Thanksgiving recipes, which means it is GOOD EATIN’ TIME in my casa.

Pork Chop 1

Last night’s dinner extraordinatire involved a new recipe for mashed potatoes that I’m trying out (I determined that my Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes recipe is still the reigning champ though).

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I paired the ‘taters with a side of maple and bacon brussels sprouts (amazeballs as always!).

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And a pork chop with a cinnamon apple and onion chutney (or something). Which was effing delicious.

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NOMs all around!

Are you a Mac or a PC? I like to think at this point, I’m a bit of both! I’ve got my PC desktop, my old Macbook, my new ultrabook, and my iPhone 5. Not to mention my brother has his PC dekstop, plus an 11-inch Macbook Air, plus an iPad (and an iPhone 5 as well). Our house is not only biracial, but bicomputersal as well.

Okay, that was lame. I’m done.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

I know.

You take one look at the title of this dish and you say, “HOW much garlic?! Hey, I just met you and This is crazy!” It sounds intimidating. It sounds strange. But just bear with me, and I promise you will NOT be disappointed.

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One of the very first things I ever saw on the Food Network was the episode of Barefoot Contessa where Ina Garten made Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. It was the episode that first made me crave owning a dutch oven (a mission that was quite recently accomplished, thanks to my generous boyfriend) and the first recipe that made me actually WANT to cook with alcohol.

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I know that forty cloves sounds like a lot of garlic. I mean, it is. But in reality, I think this was really more like 32 cloves, and either way, it’s the least garlicky-tasting garlic dish you’ll ever taste. It’s not spicy, it’s not overpowering, it’s just… delicious. Like, I-want-to-eat-the-leftovers-for-breakfast delicious.

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I did make a few adjustments to Ms. Garten’s original recipe, of course. First of all, her recipe called for cognac. What kind of twenty-something just happens to have cognac laying around? Pass. Secondly, I absconded with the heavy cream that her recipe calls for, and thickened the sauce with just a little bit of flour near the end. Thirdly, I added onion where there was none, so that I can at least pretend there’s some sort of vegetable nutrition involved here. And lastly, her recipe calls for utilizing an entire, skin-on chicken, which I was not willing to butcher for the sake of this dish. So I went with a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead! No bones to eat around, nixing the skin also meant sparing myself a few more measly calories, and it was just so, so, so much easier.

Did I mention how EASY this dish is? The most labor-intensive part is peeling the garlic cloves (I smash them down with the flat side of my knife to pop them open, but use whatever method you prefer), and if you were feeling particularly lazy, you can even buy those huge jars of pre-peeled whole garlic cloves these days. No excuses. πŸ™‚

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This would be a great meal to make for a family dinner night, or for a dinner party if you’re looking to impress. I mean, c’mon, even the name sounds fancy, doesn’t it? The end result is a savory, succulent, and moist chicken with a creamy (but without cream!) sauce to serve over it. It’s boyfriend-approved (the true test: he went back for seconds!) and is a real winner. And as a bonus, I can tell you that this dish will NOT give you garlic breath when you’ve finished demolishing it either. Win-win-win. πŸ˜‰

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You could try making this recipe with chicken breast if you wanted to cut down on the fat even more, but I highly doubt it would turn out quite as good. Chicken breast just doesn’t hold up well under low-and-slow cooking, you know?

I served it up over rice last night, with green beans and corn on the cob as the sides. It would be great over any grain of your choice — rice, barley, quinoa — or with a side of pasta! Of course, it’s definitely substantial (and delicious!) enough to stand alone, too. Maybe just add a nice toasted piece of bread on the side to mop up all the leftover sauce? Mmmm.

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Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
Print this recipe!

Inspired by this recipe.

Don’t be taken aback by the name: this succulent, savory dish is not as garlicky as you might think! By allowing the garlic to cook low and slow, it becomes soft, sweet, and tastes simply heavenly. Enjoy over rice, noodles, or on its own!

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
1 large white onion, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine (like Chardonnay)
1 tablespoon dried thyme (or 2 tbsp fresh thyme)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or cornstarch
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Heat butter and oil in a large dutch oven or large pot to medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then sear in the pot for 3 – 4 minutes, allowing it to brown on both sides. Remove chicken and put it on a plate.

2. Reduce heat to medium and add whole garlic cloves and sliced onion. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme and cook until garlic has begun to get soft and onions are beginning to turn translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add white wine and deglaze the pot, making sure to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back into the pot, reduce heat to low-medium, and cover with lid. Cook for additional 18 to 20 minutes.

3. Remove the lid from the pot and spoon out about a quarter-cup of the liquid into a separate bowl. Add the tablespoon of flour and whisk together, then add back into the pot and mix. This will thicken up the liquid into a delicious sauce. Serve and enjoy!

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Nutritional info per 1/6th serving (1 chicken thigh + sauce): 199 calories, 8.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, 15g protein.

DC Chobani Dinner

Happy Monday! The start of this week means that Relay Week has officially begun. Come Thursday, I’ll be flying up to Boston to meet up with my rad group of fellow bloggers that make up Team Off Balance for the Reach the Beach Relay! CRAZY!

This weekend ended up being particularly awesome. I didn’t, alas, get in my two-a-day run as I had originally intended (I did still RUN, however, just not twice in one day), but it was pretty great nonetheless. The real star of the weekend was the amazing blogger dinner that I got to attend thanks to my new best friends at Chobani!

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It just so happened that Claire was invited to attend this dinner as well, so the two of us set off from good ol’ Falls Church together.

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The dinner was in a private dining room at The Federalist, which is a really swanky little restaurant in DC. The menu was specially prepared by the restaurant’s chef to feature Chobani greek yogurt! As a self-proclaimed foodie, it was really fun for me to see what creative ways the chef came up with using yogurt for.

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We pulled up to the restaurant and were immediately greeted by Jackie and Emily from Chobani, as well as a few other DC-area bloggers. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a group shot on my camera, but if I can get a hold of one from someone else, you might recognize a few familiar faces. Huzzah for real life and internet-life colliding!

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While we were waiting for the entire group to gather, I started off the night with a glass of my beloved prosecco. What can I say? I love my bubbles.

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After we were seated, we all immediately began gushing over how nice it is to go to dinner with other bloggers, because you’re not the only one playing the role of food paparazzo, hahaha. It’s automatically understood that nobody touches the food until everyone has gotten their photos, haha!

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The menu, as I mentioned, was comprised of dishes that incorporated the use of Chobani greek yogurt. We all got the same starter and dessert, and had a choice between lamb, halibut, and pasta for our entree.

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To start us off, they plopped down two bread baskets — one full of normal rolls, and one with cornbread. I think it’s pretty obvious which one I went for, hehe. It was moist and delicious!

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Shortly thereafter, we were given our starter: a white gazpacho (which I’ve never had before!) with shrimp, grapes, and minted yogurt. It was DELICIOUS. Super creamy (though the waiter said there was no cream in the actual soup — just cucumbers and almonds!) and very flavorful. I could easily have slurped down the whole thing, but I restrained myself because it was a big bowl and I knew we had two more courses to go. The soup was probably my favorite dish of the evening though, and I’m not very well-versed in cold soups so that should say something!

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For my entree I chose the yogurt-poached halibut, which came with small roasted potatoes, artichoke hearts, and lima beans. I thought that all the side accouterments were yummy (which was bound to happen with all the butter that was used, hehe) but unfortunately the fish itself was a little lacking. I think it was mostly a textural thing for me. With a thick cut of fish like that, I was hoping for more of a sear or grill on one side at least, but it really just had the texture of being steamed (I realize the menu said “poached”, but I guess I skipped over that when reading, haha). It was pretty flavorful, so that’s definitely something, but I just didn’t find it to really stand out.

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Now, lucky for me, Claire ordered the lamb and was nice enough to share a little of it with me. After my very first bite, I knew that this is what I should have ordered instead. They served it two-ways, sliced and then also a little loaf of shredded lamb mixed up with spices (including fresh dill!) and both were DIVINE. The yogurt sauce that came with it was also delicious, and it was nice to see lamb + yogurt done up in a non-Mediterranean way, since I think that’s what we all would have expected.

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As side dishes for the entire table to share during our main course, we were given mushrooms and roasted cauliflower. Both Claire and I agreed that the mushrooms were definitely lackluster (not enough salt, perhaps?) but the cauliflower was outstanding. Some of it got really crispy during the roasting process, and it had tons of garlic on it. I may have to try to recreate some sort of garlic roasted cauliflower fish on my own now — I’ve never had any that good before!

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Finally, our last course was served. It was an incredibly, decadent-but-light-tasting panna cotta made with greek yogurt. Let’s just all say it together: NOM. It was served with a fresh strawberry sauce and a shortbread cookie (which I mostly left), and was absolutely heavenly. The texture was really impressive, I wish that the chef had come out to explain if they used cream as well, or if it was really just yogurt (plus the eggs and sugar, and all that other traditional custard stuff). Either way, it was pretty amazing. I completely demolished it, hehe.

So, as you can see, it was a pretty fantastic meal and dining experience. I really loved getting to hear Emily (from Chobani) talk about the company’s origins and founder. She is clearly really passionate about her job and the company, which always makes you fall just a little bit more in love with it. We even got little goodie bags at the end that included a water bottle, tote bag, and little recipe box! I’m not sure if I’ll actually have the patience to hand-write all my recipes onto the cards that came with it, but I do love the idea of having hand-written recipes to pass down to my eventual children’s children’s children, or what have you.

The only unfortunate note to the night was that shortly after we left the dinner, my stomach decided to start stabbing itself with a thousand sharp knives. I had eaten more dairy than I had in probably well over a month that night, and my stomach was NOT happy with me for it. I’m still not 100% used to having to tailor my eating for my lactose intolerance since it’s a relatively recent development, and most of the time I just “happen” to avoid dairy because of my preference for non-dairy milk anyway. (Can I just reiterate my joy that cheese somehow seems to be okay with my digestive system? HALLELUJAH!)

My stomach pains fortunately subsided by the time I got home, but it was kind of touch-and-go there for a while. Poor Claire had to deal with my moans and groans for the entire car ride home, haha. Oh well, all’s well that ends well, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’ll just try to remember to take a LactAid next time. πŸ˜‰

Daily Eats – 5/7/12

And yes, this really is the strange, strange chronological order in which I ate yesterday. Sandwiches for brunch and cereal for afternoon snacks. Don’t judge me.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I took some of these photos with me awkwardly in them, it’s because I was too lazy to take my phone out of it’s case (which doesn’t have a hole in the back for the rear camera), haha.

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Watermelon, NOM. (40 calories)

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Sandwich: whole wheat white bread, turkey, cheese, sprouts, lettuce, light Miracle whip (~350 calories)

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Steamed broccoli – I ate about half of what’s shown (50 calories)

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Uncle Sam’s strawberry cereal (~200 calories)

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Whole wheat white bread with peanut butter and jelly (~230 calories)

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Green grapes (60 calories)

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Velveeta shells and cheese. This bowl, x2. Whoops! Hehehe. (~800 calories)

TOTAL: ~1,730 calories

Yeah, I know, dinner was bad news bears. But still, consider my overall caloric amount plus the fact that I got a run in, and I’m definitely counting the day as a win. πŸ™‚