Six Sisters’ Stuff has done it again. They’ve released a new cookbook that requires six ingredients or less.
Many of the recipes are super easy and very delicious. I always say that you can’t go wrong with a Six Sisters’ Stuff recipe. I’m still making their In-N-Out Burger from their Copycat Cooking cookbook. I make a turkey burger version and I swear to you it is the best burger I’ve ever had in my life! It’s all in the animal sauce.
As for “Six Ingredients,” one of the recipes I made was the Green Beans With Candied Pecans. Making candied pecans was a whole new experience for me. I didn’t think it would work and then all of a sudden, it almost burned! EEK!
Thank goodness I caught it in time. Luckily, I ended up making too many candied pecans, so I put a bunch to the side to add to my salads. I highly recommend making candied pecans, because it can really bring your salad game up a notch.
While I could rattle on about stuff you really don’t care about, let’s get to the recipe. I selected their Easy Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe to share with all of you. I made this and had meals for days! It’s light and very tasty.
You can purchase “Six Ingredients” from any of PW’s favorite booksellers:
[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.]
For those who love peaches, I have a new cookbook to recommend to you. Due to be released on June 25, 2019 is The Peach Truck Cookbook. In this book, you will discover so many delicious and different ways to enjoy this heavenly nectar from the gods.
This cookbook isn’t just about desserts. You’ll find salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, hot sauces and jams. All of it looks so good, where does one begin? If you love peaches as much as I do, this will give you 100 different ways to savor this tasty fruit.
You can pre-order the book now before it’s release date.
Today, I am going to share their Summer Peach Garden Pasta. It is super easy to make with very little time spent at the hot stove. This recipe is perfect for the summer months and will go great as either a main dish or a side dish next to some grilled chicken, pork chops or steak.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
The Peach Tree Cookbook's Summer Garden Pasta
An easy way to throw together a pasta dish during the summer months with very little cooking. It's almost all prep.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta; cook according to the package directions. Drain.
Whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Add the cooked pasta, basil, pine nuts, tomatoes, peaches, and corn and toss well.
Serve pasta with a sprinkling of basil leaves and grated Parmesan.
Note: I did not have cherry tomatoes, so I cut up Roma tomatoes for the recipe. I was also out of corn, so I added in some red bell peppers. If you are substituting ingredients, make sure to use vegetables that will compliment the peaches.
Sponsored Post. I was asked by RawSpiceBar to develop a new recipe using their Apple Pie Spices mix. While most would instantly think of a dessert, I knew that would not work for me. I am not the kind of person that usually makes desserts. So I thought about it and came up with Apple Spiced Ham.
My logic was if we can put pineapple on ham, then we should be able to use apples! And boy, was I right about that.
The result? This is by far the best ham I have ever had. And the apple gravy…*eyes rolling into the back of my head*…was so good it needs to be bottled up and sold in markets everywhere.
Since this is also apple season, this recipe works perfectly for the time of year. When choosing apples, make sure to use apples that will hold up while cooking. I used Granny Smith and Empire apples. Other apples that work well: Golden Delicious and McIntosh.
The key ingredient here that you cannot skip is the Apple Pie Spices mix from RawSpiceBar. This is one of the most important ingredients in the entire recipe. This is what adds the extra oompf to the entire dish, making the ham and the gravy go the extra mile.
For those who end up with leftovers, I recommend using this in every leftover ham recipe you can think of…including the apples. I added the ham and apples to bean soup, pastas, scrambled eggs…and to tell you the truth, I never knew the apples were there.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Let me know in the comments if you tried this and what you thought of it.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, start with the apples. Cut the apples into quarters and de-core them (remove seeds and ends, no need to peel the skin). Using a mandoline, thinly slice 2-3 apples (depending on the size of your ham). Reserve these slices to be inserted between the slices of the ham. For the remaining apples, use the thicker setting on the mandoline. These slices will go on the bottom of the baking dish.
Place the thick slices of apple on the bottom of a large baking dish. Place the ham on top of the apples, cut-side down. Add the thinly sliced apples between each slice of ham (usually 2-3 slices of apples will fit for each layer).
In a bowl, mix the brown sugar and the apple pie spices mix together.
Using your hands, rub the mustard all over the ham (including the slices of apples sticking out from the ham). Next, rub the sugar and spice mixture all over the ham (like you did with the mustard). [You may or may not use all of the mustard/sugar mix. Use enough to liberally cover the entire ham.]
Add the orange juice to the bottom of the baking dish. Make sure there is enough orange juice to cover the entire bottom of the dish. If not enough, add more orange juice.
Bake 10 minutes for every pound of ham (for a 16 pound ham, that is 160 minutes). Let the ham bake for 1 hour. After the first hour, begin basting the ham using the juices at the bottom of the baking dish every 20 minutes until the ham is done.
Remove ham from oven. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. When serving, use the apple gravy at the bottom of the baking dish to add a little oompf to your amazing ham.
I have been contemplating for some time the direction I want this site to go (and veer it away from oblivion). I was in Barnes & Noble back in July (a rare appearance inside an actual store) and came across a magazine called “Daphne’s Diary.” I flipped through it thinking this is exactly what I wanted.
I showed it to my friends exclaiming that I finally found exactly what I was looking for. The next challenge was figuring out how I could take those elements and translate it into an actual blog.
I started writing out the things I do each day and the things I attribute to learning how to be a little better at life each day. There were things I wrote down that I wanted to share with people. Matthew’s craziness is always part of my story. I also like to share what I’m watching and reading.
As I started to map my days out on paper, I started to see the blog post coming to life. That is, it was the blog post I’ve been wanting to showcase on this site.
Then a few new collaborations hit my email box and I realized that my idea that’s been churning in my head was being delivered to me. I now have the right tools I was looking for to start creating the blog I wanted.
So I talk about my Saturday.
When I say that I made a rare appearance in a store, it’s actually factual. I rarely if ever go inside of a store. I have everything delivered to me all the way down to my groceries.
I don’t do my own laundry. There is a service that takes care of that for me. It is the best gift I’ve ever given to myself. I can’t explain how much time this has given back to my life. Plus, they return everything folded in the KonMari style! It is way better than I could ever do.
The farmers market is a bit of a community thing. Sometimes I take Matthew with me so he can play with the little kids. They love him. I used to go every weekend, but as time goes on, I just have Amazon bring me my fruits and vegetables. It saves me so much time.
I also made a stop to donate two bags of groceries to the Food Bank. I’m very active in NYC when it comes to helping feed people in the community. I try to order the special deals Amazon Fresh offers (free boxes of Cheerios) and load up on deals so I can donate them to the community food bank. I also volunteer my time at the warehouse and the local food bank.
As for my crazy Matthew…we’ve had a bit of a dilemma when he goes out these days.
When he hangs out in the sticker bushes, I end up spending the rest of the day pulling them out one by one. This adventure was the worst one. They were so deeply embedded in his paws, he was bleeding.
Boy, did I have my work cut out for me.
In the graphic, I give you a few tips I use at home, especially when it comes to food and my kitchen.
I upcycle glass spaghetti and peanut butter jars. I keep an array of sizes. I like to keep small jars to carry salad dressing in. The peanut butter jars are used to transport bowls of soup for lunch.
If you choose to upcycle, I recommend keeping jars with wide openings. It makes it easier to ladle soup, sauces, etc. into them. Also, for those who are part of the Mason Jar craze, why buy new jars when you probably have jars in your pantry already?
When I cut up veggies, I also keep them in jars. I don’t like to use plastic in my kitchen and these glass jars come in very handy.
Prepping fruits and veggies will help you tremendously in the kitchen. Also, keeping track of what you put into your fridge is important to help avoid spoilage. I keep a dry/erase board next to the fridge to keep track of the meals I’ve already made, as well as all of the fruits and veggies that I purchased and need to eat.
When you prep your veggies, keep a few of the scraps for broth. I usually keep cabbage and onion ends to throw into my broth. More on that in a later post…
How many times have you sat in your favorite restaurant, eating your favorite dish, wondering how you can make this dish? Six Sisters’ Stuff has taken the guess work out of it for you and have launched their new cookbook: “Copycat Cooking.”
From Olive Garden’s breadsticks, In-N-Out Burgers and Animal Fries to Universal Studios’ Butter Beer, they have the recipes. Before you ask yourself if the recipes taste exactly like the dish, I’ve taken that guess work out of it for you.
I made Red Lobster Shrimp Linguine, a Dairy Queen Blizzard and The Cheesecake Factory’s Sun-Dried Tomato Fettucine. All I can say is…I can understand now why there are thousands of calories in these dishes! Oh, and yes, each recipe tasted exactly like the real thing.
Red Lobster Shrimp Linguine
Dairy Queen Blizzard
Cheesecake Factory Sun-Dried Tomato Fettucine
My favorite (and Matthew Lucifer’s) is by far the Red Lobster Shrimp Linguine. We gobbled that dish up quickly.
I couldn’t believe how simple it was to make a Dairy Queen Blizzard. It is literally all about the process of mixing two ingredients: the ice cream and cookie/candy.
As for the Cheesecake Factory’s Sun-Dried Tomato Fettucine, I saved the best for last. Over this last week, I asked for people to vote (on Instagram & Twitter) for the recipe they wanted of the three. The picture with the most likes, would be the recipe I would share. The Cheesecake Factory recipe was the winner.
Two Recipes for the Price of One
Before I share this recipe, I want you to also consider an alternative recipe. While I was waiting for the noodles to finish cooking, I kept tasting the sauce, remarking how this would make an excellent tomato soup. The more I thought about it, I realized…yes, this would make for an amazing tomato soup. What makes this unique as a tomato soup is none other than the sun-dried tomatoes. It adds a unique flavor that makes it almost addictive.
So when you make this recipe, note that it can serve as either an amazing soup or a pasta dish.
On to the Other Recipes
I can’t wait to make the In-N-Out Burger and Animal Fries this weekend. This will be my answer to my lack of visits to the West Coast.
For those who are watching their wallets, this may be your answer to eating out. Just make these dishes on special occasions. It may be less on the wallet, but thick on the waistlines. But oh so good.
Cook fettucine according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water; set aside. While pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute garlic for 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar, stirring until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in cream and sour cream. Let simmer and thicken for 5 minutes. Add spinach to sauce and cook until wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. If sauce is too thick, use reserved pasta water to thin it out. Add pasta to prepared sauce and toss until coated.
I am a big fan of the Today Show on NBC. When I was given the opportunity to review Siri Daly’s cookbook “Siriously Delicious,” I was so excited. The recipes she cooks up on the Today Show always have my mouth watering.
It is one thing to watch her make these recipes, it is quite another to experience her creations. This book is filled with recipes for the healthy eaters to the not so healthy eaters. For those who have special diets like Glow 15, Whole 30, vegetarian or vegan, she has you covered with so many options.
One thing that she points out in her “Spinach, Chickpea, and Tomato Frittata” recipe is that some of these recipes were borne out of finding what she had around her kitchen, especially on those days when the fridge was practically empty. Keeping that in mind, you have permission to swap out ingredients to go with either what you have or to match what your diet allows.
One recipe you will want to try is her recipe for Greek Nachos. Although, when I made this, I discovered my Feta had gone bad, so I substituted it with Bleu Cheese and it was amazing!
This recipe is perfect for at home tailgating or just about any party. Never mind that they’re super healthy!
I made her Buddha Bowl, but went with what I had and stuck to my Glow 15 lifestyle. Instead of wild or brown rice, I used black rice with coconut oil. Instead of broccolini, I used lemon braised kale. I had some roasted butternut squash leftover, so I opted to use that instead. The avocado? Well, that’s the Avocado Glow version (from Glow 15). The only thing that stayed true to her recipe were the chickpeas…and I highly recommend making the chickpeas. I used her original recipe as a guide to building my own Buddha Bowl and I have to say it was absolutely delicious!
When I saw the Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts recipe, I knew I had to try this and this recipe did not disappoint. It was so good.
Another favorite recipe is her Miso Tzatziki. I never would have thought to put miso and tzatziki together. I mean, it was excellent!
When I made Siri’s recipes, it happened to be on my no to low protein day, so basically my vegetarian day. My cheat day was the next day so I tried to make the Daly Fried Chicken to an epic fail. I have to go back and try to make it again. There were several mistakes I made. The first one being that I did not notice that the drumsticks did not have their skins when I dumped them into the buttermilk (damn Whole Foods). My second mistake was trying to use coconut flour instead of all-purpose flour (I ran out of all-purpose flour). So the next time I want to try the fried chicken recipe again, I am sticking to the recipe.
I will be trying her Buffalo Baked Cauliflower, Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps and Spinach Balls this weekend.
If you want a recipe book that is packed with delicious healthy (and not so healthy) recipes that are packed with flavor, this is the book for you. It is family friendly, and includes plenty of recipes for the various diets and lifestyles out there. If you are a foodie (like me), you will be happy with how every single dish is bursting with flavor.
The majority of the recipes are very simple to make, but more importantly, it is designed to cater to what you have in your home. So many of the ingredients can be swapped out for like ingredients, which means you do not have to adhere 100% to the recipe. Siri had that in mind when she put this cookbook together, because when you have a family of 5 waiting for dinner, you can’t always drop everything to run out and get a missing ingredient. She gives you a guidebook on how to create each dish, but knows you may need to work with what you’ve got.
Since the publisher shared her Greek Nachos recipe on Amazon, I am going to share it here as well. Like the book says, if you make anything in this book, let it be the Greek Nachos. I highly agree with that statement!
Make the Dressing: Whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth.
Make the Nachos: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut each pita into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Brush the pita wedges with the oil and sprinkle with the paprika and salt. Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the pita wedges from the oven. Increase the heat to a high broil. Sprinkle the wedges with the feta, bell pepper, and red onion. Broil until the cheese starts to melt, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Sprinkle with the tomato, olives, and chives. Transfer the dressing to a squeeze bottle, or spoon into a plastic ziptop bag and snip 1 corner to make a small hole. Drizzle the nachos with your desired amount of dressing. Reserve any remaining dressing for another use.
To make this more kid-friendly, top the toasted pita with store-bought hummus, feta, and diced avocado.
When you try this version of Pisto Manchego, you will wonder why this stew was not a regular go to soup for you.
What makes this Spanish dish so amazingly tasty is that it really is a labor of love to complete. This vegetarian stew takes more than two hours to make. And guess what? It is every bit worth the wait.
When I made this stew, I had just run out of olive oil and was waiting for Amazon Fresh to deliver more to me. I decided to use what I had, so I reached for ghee (clarified butter) as a substitute. That ended up being the smartest decision I could make as a substitution. The ghee was the difference to propel this dish to foodie standards.
If you don’t want to use ghee, use extra virgin olive oil. It won’t taste as good as it would with ghee, but EVOO is a perfect substitute.
Ghee is clarified butter, best known as an ingredient in many Indian dishes. This butter is used in many Whole 30 and Keto compliant recipes.
Because ghee is gaining popularity thanks to new diets and lifestyles, it is becoming much easier to find it on the shelves at local grocery stores. I recommend finding a local Indian grocer and walking around their aisles to find ghee.
My local Indian grocer has the best produce (better than regular supermarkets), and so many wonderful products. I would not have seen ghee on the shelves if my brother hadn’t pointed it out to me. I grabbed a tub and I’m very thankful that I did.
In French dishes, you’ll find that they call for a lot of butter. Butter just makes everything taste better. But try ghee…you may find this butter is on a whole other level.
This recipe calls for roasted garlic. If you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry. It is super easy to make. All you need is a head of garlic and olive oil.
I recommend roasting your own garlic, because it will add to the overall flavor of this dish.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut off the top of the garlic head and take as much of the outer skin off as you can, leaving at least a layer of skin on the garlic.
Wrap aluminum foil around the garlic, leaving the top portion open (but enough foil to cover the top).
Drizzle a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over the top, covering all of the cut, exposed garlic cloves. Cover the top of the bulb with aluminum foil.
Place covered clove on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 40 minutes, or until cloves feel soft.
Prepare roasted garlic (per instructions in blog post).
While garlic is roasting, prep ingredients.
After the roasted garlic is done, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large pot over moderate heat. Add onions, fresh garlic and roasted garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent (8 minutes).
Add bell peppers and zucchini. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir often.
Add white wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons (5 minutes).
Reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes, simmer for 30 minutes, until majority of the juices have evaporated (leave a little bit of juice, or if you prefer a more 'stewlike' soup, cook until all of the juices have evaporated).
Add salt (season to your liking).
Stir in vinegar, parsley and remaining ghee during last two minutes of cooking.
Transfer pisto to bowls and add shredded manchego cheese on top. Enjoy!
It’s been a long time since I did a country focused post. I needed to explore a new cuisine I’ve never made (or tried) before. I asked a friend which country I should focus on this time and she came up with Spain! So over this last month, I focused on making and trying out several Spanish recipes. Today, I am going to share my favorite of the bunch, a tapas recipe featuring Spanish Shrimp in Olive Oil (Gambas al Ajillo).
This dish is best served alongside some crusty bread (I sopped up this dish with a Rosemary & Olive Oil loaf). This dish was so amazingly good, it got Matthew Lucifer’s paw of approval. He does not like to eat human food often, so it always surprises me when he discovers a dish he likes. [Although, the boy does love him some sugar.]
Apparently, he loves shrimp. Who knew? He won’t eat pork in any way shape or form. For the longest time, I thought he might be Jewish…until he inhaled all of that shrimp. (Disclosure: Pics below are not from this latest taste test.)
I found this recipe on Food & Wine. I have to say that this recipe is going to be an absolute keeper in my recipe book.
Some modifications…if you can get fresh shrimp…great! But if you can’t, purchase frozen shrimp with the tails (I used frozen for this recipe). Also, make your life a little easier by making sure you purchase the shrimp already shelled and deveined.
About Olive Oil
Make sure that you use high quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. It seems like there is a widespread epidemic where it is becoming more and more difficult to find real olive oil in America. I tried a brand from California for this recipe, but it is nothing like a good 100% Italian olive oil.
For those who don’t know, there are a lot of fake olive oils on the market. Read the back of the label. Sometimes you’ll find that there are several different types of oils in that “olive oil” packaging, plus food coloring. That is not olive oil. It is fake olive oil. The Italian Mafia have been sending over a lot of fake olive oil and selling it on the US market to even the most well known food distributors in America, passing it off as if it is the real thing. Many of the major name brands are guilty of being fakes. It’s a billion dollar con.
The only legit olive oil I’ve been able to find is at the olive bar at my local Food Emporium in Manhattan. I usually put a few olives in the container and then ladle up as much of the olive oil as I can. Weird, I know. Other good places to get olive oil are shops that specialize in olive oil. That way you can sample the olive oil before you purchase.
According to this article, if you find olive oil from Australia or Chile, buy it. They are the most stringent countries putting out the best and purest extra virgin olive oil.
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of salt. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, combine garlic and olive oil, cooking over moderately LOW heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is very fragrant and just starts to turn brown (8-10 minutes). Add chile and cook, stirring until fragrant (15-30 seconds).
Add shrimp to the skillet, stirring and turning the shrimp occasionally, until barely pink (5 minutes). Stir in parsley, sherry, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Remove from heat. Let stand until shrimp is cooked through (3-5 minutes). Serve in the skillet with crusty bread.
I am happy to announce that I am now an Amazon influencer. You will be able to shop my favorite picks and finds that I feature both here and on social media directly through Amazon.
If you check out Amazon.com, you may notice Cosmopolitan magazine appears with their own influencer page like the one below.
Influencer pages are a new and unique way to help our readers and followers find and purchase items we love or feature in our publications and on our social media accounts. If you are not already in love with Amazon, you may fall in love now that they are tapping your favorite influencers to work with.
This month, I am featuring my favorite picks for Valentine’s Day. Ladies, if you are looking for something to wear on date night, I got you.
For those wanting to know which kitchen gadgets I am using this year as I focus on my Love Yourself campaign, I have those listed. For those looking for the perfect gifts for your favorite cooks, I highly suggest the Instant Pot and the Click and Grow. You can find those items on my Amazon Page. [I will be talking more about the Instant Pot and Click and Grow in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!]
One thing I am asked a lot from the people at Amazon is what gadget I am using, especially when it comes to cameras. Amazon is getting ready to launch a new camera made specifically with influencers and fashion minded folks in mind. It’s not on the market yet, but keep a lookout for it. It’s listed on my Amazon Page (Echo Look).
When I get home tonight, it should be waiting for me, along with my groceries. And yes, I shop exclusively with Amazon Fresh for all of my grocery needs. Since they purchased Whole Foods and lowered the prices, they’ve improved the grocery selections for Fresh customers.
For the books I’ve read so far this year, you will be able to find them on my Amazon Page. My favorite beauty products are also listed. As many beauty products as I test out, I am only listing my favorites and items I use regularly that I swear by.
When I finish my kitchen update, you will understand why I listed a few home improvement products. It is perfect for the apartment dwellers who hate the way their kitchen looks. In other words, those products are a sneak peek into upcoming content here on the site.
I am very happy with this new collaboration. Amazon has been very helpful over these past few years when it comes to PW. They’ve helped me with the little details (like those ‘how in the hell do I do this’ questions). They are also the ones responsible for helping me set up the design of the PW Book Club page.
As a loyal customer of Amazon, I am amazed at what they come out with to make my life easier. As far as this site is concerned, I can’t even begin to tell you how much this company has been great to work with. They are so helpful. The fact they are creating products designed with influencers in mind, we may be seeing the beginning of the next phase for influencers.
When you think of French literature, one book that comes to mind is the famous children’s classic, The Little Prince(or Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. What most people do not know is that this classic was written and first published in New York City.
The Morgan Library and Museum in NYC recently had an exhibition showcasing the American side of the story. The story’s origins and how the exhibition came to be…that is a bit of a remarkable story.
As he prepared to leave the city to rejoin the war effort as a reconnaissance pilot, Saint-Exupéry appeared at his friend Silvia Hamilton’s door wearing his military uniform. “I’d like to give you something splendid,” he said, “but this is all I have.” He tossed a rumpled paper bag onto her entryway table. Inside were the manuscript and drawings for The Little Prince, which the Morgan acquired from her in 1968.
I loved this part of their description of the story:
his beloved story that reminds us that what matters most can only be seen with the heart.
When I was in Paris a few years ago, I spent some time on the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) perusing titles in bookstores, especially around Sorbonne. Beyond picking up a few Moliére and other French classics, my mission was to find Le Petit Prince, which I found in a ‘newer’ bookstore (like Barnes & Noble).
I wanted to read the book the way it was meant to be read: in French. Luckily, you don’t have to buy the book if you want to read it in French. It’s available via PDF online.
After I finish Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” I’ll be opening up my copy of Le Petit Prince to enjoy all over again.
Blogs to Read
I have a few favorite bloggers that cover the topic of France and the French lifestyle.
1. Paris in Four Months: This Swedish lady, Carin, spent four months in Paris to learn the language before returning back home to Stockholm. She began to miss Paris so she moved there in 2013 and started a brand new adventure. Through her photo blog, I came to fall in love with the way she saw beauty. She shares that beauty in her photos. They’re all so beautiful. One of her subjects (or models) has her own blog: Gary Pepper. If you want to fall in love with beauty…follow both of these blogs. It’s a little bit of breathtaking beauty every single day. [Fashion/Lifestyle/Photography]
2. French Country Cottage: The key to a fabulous blog all lies within the pictures. It’s like looking in a magazine. That’s what you’ll find here at the French Country Cottage. I also follow her on Twitter because there are pointers and photos and conversations going on that for those who love home decor and beautiful home decor, will be genuinely pleased with what she offers. [Home/Entertaining]
3. French Revolution: Born and raised in New York with a French mom (who loves food and to cook) and a father who has a love for great food? I give you French Revolution. Highly recommended for those who love a good story to go along with a recipe. She loves her food, so that means she loves good food. A must follow. [Food]
4. Oh So French: What is it about the French lifestyle that makes us feel so glamorous? Whatever that je ne sais quoi is, you, too can live it up like the French with me this month. Oh So French shows you how. [Lifestyle]
5.Jen Reviews: At Jen Reviews, Jen has come up with 15 classic essential French dishes that everyone should learn how to master. She takes you through all 15 recipes from Bouillabaisse to ratatouille and the Croque-Monsieur (my favorite). If you want to challenge yourself in the kitchen and learn how to cook French food, this is an excellent place to start. [Lifestyle, Food, Health, Travel]
How many classical French literature books have you read in your lifetime? As I was perusing the Goodreads.com list, I noticed I not only have read a lot of them, but I own the majority of them. That’s a lot. Considering I don’t feel like I’ve read a lot of classical literature books, it ends up the majority of the classical literature I gravitated towards were all French.
Here are some of my favorites I highly recommend:
The Stranger (Albert Camus)
Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) [Note: this book is steamy]
Les Misérables (Victor Hugo) [I love this story]
Tartuffe (Moliére) [Everyone needs to read Moliére. This was the first play I ever read from him]
Candide (Voltaire) [I don’t even know why I liked this book, but I remember reading it one summer while I was in college and felt wiser because I had.]
For those wanting a bit of French culture and great literature, I highly recommend The Paris Wife (Random House Reader’s Circle Deluxe Reading Group Edition): A Novel. This is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife. I read this book before I went to Paris last time. I ended up going around Paris trying to see the city through the eyes of Hemingway. A literary adventure is always the best adventure to take while traveling. My favorite moment was walking into Shakespeare & Company (the place where Hemingway ordered all of his English/American books) to see photos of Hemingway and his son as soon as you walk in. To think that Hemingway once stood in this store, perusing titles, talking to the owners…you can’t help but feel more connected to him. As a writer, it’s chicken soup for our souls. A definite MUST READ.
What are some of your favorite French reads?
When I’m in Paris, I always spend time in bookstores looking for French books and classics. One author I am constantly looking for is Goethe…the man who made Faust what it is today. Goethe is a German writer, but his works have been transcribed into French. I am always looking for any version of his work in French, but as close to the original date of first publication. I was fortunate to find a piece from the 1800s the last time I was in Paris.
When I returned to the US, I happened upon an antiques street festival and came across the original Goethe works in German. The binding had to be replaced, but the inside was pristine. I snatched up every single book, took it to the register and they said $5.
So I walked away a happy customer, because I had finally found the books I had spent countless hours looking for while I was in Europe. One woman realized what I had and chased me down the street trying to purchase them off of me. I looked at her funny and walked away. When you’ve spent years looking for something and you finally find it, there’s no way you’re going to ever give it up.
I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for such a long time. Amazon Prime put three racks of ribs into my hands last week, and I knew it was time to share my recipe for Slow Cooker Portuguese Ribs.
First, for those who are Amazon Prime subscribers and live in or near a major city, sign up for the Amazon Treasure Truck texts [signup is located at the top of the linked page]. The morning the Treasure Truck is in town, they will send you a text with their current deal. If you want the deal, just click on the special link in the text, select the time and location that works for you based on where the truck will be, checkout, then meet up with the truck.
Before Halloween, their special deal was a 160 piece bag of candy and a pumpkin of your choosing for $8. The candy alone usually goes for $18, the pumpkin for $13. Talk about an excellent deal!
Last Friday, I got three racks of ribs for $15.50. That is a great price considering they usually go for $8+ per package.
So with three racks of ribs, I decided to finally share this recipe. I took one picture of the ribs before Surita (Matthew’s 19 year old sister) destroyed the set. Matthew came running in after it happened. He’s usually a great set assistant, not so much on recipe days. Surita devoured the ribs. As skinny as she is, I have no idea where she puts it.
Luckily, I did get to try it before she ate them. So mouth watering good!
In the original recipe, Tia Maria bakes the ribs. So if you want to go the old school method, or throw them on the grill, follow her recipe. If you want to go the slow cooker route, follow the recipe below.
The Slow Cooker Recipe
Unlike most slow cooker recipes, this isn’t a dump into the crock pot, wait a few hours and then it’s done. This is a process (but very simple). What you’ll wind up with in the end is the juiciest, mouth watering, meat falling off the bone, best pork spare ribs you’ve ever tasted.
This recipe is adapted for the slow cooker from Tia Maria’s original recipe. Only the BBQ sauce stays true to her recipe. Please note that if you want to bake or grill, please follow Tia Maria’s recipe in the link.
Fashion. Books. Home. Food. DIY. These are all things this site promises to deliver, but it has not really lived up to doing just that. Or perhaps, it was something I always wanted to deliver, but needed some sort of direction on how I would deliver that to you.
When people ask me about this site, I never really passionately talk about it. Perfectionist Wannabe has not been in a place I was proud of yet. I was honest about that with the people I met. I did not know how to find that sweet spot where I was content with what I was putting out there.
So I went on a mission to discover what exactly I loved about magazines. Blogs were no longer the answer to what I was looking for.
The Bold Type
As I flipped through a stack of magazines, Freeform’s The Bold Type, a show about three young women working for a fashion magazine, played in the background. The show centers around a writer, a secretary turned stylist, and a social media director. As the girls go from one disaster to another, it is the wisdom of their editor that resonates.
1) Write from your own perspective in life.
2) Print is dying. The electronic age is making print media obsolete, so it is important to focus only on that.
Taking these two points, I began to see a clearer vision of what I wanted.
To get a better handle on how book reviews should be done, I went to the best source: O Magazine. As I read through the book reviews, I saw the importance of writing about experiencing the book. Describing feelings eloquently is what ultimately gets people to read a book.
I read about one reviewer’s morning before she even sat down to read the book. She made me experience her morning with her. There was nothing extraordinary about it. Her morning was a regular morning, just like anyone else’s morning. But by the time she sat down to read the book, I wanted to read whatever she was reading, even though she told me so little about the book.
What made this particular review stand out is that it was written incredibly well. That is the beauty in writing a good review. The writer made me see reviews, not just book reviews, in a whole new light.
Finally, it began to occur to me what I was unhappy with. I was dissatisfied with the voice I used on this site. I was mimicking other bloggers and what they were doing instead of focusing on what I ultimately wanted to do with this site.
In the back of my mind, my friends who are well read, played in the back of my mind. Their comments on fast literature (i.e. the books saturating our market), started to bring me down. As much as I shared their opinions on great literature, it made me ask if what I write is great literature. Would they even think I was good enough?
This is where that sense of wanting to be perfect comes in. There is that fear of never being good enough for my friends to recommend my work to others. They are brutally honest (which I respect and need). What if what I was doing did not live up to their standards?
In our opinion, discovering an author or a book that is well written is difficult to find these days. If you think about blogs in this context, it is not so often you will come across a lot of well written blogs.
Magazines and newspapers house many of the best writers that live up to these standards. Yet, these types of publications are failing because of the saturation of mediocre or poorly written content flooding the market. That means there are a lot of incredible writers out there that go undiscovered by the masses.
There are a lot of blogs out there I love that are both inspiring and beautiful. I like their brand. Even though many of these bloggers are the first of their kind in their niche markets, there are many who try to emulate that same voice, which in turn creates a problem. That brand’s voice is copied, and then it becomes overdone, watering down the original voice. I know, because this site started to do the same thing. I ultimately did not want that.
The direction this site lacked was always something very simple. It was missing my voice and the way I wanted to write and present my views of the world. I spent too much time trying to be like the other bloggers. As a result, I forgot why I created this site to begin with…to share my own adventure into learning how to be a better version of myself.
A Sense of Direction
Most noteworthy of this entire adventure are the opportunities that presented itself to me over these past few years. From Martha Stewart’s American Made to Tribeca Film Festival to Book Expo America (BEA), the universe gave me every single tool I needed to discover how to create my vision for Perfectionist Wannabe.
As a result of those experiences, I learned that even though I believe I am not doing enough, the industry communicated the exact opposite. Publishers explained to me at BEA that I was doing the right thing. I did exactly what they were looking for in order to work with them. They decided who they were allowing into the BEA this year, and I was among the select few they allowed in. [Of all the publishers I spoke with, they only counted three bloggers that were allowed to attend, unlike previous years where the expo was saturated with bloggers.]
What all of these incredible experiences tell me is that I was always on the right track.
I finally had an AHA! moment somewhere between flipping through the magazines and binge watching The Bold Type. This site is my resumé. In the end, this site is about a brand. These past few years of discovery was about defining that brand. That is the only thing it’s been about. In a sense, this site is turning into a better version of itself.
So what can you look forward to? Better content. More continuous posts. A more active social media experience. Better inspiration. More importantly, my voice.
A Spiralizer is the most important tool to have in your kitchen arsenal if you want to eat healthier. Swap out spaghetti with zucchini noodles, make different types of rice, etc. You can read more about my love for the spiralizer here. [Amazon]
I am not a huge meatball fan. That is, not until I tried this recipe. There are two ways you can try this recipe, you can either stuff them with cheese or go sans cheese.
The bonus to this recipe is that it is a crockpot recipe. During the summer months, I try to stay away from the oven and find other methods to cook up delicious meals. This recipe takes 15 minutes or so to prep. The end result is everything.
You can eat the meatballs with spaghetti or zoodles. I am a huge fan of making meatball subs with them to add a little variety.
I recommend doing a mix of cheese stuffed meatballs with regular meatballs. The cheese gives the marinara sauce an extra oompf. Feel free to experiment with different cheeses. When I do a mix, I cut up one mozzarella cheese stick and stuff the meatballs with that. I am considering trying this recipe with pepper jack cheese some day.
I recommend starting with the basic recipe first so you can really get the feel for how amazing this recipe is. Later, feel free to experiment with different cheeses. Also, if you are a mushroom fan, feel free to dump a small can on top with the marinara sauce.
This recipe was originally posted by Tasty (Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs).
With your hands, mix all of the ingredients together.
Scoop up a small portion and create a small ball by rolling the meat around in your hands. Place in crockpot.
After all of the meatballs have been placed in the crockpot, add the marinara sauce on top.
Cook on high for 2.5-3 hours.
*If you are making stuffed cheese meatballs, follow these additional instructions.
[All Cheese Stuffed meatballs = 1 pound of cheese.
Small Batches = use cheese sticks.]
[Note: Best cheese to use is mozzarella, but feel free to try other kinds of cheeses like cheddar or pepper jack.]
A. Cut up the cheese into small bite sized pieces.
B. After mixing the meatball ingredients from (#1-2) above, take a small amount of the meat mixture in the palm of your hand, place the cheese cube in the middle and roll the meat around it, forming a ball.
C. Place meatball in crockpot. Continue following instructions (#4-5) above.
My brother hates sweet potatoes and I don’t blame him. When we were kids, sweet potatoes were gross. The usual fixings that go along with the holiday feast made us want to gag. We always passed up the sweet potatoes.
Then one day about 15 years ago, I found a recipe for baked sweet potato fries. I made them for Thanksgiving and my brother couldn’t stop eating them. Later, I decided to up the ante and do something similar in a home fries version. I fell in love with sweet potatoes after I came up with this recipe.
Even Hockey Players Love It
When I first moved to NYC, I was invited to a former New York Islanders player’s home for Thanksgiving. His cousin was a friend of mine. I had no idea he was a former hockey player until halfway through the meal when we sat down to watch some hockey. I asked for the New York Rangers game and he almost kicked me out (jokingly).
As part of the pot luck, I brought my East Meets West Sweet Potatoes to the dinner. All I heard around me throughout the meal were people going on and on about the sweet potatoes. When Grandpa asked who made the sweet potatoes, I fessed up that it was me. Right then and there, I came up with a name for this dish: East Meets West Sweet Potatoes.
This recipe takes some of the Western ways of making sweet potatoes and mixes a bit of the Asian element into it. What you get is a much more flavorful version that has even the biggest haters of sweet potatoes turning into fans. Hey, my brother loves this dish and he hates sweet potatoes.
With the cooler fall temperatures here, it is time to shift our focus to pumpkins, squash, apples and more. For foodies, the best way to really enjoy the fall bounty is to start by roasting these autumn wonders. Even if you do not think you will like these fall vegetables, do not fret. I did not like them either…that is, not until I learned how to turn them into foodie approved dishes.
Roasted Stone Fruit
While peaches are on their way out this season, I was able to find some end of the season peaches. Peaches are very simple to roast (especially if they’re starting to go bad).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut peaches into eighths. Place on a baking sheet. Place the tray into the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
You can roast most stone fruits in the same manner, including apricots. No extra seasoning needed. The roasting helps bring out the flavors in the fruit.
Try roasted peaches with pork chops, on top of salads, or drenched in a bowl of almond milk (Matthew Lucifer’s favorite).
Probably one of the most annoying things about pumpkins, butternut squash and most of the fall harvest is the amount of work that goes into preparing the vegetable for consumption.
For those wanting to buy pumpkins to eat, I recommend buying the smaller pumpkins (less work and easier to manage). For those buying pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, I also have a few tips on what to do with the pumpkin guts.
Pumpkin Prep 101.
What you’ll need: cutting board, good knife, 2 baking sheets, and a bowl. If you are going to make the soup and curry below, instead of a bowl, use the crockpot.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut into the pumpkin, sectioning off a wedge at a time. Remove the guts and place it in the bowl, place the seeds on one of the baking sheets.
Remove the skin by cutting the skin off from the meat using your knife. Cut the pumpkin meat into bite sized pieces (similar to the photo above) and place on the other baking sheet.
After you have separated up the entire pumpkin, sprinkle sea salt on the pumpkin seeds.
For the pumpkin meat, make sure that all pieces are flat on the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the pieces and sprinkle salt and pepper on top.
Put both trays into the oven. Bake the pumpkin seeds for 8-10 minutes and then remove from the oven.
Bake the pumpkin meat for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven.
The roasted pumpkin serves as the base for multiple recipes. You can use the roasted pumpkin on top of salads (one of my favorite things to do), and use them in a soup.
So here is what you should have now: a tray of roasted pumpkin meat, a tray of pumpkin seeds and a bowl or crockpot full of pumpkin guts.
Here’s why we kept the guts…it’s for the Crockpot Thai Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) curry.
In the crockpot, place the pumpkin guts, chicken, kaffir lime leaves and butternut squash.
Pour the coconut milk over the ingredients in the crock pot.
In a small pot, bring the water to boil with the bullion cube. Add in the curry paste. Stir until the curry paste and bullion cube have completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the broth to the crockpot.
Turn on high and cook for 4-6 hours (until chicken is soft and falling off the bone).
When the chicken is falling off the bone, add the frozen green beans and cook for another 30 minutes.
Serve curry with rice, zucchini noodles, baked potato, or eat on its own.
Add some cilantro as a finishing touch.
Share this Recipe
Note that I didn’t have you use the entire butternut squash. Cut up the leftover butternut squash and roast it the same way you roasted the pumpkin. It’s really tasty on top of salads.
Now, there’s a soup recipe, you have to try. Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Harissa and Chickpeas from Real Simple. Since I’ve switched to a more paleo/Whole 30 lifestyle, I could not add the chickpeas to the recipe, so I substituted it with fresh spinach. The result? I got an “OMG, this is so flavorful!” from my test subject.
I am a believer in using as much of your food as you possibly can. With the pumpkin and butternut squash, it was easier to make all of the recipes at the exact same time. While the pumpkin and the seeds were roasting, I got the curry ready.
After the roasted pumpkin was ready, I replaced the tray of pumpkin with the tray of butternut squash. While the squash was roasting, I started on the soup.
I did not use all of the roasted pumpkin in the soup recipe. I reserved a lot of it for other recipes, but mainly for salads.
The roasting really brings out the flavor and makes everything taste so much better. The hard part is preparing the pumpkin and the butternut squash. Once you taste the result, the hard work was well worth it.
Happy autumn, everyone and I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I did.
Over this past week, I’ve been pondering what I would like to do with this site. My friends assisted me with the items they would like to see, as well as identifying the items they already liked about the site.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret…keeping up appearances for this site is very time consuming. I plan on changing that. My personal goal is to start posting on a daily basis. That means planning what will go up on this site well in advance.
Planning leads to doing. I started creating the content, cooking up recipes, taking the photographs, writing the posts and then began to feel overwhelmed.
As I was slicing up the pumpkins for the October recipes, I started to feel that pang in my gut. It was that pain of feeling stressed and overwhelmed as I was trying to do something right for myself. It’s that irony of the site’s name…wanting to be perfect.
I stopped what I was doing and re-evaluated why I was doing this. What was my current mindset? I realized I was stressing myself out and not enjoying the ride. If I didn’t change my mindset then I was going to end up with a bunch of crap meals. You see, I am of the belief that how you are feeling as you prepare your food is a direct correlation with how well your food will taste.
People who love to cook tend to make food taste incredible because you can taste their emotion in the food. I used to watch one chef create meals for me on a whim. I would watch him as he poured his love for food and cooking right into the meal. A simple fried egg tastes so different when such care is taken than one created with no emotion or feeling. It’s about passion and sharing that passion with someone else.
I didn’t want all of the food I was making to taste horrible, so I changed my mindset and focused on why I love to cook. As a result, everything turned out so well, my friend was surprised at how flavorful everything tasted.
Changing my mindset was all about reminding myself what I am passionate about and why.
I met with filmmaker Edwin Walker today for lunch. He is in town from LA filming a new movie. We met last year (see link to our story). There was something about the timing when we met last year. He mentioned to me that when we met, it was like a turning point in our lives. There was something about the direction our lives would take and the people we would become after our first meeting.
We became so inspired by each other to live life fully and passionately. Since we met, I have been trying to find my passion in life again. I only find that my passion comes when I write and when I am being myself and not focusing on what other people want from me.
You see, we live in a world filled with mediocrity and false lives. We struggle every single day to be perfect in our Instagram photos, Twitter, and all forms of social media. Reality TV makes people believe that these stories we see are real lives, when it’s just an act. We become depressed when we don’t have over a thousand friends or followers. We feel like we are failing at life when people are not following us or reading our work or we’re not getting hundreds of thousands of hits on our sites or Youtube videos.
Life for most people has become about the get rich quick schemes, becoming viral, and making a ton of money in the process. It’s not about creating a passion project and putting your blood, sweat and tears into it. It’s about the instant gratification, not the eternal happiness.
We have to constantly think of how to falsely entertain people to make you think that our lives are super glamorous, even when, for many people, it is not. People become superstars for portraying a life on reality TV, even though there is nothing real about their lives on that TV show.
It is like a drug addiction. It’s about that instant high that makes you feel happy for a moment, instead of working on what will make you happy for life.
People don’t watch real artistic movies or qualitative television programming anymore. They’re flocking to the latest ‘explosive’ blockbuster where it’s very little script, and more action with everything blowing up every other minute. The shows that make you think are constantly being canceled.
Children don’t go home and watch cartoons for half an hour like I did when I was a kid. They watch four-minute Youtube videos for entertainment, because they can’t sit through a half hour cartoon anym