Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Keep in Touch on Facebook...

I have been so busy living the Beautiful Life that I have not had much time to post on this blog.  I am still trying new recipes, enjoying great cocktails and collecting tips to make life more beautiful though.  I will do all I can to get more things up online, including some great things leading up to Thanksgiving.

But there is another great way to keep up with the fun I am having.  Follow the Life Should Be Beautiful Facebook page.  I post on there almost every day.  Recipe links.  Photos.  Tips.  Words to the wise.  All sorts of goodies.  Follow it today and join in the fun!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lemony Cucumber Salad

Cukes hang out in our fridge all the time.  They are ubiquitous in salads.  I love them on sandwiches of all kinds.  And they take to vinegar and salt like chips to dip.  So I mix them with other veggies and herbs and eat them as a snack or a healthy side item for lunch all the time.

Here's a perfect example.

Lemony Cucumber Salad
From Cooking Light.
Makes 8 servings.

1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 English cucumbers, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine lemon rind and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour over cucumber mixture; toss well to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato-Basil Sauce

I have learned that there is one major enemy in my ongoing weight loss attempts...

Carbs. At least the processed starchy kind.

I don't really crave them, but bread, rice and pasta are the things that bloat me up and pack on the pounds the quickest.  So I look for the high-fiber, whole-grain alternatives.  The bread I actually enjoy, but whole wheat pasta and brown rice are not on my list of favorites.  

The veggie world offers a pretty plausible substitute when you're having an Italian craving.  Try this recipe and then adapt to your liking.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato-Basil Sauce
From Cooking Light.
Makes 6 servings.

1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
6 tablespoons shredded pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds; discard. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until tender.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in 1/3 cup basil.

Cool squash at room temperature for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands to measure about 5 cups. Divide squash evenly among 6 plates; top each serving with about 1/3 cup sauce and 1 tablespoon cheese. Top with remaining basil.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Classic Returns: Poppy Seed Dressing

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I am working to lose some poundage.  That means lots more fruits and veggies..some days with nothing but fruits and veggies.

But I am NOT the type to be happy having steamed veggies and salads all day.  So I look for tricks that will entice me to eat what I should.  I have discovered that poppy seed dressing is one such trick.

I make a big batch of the recipe at this post.  (Read it all to learn the Neiman-Marcus genesis of the recipe.) I take the jar to work and leave it in the fridge.  When mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack time comes around, I smear a tablespoonful or so on the bottom of the bowl and drop in a big handful of halved strawberries.  Provides just enough sweet and sour tang (and yes, I know, sugar and fat) to make strawberries something I could eat everyday.  And a MUCH better alternative to a handful of pretzels or potato chips.

Try it and see what you think....

Monday, October 08, 2012

Back in the Saddle: Garlic Confit

Did you miss me?  Sorry to have been so scarce around here. Still cooking and cocktailing and enjoying the beautiful life.  Just so busy doing it that I haven't had time to come on and blog about it. I'll try to do better in the weeks to come.  And already have preloaded some great Thanksgiving posts that you won't want to miss.

Part of what has taken my time lately is the new (again) health kick I am on.  Eating well (and less) and exercising more.  Down 10 pounds in a month.  Hopefully I will keep with the trend...and I will definitely share some of the recipes and tips I'm learning.

This post shows you a good way to add a kick of flavor to the things you cook every night.  I found myself with a surplus of garlic the other day and decided to try this one.  It's easy and delicious.  Use a spoonful of the flavor boost in pasta after you've drained it, veggies after you've steamed them, or even as a sandwich spread. It makes mashed potatoes garlicky and, of course, is perfect for garlic bread.  Refrigerated, it will keep for up to 4 months.

Garlic Confit
From Food & Wine Magazine.
Makes 3 cups.

6 heads of garlic, cloves peeled (2 cups)
6 thyme sprigs
3 small bay leaves
3 dried red chiles, such as chiles de arbol
2 cups pure olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat until the garlic is tender but not browned, about 30 minutes. Let cool.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic, herbs and chiles to three 1/2-pint canning jars. Pour the cooking oil on top, seal and refrigerate for up to 4 months.