My Superbowl Spread

chili

February. The most hated month of the year. There are really only a couple of bright spots and one of them is Superbowl. Even if you aren’t into football or your team never makes it (goddamn Jets), the Superbowl is more about good food, fun commercials and of course the puppybowl.

My friends had their annual Chili Cook-off last weekend. This is easily one of my favorite parties of the year. These people are from Kansas and take their chili very seriously. They get really creative and always delicious and lucky me I get to be a judge :). This year I am taking my favorites from the Chili Cook-off parties and translating it into the perfect Superbowl menu.

Last year’s chili winner, a White Chili,  is hands down my favorite chili ever (sorry Mom). I am obsessed!!  Kellie kicked it up by using ghost peppers and made it amazingly spicy.  So delicious. Great now I’m hungry.  I’ve been threatening to make this chili for the past year and never got around to it.  This weekend is the perfect time to finally make it and really impress people.

buffalo

 

This year for the party I entered my Buffalo Chicken meatballs in the sides competition.  Buffalo anything is usually a huge crowd pleaser.  These meatballs are no different and they are a healthy and easier version of wings.  That is until you dip the whole thing in ranch.  This is my go to recipe because it has about 3-4 ingredients and takes a little over two hours.  Just make sure to make enough because people love them and 24 meatballs go quick.

 

Now that I have my menu down the only thing to do is decide between Panthers or Broncos.  The Panther colors are much better but I love Peyton! Decisions, decisions.

&t

Sunday Detox: Single Tasking

multi6

Our culture – particularly work culture – tends to fetishize multitasking.  In this always ON world, I hear a lot of people proudly tout their ability to multitask and name it as one of the reasons for their professional success or a reason they’d hire one person over another.

But, as most of us know, it’s actually physically impossible to do more than one activity at once.  There’s a ton of research on this, but if you want a quick snapshot check out this quick video.  Your brain and body are just shifting their focus from one task to the next more frequently – from email, to messaging, to reading an article, or whatever set of activities you fill your day with.  And we end up paying less attention to each task, make more mistakes, and come out of the whole situation less accomplished and fulfilled.

Sounds dumb.

But it’s hard to avoid the onslaught of demands for your time, at the same time – the pings, email notifications, phone calls, chores and obligations.  And over time, it starts to erode our ability to actually deeply focus on any one thing because we become so programmed to shifting in between different activities so quickly.  I’ve definitely felt myself in these places, where I am impatient and furiously swiping on my phone in search of…nothing.  Not good.

I try to build practices into the weekdays that help me fight the tidal wave, to varied success.  One thing that I’ve found helpful is to train, or re-train, my mind to stay in one place, on one activity, during the weekend – where my time is much more my own.

  • Half-techie shut down:  Sometimes I need to completely unplug and just shut down all technology (see Taryn’s Screenless Saturday for the benefits of that approach).  But, more often, I just need to shut down all the crap that comes my way without me asking for it – particularly email and social media.  I still want to be able to look up who Aziz Ansari’s girlfriend is after reading all about her in Modern Romance.  I still want to use Google Maps to help me find my friend’s place in Jersey.  I still want to be able to take an instantenous picture of my husband’s sudden urge to wear a bandana and run around the house screaming “I am a ninja!” But I don’t want to be hit with all the things I wasn’t planning on seeing.  So, shutting down inbound technology for a day has been my go-to reset on Sundays.
  • Marathon reading:  Sitting down with a book and reading for 2-3 straight hours is the ultimate indulgence and is a great re-training in focus.  No picking up your phone to quickly check in with your “phone world” between chapters.  No turning on the TV to see if there’s anything interesting on instead.  Just plowing through chapters of a good read.  This is a tougher one for me, so I’ve set an ambitious reading goal for the year to keep me honest.
  • Cooking cooking cooking!  If I’m feeling up for something a little more active, cooking achieves the same benefits for me.  I’ve often used Sunday as a day to cook a few good meals for the week.  The attention, coordination and creativity that it takes to make multiple meals at once is a challenge – aside from the actual space challenge presented by a small Brooklyn kitchen.  Last week it was a vat of red lentils and freekeh + granola + chocolate chip cookies.  The week before cranberry muffins + fish tacos + turkey chili.  Random combinations, but that’s where the beauty and the focus comes in.

This is definitely the winter version of this list.  Or maybe that’s the newly minted homebody in me feeling some queasiness.  Regardless, when it’s a little warmer or you have little ones running around, I’m sure there’s a different set of possibilities to help folks focus.  But for now, I’m digging these.

&d

 

Sunday Detox: Granola!

granola

I love living in NYC, but it can be overwhelming and downright toxic for your health if you’re not careful.  I’ve always used Sundays as a day to reset – whether to recover from a long weekend of fun nights out, or to prepare for a long week ahead of work and travel where healthy meals are far and few between.  A little time spent on detoxing on Sundays has gone a long way to combat the madness of city living.

I’ve never been able to be too extreme in my approach.  Days straight of drinking only juices and concoctions or severely limiting my diet or behavior has never worked for me or has felt particularly healthy.  So, instead, I just try to set myself up for low-sugar, low-flour, low-alcohol weeks, kicking it off on Sunday.

Some Sundays are more successful than others.  Life is life.  But, I’ll plan to share one approach a week with you guys to try to keep myself honest, and hear how you all keep yourselves healthy.

First up:  my favorite granola recipe!  I grabbed and adjusted from Cookie + Kate, a fantastic whole foods cooking blog that you should check out.  I make it in bulk, and then try to pack it with me for breakfasts or snacks during the week.   It is naturally sweetened with honey (or maple syrup, if you prefer), instead of the pounds of white sugar you’ll find in the grocery store variety.  I also sneak in a little ground flaxseed for some extra Omega-3 and fiber. That, along with whatever combination of dried fruits, nuts and seeds I have in the pantry that week, and I’m done.  Couldn’t be easier.

The recipe below will yield about 5-6 servings, so I typically double it to have a stockpile.

Homemade Granola

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1½ cup raw nuts and/or seeds (I use a combination of chopped pecans, walnuts and sunflower seeds)
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup dried fruit (I use a combination of cranberries, blueberries and cherries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together all of the dry ingredients except the fruit.  Pour in the honey, oil and vanilla and mix it until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.  Throw it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and into the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring once about half way through.

Once it’s out of the oven, I let it set for a few hours.  I like my granola clumpy and it tends to stick together better than way.  Mix the dried fruit in once its chilled and set.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some granola to chomp…

&d

Prose and Hos(e) Friendsgiving

cranberries

Our latest meeting for Prose and Hos(e), the book club we started about a year ago (more on that in an upcoming post!), fell on the Monday before Thanksgiving.  We decided to turn it into an early Friendsgiving to get everyone in the mood!

On the menu? We started with turkey meatballs, since making the real thing after work on a week night  would be a stretch.  Then added mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, roasted brussel sprouts, and sangria to complete the turkey-day meal.

After a massive failure to coordinate in advance, we did a late-in-the-game but productive run to the farmers market to stock up on ingredients — overdosing on fresh hebs in the process.  If you figure out a way to resist the allure of fresh rosemary and thyme, let me know.

We then managed to whip it all together in Taryn’s micro-kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen using professional coordination – an attempt to make up for our lack of preparation, I suppose.  Season the turkey.  And switch.  Peel the potatoes.  To the oven. And switch again.  Who says you need a lot of counter space to create a homecooked meal in NYC?

We set ourselves up around Taryn’s coffee table – shifting the enormous sangria bowl to the side table – and everyone dug in.  Brussel sprout-haters were converted.  Turkey meatball skeptics gobbled them down.   Everyone ate too many mashed potatoes.  In between bites, we dove into the discussion on our latest book.

On the bookshelf?  The Girl on a Train. A fun, smart thriller that you should read over the holidays since it’s hard to put down.  Of all the books we’ve read this past year (including Where’d You Go Bernadette?, The Secret History, Lila and Yes Please!) this was definitely the most universally liked.  If you’ve ever been part of book club, you know that’s a rare treat.

After some more deliciousness, dessert (choclate covered espresso beans!) and belly laughs later, we all left Taryn’s place for home, feeling a lot more festive then when we walked in.

Friendsgiving Sangria