Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's: Part 2- THE MENU!!

So here is the menu that I have decided on for New Year’s Eve and Day!

For dinner:

Thyme-less Pork Tenderloin and Sauerkraut

It incorporates the Pork (symbolizing moving forward in the upcoming year) and cabbage (symbolizing $$$). Very easy recipe, just make sure you start it in the morning or early afternoon, since it will have to simmer in the slow cooker for 6 hours!



Ingredients for 12 servings:
(There are only 2 of us, but Will eats a LOT and we both like leftovers!)
1 (2 lb) boneless pork loin roast
2 tbs. Olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
4 lbs. Sauerkraut
1 lb. kielbasa, cut into 3 inch pieces

Preparation:
PREHEAT the oven broiler.  Place the roast in a roasting pan, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves, and season with salt and pepper.  Place under the broiler for 10 minutes, until lightly browned in several places.
PLACE 2 lbs. sauerkraut in a slow cooker.  Arrange kielbasa pieces around the edges of the slow cooker pot, and place the roast in the center.  Cover with remaining sauerkraut.
COVER the slow cooker and cook roast for 6 hours on high. (we found that 6 hrs might be too long at high, so either turn the heat down and cook for full 6 hrs or cook only 4-5 hrs on high)

Nutritional info!
In one serving (1/12 of the entire pot) there are only 229 calories! For a dish like this with pork, sausage, olive oil and sauerkraut that’s pretty darn good! 
Total fat: 15.7 grams, Cholesterol: 52mg.


Hoppin’ John Black-Eyed Peas

A very traditional Southern New Year’s dish and it incorporates pork again (it’s what gives the dish its heart-warming flavor), as well as the Black-eyed Peas that signify prosperity! It is a tribute to the old saying, Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year.”  To insure this, you must eat at least 365 peas so that those peas will yield success for you ;)



Ingredients:
16 oz. black eyed peas (dry)
3 tsp. virgin olive oil
1 whole onion
1 whole green pepper
2 pieces chopped garlic cloves
1 tsp. fennel seeds
3 pieces bacon (recipe says optional, but don’t take this out of the recipe if you want it to be full of flavor!)
2 whole bay leaves
1 whole ham bone (this is also optional. I may leave this out. Yes, it will add more flavor, but I think I’ll be happy with the bacon)
1 pinch pepper (I like lots of pepper!)
Scallions (enough to garnish or throw in while cooking, if you’d like!)
2 cups chicken broth ( I think chicken broth has too much sodium, so I use a powder mix from whole foods with 1/4 the sodium as regular or for an even better substitute use veggie broth, but again, check the sodium!)

Preparation:
SOAK the peas for 10-12 hours to rehydrate prior to beginning meal preparation.  Drain the peas and place into a carefree crock-pot.
SAUTE the onion, green pepper, cloves, chopped garlic and bacon with the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat (or until bacon is crispy).
TOSS the items into the crock-pot along with the bay leaves, fennel, pepper and ham bone (if using). Pur in the chicken or veggie broth. if the broth does not come above the beans add a little more water.
COOK the mixture in the crock-pot set on high for 3.5 hours or low for 6 hours.
USE as a side or over rice or quinoa for a main dish.  Don’t forget to garnish!
*I omitted the olive oil by starting the bacon first and using the fat as a substitute for the oil.  You already have the fat there, so why add more?  It also allowed the bacon to crisp a bit first.
*I also added cumin, cajun seasoning and substituted de-seeded jalapenos, annaheim peppers and serano peppers for more flavor.  just dont forget to de-seed!!

It is recommended to serve this dish at room temperature, but I like it warm. Especially, on this cold, snowy New Year’s we’re about to have!

For the Stroke of Midnight:

Green Grapes with Feta Cheese and Honey

Since I really liked the potential of this recipe, I am definitely supporting the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes upon each toll of the bell at midnight.  We aren’t going to be that literal about it, but you get the point.  This tradition is also for prosperity, as well as ridding yourself of evil spirits and witches.  I will be pairing this dish with some yummy champagne and a MIDNIGHT KISS!



Ingredients for 5 servings:
¼ lb feta cheese, crumbled
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. honey
Fresh ground pepper (it really is amazing the difference fresh pepper makes)
2 ½ cups green seedless grapes (approx. 1 lb.)
1 pear  (I’m going to use apples instead)
6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced.  I LOVE BASIL.  Feel free to buy fresh and then dry out what you don’t need after.  It’s like two for the price of one!

Preparation:
PLACE feta in small bowl and drizzle with oil and honey.  Add the pepper and toss gently to mix. This can be left in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours to be finished just before serving if needed.
SHORTLY before serving, halve grapes lengthwise and slice pears (or apples) and mix them together.  Then scatter the feta mixture over the fruit and garnish with basil.

Nutrition:
162 calories; 7 grams of fat; 20 mg cholesterol; 23 grams carbs; 4 grams protein; 2 gram fiber; 255 mg sodium; 211 mg potassium.  The good outweighs the bad by far in this dish! 

The morning after:

Guilt-LESS Pancakes

It’s still a celebration on New Year’s Day whether you are still continuing the party or still feeling its effects when you wake up.  Either way, I think pancakes are PERFECT for this occasion!  Of course, I am making a “healthier” version, but they will probably taste better anyways ;)


Ingredients
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk (I used the powdered buttermilk. It worked just fine and now I don't have to throw out the leftover buttermilk)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon oil

Preparation:
PREHEAT griddle.
STIR or sift dry ingredients together in medium bowl.  Beat egg, milk, buttermilk, brown sugar and oil together. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Batter should be slightly lumpy.
POUR ¼ cup batter for each cake onto a well-seasoned hot griddle.  Flip the pancake when bubbles appear on surface.  Only turn once and then done.
SERVE with sugar free syrup.  Not every sugar-free syrup is yummy, but if you find the right ones then they are even better than “regular” syrup.

Variations:
Feel free to add your favorite fruit in while cooking, such as sliced banana or my personal favorite- CHOCOLATE CHIPS!  Recently though, I have come to grips with just how bad those yummy little semi-sweet morsels are, so I’m thinking that I might do banana and then use this new sugar free chocolate syrup we got.  It has ONLY 15 CALORIES PER 2 TBS. vs. 100 calories per serving in the regular chocolate syrup.
Another option is to make fruit puree or sauce to replace the syrup altogether.  The easiest way to do this is to spike some applesauce with cinnamon and brown sugar for some extra pizzazz.

Nutritional info:
(Obviously does not include the toppings or add-ins you may include in your recipe)
Each pancake is approximately 78 calories, 3 grams protein, 12 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams fat, 19 mg cholesterol, 1 mg iron, 178 mg sodium.  This is amazing considering “traditional” pancakes can be anywhere from 500-1000 calories/serving!

After we have awakened from our food and euphoria coma, we will be organizing our garage and putting away the Christmas d├ęcor.  I know you aren’t supposed to do “work” on these days, but I feel like it will help set the tone for our year.  I would like to start the year off getting our lives organized and ridding ourselves of unnecessary clutter while crossing BIG things off of our to-do list.  I’m sure there will be lots of beer drinking for Will through out the process and I promise to watch heart-warming movies and share lots of giggles while enjoying this cleansing process.  Well, until next year then….SEE YOU ALL IN 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's: Part 1

After much deliberation I have narrowed down the traditions, games and food to incorporate into our holiday this year!  I am most excited about the food (I’m always most excited about the food), but I think I’m going to have to make this a two-part post and post about that tomorrow.  I apologize to keep the yummy recipes from you for one more day, but I’m still fine-tuning my menu and have to sleep at some point.

Source: minted.com via Gini on Pinterest

So anyways, HERE WE GO!

Since this is our first year as a married couple, we have discussed writing letters to each other to be read far into the future, and I have decided that our first New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to do this! I think it will set the perfect tone for the letters and make them extra special.  I’m also thinking we should write separate letters to our selves to be read at the same time and we can include our resolutions in them too.  I think when we look back, they are really going to put things in perspective and remind us of how far we have journeyed together.  It seems like such a simple and yet beautifully complex act.

After that I have some fun New Year’s trivia planned that will lead into a game of Two Truths and a lie comprised of New Year’s resolutions and such.  It’s going to be a challenge with just the two of us, but we always have fun regardless.  If for some reason these games end up lame, then we have plenty of board games and such to fall back on lol.  Not to mention: THE FOOD!!

I am going to incorporate both of our families traditions for the food with a yummy pork tenderloin and sauerkraut with a traditional southern Black-Eyed Peas and Ham Hocks recipe on the side.  Since the sauerkraut is made from cabbage, we have that covered!  FYI: These particular foods are chosen to symbolize prosperity (shown by how the peas “swell” when cooked), money (cabbage is green like $$$) and positive motion (pigs root forward when foraging).  


As for new food traditions, I was most interested in the twelve grapes at midnight for the twelve chimes on the clock.  It might be the recipe I found that really interested me but oh well ;)  This also might be a similar case with the pancakes I plan on making New Year’s morning.  I really like pancakes, but always steer away from them, since they aren’t too good for the figure. Luckily, the French tradition of the pancake eating seemed like a good enough reason for me!  Don’t worry though, they will be wheat and the syrup will be sugar free!

We will also be instituting first-footing from Scotland, since Will is Scottish.  It’s probably going to be very silly when I make him go outside after midnight and knock on his own door to be let in, but they say that even if it is someone from the household, all that matters is that the first to cross the threshold is a tall, dark, handsome man.  Anything to bring us more luck for the New Year ;)
I also can’t forget to mention, that we will be sipping champagne at midnight, cuddled up while the ball drops and sharing a very special kiss to bring in the new year just right <3

Few other fun little facts:

*Noisemakers and fireworks are intended to scare away evil spirits.
*You are supposed to open all windows and doors to rid your house of the previous year.
*You are supposed to pay off all debt (or at least work towards it) before New Years Eve to start the New Year off with a clean slate, but you ARE NOT supposed to pay out anything on the holiday or you will continue to pay out all year! No one wants that lol.
*The number 8 and the color red signifies good luck, but the number 4 and watches and clocks signify bad luck.  Giving a watch as a gift is actually the worst because it signifies the end or death.
*The Midnight Kiss with the one you love ensures affections and good tidings.  To smooch someone less favorable, or not at all could mean misfortune.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Planning for New Years!

T-Minus 3 days until it is 2011!

Luckily, the dawn of the new year falls on a weekend, so I DO NOT have to work!  But-what to do?  We don't know anyone, so don't have anyone to ring in the new year with, we don't feel like going to one of those "packaged deals" where you pay a ton of $$ to get drunk and over eat with a bunch of strangers and we definately do not want to be driving around on "amateur night".  Guess that leaves me with planning a wonderful night at home with the love of my life!  A fun and romantic evening in our cozy little home, with our new little puppy, home made goodies and champagne for $12 vs. $200 sounds absolutely perfect to ME!



~Firstly~
I decided it would be fun to research and incorporate traditions from around the world to not only learn about, but more importantly, to find out what traditions will become our own in the future ;)
 It has actually been really neat to compare the traditions.  All are similiar in intentions, which are "out with the old, in with the new", "starting the new year off the way you would like the rest of the year to follow", "setting the tone for the next year", "ridding yourselves and your house of the negativity and bad spirits of the previous year", "cleansing and rejuvenating your life", etc., and yet, they vary tremendously in their methods.

~Secondly~
 We began comparing the differences in how our own families celebrate this holiday. 
 I'm used to the southern traditions of eating blackeyed peas, ham hocks and cabbage for luck, prosperity and money, whereas when I spent last years New Years with Will and his family they ate ribs and sauerkraut. 

Through my research I found maaaaannnnnyyyyy more traditions that I had never even heard of, such as Scottlands "first-footing", eating 12 grapes at midnight in the Latin countries, Festival of Saint Basil in Greece, wearing specific colors of underwear in Mexico, British Columbia's Polar Bear Swim and what is going to be my new personal favorite- eating pancakes like they do in France!  I think we are going to try out as many as we can this year! I have already found a bunch of awesome recipes and games to play to incorporate them all. 

I think it's going to turn out to be a fabulous holiday <3


Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Perfect Christmas!

finished product and our lil fam for our first Christmas photo!


This year was a lot of firsts for us..First year as a married couple, first time we both lived away from home, first house together, first time living in Colorado, first pet together and first time away from family and friends for Christmas.  But you know what? It couldn't have gone any better!

We decorated together:

Time to decorate for Christmas!!

Creating a wonderful scene of peace and beauty in our sweet lil' living room:

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We ended up with amazing heartfelt and wonderful gifts from our family and for eachother:
(Including my sweet mirror/jewelry box that Will HAND-CARVED my name into!)

YAY!! How cool is my mirror! it's a jewelry box as well and Will carved my name in it by hand!!

Aaaaand I just wanna point out that I made that wreath myself ;)

my first attempt at making a wreath!


One of the best parts was that we surprised our families with Skype sessions!  I had my little brother set it up on the family computer and then had him bring them in on the morning of Christmas and surprise! There we were on screen!  My parents are pretty savvy, but they hadn't experienced anything like this yet.  My dad said he couldn't believe we could talk through video on the internet since he still remembers having to use rotary dial phones!  Will's dad got a kick out of it as well.  He has used skype before, but I'm sure some "face to face" contact with his only son was pretty special on Christmas. It meant a lot to us as well.  It almost felt like we were there <3

The rest of the day we baked a ham and pumpkin pie, watched Christmas movies, curled up for afternoon naps, found homes for all of our presents and even had a few friends over.  All in all, we couldn't have asked for a more perfect "first Christmas together", which my parents just happened to send us on an ornament to commemorate! Memories Forever.....

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Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Christmas Eve and Christmas were so GREAT this year!  We obviously missed our families, but shared a wonderful first Christmas as married folk, exchanged wonderful, heartfelt and fun gifts, ate yummy food, had some friends over and surprised our families with some skype sessions! I wish I had the energy to go more in to detail, but it's beddy-bye time!  Can't wait to tell you all about it! Sweet dreams to all and I hope that Christmas was as special for you and yours as it could possibly be <3
xoxo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Just a lil' sumpum, sumpum ;)

I am not now, nor will I ever be a model.  I am too short, too lazy, don't have one of those "looks", don't like a lot of makeup, have no clue what to do with my hair most of the time and have stage fright to top it all off.  Although... I am not against a "photoshoot" every now and then when approached.  Who doesn't want to have beautiful, artistic photos taken of themselves and even get paid for it? Sounds win/win to me! 

I did two "shoots" this weekend, which are the first since coming to Colorado.  The first was outside at Red Rock, a national park in the Springs with Tracy Rose.  It was gorgeos but Freezing! The pictures make it look like I'm comfortable in my sleeveless, backless dress, but that is NOT THE CASE! Wearing that little dress in 20 degree weather was miserable, albeit worth it ;)

Finally got to put a jacket on lol

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The second for the day (after I thawed out and regrouped), was at an awesome old house downtown.  The photographer was young and seemed kind of shy, but I have now fallen in love with his style.  Both of these shoots were purely natural light and almost no editing, but David (D79 photography) really won me over. I underestimated him and now I must reference the old adage: You can't judge a book by it's cover!

one of my faves

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At least I'll get to show them off to the grand-kids ;)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Good Morning Sunday! Good to see you as always :)

It's a beautiful (cold) morning in Colorado!  Will is piddling around and I am watching Christmas movies, drinking my coffee and obviously playing on the internet.  This is pretty much how every morning starts around our house, cuz we like to start our day off right!  It's amazing how some peaceful, relaxing time in the morning really sets the tone for the rest of the day.  It has been a pretty eventful couple of days, so I REALLY need this relaxation :)

Thursday-I got a new truck to replace my lease that is up in February, Friday-we rushed around getting ready for our new dog while I got ready for two photoshoots on Saturday and while I was freezing my buns off at Red Rock yesterday- Lord Weisenheimer the Weimaraner was delivered!



 <3 It's amazing how he makes us feel even more like a little family <3

So far: he doesn't bark, he doesn't get scared, he loves to be around us, he's potty trained and an absolutely gorgeous three year-old Weimaraner mix.  Don't ask me what he's mixed with, cuz I have no clue lol.  He has some grey of the Weim., but also has the coloring of a rotty, sheopard or doberman and also the bowed stance of a doberman or pitbull.  This lil 58 lb. guy is nothing but pure muscle, so I'm leaning toward Dobie or pit.  Regardless, I am so happy that we got to rescue this lil tyke <3 It's so fullfilling to save an animal versus spending an exhorbitant amount on a dog that doesn't "need" you.
Well, I'm gonna finish my relaxtion and then go play with the new pup a.k.a. Weiser!! 

Have a GREAT Sunday everyone!! xo

Friday, December 17, 2010

I felt the need to become a blogger!

Hello world!
I might be silly to have stated "blogging".   I'm sure most people do not care what lil' ole me has to say, but you know what? I'm gonna say it anyways!  We are in a new town, a new state, new jobs, with no family, no friends and so many changes going on-but no one to share them with.  Phone calls, texts,emails and facebook are just not enough for me to release everything that is going on inside.  Luckily, so far it's all good stuff and a lot of it is knowledge and lessons that I am learning everyday, and I just hope at least a few of you will find my posts interesting, funny, informative or at least somewhat entertaining ;)  Please forgive me ahead of time if I do not always proofread enough or make a mistake here and there, but I will not apologize for my content, as this is my thoughts and opinions.  If you don't like them, then don't read them.  I hold my tongue in other venues, but not here.  This is meant to be my outlet and I do not intend to censor myself if I feel I must rant or rave about one thing or another.  I most likely will do it in a sarcastic, funny or informative way, but you never know how someone will perceive it...which also explains the title of my blog: "Perception Is Everything"  What I mean by that, is a lesson I have only recently learned, that every single person is going to perceive the world completely differently and there is not a single person that is more wrong or right than another.  I had to realize that there is no such thing as black and white, cut and dry, good and evil or even true simplicity.  Life is complex, the world is complex, we are complex.  It's scary to understand how unstable that makes us as a whole, but it's also what allows us to grow, learn, adapt and thrive.  That's what makes Will and I such a great team.  When we bring our differing perspectives to the  table, we can learn from each other, entertain ourselves for days, create awesome recipes, solve any issue, plot any plan of attack needed and pretty much rule the world ;)  I do hope you might leave your perspectives for me every now and then, but please leave your negativitiy behind.  I don't mind constructive criticism, but if you're an ass, I'll treat you like an ass! haha
Talk to you again soon I hope!
xoxox

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