Monday, January 31, 2011

SAG award fashion

Normally I glimpse at the fashion for this award season, but since I was quarantined to the bedroom with the worst head cold ever....I got to tune in and check out all the dresses..and here's my good, bad and ugly of fashion last night.

The Good
Natalie Portman in Azzaro
Mila Kunis in Alexander McQueen
Hilary Swank in Versace

January Jones in Caroline Herrara...c'mon it was sooo much better than her red here are my boobs Versace at the Golden Globes!

Jane Krakowski in Badgley Mischka. I loved that she rocked a short dress with her baby bump!

Onto the Bad

Nicole Kidman in Nina Ricci..I didn't get this's like Madonna Like a Virgin meets Little House on the Prairie and her messy up do didn't help..although the back was kind of cool but I wasn't a fan of all the lace

Amy Adams in Herve Leroux...I love Amy Adams but I thought she looked washed out in this white number

Eva Longoria in a Hobeika gown...its way too big in the right boob, probably made for someone alot taller and I thought you could totally tell they Hollywood Taped her into this bad boy

Christina Hendricks in L'Wren looks like an overly adorned bathrobe...kind of Hugh Heffner-ish
Kim Kardashian in the color, but a bit prom-ish for me...maybe if one boob wasn't all bedazzled I'd like it more

Onto the Ugly...

Winona Ryder in Alberta Ferretti...she looked like a cross between a drunk bride and a washed out prom queen and I don't get the droopy black bag or the hair

Angie Harmon in Monique L' was pink swan...this looked more appropriate for a 4 year old's ballet recital

Melissa Leo in Randi Rahm...why didn't someone get her spanx. She looks like she might be pregnant..and the adult looking tap shoes didn't help

Other notes...I liked Tina Fey in her red lace number as well as Diana Agron from Glee in her Chanel Couture although I thought her shoes were a little chunky platform-ish for a shorter dress. Lea Michele was cute as well although for someone with a small chest..I thought she might have a wardrobe malfunction...she was completely channeling Kate Hudson. I liked Sofia Vergara but man she had the girls on display. I couldn't help but stare at her chest! Helen Bonham Carter...well, she's a hot mess on every red carpet!

Recipe of the Week! Chicken Sausage Cassoulet

I saw this recipe in this month's issue of Fitness Magazine. To be honest, I'm not really too sure exactly what a cassoulet is or if I ever made one. Apparently it's the french term for a one pot meal. This recipe caught my eye because I have a Le Creuset Dutch Oven (every time I say Dutch Oven Mr. Allan laughs and thinks it means farting under the covers and holding the sheets down).  I scored it at TJ Maxx for $49, probably because it's lime green, but who cares...they retail for around $ it was the deal of the century for me!

So, any time I can use it, I love to especially since it cooks so evenly and you can pop the whole pot right in the oven as well. Here are some shots from the process of making my cassoulet!

I started off with some fresh chicken sausage. I cooked it on my stove top first

Once it cooled, I sliced it up

Some other ingredients...white cannellini beans

My veggies...ready to be washed, peeled and cut

I sauteed and onion, some shallots, and then added in the sweet potato, butternut squash, some fresh sage (that totally made this recipe for me!), dried thyme.

I then added in the already cooked sausage and topped with a mixture of panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and into the oven it went

Here's my trusty Fitness you can see from the recipe..I deviated a bit and used some chicken sausage vs. the turkey sausage

 This was the cassoulet right out of the oven

Once it cooled a little was dinner. The whole cassoulet was 4 servings and these were some pretty good sized servings, which always makes a recipe a plus in my book! We actually got 6 servings out of the recipe vs. the 4 that the nutrional info is based on.

So what did I like about this was some good wintertime comfort like food but without all the cheese, cream and other bad things. I loved the combo of butternut squash and sweet potatoes and as I said above, the fresh sage smelled so good and completely made this recipe!

Chicken (or Turkey) Sausage Casoulet
from Fitness Magazine
Makes 4 servings

2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots (minced)
4 fresh chicken or turkey sausage links
1 medium sweet potato peeled and cubed
2 cups butternut squash peeled and cubed (this was about 1/2 of a medium sized squash)
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp fresh sage chopped
1 16 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup whole grain panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 375.

In a saute or skillet, cook sausage. Once done, remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, slice and set aside.

Heat a large Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil and saute onion and shallots with a pinch of salt. Saute for 5-10 minutes until soft.

Add sweet potato, squash, broth, thyme, sage, and beans to the Dutch Oven. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix bread crumbs and cheese. Add remaining 1/2 tbsp of oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the mixture in the Dutch Oven.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts:
(just a note...when buying my sausage..the chicken sausage has less fat than the brand of turkey sausage I looked at. This nutritional info is based on making the recipe with Turkey sausage...I believe my version with chicken sausage will have less fat than this nutritional info listed.)
408 calories/18 g of fat/23 g of protein, 9 g of fiber.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I'm sick in bed day 2. Stupid head cold that won't let me breathe and requires me to blow my nose every three seconds that Dayquil, Tylenol Cold and Sinus and Sudafed can't seem to fix. So, my day consists of being in bed, wearing old navy pajama pants my husband probably loathes...hey at least they're not printed with sponge bob square pants, hair is up in a bun, a box of Kleenex by my side, and I went downstairs to our small DVD collection to see what gems I could dig up.

Drum roll....and the winners are:

I'm amazed at how young Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were when they first got married, how rough early reality TV looks, and how skinny Jessica was and how big her boobs were.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I hate being sick

It's boggling my mind how 36 hours ago I was fine, rushing to my primary care physician's office for a clean bill of help and crossing my fingers hoping I'd make it the 5pm yoga class at my gym. Well, I got hung up at the doctor's office, missed yoga and blame all the sick people there for passing on their cruddy germs. I whipped out my hand sanitizer like a mad woman as soon as i got back into my car, but it was too late. That night my throat hurt ever so slightly. I downed a glass of Emergen-C. The next morning I woke up feeling a little off and swallowed 2 Dayquil capsules immediately. I went to the dentist, was feeling normal, came home and crashed. I woke up this morning full blown sick. Ughh....

Okay..maybe my slippers aren't that ugly but this is what I'm feeling right about now as I can't breathe, my coffee tastes like nothing, no matter how much I blow my nose, I'm still congested and it's turning a neon shade of red since we have no Kleenex and I'm using Bounty select a size to do the job.

So, what's on tap for this weekend...I'm not going anywhere as I sit here in my yoga pants and new fluffy blue robe from LL Bean (thanks dad and Marilyn..I love this robe and my cats love to knead their little paws on it and "make biscuits" as we call it in our house). So, Mr. Allan flew in last night from a business trip and I'm sending him on a daunting shopping and your wife's nose needs a good quality tissue.

We're headed to Mexico in a month, so I'm thinking I need some healthy comfort food as I think about putting on a bathing suit. So, onto perusing the Internet an raiding the recipe box to see what I can come up with and send the Mr. on his mission to get us food. Happy weekend everyone...I'll guarantee yours is probably better than mine!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenger Disaster on CNN

It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since the Challender Disaster. Here's a look at the live blastoff and major malfunction explosion on CNN from 1986. This is an event where those of us that can remember know exactly where they were that day. I remember sitting in my 2nd grade classroom with Miss Ouimet hearing about this.

Snack of the Week!

My favorite snack that I'm loving this week....Organic Sliced Apples from Trader Joes. Could I easily just buy an apple and avoid the citric acid that they use to keep these apple slices from turning brown...probably, but right now the apples are looking rough in my grocery store. We're slipping into the season where they're small, bruised, weird and expensive. Plus, having these on hand is a life saver for me...especially at night when I'm watching my crap reality tv and I'm roaming around opening the pantry closest looking for a little something but I don't want to eat a big snack...then, bam, in the fridge are apple slices, I can grab one or two and tide myself over for the rest of the night. They're also good with a tiny bit of peanut butter, I cut them up in my oatmeal, and throw them in my morning yogurt as well.

I find these in the produce section of my local Trader Joes!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stupid American Idol Making me Cry...

I've tortured Mr. Allan with multiple seasons of American Idol. I must admit, the auditions are my least favorite part of the show. I get sick of the bad people who make fools of themselves and always want them to show more of good contestants. Usually, little moves me on this show. After all, we're just listening to people singing trying to get their break But, I must also say I'm LOVING the new judges...Steven Tyler especially surprised me!

But, last night this reality show brought me to tears. I'm sure any American Idol fan was talking about this guy last night...I think what did me in were the videos of his fiance before her accident and then when they brought her in towards the end of his audition.

Just watch and see...

Beating the winter blues...

Right about now, I'm all set with winter. I hate it. I hate being cold. I hate runny noses. I hate the static I get wearing a million layers and scarves etc. I hate how parched and dry I feel..from my hands, to my face, I feel like a cold, crackly mess. It's right about now that I try and convince Mr. Allan that we should move to a warmer climate since our summers are so short and our winters suck in New England.

So, here's my middle of the winter survival products that help me bring me out of my winter slump. The weather sucks outside so go and grab yourself a little beauty pick me up.

My hands are so dry right the point where I'm surprised my knuckles aren't cracking. Some of it's an occupational hazard..I work in probably one of the most dirty germ infested buildings in RI...Family Court. I must purel my hands 10-20 times a day and vigorously wash them the same amount. So, in an effort to keep germs away, I kill my hands. This is my favorite hand cream..I've blogged about it before and I'm mentioning it again because it works! I've tried Neutrogena, Kiehl's, Eucerin, you name it and nothing compares to this.

Gardner's Helpers Hand Therapy by Crabtree and Evelyn

Besides my hands, my feet get totally shafted during the winter. I keep up with pedicures when I'm showing them off during the warm months, but in winter, they get neglected. One product I love is Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Cream. I love to put this on my feet right before I go to the gym. I slather this on, put on my white gym socks and then my sneakers and my feet get a treat while I go to the gym and work out. It helps prevent gross cracked heels and keeps my feet smooth during the winter months.

When it comes to my body..during winter I have dry weird white legs...I feel like I could put on a whole bottle of moisturizer and they're begging for more. I have two favorite go to smells nice and girly the other is a no nonsense product.

My first favorite is L'Occitane Shea Butter Body Lotion. I discovered this when we were on our honeymoon. We were staying at the Four Seasons in Maui and our lovely marble bathroom the size of my bedroom at home was stocked with L'Occitance products. They had this awesome shampoo and conditioner that I haven't been able to find many places but this body lotion was to die for. My skin was a little weathered from the Hawaiian sun. We'd been in Hawaii for about a week by the time we go to Maui, lots of time by the pool and hiking and this replenished my skin. My apologies to housekeeping at the Four Seasons..I had to steal about 5 bottles of this stuff...bad I know, but I kept taking it with us for the day and shoving it in my purse only to come back to our room with a new bottle waiting!

The has pretty good prices on L'Occitane

My more luxurious lotion I comes in a couple different scents I Brown Sugar, citrus scents, lemon etc. It's my girly I'm going out with Mr. Allan tonight type lotion...when you're feeling like a little more than just the regular stuff.
While we're on the topic of Fresh...they have  a face scrub that phenomenal. My face gets so dry my nose peels like I have a sunburn. I need to exfoliate a couple times a week and this is my go to smells great and does the job.

If you're not up for going out and buying some pricey products...there are things in your pantry you can use as well. There was a great article in my local paper on Sunday with some home remedies for beating the havoc that winter can take on your body. Here are a couple home grown recipes and solutions.

Home made Body Scrub
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of an edible oil such as olive, grapeseed, or coconut oil.

Mix together in a mason jar and lather on body and rinse off.

Home Made Lip Scrub
1 tsp of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of butter

Mix together and rub on your lips. Wipe off and then follow with a lip balm.

Some other make your bath extra hydrating, add 1 can of coconut milk. Shake well and add to your bath water. For a hydrating easy face mask..use honey. Clean your face and then rub honey all over it. Leave on for 10-15 minutes and then wipe off and moisturize.

I Am Superwoman

Ok, I'll admit it. When I woke up this morning and saw my yard, I got very discouraged. As I started the looming task of shoveling my 100+ foot long driveway, I got very frustrated. So frustrated, I started to cry. There was NO way I was going to be able to do this by myself, especially with a foot of heavy wet snow. After my pity party, I started to get some momentum going. After 2.5 hours of shoveling....I'm amazed at what I was able to accomplish by myself with my snow shovel.

I opened my garage to see this...apparently my shoveling last night did squat

I went outside at 6:45am. No dilly dallying...I had a cup of coffee, watched the news for five minutes and out I went. At 9:20....this was what I accomplished...Mr. Allan's side didn't get shoveled out...frankly, he's on his own since he's probably laughing from his hotel room on a business trip picturing his wife, swearing like a sailor shoveling herself out.

As we turn the corner, the next portion.....

and..the rest almost up to the road...yes, we have a long ass driveway

So after my herculean effort, I feel a little like Super Woman. Super Woman with a sore back, a blister under my wedding rings from shoveling, and a runny nose, but still amazed at my feat. I would like to say thank you to my nice neighbor with the industrial looking snow blower who came over during my last 5 minutes of shoveling and helped me clear the mailbox....the help was much time as I'm shoveling out that solid rock ice crap the plow leaves 2 feet of for you at the end of your driveway...I'm going to look extra pathetic to elicit help :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter Wonderland..the calm before the storm

Here in Rhode Island, we're bracing for ANOTHER winter storm. I no longer trust my weather forecasters. As I primped myself this morning, they told me the snow will start after 5pm with the heaviest coming from 9pm to 5am. So, I thought to myself, totally straighten your's not like its going to be a big disaster with snow turning your top layer into a weird frizz ball when you walk back and forth to the courthouse. So, after 20 minute affair with my hairdryer, I left the house, yoga clothes for my 5:15pm class in tow since no heavy snow until I'm well into American Idol and sitting on my couch with my three snuggly cats.

So...I was quite surprised to hear a client tell me..Yo, it's snowing already lady. I looked out the courthouse window at 11a.m. to see a blizzard like scene...lovely!

After using an hour of vacation time after I paced the office going from window to window watching cars slide in the streets, I had one heck of a 90 minute white knuckled hands at 10 and 2 drive home.

But, I must in the "country" if you can call it that in's kind of pretty.

Here's the calm before the storm...

My yard....

About a quarter of my driveway...shoveling it tomorrow should be fun!

and the additional foot that's going to fall tonight is going to make my morning hell on earth.....Dear Mr.'s time to buy a SNOWBLOWER!

Oh Farah....

I watched you on 16 and Pregnant, followed you through 2 seasons on Teen Mom, even though you came off as a spoiled brat with an attitude, I always defended you at water cooler chats the morning after Teen Mom and felt so bad when your baby daddy's car accident death hit the tabloids and went you got screwed out of $3000 for selling your car on craigslist to the scam artist.

You probably make way more being a Teen Mom than I do being a why has it come to this...

I guess it could be worse...your kid could get taken away and you could be facing felony domestic assault charges but being the Norse like hunter and gatherer with a motorcycle in the background isn't too far behind.

Taco Hell, I mean Bell, their Meat actually Meat?

That's the underlying question of a lawsuit that was filed against Taco Bell in an Alabama court recently. Eww...I just feel gross typing that...seriously your beef taco isn't even meat people...allegedly of course!

An Alabama law firm has filed suit on behalf of a customer claiming that Taco Bell is misleading consumers when it lists its ingredients of the beef products claim they contain seasoned beef. The suit alleged that you're not really consuming beef when you down your taco supreme...the mystery meat you're actually eating is only 35% beef...the rest, the other 65% of your beef, are fillers.

The law firm said their client isn't seeking any type of monetary damages..before we roll our eyes thinking this is the guy looking for a million bucks because his McDonald's coffee was too hot and he burnt his tongue...instead, they're seeking a court order requiring Taco Bell to be honest about their filler beef ingredients as their allegation is that Taco Bell's current beef doesn't even meet the USDA guidelines to be declared beef.

This caught my makes me wonder what the heck you really order when you eat out! Apparently if you order a might be mixed meat fillers...Taco Bell is denying the claims and say they will fight this lawsuit. Might be a good idea to get your ass to Chipotle if you're feeling Mexican food tonight.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The weekly guilty pleasure

Ok, maybe I have one too many guilty pleasures. Teen Mom, American Idol (love the new judges by the way!), the Bad Girls Club, and the Bachelor. You probably think I sit on my couch for 5 hours every night watching crap reality tv, but, thanks to TIVO, I can zip through this episodes in 20 minutes to get my weekly dose of lunatics on tv.

I'm not sure why I'm so obsessed with the Bachelor. It's kind of  stupid concept, the girls always look like blubbering idiots when they leave...especially in the first couple episodes...c'mon ladies, you've known him for an hour long cocktail the crocodile tears until you're back at your hotel room. I've watched from Alex Michel choosing the chick he had a whipped cream sundae night with and totally bumped uglies with as Trista cried in her hotel balcony next door. Then there was Aaron who picked the skeptical Helene only to never speak to her after the show. Then we had hottie Andrew Firestone...all the girls just wanted him for his money but kudos to him for picking the nice girl, Jen Schefft. Then we went on to a bad run of weirdos....Bob Guiney...c'mon...he was just excited to have 20 girls to talk to him..Jesse Palmer..the 4th string quarterback from somewhere...Byron...the one season I didn't watch! Shame on me but I was all set with the ladies picking the bachelor. Charlie O'Connell...we just know him as Jerry's brother. Travis Stork..the hottie from that show the Doctors..glad to see besides being the bachelor he's got a good head on his shoulders. Then we went down hill with that Prince Lorenzo...Dear ABC, the Bachelor needs to be cute! You failed with that season. Then Brad take 1, the weird English guy Matt, Jason, Jake then Brad take 2.

Sounds like a bunch of crap, but, I'm still addicted. Mr. Allan rolls his eyes, gets the laptop out, watches old episodes of House with the ear buds in when Tivo starts recording. But, I fully admit, there's no educational value in what I'm watching, I learn nothing, and take little out of my bachelor experience each week. So why do I watch? Purely for the entertainment value. And..I kind of think Brad Womack is watching him on TV isn't too rough on the eyes.

So, if you're a Bachelor fan, here's my weekly wrap up of the poop I watched on ABC last night.....

Now that we're a few weeks into this season, things start to get good. There's only one or two girls who you look at and think..who the heck is that? What's her name? They're what I call the disposable contestants..taking up space at the rose ceremonies but get no camera time at the group dates or in footage at the house and they're usually good for at least a hysterical crying scene as they get in the limo and the Bachelor struggles to remember their names to bid them farewell. This is also the time where front runners emerge...we have Chantal...I married my high school sweet heart divorcee, the Ashleys...they're both bubbly cheerleader types..I can only tell the difference between the two because one has a bigger forehead than the other. We have the funeral director girl, the quiet girl name Brit Brit and a handful of others that kind of blend in. Then we have some front runners...Emily, the absolutely beautiful southern belle with the story that breaks your heart. When she was 18 she was engaged and pregnant but didn't know it. Her race car driver fiance got on a plane, she stayed back because she was sick and pregnant but didn't know it. The plane crashed, he died, and she then found out she was pregnant. Sounds like a soap opera but it sure did reel me in!

Then...we move onto to the crazy chick. It doesn't even look like ABC has to even try hard in the editing room. She's threatened to beat chicks up, she's certifiable crazy but hot, so, of course, Brad doesn't see it. But, this week's kicker...she somehow gave herself a black eye in her sleep??? C'mon crazy least make up a drunk story to support it!

Here's the crazy lady trying to figure out how she got a black smudge, I mean black eye.

What a great place...The Newport Wine Cellar and Le Petit Gourmet

Ever go somewhere new and the whole time you're thinking to yourself, what a fantastic place this is! How did I not know about it before? Why haven't I been here? What a great place to have a little get together? I didn't know they have events?

I said all these things to myself on Saturday night as we gathered for a wine and cheese tasting for our friend, M's, 40th birthday. We all met up at the Newport Wine Cellar and had a wine and cheese tasting in it's adjacent shop, Le Petit Gourmet.

There were so many things I loved about this night. I loved Le Petit Gourmet. For someone like me, who loves to cook and use good ingredients, there were so many different products to browse. Everything from olive oils to cheese paper to jams, olives and pates.I always want to learn more about cheese and how to pair it with wine, and this tasting was the perfect opportunity to learn a couple of things! Before I go on and on about how much I loved everything, here are a couple pics of our night out!

This was how our group was set up for a wine and cheese tasting in the store

This was my tasting plate that I wanted to gobble up. I'm bad with remembering my cheese names, but I remember the darker orange one in the top right hand corner was a smoke Gouda and my favorite was the cheese in the bottom right hand corner covered in pineapple confit.

And...then the wine started flowing....

 Since we are experiencing "Siberian" cold temps in RI right now, we did a tasting of four different Cabernets

The chalkboard behind the cheese counter....Mr. Allan is going to make that Latin proverb his new motto

 Of course we needed to buy our favorite bottle...a Spanish Cabernet

Once our friends cleared out from the cheese case...everyone was buying a triple cream Brie that seemed like a crowd pleaser

Overall, what a great experience! The Newport Wine Cellar has tastings each week. You can check out their Facebook Page for more information. Click HERE

You can also visit their website at or click HERE

There are weekly tastings Friday and Saturday from 4-7pm and they're available for private tastings (like we did) as well! There are also different wine classes scheduled that are $35/pp. Some that are coming up:

January 26- Yes We Love Beer Too!- Derek Luke from Coastal Extreme Brewing Company (aka Newport Storm Beer) will have a tasting of their beers and they will be paired with different cheeses

February 2- Designing a Menu around your Wine- designed for people who want to enhance their meals or dinner parties with wine. Chef Peter Lucas will pair a bistro style meal that will be enhanced by affordable and interesting wines.

February 9- Cabernet Sauvignon- a sampling of Cabernets from the New and Old World Regions

Here's a cute little blurb from Edible Rhody about the Newport Wine Cellar. Click HERE

I can't rave enough about these two shops. I thought it was a perfect place to get together with some friends to celebrate, learn about some wine, and enjoy some delicious cheese!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

It's so easy to make, it doesn't take a lot of thought, time or preparation, and it's a crowd pleaser. It'll be perfect for Super Bowl parties coming up, and its great to throw together in the morning and have waiting for you when you get home. The best recipe I made this week was Barbecued Pulled Pork. It might not be the healthiest thing I could have made, but it's nice to have a treat every once in a while!

It started off with a really good BBQ sauce...

Next comes a boneless pork shoulder from Whole Foods

Then out comes the good old crock pot. I sliced up an onion and threw it in there.

I covered the pork with 1/2 to 3/4 of the jar of BBQ sauce. I added a 1/2 cup of water and threw the crock pot on LOW for about 8-9 hours.

I made this on a weekend, so I was home to peek on it, swat a cat away from the counter, and to break it up with a fork as it cooked. After about 9 hours, this was the end result. I then added the rest of the BBQ sauce.

This was Mr. Allan's dinner with a side of home made cole slaw.

We served the pulled pork on our favorite buns...Ezekial Sprouted Grain Hamburger Buns
You can use any type of BBQ sauce. One thing I would have done differently, trim a bit of the fat off the meat before it went into the crock pot. Once it started to break up after it cooked for a few hours, I was desperately trying to get some out and it proved to be quite the fishing expedition. I hope those that think Mr. Allan lives in a "food prison" are pleased with a little detour from my normal vegetable, no nonsense, all healthy meals. This recipe could have fed us and 8 of our closest friends. We took some and froze it. We did the test of is it a hot mess once it's defrosted and reserved today. I'm glad to report it was just like the day we made it. Enjoy!