Tales From A Hungry Life

August 6, 2016

This is My Idea of a Good Morning

by Maria Schulz

Everybody starts their day in a different way. Over at The Daily Post, they challenged bloggers to take a photo that says “morning” to us. Here’s one of mine.


The nearby pizzeria gets their morning delivery of Italian bread from the local bakery. You can smell the fresh bread from blocks away. There’s a coffee shop next door that’s another hot spot for the neighborhood. Freshly roasted coffee and egg sandwiches make it a delight to pass by.

My dog knows she’ll encounter some amazing smells in the morning, so she moves as fast as she can towards the stores. She is getting older now, so I know it’s a great day when she can walk all the way towards the sights, sounds, and people she’s always enjoyed seeing.

img_0010-1It’s a very good morning indeed!

Recipe: Eggs, Herbs, & Tomato Omelette


Make the morning even better with fresh organic eggs plus tomatoes and herbs picked fresh from the garden.

Ingredients

2 Eggs

1 tomato, chopped

Italian Parsley leaves, chopped

Basil leaves, chopped

Sage, chopped

Oregano

Thyme

2 tablespoons Olive oil (or Pam)

Cheese (Cheddar,mozzerella, or goat cheese, optional)

Spray Pam or add Olive Oil to heated pan. Beat the eggs and add them to the hot pan. When the eggs have begun to firm up, add the tomatoes, herbs, and cheese. After about two minutes, flip it and brown the other side. You can eat this as is or add it to a low carb wrap. You can also add broccoli or spinach if you like.

To read about how other bloggers spend their mornings (and see their photos), check out Morning at the Daily Post. Enjoy!

So, what’s your favorite way to spend the morning? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and have a great day.

 

July 20, 2016

Finding Beauty

by Maria Schulz

The world can be ugly sometimes. The news is filled with stories of murder,  bloodshed, hatred, racial injustice, cops killing innocent people, people killing innocent cops, despair, lies, plagiarism and politicians. It can really drag you down.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find beauty if you just open your eyes and look for it.

There’s a song that I learned way, way back in my folk group days in grammar school. It’s an adaptation of the Prayer of St. Francis, and some of the words go like this:

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O Master grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.”

No matter what your religious persuasion may be, I think those are some pretty fantastic words to live by. So, in that spirit, I’m going to post some photos that brought me happiness, hope, and joy despite all of the sadness, backbiting, and darkness in the world around us.

From now through Labor Day, I’m challenging myself to find beauty, laughter, kindness, and joy in the world around me. I may not change the world, but I can change the way I perceive it. For the next month and a half, I’ll focus on the things that lift us up and not the things that tear us down.

Recipes:

Beautiful and delicious

Beautiful and delicious

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint Recipe by Jacques Pepin

Watermelon and Feta Salad from PBS

Watermelon and Feta Salad is one of those things that can turn an ordinary, ho-hum meal into an extraordinary, highlight-reel-kind-of-meal. I’ve seen recipes that included olives (like Jacques Pepin’s), blueberries for another hit of color, and even balsamic vinaigrette. The possibilities are endless!

So, Hungry Lifers…what makes you happy? Where do you go to find beauty? What have you seen around you that brings you joy? Please post a comment and let us all know. Thanks! Have a great day.

July 8, 2016

The 12 Annoying Habits of Highly Irritating Co-Workers

by Maria Schulz

Great co-workers

Great co-workers

Let me just say: I have had the privilege to work with some of the best people in the world. My colleagues, past and present, are creative, funny, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, and capable. They are true problem solvers and go-getters who come to the office every day and produce great work under all kinds of conditions. They show their humanity by holding doors open for others, taking care of their families, helping old ladies cross the street, volunteering at soup kitchens, saving animals in need, and giving of themselves relentlessly.

debbie downer

But let’s be honest: I have also worked with some real lemons. Some co-workers have had all the charm of a Manson family member and yet none of the manners. They floated through life with disgusting habits, a Debbie Downer attitude, no work ethic, verbal incontinence, and zero compassion.

It’s inevitable that people at work will get on your nerves. After all, you spend more time with those people then you do with the people you love. Forty hours a week is a lot of time for people to do annoying things.

You may be saying to yourself: really? Give me one good example of an annoying thing someone has done. Well, guess what? You’re in luck, because here are:

Ready? Here we go...

Ready? Here we go…

The Twelve Annoying Habits of Highly Irritating Co-Workers

  1. Using the office scissors to clip your toenails. There are some things you should NEVER do at work. Certainly, if you have a private office with a door you can lock, you can save me the horror of witnessing this moment in your personal hygiene regimen. I don’t understand why you’re clipping your toenails at work, or why you feel the need to attend to your cruddy feet during office hours—but at least you’ve got the good sense to HIDE. However, if you are one of the unwashed masses working in an open floor plan or you are in an open cubicle, skip this nasty chore. That’s what home is for. And for your health as well as mine, invest in your own pair of scissors.
Twilight-zone-the-monsters-are-due-on-maple-street

Oh the horror…

  1. Reading the Avon catalog like it’s Playboy. You never know who might walk into the coffee room, so if you’re ogling the ladies in bras and lingerie from the Avon catalog like it’s a XXX mag, I beg of you: STOP. And please, wash your hands before you touch the coffee pot.
  1. Stealing the Avon catalog. Hey! There are lots of other people in the office who want to buy Avon and/or ogle the pretty ladies. Your poor underpaid co-worker is trying to make a second living here.
Betty_Grable_20th_Century_Fox

Foxy lady

  1. Touching every single munchkin before deciding you don’t want one anyway because you think you may have the stomach virus. Do I need to explain this one?
  1. Coming to work when you think you have the stomach virus. And hanging around in my doorway, telling me about your severe GI distress. Ditto if you’ve got a raging cold, scabies, lice, or a wound that just won’t close. By the way, I don’t need to know how you contracted malaria. 

    Stay home

    Stay home

  1. Making believe you don’t know how to make coffee after you just drank your twelfth cup. Come on…really?
  1. Eating someone else’s lunch. You know you didn’t make yourself lunch. Just in case you’re wondering, the lunch gods didn’t make you one either.
My Mom really does hate you

My Mom really does hate you

  1. Bringing your small child to work and letting him run up and down the aisles screaming: “MY MOTHER HATES YOU ALL!” While I find this hilarious, you may get in trouble.
  1. Heating up your smelly, disgusting lunch in the tiny, windowless room we call our kitchen. How I love working as the smell of rancid Tiger Fish Surprise wafts all around me.
Can't we all just get along?

Yes, I left the microwave a mess

  1. Leaving the only working microwave so full of tomato sauce, it looks like a murder victim was in there. Just in case you missed the memo, your momma doesn’t work here. Clean up your mess.
I had nothing to do with your car's damage

I had nothing to do with your car’s damage

  1. Parking so close to my car that I would have to be Harry Houdini to get into it. I find this especially annoying when there are twelve empty spots adjacent to where you parked. Also, making believe you aren’t the one who smashed my car door makes you King of the Jerks. Just sayin’.
Popcorn and toast, anyone?

When in doubt, popcorn is the answer

  1. Arguing with your soon-to-be ex on the phone in a voice so loud it would make a carnival barker blush. Am I supposed to comfort you when you start sobbing? Make believe I don’t hear you? Bring popcorn? I’m never really sure. But I do know one thing…I’m not making popcorn in the microwave because it will stink up the place.

Recipe: 38 Grilled Fish Recipes

This looks delicious

This looks delicious

You’ll find Foil-Pack Shrimp Scampi, Grilled Cod Tacos with Chipotle Crema, Lemony Grilled Salmon, Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Siracha Slaw, Thai Catfish Skewers, and more. Just think how delighted your co-workers will be when you put your leftovers in the shared office microwave the next day.

So, Hungry Lifers: what crazy, thoughtless, or completely over-the-top habits have you encountered in the small, cramped, Nirvanah-like space you call work? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

June 15, 2016

Feeling Saucy

by Maria Schulz

The warmer weather is here at last, and it’s inspired me to get saucy…with spaghetti sauce made from tomatoes and herbs plucked straight from my garden.no-cream pasta primavera

I am a city girl at heart, born and bred. I never had a backyard garden until a few years ago when I planted all sorts of delicious things, including tomatoes, herbs, eggplant, and cucumbers. I watered, I pruned, I fed my plants, and gazed out my window with pride when they started to grow. Then, I walked outside one morning to find that the squirrels, bunnies, and assorted other animals ate all of my vegetables.

When I think of my feeble attempts to grow stuff, I feel like Ava Gabor on Green Acres. Remember that show? The lines from the opening credits make me think of myself in the early days of living out in the boonies: “New York is where I’d rather stay. I get allergic smelling hay. I just adore a penthouse view. Darling I love you, but give me Park Avenue.”

Green Acres, we are here

Green Acres, we are here

I’ve since moved out of that house and into a new one. I don’t have a “proper” garden, but for the past two years, I have had container pots on my deck. Since I have no idea what I’m doing, there have been some bumps along the way. Let’s just say that if I was trying to grow plants to feed myself and others and hold us over in the event of an apocalypse, we would all be in big trouble.

When I mentioned that I wanted to try growing tomatoes last year, my florist gave me a tiny cherry tomato plant and told me that maybe I’d get one or two tomatoes from it. I ended up with over three dozen tomatoes, and I found lots of ways to get those tomatoes into my diet. Sauces, sandwiches, omelettes, tomato caprese…you name it, I probably ate it. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn red.

IMG_1044

The little plant that could

I loved that little plant. It required very little of me, beyond water and a makeshift stake or two, and it just kept pumping out those little tomatoes. They were very flavorful and I enjoyed sharing them with my family…even though I’m pretty sure that they had sworn off tomatoes by the Fall.

Little beauties

Little beauties

My wild success last year led me to this year. I bought what I thought was another cherry tomato plant and put it in a small pot in the same sun-drenched location. But suddenly, it started to grow like crazy. I thought I had bought the same plant that Jack, of Jack and the Beanstalk fame, had gotten. To honor Jack, I named my plant Jackie. Also for Jackie O, who turned heads and was a real looker.

I quickly learned that what I bought was something else entirely. A beefsteak tomato plant was my new “baby,” and within a week or two, it had grown beyond anything I originally imagined.

You go, girl

You go, girl

A quick chat with friends who actually know what they’re doing enlightened me to what I was in for. Tomato cages and stakes became part of my little vegetable grower’s world, even though last week I might have said: “Nobody puts Jackie in a cage!” You know, like Patrick Swayze said about putting Baby in the corner…. Anyway, before a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea you needed to put your tomatoes in a cage (or a corner).

We picked up a giant pot, some special soil, the all-important stake, and suddenly, we were in business. Jackie, my tomato plant, is doing very well and will soon be a few feet taller than me, which figures. Everyone who comes into this house ends up taller than me.

Grow, baby, grow

Grow, baby, grow

While I was out buying my tomato plant, I picked up this herb garden too. It’s also growing so fast that I don’t know what to do with all of it. It’s going into my sauces, sandwiches, salads, omelettes…you get the picture. Soon it will be going into small baggies and left in unsuspecting friends’ mailboxes.

Italian herbs

Italian herbs

Sage, oregano, thyme, Italian parsley, and basil round out this little basket of herbs that have been the stars in my most recent batches of spaghetti sauce. My husband and kids thought it tasted pretty awesome, and I’m really glad about that…because they will be eating lots more where that came from.

Be like a Mike.

Hey…it’s Uncle Mike

If you couldn’t tell, I now enjoy living out here in Green Acres. I haven’t met Arnold the Pig yet, but I’m pretty sure we will cross paths soon enough.

Arnold and friend

Arnold and friend

Recipe: Classic Italian Tomato Sauce

This sauce recipe calls for fresh tomatoes or canned, and it seems pretty easy to follow. I am no stranger to jar sauce (especially on a weeknight), but is there anything better than fresh, homemade tomato sauce? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Try this recipe and enjoy!

tomato-stack-salad

Also an excellent way to use your tomatoes

So, Hungry Lifers…have you ever grown anything? What are your best tips? Do you have a good tomato sauce recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

 

June 3, 2016

My Salad Days

By Maria Schulz

Recently, I started trying to get more fruits and vegetables into my everyday eating rotation. This may be a no brainer for most people, but it took some getting used to for me.

Did someone say pizza?

Did someone say pizza?

I’ll admit it, I like pizza (the more cheese the better), tacos (sour cream! Guacamole!), and sandwiches (chicken! Cheese! More please!), fully sweetened sodas, and cookies. My carb heavy lunches were leaving me exhausted and made staying conscious problematic. This would be fine if I spent my days sitting poolside, but HR people tend to get cranky when you’re in a carb-induced coma at your desk.

Too much pizza

Too much pizza

It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve started to enjoy my salad days. I found out that the more colors you can get into your salad, the better, so I’ve begun adding dark blueberries, bold yellow cherub tomatoes, fire-engine-red strawberries (yay! They’re in season and look so great in my salad), shredded carrots, and purple cabbage. I will admit, I add a couple of tablespoons of beige crotons because I like the contrast between the tan of the croutons and the green of my lettuce leaves. Also, I’m a carb-a-holic. Baby steps, people.

Looks good and tastes good too

Looks good and tastes good too

Since I need protein to get through my day, I add some roasted turkey or chicken to the mix. If my cravings are strong, I will opt for some chopped up bacon or slices of ham. Otherwise, my salad days become BORING.

bacon

Don’t get me wrong. I love a big old cheeseburger with fries and a glass of soda, or even a milkshake. So, every once in a while (like my husband’s birthday or Mother’s Day), I let myself have those things. Ice cream in particular conjures up all sort of happy memories (not to mention the fact that it tastes AWESOME). My parents used to take us to Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor to get us shakes or sundaes. Those were good times. So naturally. I was delighted by my coffee-flavored shake the last time I had it. Then I found out it had SEVEN HUNDRED calories! Not so in love anymore. For now, we’ve broken up. But next time I bow to that particular siren song, I will ask for a second glass and drink half.

You evil temptress

You evil temptress

The thing is, once I started cutting back on the enormous portions and carb-laden goodies, I actually felt better. So my occasional HUGE cheeseburger, fries, and soda become a small, homemade cheeseburger (I can control what goes into that burger), a measured portion of homemade fries (slash the salt), and a bottle of water. If I am dying for pizza, I’ll have one slice and I try to get it with ricotta cheese and either spinach or broccoli. A regular slice is good too, as long as it’s thin crust (no stuffed crust. Too many calories, too little time).

I use an app on my phone to log the calories since I had no idea how many calories I was taking in. That’s been the most helpful change I made, since I think about what I’m going to eat. If I want to have McDonald’s  or White Castle that day (old habits die hard), I know to eat less calories at other meals. That way, I stay on track and don’t feel deprived.

Take human bites

Take human bites

What works for me may not work for you, but here’s what I found: deprivation awakens my inner BINGE MONSTER. If I am desperate for some ice cream, I have it. The difference between before and now is that I measure it out. I don’t eat artificially sweetened or low fat ice cream. It’s full fat and full flavor all the way, and I don’t eat it every single day. I tap into my inner lazy self and put the carton away once I’ve measured out my portion. Somehow, it’s enough. I don’t need to eat a giant soup bowl of ice cream with a side of angst-ridden guilt.

Portion size is key

Portion size is key

I try to remember that salads can also be calorie bombs, so I look for ways to limit the excess calories. Again, I measure out cheese if I absolutely have to have it (tip: a couple of teaspoons of shredded mozzarella will give you a burst of cheesy flavor with a low calorie hit). Then, I choose a low fat, high flavor salad dressing (Balsamic vinegar to the rescue). I add about 3 ounces of lean protein, and yes, croutons if I want them, and I’m good to go. A glass of wine every once in a while is a much needed treat that I hear can be good for you too.

Less carbs and better choices mean that no afternoon naps are required.

Brain food.

Brain food.

Recipe: Turkey and Strawberry Salad

I love a salad that includes protein, fruit, and vegetables. Be like Mikey from Life cereal fame: try it! You’ll like it!

2 cups greens (spinach, romaine, iceberg…you choose)

2-3 ounces of turkey (or chicken)

½ cup strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

½ cup blueberries

½ cup yellow cherub tomatoes

½ cup Shredded carrots (optional)

½ cup Shredded purple cabbage (optional)

2 tbsp. croutons

2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinaigrette

Put your greens, veggies, and fruit into a bowl. Add your turkey/chicken, cut up into bite-sized pieces) and croutons. Pour on the Balsamic and toss to coat. Enjoy!

TIP: I work all week, so I find it helps to roast a big chicken on Sunday. I serve that for dinner and then save leftovers for the week. Then, I cut up my greens and fruit and store them in airtight containers. That way, I can pull out whatever I need and make a quick lunch all week long.

Mix it up, people

Mix it up, people

For 10 more fruit and veggie salad recipes and inspiration, go to: http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/creative-fruit-salad-recipes/

So…what’s your favorite type of salad? Have any healthy eating tips? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

May 26, 2016

When Driving With Teenagers…

By Maria Schulz

As a mom, I’ve played many different roles: Chef; Laundress; Bottle Washer; Maid; Gardener; Entertainment Coordinator (think Julie from the Love Boat); Procurement Specialist; Captain of the Cheerleading Squad; Disciplinarian; Hand Holder; Head of Emergency Medical Services; Fashion Police; Emotional Support Services; Godzilla Rampaging Through Tokyo; Drill Sergeant; Attorney; Dog Walker; Head Coach; Executive Assistant.

My childhood limo

My childhood limo

But by far, my favorite job has always been Chauffeur.

When my girls were little, they loved listening to music in the car and singing along with me. They enjoyed my witty repartee with their little friends and they laughed at all of my jokes. They danced to songs with me and laughed when I belted out the words to all of the songs they knew.

Twilight-zone-the-monsters-are-due-on-maple-street

Oh…the horror!

But then…they suddenly morphed into teenagers. Enter hormones, lightning-fast mood changes, and constant, inexplicable, irrational thought processes. Too young to drive and too old to be happy having me in the car, it was the perfect storm of angst and outright anger.

That's one angry bunch

That’s one angry bunch

Were you always one of those parents who looked at teenagers and said, “Oh, my little Sally/Richie would never act like that!” Did you look at befuddled parents of teens and shake your head in silent disgust? Now that you find yourself the parent of a teen, do you wonder how you landed in this foreign land, filled with strange beings that sort of look like you? Did you ever think you’d be a source of embarrassment…just like your parents? Geez, if you didn’t have a license, your kids might not even find a use for you.

For those of you who have not yet had the joy of experiencing this phenomenon first hand, don’t worry (too much). This startling transformation can be dealt with, but only if you have a road map, a sense of humor, and a thick skin. In the interest of helping you weather this particular storm, I’m going to give you a Master Class in Parenting/Driving With Your Teens. Think of me as Oprah, only without any money and certainly without any clout.

Welcome to my Master Class

Welcome to my Master Class

15 Things to Remember When Driving With Teens

  1. For the love of God, DO NOT SAY ANYTHING!
  2. While you’re at it, DO NOT EVER SING!

    Sing it with me one more time!

    Sing it with me one more time!

  3. Please, please, please…do not try to interact with your teen’s friends. That’s like, AWKWARD! Just because they don’t make you wear a uniform, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to certain informalities.
  4. If Elle King comes on the radio, do not show a car filled with teens how cool you are by singing X’s and Ohs. This is definitely NOT COOL. When in doubt, remember Rules #1 & 2.
  5. Likewise, NEVER, EVER share funny little tidbits about your past dating life. Like, EWWWW! #DONTGOTHERE
  6. If Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake starts playing on the radio, DO NOT ASK your teen’s friends if they know how to twerk
  7. And please…do NOT EVER offer to show them how to twerk

    This is what your dancing looks like to them

    This is what your dancing looks like to them

  8. If a new guy or girl gets into the car, DO NOT EVER ask them “where they see themselves in 5 years.” LAME!
  9. When someone you interpret as a gawky teenager whizzes by on his skateboard, do not make chit chat by saying “Hey, who’s that man child riding a skateboard?” Like, he’s Hunter, only the COOLEST BOY in the ENTIRE 12th grade! DUH!
  10. When your teen puts on a 90s station and he/she and his/her friends start taking about how great that era’s music was, NEVER exclaim: “Oh yeah, man. It was great—AND I WAS THERE!”
  11. If and when you offer to drive the neighbor kids to school, please don’t forget they’re in the back seat and start driving away before they get out of the car
  12. DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, yell out the window as your teen walks away: “I LOVE YOU!,” “HOPE YOU HAVE A SUPER DAY,” or “MOMMY/DADDY THINKS YOU’RE THE GREATEST!”
  13. There are some things you should never do. NEVER, EVER reenact the scene from Wayne’s World where they rock out to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody…even if it’s just the two of you in that car

    Party on, Garth

    Party on, Garth

  14. Restrain yourself from beeping, waving, or stopping the car to greet and chat with passing teachers, principals, priests, nuns, parents, relatives, friends, or classmates your teen would rather die than be seen with (basically, that means anyone). NOT COOL!
  15. Always remember: you can drop your teen off at the mall, at school, or at any fast food joint they like, but NEVER at the front door. And if anyone asks, YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR TEENAGER!

Recipe:

Eating Well Frozen Mochaachino

Low Cal and Delicious!

Low Cal and Delicious!

Here’s a great alternative to Starbucks (since you’re not allowed within a thousand yards of it anyway). This low cal, low fat frozen drink rings in at 127 calories (instead of 270 for a small mocha frappuccino) and gives you just the jolt you need to deal with your teen and keep a smile on your face.

So, Hungry Lifers…has your teen ever been EMBARRASSED TO DEATH by the very sight of you breathing? Are your kids too little for you to believe any of this? Have your kids grown out of this phase? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

May 11, 2016

The Best Sandwiches Ever

By Maria Schulz

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times called “The Best Sandwich Ever.” The author likes to play a game with his kids where he lists his top 5 sandwiches of all time. Wait a minute…I want to play!

I wasn’t sure I could come up with five, but once I started thinking about it, I wasn’t sure I could keep the list down to only five choices. This was hard work! Okay, so I’m not working in a salt mine or panning for gold, but still.

So good!

So good!

Sandwich #5: The Breakfast Burrito

My husband, girls, and I found this little place a few blocks off of Union Square in downtown San Francisco that serves the best breakfast burrito bar none. Eggs, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and potatoes are expertly seasoned, cooked, and folded into a burrito shell, for a sandwich sensation. If it had its own cult following, I would join. Wash it down with their freshly squeezed orange juice for a taste of perfection.

Perfect for summer grilling

Perfect for summer grilling

Sandwich #4: Sausage & Peppers

The year was 1987. My friend, Dorothy, and I were in Boston visiting our pal Lisa. Lisa went to college there and took us to see all the sights: Harvard, a new restaurant called Legal Seafoods, and of course, Cheers, the very real bar that served as the fictional home to Sam and Diane of TV fame.

But the thing I remember most about that weekend was walking into Fenway Park. It was so small compared to Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium, but I loved the intimate feel of the place. There was the Green Monster! (Bucky Dent, I love you still).

Thanks, Bucky

Thanks, Bucky

The Mets were fresh off their World Series win and Boston fans were still smarting over that one. Did I gloat? Well, maybe a little (but only on the inside…I didn’t want to get killed at Fenway Park). I soon realized we had more in common than the sum of our differences when I bit into a sausage and pepper “hoagie” on thick, crusty Italian bread. Smoky and sweet, crunchy and soft, it made me proud to be Italian. (But still not a Red Sox fan).

Sandwich #3: The Gobble, Gobble Panini

It's starting to feel a lot like Thanksgiving

It’s starting to feel a lot like Thanksgiving

My local diner offers this treat that’s truly Thanksgiving on a plate. Take roasted turkey, a thin layer of stuffing, a healthy dollop of cranberries, and just a splash of gravy on hearty ciabatta bread. If you don’t have a Panini press, here’s a tip: place your sandwich in a heavy-bottomed skillet and then place another skillet on top to flatten your sandwich). One bite and you’ll feel thankful too. Sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries make the perfect side.

Ah...summer

Ah…summer

Sandwich #2: Lobster Roll

I’ve had this sandwich at a beautiful restaurant in Mystic, CT as well as at a roadside shack in Northport, NY. No matter what the setting, this sandwich is always KILLER.

Traditional New England Lobster Rolls come with mayonaisse, but I prefer a sprinkle of drawn, melted butter. Season it all well and put it into a soft, chewy hot dog roll and you’ve got magic!

Sandwich #1: Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Yum!

Yum!

A couple of summers ago, my husband and I had a rare day off when the kids were at camp. We spent our morning at the beach and by lunchtime, we were famished. We drove straight to a beautiful restaurant on the water and ordered the Curried Chicken Salad on Crunchy Baguettes and a glass of white wine.

Maybe it was the company (always great) or the sunshine (I love me some Vitamin D), but this sandwich was spectacular. Whenever I have it again, it brings me right back to that happy, sunshine-filled day with a loaf of bread (baguettes), a jug of wine (okay, just a glass), and my sweetheart.

Recipes: Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich

Full-fat version

Low-fat version

So, Hungry Lifers…what would your TOP 5 sandwiches be? Understand that I left off my mother’s meatball sandwiches on Italian bread (to paraphrase Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, “it coulda been a contender.” This goes without saying, but I would love to have another one of these) and my Aunt Mary’s Eggs and Peppers sandwiches…also the BOMB, and I mean that in the best way. Please leave a comment and let us all know about your favorites. Thanks, and happy eating!

 

May 6, 2016

Rainy Day Surprises

Filed under: Uncategorized — talesfromahungrylife @ 7:42 pm

By Maria Schulz

The day started out soggy and gray. I walked the dog in a downpour, but I wasn’t unhappy. It was quiet and peaceful as we tramped up hills, stopped to take photos, walked through the park, and then ran down a few steep hills towards home.

img_2478
When I got to work, I noticed a rainbow of umbrellas drying by the door. They made me think of a field full of tulips, preferably on a sunny day.

img_2486
Okay, so maybe I’m just starved for Vitamin D, or I’ve seen some tulips that were on steroids. I just needed a pop of color and there they were. Sometimes, you’ve got to take what life hands you.

The day was long and uneventful. The funniest thing that happened to me was that my co-worker sent out a memo to everyone and called me Marilyn.

img_2490
Which is fine, if your name is ACTUALLY MARILYN! I was half insulted (I’ve worked there for a couple of years) and half delighted. I needed something to make me laugh on this relentlessly gray day.

But guess what? When I got home I found what I needed.

img_2489
An early Mother’s Day surprise.

It came with a card that said: To the best mom ever! We love you, Marilyn!

I made that last part up, but it was just the shot of color, dose of love, and reminder of summer that I’ve been dreaming of this whole rainy week.

Recipe: Zabaglione with Strawberries

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This beautiful photo and recipe comes from Food & Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook. You can serve this hot or prepare it ahead and refrigerate it.

Ingredients

8 large egg yolks

3/4 cup dry Marsala

1/2 cup sugar

1 pint strawberries, sliced

1. Put the egg yolks, Marsala, and then sugar into a large stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl over a large saucepan with 1-inch simmering water. Set a hand mixer on low or use a whisk to beat  the egg-yolk mixture until it’s hot and the mixture forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted (5-8 minutes). Don’t cook the zabaglione for too long or it will curdle.

2. Put the strawberries in stemmed glasses or in bowls. Top with the hot zabaglione and either serve the dessert immediately or refrigerate it for up to an hour.

For a zabaglione that will last up to six hours in the fridge, add whipped cream. Beat 1/2 cup of heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. When the zabaglione is done, remove the bowl from the heat and beat until cool. Fold the cooled zabaglione into the whipped cream. Put the strawberries into glasses or bowls, top with zabaglione, and refrigerate. You can use blueberries, raspberries, or peaches if you prefer. Enjoy!

So: what kind of surprises did you enjoy today? Please leave a comment and let us know. Thanks!

May 2, 2016

A Hairy Story

by Maria Schulz

All right, I’ll admit it: my hair and I have had two very separate minds for most of my life. It all started when my cousin Angela asked if she could cut off my waist-length hair.

“Will it grow back in time for school?” I asked. (I was only 7, and It was August, by the way).

“Um, sure!” she said.

the-way-of-love-album-cover

I remember the sheer look of delight on Angela’s face when she was done. I also remember being very cold on the drive home, even though it was 85 degrees out. No worries though. My hair would grow back by September! Or not. I’m still waiting.

I never really had a hairstyle that I loved as much as that Cher-inspired, waist-length, straight as can be ‘do. Although, I did try really hard to find “the one.”

There was the Dorothy Hamill hair cut that I decided to get when every other girl on the planet got one too. Dorothy looked so cute! Look at her with her gold medal and pixie hair cut. I might never win a gold medal, but I was sure I could look equally adorable. Except…I looked more like Tony Danza in Taxi than Dorothy Hamill on the podium.

dorothy hamill

Looks good on her…

Fast forward to the ‘80s. High hair, perms, and mousse ruled the land. The models in the salon posters all looked FANTASTIC with their gigantic hair. If I looked just like those women in the posters, I was sure my life would be so much more fun.

There would be nights on the town! Laughter and merriment! Good times and great people. I got those hairstyles, and I met lots of amazing people, but still, something wasn’t quite right. I looked like a crazy, windblown peasant girl. Or, as my old Stern’s pal and co-worker John B. put it, I looked kind of like this.

lucy grape stomping

By the time the 80s ended, I thought I was over hair fads. So imagine my friend Dorothy’s surprise when I showed up on her wedding day in my bridesmaid’s gown looking like Joan Jett’s twin sister. I don’t think she was happy, but I was (if only I was half as successful at recreating this look the next day!)

Joan Jett

Yes, by the 90s I had sworn off those silly, hard-to-manage celebrity hairstyles for good. Until…Friends became the hottest show on television, and Rachel had the cutest hair. My poor hairstylist had to recreate this look for me (I’m pretty sure she hated it as much as I loved it). I have to admit, this style looked great on me, but it was a gigantic pain to keep up! No wonder Jennifer Aniston hated it.

rachel

Here’s the thing about my hair. It goes where it wants, whether I spend hours on it or let it air dry. Either way, I end up looking like this.

Bram Stokers Dracula

I finally made peace with it. I’m an adult now, and I understand that celebrities have one huge thing that I don’t: stylists! They have professionals spending hours and hours making them look fantastic. I’m lucky if I have 15 minutes to blow dry my hair. It’s time for me to accept the curly, wild, unpredictable, dense mane that the good Lord (and my Mama) gave me. Although these days, I really think I could pull this celebrity hairstyle off.

Betty White

Recipe: Angel Hair Pasta Primavera

I’ve made this recipe on numerous occasions and it’s always a big hit. I like to try different pastas, so spaghetti, penne, or angel hair pasta (my daughters’ favorite) all work. Your call! Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. Pick your favorite vegetables, roast them, and go from there. You won’t be sorry! This is quick, delicious, and very satisfying.

no-cream pasta primavera

So, Hungry Lifers: do you have a love-hate relationship with your hair? Do you have hair? What was your favorite type of hairstyle EVER? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

April 12, 2016

Happy National Grilled Cheese Day

by Maria Schulz

There are lots of unofficial “holidays” floating around out there that marketers love to tout. For instance, yesterday was “National Pet Day.” I didn’t realize we needed a day for that. Everyday is National Pet Day here at my house. “World Laughter Day” is coming up on May 1, and of course, May 4th is Star Wars Day. You’ll know it because everyone will be walking around wearing Star Wars ties and tee-shirts, and you’ll get lots of emails from merchants with the subject line: May the Fourth Be With You!

Still great.

Still great.

Today friends, is National Grilled Cheese Day. Now, lots of these holidays have no meaning for me, but this one absolutely does. If there’s someone out there who doesn’t love a great grilled cheese…well, I can’t understand that. I mean, are you CRAZY?

My love affair with the grilled cheese began long ago, and of course it got me in trouble. When I was 8, my mom bought a new toaster. Since I always used the old toaster to make my version of a grilled cheese (it was just a melted cheese sandwich, but no one would let me use the stove), I slapped my bread and cheese in and waited for the magic to happen.

Do NOT put cheese in there

Do NOT put cheese in there

Unfortunately, the fact that the new toaster was not a toaster oven like the old one sailed over my head. I can still see my mother trying to scrape the cheese out of her new, now destroyed, toaster. She got so mad at me that I hid in my room and didn’t go back to school in time for the after lunch bell. I thought she’d realize I was still home, but she just kept ranting in the kitchen about what a moron I was until I came out…and got yelled at for being late for school.

Eventually, my mother bought a new toaster (oven) and life went on like before. There were lots of cheese sandwiches in my future. Remarkably, my parents eventually allowed me to use a skillet and fire to make grilled cheese, and I never looked back. I learned some important things, among them: NEVER PUT CHEESE IN A REGULAR TOASTER. These are life skills, people.

As a mom myself, the grilled cheese was a go-to lunch item that my husband, kids, and I always enjoyed. I was good at making them, but by far, the all-time Champion Grilled Cheese Cook of the World was my mother-in-law, Irene (Nana, to my kids),

So good

So good

With a couple of slices of bread, a slice or two of American or Cheddar cheese, a dab of butter and a hot grill pan, Irene/Nana could make magic. Her grilled cheese sandwiches looked like something out of a stylized photo shoot. The aroma used to send us all into a tizzy (dog included), making us circle the kitchen and erupt into cheers of LUNCH! LUNCH! LUNCH! Of course, while she cooked, she would share cheese with our dogs (first Cokey, then Trixie), giving her Most Beloved Human status.

I can still see her there in my kitchen buttering the bread, adding the cheese, flipping the whole thing over, and using a heavy spatula on top to help the bread crisp up. From her white curls on top of her head to the Dr. Scholl’s shoes on her feet, Irene was as All-American as…well, grilled cheese.

Irene the teen

Irene the teen

She’d wear her regulation “Nana” garb, which consisted of a long gray sweater with big pockets for tissues, medicines, or hard candies, over a floral blouse and black slacks. Irene would tell hilarious stories about her life growing up in Ridgewood, Queens: she was the first person to create and own a pet rock, which she walked down Fresh Pond Road on a leash. She never cashed in on her big idea and was really annoyed when it made its second creator millions in the ’70s. Irene had endearing and not-so-endearing nicknames for her friends and relatives, including “The Stick” for her ridiculously thin neighbor and “The Battle Axe” for her nasty, difficult grandmother. Irene told us of her life growing up during the Depression and Prohibition (when some relatives made hooch in the bathtub), and she sold war bonds, painted her legs with “seams” when pantyhose were scarce, and waited for her fella to come home from the War (that fella was my husband’s Dad) in the 1940s. She was, as her father would’ve called her, a real “tomato.”

Not Irene

Not Irene

When my kids would ask her where her family came from, she would reply: “Philadelphia.” She was an All-American girl, and even though her family came here on a boat just like my family, that was so long ago that they didn’t think about it much anymore.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

She’d tell the kids to come in and sit down, pushing her glasses back up on the bridge of her nose and gesturing to us to take our seats. Then she’d serve us our grilled cheese sandwiches and dole out the tomato soup that was its natural partner…and we would eat…and talk…and laugh.

On this National Grilled Cheese Day, I’d like to raise a glass of (soda/wine/water) and a delicious cheese sandwich in her memory. My mother-in-law may be gone now, but she will always be remembered…especially on holidays, real and random…and every other day too.

Recipes:

Healthy Grilled Cheese Recipes

healthy grilled cheese recipe

So good–and good for you too!


So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite type of grilled cheese sandwich? Hint: mine’s a tie between healthy tomato and mozzarella Caprese and good old American Cheddar. Please leave a comment and enjoy your day!

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