Monthly Archives: October 2012

2012 Goals Project - Focus On Diane

It’s no secret that I love Diane from LadyFingers Private Chef and Catering.  I mean, how many times have I gone on about how fun it is to hang out with her and her cute husband Jim?  How many times have I gone on about how much she’s taught me about cooking and organization?  Probably a million.  Simply put, she’s a great lady and I’m happy and proud to have her as my partner in cooking.  Moreover, she’s DRIVEN and I find that inspiring.  This is not a woman who lets things stand in her way.  I was so happy she joined the Goals Project.

What made you choose the goals you chose?
For me, life means being happy, healthy and productive. Since I am fortunate enough to have happiness, I decided to focus on the healthy and productive parts!  Consequently, I chose three business-related goals (gaining preferred caterer status, obtaining new customers and improving online status) and eight health and fitness-related goals (CrossFit, diet and sun exposure).  I also tried to design my goals so that they would be measurable.

What keeps you motivated?
In broad terms, I tend to be a very determined person so once my goals were set, moving forward was natural.  I enjoy my work and enjoy fitness, so accomplishing my goals was fun and satisfying.  And because my goals were shared with our group and progress was updated monthly, I felt accountable and motivated to succeed.  On a specific level, I was motivated to accomplish my business goals because my catering business is incredibly important to me and in order for my business to grow and prosper, achieving my goals was critical.  And, because I’m in my mid-fifties, my health and fitness becomes more important every day.

What do you find difficult about your goals?  When faced with difficulty or a set back, how do you overcome?
Most of my goals have been accomplished and now it seems hard to remember what was difficult (over-fifty memory loss?!?).  Seriously, I suppose the most difficult thing was a series of physical limitations that inhibited my CrossFit progress throughout the year.  In many ways though, my physical set-backs gave me an opportunity to consider what was really important in my life.  Some of my set-backs actually gave me perspective on the big picture!  So while I might have wrung my hands and shed a few tears, I also looked toward the future.  Fortunately, the future I see is bright!

First Comes Health & LadyFingers Holiday Party Contest!

In 2012 LadyFingers Private Chef and Catering and I have hosted seven winners.  Seven lucky folks have followed our monthly cooking extravaganzas on Twitter and submitted a correct response to the questions we’ve asked about each meal.  They were diligent about following along and paying specific attention to ingredients, technique, and detail.  To celebrate these 7 lucky people Diane and I are hosting a holiday hors d’oeuvre party on December 4, 2012 and they (plus a guest!) are invited.  Yippee!

AND YOU ARE INVITED TOO!

Or at least you can be if you are one of the THREE winners we will choose!  Here are the details:

Including this month’s menu, Diane and I have prepared 38 different recipes.  To win one of three invitations for you and 1 guest to our holiday hors d’oeuvre party you must prepare 1 recipe (not one whole meal menu, just one recipe), photograph your steps as you go along, and email us your version of our recipes along with the photos. No Twitter or Facebook required! We will choose three winners from all the entries, and those lucky ducks will be invited to our holiday hors d’oeuvre gathering on December 4.

So, to recap:

1. Choose one recipe from the 38 we’ve prepared in the last year.
2. Cook this recipe and take photos of your progress throughout just like Diane and I do.
3. Email photos plus a description of what you did to Diane or me. (info@ladyfingersprivatechef.com  OR jill@firstcomeshealth.com) DEADLINE: November 21, 2012 at 11:59:59 PM
4. Wait with baited breath to see if you are one of the three lucky winners who will attend our holiday bash on December 4.

Fine print:
Only one entry per person.
If you are chosen as a winner, you will provide your own transportation to and from the party which will be in Pittsburgh, PA, USA on December 4, 2012.
Winner will be notified via e-mail.

Recipes:
You can see all the LadyFingers posts right here.
Or choose from one of these downloadable and printable PDF versions:
Wild Mushroom and Green Bean Salad with Goat Cheese
Tapenade Crusted Salmon with Roasted Red Onions
Southwestern Shrimp and Snapper Stew
Baby Greens Wrapped in Prosciutto with Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Osso Bucco alla Milanese
Savory Squash Souffle
Avocado Gazpacho Salsa
Lemon-Seared Tuna and Rosemary Skewers
Scallop BLTs
Spinach, Orange, and Beet Salad
Grilled Lamb Loin Chops
Mint Pesto
Roasted Vegetable-Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Chilled Ginger-Cantaloupe Soup
Spicy Salmon and Zucchini Patties
Orange-Glazed Carrot Ribbons
Romaine Wrapped Halibut
Watermelon Mint Gazpacho
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Bacon
Carrot and Zucchini Slaw
Spicy Paprika-Grilled Chicken Kebabs
Grilled Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto
Crab-Encrusted Scallops with Green Pea Puree
Spicy Yam “Fries”
Garden Stuffed Peppers
Macadamia and Cashew-Crusted Chicken Bites
Mango Dipping Sauce
Asparagus Green Curry Soup
Grilled Filet Mignon with Balsamic-Roasted Tomatoes
Hard-Boiled Quail Egg with Tapenade Trio
Tomato and Spaghetti Squash Salad with Chive Oil
Poached Duck Breast Rolls
Raspberry Red Wine Puree
Maple Roasted Parsnip “Fries”
Asparagus Roasted Finocchinona
Zucchini-Caper Dip
Seared Sea Scallops with Garlic-Sherry Mushrooms
Grilled Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions

GOOD LUCK TO ALL!

Recipes: A Meal of Laughs - And A Contest!

Last night was the final LadyFingers and First Comes Health dinner for 2012.  We do have one more event coming up soon (more details below!), but this was our last dinner around the table with two special guests that we’ll serve this year.  It makes me a little sad to say a temporary farewell to our monthly ritual with Diane and her husband Jim, but we’ll return in 2013.

What doesn’t make me sad was the entirety of last night’s meal.  Our winner from two months ago was Kelly F. and she brought her friend Lori along.  I almost (not really, but ALMOST!) forgot what we ate because we sat around the table and laughed so hard.  It was a terrific evening made even more special because we celebrated Diane’s birthday too!

So, let’s get to the food, which was exceptional!

Asparagus Roasted with Finocchinona – serves 6

12 asparagus spears, medium thickness
12 Finocchinona slices or any other flavorful salami
Garlic-infused olive oil

Heat oven to 425-degrees.
Rinse asparagus spears and pat dry.  Trim woody ends.
Tightly wrap each asparagus spear with salami and place on a non-stick foil-lined baking sheet.
Lightly brush with garlic-infused olive oil.
Roast for 8 – 10 minutes or until asparagus is tender and salami has begun to crisp.
Serve with Zucchini-Caper Dip.

Zucchini-Caper Dip – serves 6

2 medium zucchini or 1 ½ large zucchini
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice from ¼ lemon
2 teaspoons capers
¼ teaspoon dried chili flakes
Salt, to taste

Slice zucchini and place in a steamer.  Steam for 3 – 5 minutes or until zucchini has begun to soften.
Transfer zucchini to the bowl of a food processor.
Add garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, capers and chili flakes and process until the mixture is smooth.
Add salt to taste.
Garnish with capers if desired and serve.

Seared Sea Scallops with Garlic Sherry Mushrooms – serves 6

1 pound mixed mushrooms including mini white button, crimini and shiitake
2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
2 tablespoons unflavored olive oil
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped and then crushed
1 teaspoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
6 large, firm, unbroken sea scallops
Garlic-infused olive oil

Clean and coarsely chop mushrooms.
Add both olive oils to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.


Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, just until mushrooms begin to release liquid.
Add crushed garlic to the skillet and stir to combine.
Whisk tomato paste and dry sherry together and add to the skillet, again stirring to combine.
Reduce heat to medium and allow mushrooms to cook until liquid is reduced.


Meanwhile, place a large skillet over high heat.
Rinse scallops and pat them dry.  Toss the scallops with garlic-infused olive oil until scallops are lightly coated.
Place scallops in hot skillet and cook until bottoms are crisp and well-browned.
Turn scallops and cook on second side until crisp and well-browned.  To ensure that scallops are cooked through, cover the skillet with a lid during the second side.
Transfer scallops to serving plates.
Add fresh thyme to the mushroom mixture and stir to combine.
Spoon the mushroom mixture over scallops and serve.

Grilled Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions – serves 6

2 1 ½-pound flank steaks (3 pounds total)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
1 cup red wine
4 sweet or Vidalia onions
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil

Three hours prior to grilling, lay steaks on a cutting board on a flat, sturdy work surface.
Using a large serving fork, thoroughly pierce each steak on both sides.
Lightly sprinkle each steak with garlic powder and onion powder and thoroughly pierce each steak again.
Place each steak in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and add ½ cup red wine to each bag.  Squeeze out as much air as possible from each bag and tightly seal.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning bags occasionally.
One hour prior to grilling, remove steaks from refrigerator and place on counter to come up to room temperature.
Heat grill to high.
Cut each onion in half, peel each half and then slice very thinly.
Place sliced onions in a large pot or Dutch oven with butter or olive oil (Olive oil is the Paleo method but butter will brown the onions with better flavor).
Heat onions over medium-high heat, stirring to coat the slices with the oil or butter.
Allow onions to cook, stirring frequently.  After 20 minutes, reduce heat to medium, continuing to cook and stir.
As onions begin to brown, scrape the caramelization from the bottom of the pot and stir it into the onions.
Continue this process for an additional 20 – 30 minutes or until onions are a deep caramel color and taste quite sweet.  Keep warm while steaks cook.
By this time, the grill should be extremely hot.  Reduce the heat to low and remove the steaks from the bags.  Place steaks on the center of the grill and close the lid.
Grill on low for 5 minutes.  Turn the steaks and grill for an additional 5 minutes for medium rare.
Transfer the steaks to a large cutting board and allow them to rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the steak, placing 5 – 6 slices on serving plates and top with caramelized onions. (We served ours with roasted beets!)

Didn’t I tell you? As usual the menu was fantastic.  I could have had seconds or even thirds on everything!  Here are the downloadable and printable versions of all that we made:

Asparagus Roasted Finocchinona
Zucchini Caper Dip
Seared Sea Scallops with Garlic-Sherry Mushrooms
Grilled Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions

And now to the BIG BIG announcement!!!

In 2012 LadyFingers Private Chef and Catering and I have hosted seven winners.  Seven lucky folks have followed our monthly cooking extravaganzas on Twitter and submitted a correct response to the questions we’ve asked about each meal.  They were diligent about following along and paying specific attention to ingredients, technique, and detail.  To celebrate these 7 lucky people Diane and I are hosting a holiday hors d’oeuvre party on December 4, 2012 and they (plus a guest!) are invited.  Yippee!

AND YOU ARE INVITED TOO!

Or at least you can be if you are one of the THREE winners we will choose!  Here are the details:

Including this month’s menu, Diane and I have prepared 38 different recipes.  To win one of three invitations for you and 1 guest to our holiday hors d’oeuvre party you must prepare 1 recipe (not one whole meal menu, just one recipe), photograph your steps as you go along, and email us your version of our recipes along with the photos. No Twitter or Facebook required! We will choose three winners from all the entries, and those lucky ducks will be invited to our holiday hors d’oeuvre gathering on December 4.

So, to recap:

1. Choose one recipe from the 38 we’ve prepared in the last year.
2. Cook this recipe and take photos of your progress throughout just like Diane and I do.
3. Email photos plus a description of what you did to Diane or me. (info@ladyfingersprivatechef.com  OR jill@firstcomeshealth.com) DEADLINE: November 21, 2012 at 11:59:59 PM
4. Wait with baited breath to see if you are one of the three lucky winners who will attend our holiday bash on December 4.

Fine print:
Only one entry per person.
If you are chosen as a winner, you will provide your own transportation to and from the party which will be in Pittsburgh, PA, USA on December 4, 2012.
Winner will be notified via e-mail.

Recipes:
You can see all the LadyFingers posts right here.
Or choose from one of these downloadable and printable PDF versions:
Wild Mushroom and Green Bean Salad with Goat Cheese
Tapenade Crusted Salmon with Roasted Red Onions
Southwestern Shrimp and Snapper Stew
Baby Greens Wrapped in Prosciutto with Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Osso Bucco alla Milanese
Savory Squash Souffle
Avocado Gazpacho Salsa
Lemon-Seared Tuna and Rosemary Skewers
Scallop BLTs
Spinach, Orange, and Beet Salad
Grilled Lamb Loin Chops
Mint Pesto
Roasted Vegetable-Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Chilled Ginger-Cantaloupe Soup
Spicy Salmon and Zucchini Patties
Orange-Glazed Carrot Ribbons
Romaine Wrapped Halibut
Watermelon Mint Gazpacho
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Bacon
Carrot and Zucchini Slaw
Spicy Paprika-Grilled Chicken Kebabs
Grilled Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto
Crab-Encrusted Scallops with Green Pea Puree
Spicy Yam “Fries”
Garden Stuffed Peppers
Macadamia and Cashew-Crusted Chicken Bites
Mango Dipping Sauce
Asparagus Green Curry Soup
Grilled Filet Mignon with Balsamic-Roasted Tomatoes
Hard-Boiled Quail Egg with Tapenade Trio
Tomato and Spaghetti Squash Salad with Chive Oil
Poached Duck Breast Rolls
Raspberry Red Wine Puree
Maple Roasted Parsnip “Fries”
Asparagus Roasted Finocchinona
Zucchini-Caper Dip
Seared Sea Scallops with Garlic-Sherry Mushrooms
Grilled Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions

GOOD LUCK TO ALL!

2012 Goals Project - September Review

It’s October!  Here in the northeast USA it’s starting to get kind of chilly outside, the leaves are changing color.  Although I consider myself a hot weather person, I admit to loving autumn.

October also means that the 2012 Goals Project is winding down!  There will only be three more reviews like this and that’s all!  I can hardly believe it. It’s time to start looking forward to 2013 already!  With each review I invite anyone who would like to join this round of the Goals Project to hop aboard, but if you haven’t and want to give this a shot in the new year, now is the time to start thinking about that.  What would you like to see yourself accomplish in 2013?  Where do you see yourself a year from now?  No goal is too big or too small.

So, let’s see how the 2012 folks are hanging in there.  I am so proud and happy that they’ve stuck with me this long and I know they’ll strongly finish the year.  No doubt in my mind.

Kelly F.

Non banded pull-ups:  hmm….still not much to report here.  We have been doing a specific warmup in our CrossFit Classes so I don’t always have the option to work on these at the box.  (warm-up was the time I used to practice my pull-ups).  I am going to have to find some time to get back at this.

30-day Paleo Challenge: Accomplished.   I am now working on losing 20lbs by the end of this project.  I am chipping away at those pounds.

Rx’d Crossfit workout: Accomplished.  I am still rehabbing my back but it is feeling much better so I am back to Crossfit and working towards regaining my strength and hoping to once again be able to do some WODs Rx’d.

Shannon H.

Even though my hip is still bugging me a little, the pain is diminishing week by week and is now only slightly annoying, and not noticeable when I run. I finished September with 139 miles, which brings me to…DUH DUH DUH…1000 miles for the year!!! So even with several runs missed due to the hip issue I am perfectly on track for my 1300 mi goal as long as I run 100 mi a month for the rest of the year. This is totally do-able!!

Ann M.

September was a few steps back for me on my 2012 goals! Between adjusting to my new job and jumping between living with a friend part time and my parents part time, I had very little time to myself. Therefore, cooking and working out took a complete backseat. Good news though – October is a new month! I will be moving into my own place and joining my local CrossFit gym. I may have spent the summer veering off course with my goals, but I’m excited to get back into the swing of things.

Diane D.

I’m happy to report that I have recovered from my eye injury!  As a result, my goals will need a slight adjustment, but here is where I stand:

LadyFingers:  Cultivate new client relationships for 2013 and make certain that that all 2012 clients are happy and satisfied

Re-evaluate CrossFit goals to suit physical limitations

Clearly, 2013 will be an entirely new set of goals!

Brian R.

Reach a CrossFit Total of 800 — Another month without any metering of my progress, although I believe I made some gains on performing the back squat.  I’m beginning to wonder if this was a worthwhile goal to pursue if it is now October and I really haven’t made the commitment to seeing this through.

Pack lunch for work everyday — I did pretty well this month, although there have been about 4-5 days where I found myself at work without a lunch.  This was just poor planning on my part, so I need to think back to how I was so successful the month before so I can get back on track.

Write 45,000 words – Things were pretty slow in the writing department this month, although I probably managed a good 2000 words.  Not much for an entire month, but it is still forward progress.

Bill R.

Things are going well with most of my goals.  I am having difficulty with the fingernail issue – I blame it on football season!!
I just finished my first week of the Couch-to-5K program!  It feels great!!  I struggled a bit the first time out, but finished strong this morning and actually ran an extra set at the end.  I am convinced that if I can push myself to keep up with this program, it will totally help me with my other goals!!  Happy Halloween! I will fight my urges to spurge on the mini Snickers!!!
Matt C.
September was a good month.  Igot back on track after a few minor hiccups left me out of my normal routine towards the end of the month. Still feeling good about myself and how I look.
October and November are shaping up to be fun months. The YMCA we go to is running an incentive program. As a way to get people interested in classes that may be out of people’s comfort zones, they are running a contest between now and Thanksgiving to see who can get to at least two sessions of each group exercise class. So in the next few updates, I’ll be excited to report on how I’ve done in classes like step, yoga, spinning and, of course, Zumba (which should be interesting this Thursday night)!!!
Jill C. (that’s me!)
Now that I’m back on track with my ankle (mostly), I feel like I can get back to pursuing my real goals in earnest.  Pull-ups?  I haven’t worked on them in months.  I’m not sure I can accomplish this one by the end of the year, but I’m not giving up on it at all.  If I don’t make it by the end of 2012, it will definitely be on my 2013 list!
Yoga has been absent too and I’m anxious to get back to it.  Hopefully October will have a few yoga classes on my calendar.
Now that I’m back to running I am revisiting my goal to become a more comfortable, confident runner.  I’ve been running three days a week for all of September and have continued into October.  I had some successes with a few confident, although not speedy, 5ks recently and I can definitely feel a change in my attitude.  Plus, I did something positively CRAZY earlier in the week.  I signed up to run the Pittsburgh half marathon again!  YIKES!  This will be a real test of my confidence come May 2013!
I have fallen completely off the wagon with the new-to-me meals.  I hope to get on this more between now and the end of the year.
And that’s September!  I hope all of you are going to consider joining us in the new year.
If you are interested in joining us now, it is never too late to set a goal and work towards it! Send me an email with the thing(s) you’d like to tackle in what’s left of 2012 and you’ll join the ranks of these fine folks.  That’s all it takes.  It doesn’t matter WHEN you start pursuing your goals, it just matters that you DO start.

 

A Big Announcement

Well, hello to all!

I have to give a big THANK YOU shout out to my friends Hayley and Bill of The Food Lovers’ Kitchen as well as Diane from Balanced Bites for telling all of my new readers about me.  Thanks, friends!  And welcome to all of you who are stopping by for the first time.

I figured that given this new influx of super readers and the big response I had over on Facebook to a question I put up a few days ago, that today might be a really good day to let you all in on a little secret I’ve been keeping for a little while.

The other day I was taste testing some kombucha that I made and asked everyone what their favorite flavors were.  I got a really healthy response and some terrific ideas that I plan to try today when I am in the First Comes Health kitchen bottling another round of my ‘bucha.  And then someone asked me if I ever share my recipes……..

Well, no and yes.  No, because I haven’t ever shared them before. It’s not like they’re top secret, I just haven’t really ever put them on the site.  And yes, because I will be sharing them soon.  Just not here on my site.  More like, I’ll be sharing them in the book I’m writing about food fermentation.

Did you get that?  I’m currently writing a book about food fermentation!!!  WOOT WOOT!!

If all goes as planned, it will be out on shelves and on Amazon.com sometime next summer and will contain, among much else, my kombucha flavoring ideas, recipes, and combinations. It will also have much more in there, many kinds of ferments, how-to, recipes, and more.

So, that’s my big (BIG BIG!!) announcement!  I’ve been working away everyday on this and have a long way to go, but I am positively thrilled.

Please stay tuned for updates, sneak peaks, and more specific information about all of it in the coming months.  I plan to keep everyone up to date here on the old blog, plus on Facebook and Twitter, so follow me there too and you won’t miss a single detail.

p.s. How do you like these photos?  Just a tiny sample of the great work Bill Staley did for me so far.