2 sisters 2 cities

February 25, 2010

2010 Goals Status

Filed under: M's post — Tags: , , — 2sisters2cities @ 9:48 am

Since I am officially turning the big 3-0 this weekend, I wanted to follow-up on my goals for the year before I embark on the next decade of my life:

M’s 2010 Goals:
1.  Start letterpress printing! This involves getting my new poco press cleaned up and ready to go.  I need to make a trip out to Chicopee, MA to a warehouse called Letterpress Things to stock up on tools, inks, and cleaners.  I also need to buy a base and determine what software I need on my computer to start designing plates- Done, I did everything here and just need to start designing some plates, ordering them, and then start printing!
2. Try yoga again – Took one beginner class.  Purchased a series of 10 classes off of Gilt for Exhale Spa…just need to actually use them now.
3.  Cook more meals and do more prep on the weekend– Kind of…I’ve been cooking a lot, but not necessarily doing more prep on the weekend.
4. Organize my kitchen -Done, bought a ton of wooden crates (maybe too many) off E-Bay.  Found  kitchen cabinet hooks at the Home Depot and installed them this weekend.
5.  Read more books off the NY Times Best Seller listDone…new book review of past 5 books coming soon.  I have about 30 books on hold at the library as well.
6.  Spend less money on clothes Done…haven’t really been in much of a shopping mood for clothes at all lately.  This probably has more to do with the fact that all the stores are showing spring clothes, none of which will be wearable in Boston until about June.
7. Take more classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education. I am currently thinking about taking a digital photography class and an Adobe design class- Done…took Adobe Illustrator class, signed up for digital photography and 2 other classes.
8. Buy a headboard for our master bedroom- Still working on this.
9. Finish painting our master bathroom or hire someone to finish it.– Decided to install crown molding instead…still need to find a contractor to do this.
10. Post on a regular basis to this new blog! – Getting better at it…definitely room for improvement on content and frequency!


February 24, 2010

Night School

Filed under: Letterpress, M's post — Tags: , , — 2sisters2cities @ 11:55 am

The other night,  I took a class at the BCAE to help learn Adobe Illustrator.  A couple of weeks ago, I had downloaded a trial run of the Adobe Creative Suite to create digital photopolymer plates to make letterpress prints.  After a few minutes of playing around with Illustrator, I quickly realized I had no idea of what I was doing.  While I pretty much know every Excel trick in the book after 8 years in Corporate Finance, I have never used any type of graphic design program.

After doing a few on-line searches, I realized the least expensive classroom option to learn Illustrator would be at the Boston Center for Adult Education.  In the past, Husband M and I have taken wine classes there.  I also took a beginning sewing class there as well two summers ago.  The facility is pretty close to my work so it’s really easy to take evening classes there.

The class turned out to be just what I needed.  The teacher, who I thought was really funny throughout the class, was really good at going over the basics of Illustrator.  Not surprisingly, she told us at the end of the class that she was a stand-up comedian when she wasn’t doing graphic design.  Her personality really kept the class interesting because three hours of software training can sometimes become boring quickly.  When I had initially been playing around with the software at home, there were a few things that had I had no idea what was going on…I was able to quickly learn what I had been doing wrong and found new tools to help create what I was hoping to.

Overall, I thought the class was definitely worth my time and I plan on utilizing my new skills over the next couple of weeks to design the letterpress plates.  It’s kind of funny how interesting it is to head back to a classroom setting to learn new things once you are no longer in school on a daily basis.  Over the next month, I’m signed up for classes about blogging,  kitchen knives skills, and  digital photography.  I’ll definitely keep you posted on how they go…


Penne Alla “Not-Ka”

Filed under: K's Recipes — Tags: , — 2sisters2cities @ 10:09 am

Sunday night, B decided to cook a meal from the Lifetime “Cook Yourself Thin” cookbook.   I know we are addicted to this cookbook, but how can you blame us when everything has been so good!  We had just got back from my boyfriend’s bands show (I’ll tell you more about them later)  and had all the ingredients for the recipe since we were suppose to make it earlier this week.   Sadly to admit, the wine was corked at 4:30 that day… ha-ha oopps (Mom incase you are reading this, it was non-alcoholic wine grape juice in fact).   Well anyways the recipe Penne Alla “Not-ka” is supposed to be the healthier version of Penne Alla Vodka (I guess you could have figured that out on your own right?).  Regardless it was really tasty but didn’t taste a whole lot like the real thing. You should try it yourself and tell me what you think. 

*Wine Note*-  I am going to pretend to be your sommelier right here by saying this meal is really great with lots of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Penne Alla “Not-Ka”

Serves 4
Calories per serving: 371

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes in juice, pureed in a food processor
Pinch red pepper flakes
8 ounces penne
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons evaporated nonfat milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the penne.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the 2 teaspoons oil with the garlic over low heat until the garlic begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook until the onion is softened, about 2 more minutes. Add the tomato, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer very gently 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and evaporated milk and simmer 1 more minute.

3. Meanwhile, after the sauce has cooked 5 minutes, add the penne to the boiling water and cook until just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the drained penne to the saucepan and simmer until the penne is al dente, 1 to 2 minutes, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if the mixture is dry. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, along with the basil and black pepper.

4. To serve, divide pasta among 4 serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle with shredded basil and the remaining Parmesan.



February 23, 2010

Ultimate Sausage Cheese Pizza

Filed under: K's Recipes — Tags: , — 2sisters2cities @ 11:51 pm

Friday Night B decided to make a pizza from the Lifetime “Cook Yourself Thin” Cookbook.  The pizza is only for one person, so we tripled the recipe for three people.   The pizza doesn’t have a ton of cheese on it, but it was still really good!  It was definitely a healthy alternative to regular pizza.  We had spinach and feta chicken sausage in our freezer already so we just used that, and we omitted the scallions.

Ultimate Sausage Cheese Pizza

Serves 1
Calories per serving: 475

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup organic tomato sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
1 link precooked chicken basil sausage
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 red bell pepper or jarred roasted red pepper
4 ounces prepared pizza dough
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped scallion, white and green parts
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. For the tomato sauce, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Preheat a gas grill or stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Place chicken basil sausage and bell pepper on the grill. Grill the sausage until cooked through, about 2 minutes each side; set aside. Continue grilling the pepper, turning, until the skin is blackened, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Place pepper in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel, stem and seed the pepper; cut or tear half the pepper into large dice, reserving the other half of the roasted pepper for another dish. When chicken sausage is done, slice thinly and set aside.

5. Spray an aluminum pizza pan with nonfat cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to stretch the pizza dough into a thin round, about 8 inches. Place it in the prepared pan. Spread the dough with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Arrange the sliced chicken sausage on top, and scatter the pepper over. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

6. Bake until the edges are crisp and lightly browned, and the cheese is melted, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with scallions and basil, if using. Let pizza stand about 2 to 3 minutes before eating.



An Alternative Guacamole Recipe

Filed under: M's recipes, M's sides — Tags: , — 2sisters2cities @ 12:17 pm

For the Super Bowl, I also made Guacamole (as did our Mom…I guess it’s a family trend).  Sister K has a very good recipe that she has made for me before (for recipe, click here.)  I was searching around for a new variation and I found this one by Alton Brown on the Food Network website.

-3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
-1 lime, juiced (I was out of limes and half a lemon worked just fine in this recipe)
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced (I prefer red onion for this recipe)
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (omit if serving for a crowd…a lot of people do not like cilantro)
1 clove garlic, minced


In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

A good trick I learned somewhere is to stick the avocado pits into the guacamole while it is sitting out.  Remove them before serving.  In addition to the lime/lemon juice, this prevents the guacamole from browning.

-Sister M

February 22, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Filed under: K's Recipes — Tags: , — 2sisters2cities @ 9:00 pm

Looks like I am playing catch up once again.    Wednesday night B and I went back to cooking from the Lifetime “Cook Yourself Thin” Cookbook.  We decided to make the Buffalo Chicken Salad.   B is often skeptical of buffalo wing anything because she is from Buffalo and grew up eating Anchor Bar wings (the original buffalo wing) so I was surprised when she picked this recipe.  I am going off topic but if you are ever in Buffalo you have to go to this bar to try their wings.  They are amazing!  Back to the salad, it ended up being delicious and we both enjoyed it thoroughly for dinner and then the next day’s lunch.  So basically you HAVE to try it. 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Serves 4
Calories per serving: 480

2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound chicken tenders
1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 ounce crumbled blue cheese (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons nonfat or low-fat buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the hot sauce, vinegar, sugar and salt in a shallow dish until well blended. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.

2. Put the bread crumbs and oil in a shallow dish and toss to combine. Dredge each chicken tender in the bread crumbs, completely coating both sides. Transfer to the rack of a broiler pan or to a metal rack fitted over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until chicken is cooked through and crust is golden brown, about 12 minutes.

3. While the chicken is baking, stir together the cheese, yogurt, buttermilk and pepper. Toss with the lettuce and celery until well coated. Divide the dressed greens and chicken tenders among 4 serving plates and serve immediately.



Molten Chocolate Cake

Filed under: M's Desserts, M's recipes — Tags: , — 2sisters2cities @ 9:20 am

Following my belated Valentine’s Day dinner, I made Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert.  Although it sounds intimidating to make (and isn’t this the dessert you have to pre-order before your meal at most restaurants?!), it was actually pretty easy to make.  I got this recipe from the blog Closet Cooking:

Molten Chocolate Cake

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
3 egg whites

1. Lightly grease 4 ramekins with butter.
2. Melt the chocolate into the butter in a double boiler and let cool a bit.
3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar and mix into the chocolate.
4. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form soft peaks.
5. Fold the chocolate into the egg whites.
6. Pour the batter into the ramekins, no more than 2/3rds full.
7. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 7-10 minutes. The outside will be set and possibly crack and the inside will still be liquid.
8. Let cool for a few minutes and then run a knife around the edges and tip onto a plate. (Optional; Feel free to eat it right out of the ramekin with a spoon.)

I sifted a little powdered sugar on top and ate it straight from the ramekin (I think this was the first time I have actually even used my ramekins!)  Husband M recommends adding a couple raspberries to the top as well.

-Sister M

February 21, 2010

Not Your Average Rice Cake…

Filed under: M's recipes, M's sides — Tags: , — 2sisters2cities @ 10:17 am

I finally got around to making a special Valentine’s Day dinner, albeit about a week late (last Sunday, neither one of us felt like going grocery shopping and we just ended up getting Indian take-out).  For starters, I made hummus, toasted pita chips, and warm olives with za’atar.  For the actual dinner, I used Ana Sortun’s cookbook Spice (chef of Oleana…my hands down favorite restaurant in Boston and her husband runs the best farmer’s market stand, Siena Farms, in Copley Square during the summer months).  I made the Seared Salmon with Egyptian Garlic and Coriander Sauce, Rice Cake, and Sister K’s Roasted Asparagus.  The salmon was very good…it browned very nicely in this recipe.  I made way too much of the tomato sauce as I forgot to halve the recipe.  I did get to practice my new cooking skill of peeling tomatoes that I learned in my French cooking class.  Basically, you cut off the top, cut an x from top to bottom of the tomato and place in boiling water for 1 minute.  Put in an ice bath afterwards and the peel practically falls off.  The rice cake were delicious…scoops of rice that get a great crusty top when you cook them and then bake them.  Here is the recipe slightly abridged for time for quantity (check out the cookbook for the full recipe):

Rice Cakes:

-1 cup basmati rice
-2 eggs
-1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tblsp canola oil
-1 tsp butter

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat.  Add rice and reduce the heat to medium.  Simmer for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain the rice and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Preheat over to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the yogurt until smooth.  Stir in rice and season with salt.

Heat a medium ovenproof saute pan over high heat and add oil and butter.  Once the butter is brown, scoop the rice in 1/2 cup measuring container and drop into pan (should make 4-6 scoops).  Cook over medium heat until the bottoms brown (around 6-10 minutes).  Place this pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  The bottoms should have a nice crust and the tops should still be soft.  Serve with the crust side up.

I thought this made a great side dish and was not very difficult to make.  I am definitely going to make this one again.

-Sister M

February 20, 2010

New Kitchen Accessory Acquisition: Santoku Knife

Filed under: M's post — Tags: , , — 2sisters2cities @ 9:20 am

Sister K has always raved about her Santoku knife, something my kitchen has always been lacking.  Last weekend, I noticed my Delta Sky Miles were about to expire and I still had about 25,000 miles.  After I ordered renewed subscriptions of the Wall Street Journal and The Economist for Husband M, I still had about 20K to go.  I really didn’t need any more magazines as I am currently in magazine overload through other miles programs and fundraisers I have purchased them through.  While perusing the Sky Miles gift page, I came across one I was finally excited about…a Wusthof Classic Santoku knife!  It arrived yesterday, along with a bamboo cutting board.  I gave it a quick test drive last night while I was doing some prep work for dinner.  It’s so sharp and I really like how it handles while chopping.  I just wonder how many flights I had to take to get this knife…

-Sister M

February 16, 2010

Steak Italiano and Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Filed under: K's Recipes — Tags: , — 2sisters2cities @ 3:18 pm

For Valentine’s Day I planned a special meal for my boyfriend and myself. I decided to make a meal my mom made a lot growing up because it was one of my Dad’s favorites. It’s called Steak Italiano, but I call it Italian steak and I made it with spaghetti and a homemade sauce (also my mom’s recipe). I was pretty proud of the end results, although the meat was a little touch because I cut the meat wrong (yes I do make mistakes!) I cut the London broil in slices horizontally when I was supposed to cut it diagonally. With London broil you need to be careful of how you cut it because it is such a touch cut of meat. So make sure you cut it on the diagonal!

Steak Italiano

1 (2-3 pound) London broil or top round steak

¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil

5 or 6 cloves of garlic, finely shopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

¼ cup chopped green bell pepper

1 can (16 ounces) crushed tomatoes

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon oregano

Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer

Tenderize meat with Adolph’s and garlic powder ( I did this for 3-4 hours before I started making it, but you could try tenderizing it even longer.)

In a large skillet, sauté garlic, pepper and basil in olive oil until tender. In the same pan, turn heat up to high and sear meat for 45 seconds on each side. Remove meat and place in glass baking dish. Set aside. Preheat oven to broil (place rack in center of the oven.)

Lower the same pan to low heat. Stir in tomatoes and half the Parmesan cheese. Add oregano and black pepper to taste. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce mixture and remainder of cheese on the steak. Broil for 20 to 30 minutes , or until desired wellness is achieved. Do Not turn. Cut into ½ inch slices (DIAGONAL!) and serve with favorite pasta.

Mom ‘s Quick Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 cloves minced garlic

1 small onion, chopped

1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 15oz. Tomato sauce

½ tsp. Oregano

¼ tsp. Pepper

½ tsp. Parsley

¼ cup red wine

Sauté garlic and onion with olive oil until golden. Add remaining ingredients. Blend thoroughly. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring often.



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