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Archive for January, 2010

Update

So I have certainly been MIA. I blogged over a week ago about plans for 2010 and my resolve to get some good content on to Snickie.

And then real life happened.

Last week brought a family medical emergency and the beginning of the dreaded ‘busy season’ in accounting. This combination resulted in dinners of jarred spaghetti sauce over pasta all last week. It ain’t always glamorous folks. I did manage to force down some salads here and there – I hope this half-ass effort at balanced eating will keep me going.

Le sigh.

Before the storm of last week hit, I did manage to try a few new recipes. Two weekends ago, I prepped:

Beef Burgundy

Fennel and Orange Salad

Sour Cream Banana Bread

The beef was good but a little salty. I would possibly cut back on the soy sauce if I made this again. Also, it needs to cook for seven hours. If you decide to eat it after cooking for only five hours because it is already almost 8PM, it will be a little chewy. Noted. This recipe was mainly a reason to test out my new slow cooker. It was tasty enough. Leftovers were frozen.

I really loved the fennel and orange salad. I used one fennel bulb, two oranges, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and fresh mint. I will make this again.

The banana bread was awesome. This quick bread will definitely be in the rotation. The loaf was made on a Saturday night, quietly chipped away at all week, and was gone by the following Saturday. Did I mention I live by myself? I did make this with low-fat sour cream.

Additionally, I have seen some cool food stuff in the PG lately. I want to try it all out!

New Annex Cookery in Homestead – Mom of Snickie visited last weekend. She found the shop pleasant and hoped to visit the cafe attached but it was closed (Sunday morning). Check the hours if you plan to check it out.

Winter Cherry Tomato Pasta  – Looks tasty and quick.

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2010

Welcome to my belated New Year’s musings/goals post.

I have been thinking about these things since 2010 reared its blustery snowy self. Most are food related, of course.

Looking Back:

2009 was the year Snickie was born! I started the blog when The Boy embarked on a six-week work project that took him to Hyderabad, India.  Through the year I have moved the focus of the blog around…food journal, recipes, travel recaps, restaurant reviews.  Sometimes the lack of focus frustrated me. However, this is a hobby! At this point, I kind of just post whenever and whatever I want. Keepin’ it random!

2009 was the year of travel! Many events coincided this past year that allowed me some crazy and wonderful travel experiences. This year, I went to:

San Juan and on a Caribbean cruise

magen's bay - st thomas

magens bay, st thomas

Philadelphia

Italy

san gimignano - tuscany

Myrtle Beach

north myrtle beach

England

big ben

San Fransisco

ferry building

Boston

Chicago

Costa Rica

My favorite meal of 2009 was likely at a small restaurant in San Querico, Italy. Silky pasta with zucchini, squash, and other vegetables. Simple, satisfying.

My favorite Pittsburgh meal of 2009 was likely at Cafe Davio.

My favorite recipe of 2009 may have been angel food cake.

Looking forward:

I am keeping it pretty simple moving in to the new year. I obviously have some other personal goals, but for Snickie purposes, here is the quick and dirty.

a) Try one new recipe per week

b) Try one new restaurant per month

c) Document a) and b) on Snickie!

d) Meet some other Pittsburgh bloggers/readers…

Anyone interested? Leave a comment, please!

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Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

Back in November, The Boy and I got an itch to plan a trip in between Christmas and New Year’s.  We knew we wanted to go somewhere warm – that was about it.

After some research (who knew Bermuda was 60 and rainy in December – no wonder there are great deals to be had) we decided on Costa Rica. Although plane tickets were still fairly pricey, accommodations, etc seemed to be pretty reasonable. We booked and were ready to go.

We left the day after Christmas. After a lengthy trip and an unscheduled stop in El Salvador and night in San Jose, we made it to Tamarindo. Tamarindo is a beach town that sits on the West coast of Costa Rica. It was hopping, full of vacationers.

We stayed at a little place called Hotel Arco Iris. Made up of under ten rooms, it was a great home base. I wish it had been a bit closer to the beach (it is a 5-10 minute walk) but that was really the only negative. The rooms were clean, the on-site restaurant (Seasons by Schlomy) was great, and the owner was very helpful and friendly.

hotel arco iris grounds - view from balcony

sea bass with tagliatelle @ seasons by schlomy

Most of our time in Costa Rica was spent on the beach. 85 and sunny.

We read, lounged, had a few drinks.

One day, we embarked on a day-long adventure.

We rode horses, we river-tubed, we zip-lined, and we dipped in volcanic mud and natural hot springs. This was actually done at Rincon de la Vieja, a national park about an hour from the coast, near Liberia. It was a little cooler here – probably 70 and overcast.

This day was actually pretty intense. I flipped over during the river tubing and found myself swimming through chilly waters in my tennis shoes. I was pulled out quickly by a guide – it was a memorable moment.

The zip-line/canopy tour included rappelling and rock climbing. I broke a sweat for sure!

The Boy also took a surf lesson during our vacation.

Our trip was rounded out by a New Year’s Eve spent sipping champagne on the beach under a full moon. Can’t beat that.

sunset - 12.31.09

Finally, we boarded a tiny plane headed for San Jose and said our goodbyes to Tamarindo. Hopefully, we will return 🙂

adiós

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This holiday season absolutely flew by. I traveled most of December for work and while I loved seeing other cities dressed up for Christmas, I missed a bit of the cheer in my own backyard!

Nevertheless, I still managed to bake a bit, cook a bit, party it up a bit, and eat and drink a bit.

Here are some Snickie holiday highlight:

Snickie Decor:

I am slowly amassing some holiday decorations for the Snickie-pad. Last year I started down a silver and gold themed path. I did not add much to the collection this year. However, what I do have lends a simple festive look to my little apartment.

Snickie Kitchen:

My ‘cooking’ during this holiday season consisted of cookies and appetizers. Here are some recipes I tried out.

Sugar Cookies – old faithful. However, my dough was very dry to the point of almost being crumbly this year. I added some milk and moved on and they seemed to taste good in the end.

Ginger Spice Cookies – spicy. I love these cookies. Once again though, they seemed to flatten out dramatically on me. Hmmm. I am beginning to think my knock-off Silpat is the culprit.

Pine Bark – addicting. I also used my ‘Silpat’ with this recipe and I had issues with the bark never really firming up. It was still tasty and crunchy.

Puppy Chow – again, addicting. This one turned out just right. Can’t really mess this up.

Hot Crab Dip – tasty enough. This creamy dip was eaten up at the events I took it too. However, the addition of the hot sauce had it tasting a little too close to its buffalo chicken dip cousin, if you ask me. I may tone down the hot sauce if I made this again.

Kielbasa Bites – I made this dish for a holiday work pot-luck event. Kielbasa just generally isn’t my favorite, but I wanted to bring something different. I liked the spicy, sweet and sour notes of the sauce.

I usually would cook a bit more during the holidays, particularly cookies and other items to take to parties. However, with this year being particularly busy, I often relied on a bottle of wine or champagne instead. This worked pretty well – you rarely can go wrong with booze.

Snickie Party-Time:

Soooo many social events were packed in to the month of December. I attended three parties at the homes of friends. Highlights were cranberry champagne cocktails, home-made pad thai, intense aged scotch, a tasty cappuccino punch, and certainly the company of beloved friends.

I also attended a baby shower during the holiday season. Being so close to the heavy eating of the holidays, the hostess opted for a ‘make your own salad’ spread. It was perfectly light and refreshing. This was a great idea for a shower.

I made it to a Pens game too!

And of course I visited some Pittsburgh restaurants during the holiday season:

Nakama – A trip to Nakama was in order to celebrate a belated birthday. Nakama is a wildly popular hibachi and sushi joint on Carson Street. Our table had a massive amount of food. While Nakama isn’t my favorite spot in the Southside, it is definitely a fun place.  I suppose I am just not wowed by the large portions of so-so food. However, although some knock their sushi, I really think it is decent. You could certainly do worse.

Paris 66 Bistro – I ended up at Paris 66 (6018 Centre) a few days before Christmas. I am not sure this visit made me want to rush back. I had the ‘La Marais’ crepe and found the salad portion overwhelming and the dressing odd. Additionally, it was 80 degrees (we could see the thermostat) in the restaurant. While I greatly appreciated the warmth (it was freezing outside that night) this was a bit much. Most of group had sweaters on and were melting. The waitress was a bit aloof. I am not totally sold on this place yet. (see my previous visit here).

Snickie Christmas – Foodie Style:

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day went by in a total flash. Christmas Eve started with early morning homemade Italian donuts at the The Boy’s grandparents’ house. Amazing. From there, The Boy and I dashed to his father’s house for more family time, complete with mimosas. After a short reprieve and mass, it was back to the grandparents’ house for the feast of the seven fishes. They end up with more than seven types of fish – this meal truly is a feast. I had pasta with anchovies, smelts, oysters, shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops, and tuna stuffed calamari. Everything was divine. The work that goes in to this meal is mind-blowing.

After this gorge, The Boy and I got back in the car to head to my family’s Christmas Eve celebration. While I did not eat much here, there was a spread of ham, cheesy potatoes, peel and eat shrimp, cookies, etc. Whew.

Christmas morning brought more mimosas at my parents’ house. Then it was off to my grandparents’ house for more family time. The spread there was brunch/lunch like. I couldn’t resist the old Pittsburgh favorites – I had my share of buffalo chicken dip and crab dip. More shrimp was consumed.

And finally, the home stretch! Christmas dinner was had at The Boy’s house. We had stuffed veal breast, homemade apple sauce, green beans, rolls, and a custard napoleon for dessert. I also had a lovely Barolo during this meal.

Of course, all these amazing meals were shared with lovely family. I felt very grateful to be so blessed this holiday season.

Snickie Haul:

Apparently word has gotten around that I like this food and cooking stuff. I got a ton of food-centric gifts! Thank you fam! I got a slow cooker, a new blender like contraption (supposed to be amazing for smoothies!), a waffle iron, wine and limoncello, and some various spices. Can’t wait to put all these to good use.

And then, the day after Christmas, I went to Costa Rica! Stay tuned for the recap!

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I’m back!

I have returned from my Costa Rican adventure. After I adjust to the shock that is Pittsburgh during a particularly chilly January, I will definitely have a few posts up.

Look forward to a quick Christmas recap, lots about Costa Rica, and some New Years musings/thoughts.

Be back soon!

Tamarindo - Costa Rica - 12.31.09

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