Monday, February 23, 2015

The Delightful is Moving to a New Home

Exciting news! The Delightful is growing! Because of this, I've decided to migrate away from my trusty blogger site at www.DiscoveringDelight.com to a new site at www.TheDelightful.com. I'm going to attempt to redirect the links, but I wanted to post this notice a few days before I do that in case it completely fails. (I am not 100% tech savvy.) The food, DIY and delight continue over at www.TheDelightful.com.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Perfect Winter Hat

The Delightful Perfect Winter Hat
I generally am not a winter hat-wearer. Living in the freezing cold of NYC, I have heavily relied on the giant hood of my puffy coat to keep my head and ears warm. Unfortunately, the hood cuts off my peripheral vision and makes it harder for me to hear my walking companions and noises around me, which is not particularly safe walking around busy streets. In the past, I steered away from hats because they messed up my hair (it's called "hat hair" for a reason). I have the kind of hair that creases easily. I can't just wear my hair in a ponytail for an hour and take it down without having a giant ponytail crease in it, and I generally have the same issue with hats - the smushed down hat hair.
The Delightful Perfect Winter Hat

However, I have been converted! I found the perfect winter hat, or, rather, it found me. I got this adorable Jack + Lucy hat in the January Popsugar MustHave Box, which I only got because I accidentally forgot to cancel it (whoops!). Luckily for me, that box had some incredibly awesome loot in it, which I use all the time...including this hat! This little gem manages to keep my head and ears warm without completely destroying my hairstyle. Somehow, it doesn't affect my hair at all. It's pretty amazing.
The Delightful Perfect Winter Hat

I also love that you can style it multiple ways. You can wear it so that the pom pom flops around, or flip up the brim so that it fits snugly on your head (like I am here). Either way, it keeps me warm, doesn't mess up my hair, and my husband likes that fact that I'm not constantly asking him what he just said when we're walking around the city.

What's your favorite winter hat? Or go to head-warming style?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Five Tools for Winter Workout Motivation

The Delightful Tools for Winter Workout Motivation
When the temperature drops, I find it harder and harder to motivate myself to get my workouts in. Since I avoid going outside in the bitter cold, I know I'm not going to get my 10,000 steps a day in unless I get to the gym. When the desire to sit on the couch cuddled in a blanket is almost overwhelming, I have a few tools I rely on to help me get my butt to the gym. Here are my top five tools for winter workout motivation:

Pinterest
This social media site is such a great place to find inspirational images. When I wake up in the morning and am starting to feel the resistance to workout, I'll spend 10 minutes on Pinterest looking at my board, Delightful Health, or searching "health" and "fitness" to find more pins. Seeing that other folks are doing it and reading the motivational messages had been a great way to convince myself to get my sneakers on.

Five Tools for Winter workout motivation - delightful health on pinterest


Entertainment
Nothing is more mind numbing to me than spending 30 to 45 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical with nothing to do. I can run outside for longer than that and get lost in the scenery and my own thoughts, but there is something about staring at a gym wall that makes me look at the clock every other minute. To combat that, I bring my own entertainment. My top two recommended forms are Hulu Plus, if you don't mind paying for it, or Fitmuses, if you're looking for a free option.

The Delightful Tools for Winter Workout Motivation - fitmuses


Cute Workout Gear
This is on everyone's list of motivational tools, and I'm pretty sure that's because it really works! When I have a cute outfit to wear that makes me feel good, I am more willing to put it on and get the workout in.
The Delightful Tools for Winer Workout Motivation - cute workout gear


Fitbit
When I mentioned the desire to hit those 10,000 steps a day, I wasn't kidding. Fitbit, or another fitness tracker, can be a great motivator to get a workout in. If you're going to take a yoga or spin class or workout on the elliptical, I recommend the type I have - the Fitbit Charge HR. With the built in heart rate monitor, you get a more accurate record of calories burned in non-stepping forward exercises.

The Delightful Winter Workout Motivation Fitbit

Eucalyptus Spray
Aromatherapy is real. Our sense of smell is powerful, emotional and tied to memory, and, frankly, the gym and pieces associated don't generally smell that good. Before I head out the door, I spray my towel and jacket or shirt with a eucalyptus spray. You don't have to use eucalyptus, but that is the scent that works for me. It is invigorating and energizing, and it really helps get me motivated to workout.
The Delightful Winter Workout Motivation Eucalyptus Spray

Do you think these tools would help you get out the door and get to the gym? Do you have specific tools that you use to get or stay motivated for winter workouts?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Molten Chocolate Mocha Cake

the delightful molten chocolate mocha cake
I don't know about you, but I grew up always celebrating Fat Tuesday. Maybe it's just a southern thing, but the holiday is so much fun that I have taken it with me wherever I have moved. Unfortunately, King Cakes are pretty hard to come by up here in NYC, so we won't be having one of those this year. If you're still craving a delicious cake, this one is a doozy. This Molten Chocolate Mocha Cake is surprisingly easy to make. (Have I mentioned that I'm a truly terrible baker?) This one is easy enough even for me, and the presentation is super impressive. It's great for dinner parties or a romantic dinner in. The addition of espresso powder really takes it up a notch in terms of flavor. I also added some scraped vanilla bean seeds for this batch, but with the chocolate and espresso flavors going on in these, the vanilla is definitely optional.

Molten Chocolate Mocha Cake
Serves 2

  • 1 2/3 oz chocolate
  • 3 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp flour
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder
the delightful molten chocolate cake
Preheat oven to 450F. Butter 2 ramekins. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter together over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
the delightful molten chocolate cake
In a medium bowl, whisk egg and egg yolk. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into eggs if desired. 
the delightful molten chocolate cake
Add powdered sugar, chocolate mixture, flour and espresso powder.
the delightful molten chocolate cake
Divide batter equally between 2 ramekins. (Up through this step may be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let sit on the counter for 20 minutes before baking if refrigerated.)
the delightful molten chocolate cake
Bake until cakes are set but center remains soft and runny, about 11 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges to separate cake from dish. 
the delightful molten chocolate cake
Place a plate over the dish, and, holding both securely, flip the cake onto the plate. Serve with ice cream. (I used butter pecan, and it was delicious.)
the delightful molten chocolate cake

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Prosciutto Wrapped, Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates


The Delightful Prosciutto Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
A long weekend featuring Galentine's Day (love this new holiday!) and Valentine's Day followed by Fat Tuesday means food, wine and celebrations galore. I don't know about you, but after this weekend, I'm going to need at least a week of clean eating. Since the weekend is still in full swing, however, here is a bite size appetizer that is super easy to make. This one will work for formal occasions or casual get togethers, and you can prep them ahead of time and pop them in the oven when guests begin to arrive so you can actually relax and enjoy your friends. Using prosciutto instead of bacon means you get that great salty flavor without quite so much grease. For the blue cheese, I prefer Gorgonzola for it's mild flavor, but you can use any blue cheese you like. This recipe is so versatile - you make as many or as few as you like, so they work for intimate dinner dates or large group cocktail parties.

Prosciutto Wrapped, Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
Serves 2-3

  • 8 dried dates
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese (I prefer Gorgonzola)
  • 4 strips prosciutto
  • honey (optional)
The Delightful Prosciutto Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
Slice the dates in half lengthwise and remove the large pit in the middle. 
The Delightful Prosciutto Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
Stuff each date with 1/4 oz blue cheese. 
The Delightful Prosciutto Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
Slice prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap each date with a half strip of prosciutto. If preparing in advance, you can stick them in the fridge for several hours. Just before serving, set the oven to broil. 
The Delightful Prosciutto Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
Place the dates on a greased baking sheet, and broil for approximately 4 minutes, until cheese starts to ooze and prosciutto begins to crisp and brown. Drizzle with honey, if desired. 
The Delightful Prosciutto Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates

Friday, February 13, 2015

Crunchy, Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas


The Delightful Crunchy Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas

There's just no getting around it: I'm a snacker. When 2:30 pm rolls around, I get the urge to munch. To keep myself from overindulging, I try to come up with creative, healthy options that are still delicious. One of my go-tos is popcorn, at least in part because you can eat a whole giant bowl of it for just a few hundred calories (assuming it's not swimming in butter or oil, anyway). But if I want something with a little more substance but without the fat content of nuts, I'll choose crunchy chickpeas. These things are so darn delicious. The chickpeas really absorb the flavors of the chat masala, and the chili powder gives it such a great smoky note. You could definitely do this with other spices if you prefer - just follow the same process and switch out the chat masala, chili powder and cayenne for whichever spices you think sound good. These definitely take awhile to make, so you'll want to make a big batch to have around. Most of the cooking time is not "hands on," so you can definitely multi-task. (I squeezed in this great workout from The Skinny Confidential while mine were in the oven.) Once they're done, you can store them in a sealed container at room temperature.

Crunchy, Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas
Makes 3 1/2 cups

  • 16oz dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tsp plus 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chat masala
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
Crunchy Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas
Add the chickpeas to a large pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Allow to soak for 8 hours. Drain and rinse. 
Crunchy Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas

Add the chickpeas back to the pot and cover with water again. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tsp salt and reduce heat to a low boil for 15 minutes, or until cooked and soft. 

Crunchy Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas

Drain and rinse again. Dry well. 

Crunchy Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss chickpeas, olive oil, spices and remaining salt together on a large baking sheet.
Crunchy Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas

Bake chickpeas for 30 minutes, shaking pan after 15. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Return to oven and cook for another 15 minutes. Shake pan. Turn off oven and leave pan in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. (1 hr 15 minutes total time with the middle 15 minutes spent out of the oven.) Allow to cool before storing (or eating. They're hot!)

Crunchy Smoky Chat Masala Chickpeas






Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pork Tacos with Cabbage, Fennel and Fried Onions

The Delightful - Pork Tacos with Cabbage, Fennel and Fried OnionsWhile planning dinner yesterday, I got an enthusiastic "yes!" when I suggested tacos. However, when I looked at our taco filling options available, I realized we didn't have either beef or chicken. We did, however, have some ground pork. I did a bit of googling and realized that there aren't many recipes for ground pork tacos out there. There are several options for shredded or BBQ pork tacos, but ground pork just didn't seem to be that popular, but I figured I would try it out anyway. I'm so glad I did. They were absolutely delicious! The sweetness of the fennel pairs really nicely with the salty fried onions, and the taco shell and cabbage slaw give each bite a great crunch. My only word of warning is that, as with most crunchy taco shells, these are super messy to eat! I would definitely try these with soft corn tortillas or even flour tortillas in the future for a little less mess.

Pork Tacos with Cabbage, Fennel and Fried Onions
Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • salt
  • 1/4 c BBQ sauce (I prefer Hot Bone Suckin' Sauce)
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1/3 c ranch dressing (I use Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Dressing)
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1/4 c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 c fried onions
  • 8 taco shells
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pork, fennel seeds, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano and 1 tsp salt. Brown meat, stirring and breaking apart. At this point, if there is a lot of grease in the pan, you could pour some off. 

The Delightful - Pork Tacos Meat Cooking

While meat is browning, slice and chop cabbage. Add to a bowl and mix with ranch dressing until it is lightly coated.
The Delightful - Pork Tacos Cabbage

Chop fennel. 
The Delightful - Pork Tacos Fennel

When meat is thoroughly browned, assemble tacos in shells with meat, cabbage slaw, fennel, and shredded cheese and top with a sprinkle of fried onions.
The Delightful - Pork Tacos with Cabbage, Fennel and Fried Onions

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Travel Tips - Carry-on Bag Essentials

The Delightful Carry-on Bag EssentialsWith Valentine’s Day occurring over President’s Day Weekend this year, I know a lot of folks are taking advantage of the long weekend to head out of town. I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of my best travel tips. When I was working for Nestlé Professional, I was traveling 80% of the time. That’s right – 4 out of 5 days a week, I was on the road. At the same time, my now husband and I were dating long distance, so many of my weekends were spent in NYC instead of my own apartment. I had one stretch where over the course of seven weeks I was only in my apartment for 5 nights. Rent seemed like a bit of a waste, but it was still nice to have a home base. After many missed flights, long delays and lost luggage, I have developed a list of carry-on bag essentials. I used to try not to check a bag, but during the winter with bulky sweaters or for trips over 4 days, checking a bag just makes life easier. Below is my list of the essentials that always go with me in my carry-on.

A Suit
Anyone who has had their luggage lost knows the feeling – the panic that sets in when the bags stop coming out of the mystery chute or tunnel, and everyone else from the flight has their bags – the sudden realization that your checked bag has not made the trip with you. Well, I have had that happen often enough that my #1 carry-on rule is to always pack my suit for the next day, whether it’s a swim suit or a business suit. It’s not fun to arrive at your destination and have to spend the next several hours acquiring the clothing you need for the activities you had planned instead of doing those activities. Technically, this category also includes pajamas, a toothbrush and a clean pair of underwear, but you get the idea.

The Delightful Carry-on Essential - a bathing suit
The Delightful Carry-on Bag Essential - a Business Suit







iPad
Clearly, this iPad has been well-loved and used! The iPad really is a beautiful invention for travel. On it, I can access whichever book I’m currently reading through the Kindle App, watch movies I purchased on itunes, listen to my music, make notes for future posts on my notepad, and check my email, search the internet or catch up on social media when there is wifi available. Now, with Delta Studio, I can even watch movies and TV shows for free streaming directly to my device. This is my go-to gadget for air travel entertainment.

Delightful Carry-on Essential - iPad

Chargers +  Headphones
What value does that amazing iPad have if the battery is dead? None. Also, I don’t think my seat mates would appreciate me listening to music or watching a movie without headphones, so headphones, cell phone and iPad chargers always ride with me.

The Delightful Carry-on Essential - Chargers and Headphones

Refillable Water Bottle
This one saves me $2.50 per flight. The recycled air on those airplanes can get so dry that I always find myself needing more liquid than the standard beverage service. Most airports now have those amazing water bottle filling stations right by the water fountains, so I will never have to be parched on a flight again. (Note: the water that comes out of the bathroom sinks on airplanes is not for drinking, even if your water bottle has a built in filter like my bobble below.)
The Delightful Carry-on Essential - Water Bottle

Snack/Meal
Theoretically, if you’re flying first class, you won’t have to worry about this one, but I have been stuck on the tarmac for hours at a time enough times that I will not board an airplane without some sort of sustenance. Sometimes I bring a snack from home; sometimes I buy lunch after getting through airport security; but I will always make sure to have something to eat with me on the plane.

The Delightful Carry-on Essential - a Snack

Hand Sanitizer
This one is a biggie during cold and flu season. I even go the extra mile sometimes and bring anti-viral wipes. I may look like the crazy lady Lysol-wiping down my whole seating area, but there are so many people on and off of those airplanes everyday and so many germs going around that I think the precaution is worth it.

The Delightful Carry-on Essential - Hand Sanitizer

Make-up Bag + Hair Brush
See “A Suit” above. Plus, in the event I have to run to a meeting straight from the airport, I have the opportunity to touch up either on the plane or in an airport restroom before heading out.

The Delightful Carry-on Essential - Make-up Bag

Jewelry or Valuables
This one is just not worth leaving to chance. I always keep my valuables and jewelry for the trip with me in a case with dividers that keeps the necklaces from tangling when it gets jostled around in my bag.

The Delightful Carry-on Essential - Jewelry

Those are my must-haves for my carry-on. What are yours? Did I miss anything that you wouldn’t travel without?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Family Dinner Party - Fennel Apple Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, Cherries and Pecans

The Delightful Fennel Apple Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, Cherries and PecansI've spent the past few days in Atlanta for some meetings and to spend some time with my family and friends. I am fortunate to have a close relationship with my grandmother, who is one of the most amazing women I know. She raised seven (!) children and is kind, patient and still adventurous. When I was in high school, my family took a trip to Ireland with my Grandma. She and I were supposed to be roommates for the first portion of the trip, and then each of my sisters was to take a turn as her roommate later in the trip, but when my Grandma and I realized that we shared the same schedule (we're both early birds who love an afternoon tea) and the same sense of humor, we ended up as roommates who got along famously for the whole two weeks. Fortunately, my Grandma also shares my love of good food, so, this weekend, I volunteered to cook dinner for my parents, Grandma and one of my mom's sisters who was also visiting for the weekend.

The Delightful ThymeMy mom loves spinach, which, for better or worse, is just not one of my favorite greens, but since it was her only request for the meal, I figured I should find a way to work it in. My compromise was to put it in a salad filled with other flavors and textures so that it was buried beneath the salty blue cheese and sweet apples and cherries. The fennel added a really nice mild but unexpected flavor, and the chopped toasted pecans added a really great crunch. I added some fresh thyme to the salad. I was also using it in roasted potatoes and a blue cheese sauce I was serving with chicken for the main course, so it was nice to have just a hint of the flavor in the salad. With this much flavor going on in the salad itself, I kept the dressing was super simple to let all of the flavors shine.

Fennel Apple Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, Cherries and Pecans
Serves 4-6

  • 1 large bulb fennel
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 1/2 c dried cherries
  • 1/3 c crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme 
  • 1/4 c toasted, chopped pecans
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt

Delightful Sliced Fennel

Add spinach to a large bowl. Slice fennel in half. Remove core. Slice crosswise, starting at the bottom into thin strips. You could use a mandoline if desired. Then chop long strips into thirds. Add to bowl.

Delightful Spinach and Fennel

Chop apple, with peel on. (If you're preparing the salad ahead, just put the chopped apple into a bowl with lemon juice and water to prevent browning.)

Delightful Sliced Apples

Add apples, cherries, thyme and crumbed blue cheese to the bowl.

Delightful Fennel Apple Salad In Progress

Add vinegar, olive oil and salt to taste. Toss. 

Delightful Fennel Apple Salad Tossed in Olive Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar

Top with toasted pecans.
The Delightful Fennel Apple Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, Cherries and Pecans