Tag Archives: Delicious Meals

Packing for Our Anniversary Cruise—and How I Wore It All

There’s nothing like the excitement of heading off on a special trip, especially when it is to celebrate a wonderful time in your life. This summer, Barry and I embarked on a 10-day trip to the Mediterranean, which included a week-long cruise in celebration of our wedding anniversary. It was a most magical trip where we delighted in the beauty of various locations along the sea, enjoyed the brilliant sunshine of the Italian, French, and Spanish coasts, and experienced the food, history, and cultures of this storied part of the world.

Any time you’re planning to travel for more than a few days, it can be outright tricky to come up with a packing plan that works perfectly for your destination and the duration of your travels. That’s why it’s important to get started on your packing a few days early—so you can decide whether you need to streamline a bit, throw in a few more items, or just start all over again! Taking the time to pack your bags carefully always pays off and allows you to be carefree throughout your vacation.

Here’s what I packed for our trip:

Clothing:

For this trip I chose a black, white, and navy color story that worked very nicely together. I always recommend coming up with a color story so you can effortlessly mix and match your pieces together. And, it never hurts to throw in a surprising pop of color here and there for variety’s sake.

I packed a black pant, white pant, red pant, white short, navy short skirt, red dress, and a print dress. For shirts, I brought a black top, white top, a navy sweater, and an orange cotton long-sleeve sweater. And for a dressy evening I packed a navy sequin top (the very same one I wore on my trip to Paris a few years ago) to pair with a cream crepe pant.

I also brought a white casual shawl, a black cashmere shawl, and three bathing suits plus two cover-ups. And to help block the sun, I packed a big hat and a roll-up brimmed hat. Here’s a helpful tip to remember when packing your swimwear items: Consider bringing both a one-piece swimsuit and a bikini when you travel. The one-piece will be perfect for walking along the beach or splashing in the pool, while your bikini is great for lounging comfortably in the privacy of your own balcony.

Shoes: For sightseeing, exercising, and more, I took AGL black flats, black sandals, muted gold flat sandals, black heeled sandals, Nike workout sneakers, walking sneakers, and flip flops. And in Rome, I bought a cute and comfy pair of white sneakers.

Purses: I brought a Tumi cross-body lightweight nylon bag, a small black bag for evening, and a small gold bag for evening. I also brought a backpack because it’s comfortable to wear all day long.

Accessories: Accessories have the power to really bring a great outfit to life. I brought an assortment of jewelry, including a cheerful turquoise bracelet and earring set; a black cord necklace with a silver oval, silver hoops, a silver ring, and pearl earrings; and a crystal cuff to wear on a dressy night with large crystal and iolite earrings. Finally, my very favorite jewelry pieces for travel are my crystal on a long gold chain coupled with an Alexis Bittar lucite and gold bracelet and gold hoop earrings.

I want to share an invaluable piece of advice: Take extra care not to overpack! Somehow it’s always harder to pack up a suitcase at the end of the trip—plus you’ll want to have a little extra room for souvenirs or new clothes you buy while you’re traveling.

Now, on to how I wore the clothes I packed, and some sightseeing and shopping highlight photos from our trip!

Arriving in Rome

 On day one of our trip, we arrived in Rome and enjoyed some shopping until our room was ready. Our hotel was one block from the Via Condotti, the Spanish steps, and streets lined with nice shops. I bought a pair of fun white sneakers that were very comfortable to wear on the remainder of the trip, as well as a red-and-white-striped t-shirt.

On our first night, I wore my red pants with a white eyelet top to dinner.

Day 1, Boarding the Ship

We boarded Seabourn’s brand-new Encore midday and took a look around. The gym was great, and the coffee bar was located on our deck so Barry got me a cappuccino every morning before we went to breakfast.

That night there was a cocktail welcome party before dinner. It provided the perfect occasion for my postcard print dress with gold accessories.

Day 2, Corsica

We toured in beautiful Corsica and took in the sights. After having lunch on the ship, we relaxed on our deck and enjoyed some reading before dinner.

That evening was the “dressy night” on the ship. Some of the women wore gowns, and there were also men in tuxedos. I wore my navy sequin top with ivory pants and a black shoe, paired with crystal jewelry and a small black bag.

Day 3, Cinque Terre

On day three we toured three of the five towns in Cinque Terre, in what ended up being a ten-hour day of sightseeing! The towns were very pretty and we enjoyed roaming around. I wore white shorts with a pale orange t-shirt and the white sneakers I bought in Rome. I also wore my brimmed sun hat, and even bought another hat the same day.

That evening on the ship I wore my red pants again, this time with a dark navy and white sweater with black accessories for dinner.

Day 4, Santa Margherita and Portofino

On day four we toured and shopped in Santa Margherita and then attended an olive oil tasting and lunch at the Splendido Hotel, which overlooked the harbor in Portofino. I wore my new red-and-white-striped t-shirt, navy skirt, and sneakers, along with a hat.

That evening for dinner, we had a reservation at the Thomas Keller restaurant aboard the ship and enjoyed a fantastic dinner. I wore my orange/red dress with a black sandal and black bag, paired with gold jewelry.

Day 5

We visited a small French island on day five and strolled through their weekly market. There was lots of fun food to look at, and I bought a small straw bag. For sightseeing, I wore white shorts, a striped t-shirt, sneakers, and carried my black Tumi bag.

That evening at dinner, I wore my fun “postcard” dress—that’s what I like to call it. I accessorized with gold jewelry and wore gold sandals. That night, we had a special treat when we were asked to dine with the head engineer of the ship! We heard many interesting stories about how this state-of-the-art ship was built and how it is maintained.

Day 6, Palamós

The highlight of our day in Palamós, Spain, was taking part in a cooking class. It was great fun, and we got to prepare and then eat delicious seafood dishes.

That evening, back on the ship, I dressed for dinner in my black off-the-shoulder top with white pants, black heeled sandals, and carried my black bag.

Day 7, Mallorca

In Mallorca, Spain, we went shopping, and I wore my white shorts with a green t-shirt and sneakers, plus my sun hat. There, I bought a lovely Majorica pearl necklace, which I wore later on the trip.

That evening there was a “farewell” cocktail party on the ship and I repeated my outfit from our first evening in Rome: red pants with a white eyelet top.

Day 8, Barcelona

After the cruise, we spent our first day in Barcelona sightseeing. We viewed breathtaking architecture by Antoni Gaudí, Spain’s most illustrious architect. Along the grand boulevards of this beautiful city, we visited the Loewe leather store, as well as a fun shoe shop that sells only ballet flats in many different fabrics and colors. (Sadly, I was in between sizes and just couldn’t make it work.) We had lunch on the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, The Majestic. That day, I wore white pants, my red-and-white-striped top, sneakers, and a hat.

That evening, I wore my black off-the-shoulder top and black pants with my new necklace that I bought in Mallorca.

Day 9, Barcelona

On our second day in Barcelona, we were out most of the day with our guide, Marta, and our driver. We visited the stunning Gaudí Sagrada Família along with some other beautiful churches, as well as one of the venues for the 1992 Olympics. In the Born area, our guide told us of a particular bakery that was known for its mascarpone-filled croissants. Barry went running in and bought three immediately! I have to say, it was delicious and worth every calorie! I wore my navy skirt, white t-shirt, blue sneakers, and wore my orange cotton sweater around my neck in case it got cold.

That night for dinner, I wore a black tank, black pants, cardigan, and a black sandal. I also carried my small black bag. The very next morning we set out toward the airport for our flight home. This was truly a trip to remember forever!

 Here’s what I would do differently next time: Overall I feel good about my packing choices for this trip, as I wore nearly everything I brought with me. However, next time I would make a few small changes. First, I would likely add another short or skirt for daytime touring, and a cotton hoodie or zipfront jacket in white for daytime wear. I would also add another bottom for daytime wear.

Finally, I would bring only one or two bathing suits and a single cover up; I didn’t actually spend that much time lounging at the pool because we went out touring every day instead. Still, this is a great example of how a little planning can go a long way. You don’t need to overstuff your suitcase to be able to craft lots of different outfits for a variety of events. When done right, you can bring a great assortment of clothing and accessories and still have plenty of room left for the treasures you find along your journey.

If you have a favorite packing tip, send it along to marla@marlatomazin.com and I will share it with all of our friends around the country.

 

 

 

 

 

Packing for Paris—and How I Wore It

Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating aspects of traveling (outside of airport checkpoints, maybe) is packing for the trip. Inevitably, you want to take more clothing, shoes, and accessories than will comfortably fit into your suitcase. Even as an image consultant with plenty of experience in creating a variety of looks using just a few staples, I often find myself packing, downsizing, and repacking ad nauseum before traveling.

That’s why I wanted to share with you what I packed and wore when my husband and I traveled to Paris from October 2 to 6. I was so proud of myself for limiting the contents of my suitcase to a relatively small amount of items that I could mix and match. I hope that seeing what I took to Paris and how I wore it will make packing for your next trip a little easier.

Here’s what I took:

Clothing: An Armani navy blazer, an Yves St. Laurent raincoat, four sweaters (white, beige, orange, and black), taupe jeans, Worth black leggings, and dark denim jeans

Shoes: Black boots, black AGL flats, and my favorite Pancaldi bow pumps

Accessories: Three scarves (including an animal print pashmina), jewelry, a leather Michael Kors handbag (the strap could be lengthened to wear cross-body) and a small black bag for evening

My strategy was to take neutral basics (black, beige/taupe, and navy) and spice them up with key colored and patterned pieces. I wore the denim jeans, the white sweater, the navy blazer, and the ballet flats on the plane. I actually had some extra space in my bag, which was convenient because…well…who wouldn’t want to do some shopping in Paris?

ParisPacking1ParisPacking5

And here’s how I wore it:

Day One: Barry and I arrived in Paris. Since our hotel room wasn’t ready, I wore the clothes in which I’d traveled (a white sweater, jeans, and flats) while we shopped and ate lunch at L’Affable. After settling into our hotel, we had a fantastic dinner at L’Epigramme.

Window shopping in Paris

Window shopping in Paris

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Day Two: We went to Versailles, saw the new Frank Gehry building in the Bois de Boulogne, and visited the Musée d’Orsay. I was a busy day, and we must have walked 4 to 5 miles (but my AGL flats held up beautifully!). We ate dinner at a great restaurant called Spring.

Outside the Palace of Versailles

Outside the Palace of Versailles

A delicious dinner at Spring

A delicious dinner at Spring

Day Three: Barry and I crossed the Seine, walked through the passageway at the Louvre, saw an interesting Nike display at a running event, and shopped the rest of the day on the Rue Saint-Honoré. We ate dinner at Graff, a wonderful local restaurant on the Left Bank near our hotel.

We loved walking along the Seine.

We loved walking along the Seine.

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Day Four: We shopped through Le Marais and visited the Place des Vosges and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

At some point during the trip, I wore everything I brought, so I’d say packing was a success! In my next post, I’ll share some photos from our shopping stops and explain why I bought the pieces I chose.

Stay tuned!

Stay tuned!

Seven Tips for Keeping Your Sanity During Summertime Entertaining

As the summer unfolds, you may be planning to host houseguests for a weekend getaway. Of course you’re looking forward to spending time with friends and/or family. But you may also be just a bit concerned about how to have fun while taking care of the hundred-and-one details of entertaining others in your home. It can be difficult to maintain the balance between being a gracious host and feeling like an indentured servant.

I understand! My husband, Barry, and I enjoy entertaining guests in the summer at our home in Southampton. It’s important to both of us that our guests feel welcome, at home, and well taken care of. Personally, I tend to be very particular about each visit, giving much attention to detail; but there is a fine line between taking care of all the details and running yourself ragged.

And, of course, entertaining isn’t for everyone (and that’s okay!). If you don’t get genuine enjoyment out of opening your home to others, preparing for their visits, and entertaining guests, remember that you’re under no obligation to do so. There are plenty of other ways to make summertime memories with friends. (One important caveat: If you do choose to entertain, don’t do so with the expectation that others should reciprocate—doing so only sets you up for disappointment and resentment if your friends don’t share your love of entertaining.)

For those of you who are expecting guests this summer, I’d like to share a few strategies I’ve developed that will keep you from burning out, whether you’re having overnight guests or a simple luncheon or dinner party.

Consider your guest list. If you’re planning to invite several individuals at the same time, take time to consider how they might get along with each other. The last thing you want to do is invite people who have a negative history together. Individuals who have completely different (and clashing) personalities or viewpoints might not make for an enjoyable visit, either. (But don’t overthink this—you know your friends and loved ones and how they tend to behave in groups. If instinct tells you that certain people won’t work well together, follow your intuition and invite them on separate occasions.)

When Barry and I are planning on hosting multiple guests, our top priority is simply to invite people who will enjoy each other’s company. And since these are special “getaway” weekends for Barry and me as well, we don’t invite clients from business unless they also happen to be personal friends of ours. These weekends are for our enjoyment, too!

Plan your meals ahead of time. While this may seem like common sense, I can’t emphasize enough how vital planning can be in having a smooth, hiccup-free weekend. I like to check off as many things as I can before my guests arrive. For example, I typically check with guests to see if there is anything they are allergic to or don’t eat before heading out to the grocery store.

I usually make out the menu for the entire weekend about a week in advance, so I’ll know what to shop for and won’t be scrambling for meal ideas at the last minute. I typically place my order for fresh fish, chicken, or meat a few days before and schedule a pick-up for Friday morning. At this point, I’ll also pick up any last-minute items. Oh, and one more tip: I’ve found that I save a lot of time and money by growing a nice variety of herbs on the deck outside our kitchen, which ensures that we have fresh, flavorful seasonings for our salads and main dishes.

Freshen up your guest room(s). Over the course of daily life, most of us don’t spend much time in our guest bedroom(s). You may even keep the doors closed! That’s why it’s a good idea to air them out a day or two before your guests arrive. Make sure that everything is in order and that the linens are fresh. You might also want to plug in an air freshener or light an aromatic candle before your guests arrive. Personally, I’ll often put a fresh flower from our garden in my guests’ bathroom or bedroom to welcome them. I think this adds a nice touch!

Cook their first meal (and stick with what you know). If your guests have been traveling, it’s likely that they’d prefer to relax at your house, rather than get dressed up to run out shortly after arriving. That’s why Barry and I usually cook at home on Friday nights. We try out new recipes on weekends when we don’t have guests (so we don’t have any surprises!), then serve the “winners” to our friends. Barry handles the grill while I put the finishing touches on the rest of the dinner. If guests offer to help, I often ask them to set the table, put out hors d’oeuvres, or help serve drinks so that we can talk and enjoy each other’s company.

Make breakfast easy. After a good night’s sleep, you don’t want your guests to feel like they need to rush in the morning. Unless you’ve all agreed on an early morning activity ahead of time, let them know that they’re free to wake up when they want and come down for breakfast when they feel ready. For breakfast, Barry and I put out cereals, English muffins, yogurt, fresh fruit, coffee, etc. and let everyone eat what they want.

Ask your guests what they want to do. As a host, you’re the expert on your area, so you’ll probably need to take the lead in suggesting activities. But before you make any firm plans, offer several options to your guests and ask them what they want to do. Try to make the weekend about them. For instance, Barry and I usually ask our guests if they want to visit one of the special small villages like Sag Harbor or Southampton, shop and walk around, go to the beach, play tennis, or just relax and take a nap by our pool. The most important thing is that our guests feel comfortable and enjoy the weekend.

Spend a night on the town. If your guests will be with you for several days, you’ll probably want them to see all that your town has to offer. Saturday night is a great time for this. We usually take our guests out to dinner, allowing them to choose between a few favorite restaurants we like. Afterward, we might stop for an ice cream cone and walk around one of the villages. It’s such a fun way to end the evening!

Ultimately, the most important thing is that you and your guests enjoy their time at your home. The more you plan ahead and take into account individual preferences, the more likely that will be. I hope you all enjoy your summer visits, whenever and with whomever they may be!

What I’m Loving Now: Winter 2013 Edition

Now that the busy holiday season is behind us and a new year stretches ahead, it’s an ideal time for reflection. Personally, I have been asking myself questions like, What behaviors and habits worked for me this past year? What do I want to change in 2013? Is it time to turn over some new leaves? Essentially (like many other people), I’m trying to find the right balance between focusing on others and making sure that I’m taking care of myself, too. Remember, you won’t be as effective in any area of your life if you’re overwhelmed and depleted. It’s important to honor your own needs and desires, and to make sure that the way you live your life reflects who you are and what makes you happy.

As an image consultant, I have learned that the clothes you wear and the way you style your hair are only a small part of honoring and expressing yourself. How you feel about yourself—mind, body, and spirit—are just as important. I urge you to use this time of transition to renew and reinvigorate your life, whether that means finding the perfect vacation spot, splurging on beautiful jewelry and new shoes, or simply discovering a new recipe that makes your taste buds tingle.

Discovering a wonderful new scent or great pair of jeans is always exciting, and being able to share it with everyone is one of my favorite things to do. Read on to learn about the top nine things that I am loving now:

1. Savor the soup of the season. There’s nothing better than a mouth-watering soup for both a chilly winter night and a growling belly. One of my staple recipes for this time of year is called Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup. My friend Beth gave the recipe to me a couple of years ago and it is so simple and delicious!

I always like my soups thicker, so I prefer to use just four cups of chicken stock instead of six—but that’s just my personal preference. When I make a batch, I usually freeze some so I’ll have it on hand later. This scrumptious soup will keep your family nice and cozy this winter. (Please see the end of this blog post for the recipe.)

2. These shoes are made for walkin’. Let’s face it—sometimes you just don’t want to wear high heels, but your outfit looks too casual with a ballet flat. Enter Diane B. With a classic style and comfort, these fabulous shoes can easily become a staple piece for your wardrobe.

Quite simply, I am in love with these shoes. They have a half-inch angled heel that makes them look dressy, but they’re so comfortable that you can run around in them all day. My favorite is the camel-colored patent leather flat, because it can be worn with so many different looks. I also ordered the black patent shoe without the silver buckle. One of the best things about Diane B. is that you can custom order. The company has a wide variety of patterns, from stripes and florals to solids and polka dots—so there’s something for everyone!

3. Pucker up. During the coldest months of the year, taking care of your lips is a must, and a perfect lip stain is just what the doctor ordered. I recommend Yves Saint Laurent’s Glossy Stain Lipstick.

They have created the perfect combination of lipstick and gloss that’s a steal at $32. It’s one of Allure magazine’s top picks, and one of mine, too! I originally bought a coral shade (#12), but recently purchased a red for winter: #9. YSL’s Glossy Stain Lipstick goes on like a gloss and stays on like a lipstick. Even after you eat, the stain stays on your lips so you won’t have to run off to the ladies’ room to reapply.

4. Plan a visit to Downton Abbey. Everyone is talking about Downton Abbey, which has mesmerized viewers on both sides of the Atlantic—and I’m no exception. The third season just started on PBS, and in my opinion, it’s well worth spending an entire Saturday on the couch catching up if you haven’t seen the first two seasons. The show follows an aristocratic British family and their servants as they are impacted by events including the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, and more.

 I love the show because it gives you a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people in a very different time and place, while remaining very relatable. The writing is incredible, and the costumes and sets are gorgeous. Before long, you’ll feel like you know the people who live in Downton Abbey—both upstairs and downstairs—and you’ll be cheering on your favorite characters through their obstacles and triumphs. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to pull yourself away…and you may find yourself wanting to plan a trip to England.

5. Seams or no seams? (That is not a question.) In the under(wear) world, you have two choices: endure the dreaded thong or feel self-conscious all day about your panty lines showing (a major no-no!). At least that’s how it used to be. But after I worked with a client who kept going on and on about Uniqlo seamless panties, I finally had to check them out for myself—and I’m so glad I did.

These undergarments are called ultra seamless briefs, and they are such a find! A lot of women don’t like to wear thongs, so these are a perfect alternative. They are made of nylon and spandex and have no seams. It’s like wearing a really comfortable bikini, but with all the benefits of wearing a thong. They are $9.90 a pair and come in several different colors, including pink, black, beige, and white.

6. Discover something scent from above. You can never underestimate the power of a beautiful scent to make you feel confident and feminine. Travel-Reviving Cempaka is a scent by Molton Brown that I am really enjoying right now.

I use the bath and shower gel and the body lotion. What I really love about it is that lift it gives you in the morning, when you aren’t quite ready to start the day. And the scent, of course! It’s heavenly!

7. Make a statement. A beautiful piece of jewelry can truly complete an outfit and help you stand out. I recently discovered Alexis Bittar, who is known for his exotic acrylic and crystal jewelry. I have two cuffs that are acrylic with gold accents (you can also get silver). It’s the perfect backdrop to any outfit because it’s acrylic, so your skin shows. These cuffs don’t overpower your outfit like some jewelry can; instead, they complement it.

One reason women shy away from buying expensive statement pieces is because they don’t know if the dollar per wear ratio is worth it. But in my opinion, if you’re looking to buy jewelry that goes with everything, this is it. The cuffs are terrific, and could definitely transition into warmer-weather accessories, too.

8. Get the ultimate fashion staple. As the temperatures hit their low points, finding the perfect pair of jeans is on the top of the to-do list. Luckily, I’ve already done the legwork.

I got my first pair of DL 1961 jeans around a year and a half ago. I prefer the angel cut, because it’s midrise, skinny ankle, and has four-way stretch. Unlike so many other brands, these jeans don’t lose their stretch, which is important. They come in several different winter colors like taupe and dark green, and are $158. They also look fantastic on, which makes me feel good.

 9. Most importantly, remember to take a breather. Just thinking about everything you have to do, want to do, and should do this year can be stressful. It’s so important to take time for yourself to relax and revive your spirit. My new favorite place to enjoy some R&R is The Grand Del Mar, a resort in San Diego.

Everyone needs a special place to go to revive their spirit and take a moment to release stress. Once I lay my eyes on some beautiful scenery, my tension immediately begins to melt away. The staff at The Grand Del Mar are very polite and friendly, but not overly so. It’s extremely nurturing, the perfect getaway.

Ultimately, remember that the most important criteria to keep in mind when it comes to fashion, beauty, or anything else in your life are: How does this make me feel? Does it honor who I am? Does it boost my comfort and confidence? It has been my pleasure to share nine things that meet these qualifications for me. I hope that some of them will enhance your enjoyment of the upcoming months, too!

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Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup

2 tbs butter

1 carrot, sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 onion, diced

2 tsp thyme

5 zucchini, ends cut off, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced

4 cups of chicken stock (you can use 6, but I prefer 4 for a thicker soup)

2 tsp salt

2 tbs pesto sauce (store bought!)

In 8-quart soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add thyme, zucchini, and chicken stock and increase heat to high and bring to boil. When boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in salt and pesto.

Working in batches (no more than ½ the blender), purée the soup in blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Quinoa with Lemon and Zucchini

One thing I always stress as an image consultant is that if you want to look great, you first have to feel great. And a big part of how you feel derives from what you eat. It’s so important to fuel your body with healthy, nutrient-rich foods that give you energy. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt when these foods taste great, too!) That’s why I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you: Quinoa with Lemon and Zucchini.

I make this dish year-round for my family, and it’s also one I frequently email to friends. I first came across it in a publication by Whole Foods Market, and it can also be found on their website here in case you’d like to print a version formatted for a recipe card.

If quinoa isn’t a staple in your home, I encourage you to give it a try! Quinoa is a very healthy grain, and this dish in particular simply feels clean as you eat it because it’s the perfect blend of grain, veggies, and cheese. Plus, it’s very easy to prepare since it’s a one-pan stovetop meal. I have added my own comments in italics to the original recipe below.

Quinoa with Lemon and Zucchini

Active prep: 15 minutes

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 medium zucchini, halved and thinly sliced

1 ¼ tsp. fine sea salt  I start by using only ¾ tsp. of salt, then add more when I’m eating if needed.

1 ¼ cups quinoa, rinsed for 1 minute under running water

2 ½ cups water

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbs. lemon juice  I love that I can use multiple parts of the lemon: the zest and the juice!

Lots of chopped fresh dill  I normally use an entire bunch.

Crumbled feta (optional)  Feta is very tasty with this dish. More often, though, I use goat cheese. It blends wonderfully with the other flavors and is a little healthier than feta.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove zucchini from the pan and add quinoa, water, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender but still chewy and a white spiral-like germ appears around each grain, about 15 minutes.

Toss quinoa with zucchini, zest, lemon juice, and dill. Serve warm or room temperature, topped with feta cheese if you like. I typically serve it at room temperature.

Make it a meal: Toss with peeled, cooked shrimp. I have never tried this option, but if you do, please let me know how you liked the addition of shrimp!

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If you and your family don’t eat the entire batch of quinoa, save the rest and eat it the next day for lunch. The leftovers are easy to transport in a Tupperware container, and I’ve found that the flavor combination is even better after the ingredients have had more time to blend. I hope you enjoy this good-for-you (and great-tasting!) dish as much as my family does.

Marla’s Quick White Bean Stew with Spinach and Tomatoes

Thanksgiving is here, which means that you’ll soon be inundated with the holiday’s traditional foods: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and more. Yes, Thanksgiving foods are delicious and mouth-watering the first time around, and leftovers on Black Friday can still be enticing. But if you’re anything like me, your taste buds might be craving something different by the time the weekend rolls around. That’s why I’m sharing the recipe I’ll be using for some post-Thanksgiving culinary variety.

I was first introduced to this delicious stew by Chef Joe Bastianich, and I have since adapted the recipe a bit. I make this dish on a regular basis because it’s easy, delicious, healthy, and is ready to eat in under half an hour. Try it, and let it warm you up throughout the weekend. (And be sure to let me know what you think of it!)

Marla’s Quick White Bean Stew with Spinach and Tomatoes

Prep and cook time: 15-20 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS:

5-8 oz. (large) bag of spinach

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

14 oz. diced tomatoes

16 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.
  • Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium heat until garlic is golden (about 1 minute).
  • Add tomatoes; bring mixture to a boil.
  • Add beans; simmer over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.
  • Add spinach; simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve.

I hope you enjoy this delicious stew as much as I do. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!