Happy New (Blog) Year!

Hey, everyone!! Happy holidays and happy new year to you- it’s so good to be back!

Well, the second half of 2010 turned out to be pretty wonderful-  I got into grad school, moved to Boston, got to perform a little bit, met some wonderful new friends and an absolutely incredible guy who I’m crazy about. Not to mention the good grades, fun Christmas and uber successful New Years party at my mom’s house with our friends. I can only hope that 2011 continues to bring me some good news!

What’d you get for Christmas?? I got:

A Martha Stewart Spice Rack!

I'm spicy!

A Hyperbole and a Half T-shirt (the most hilarious blog you’ll ever read)

Along with a photo collage my mom made for me, a sassy new red trench coat, some clothing items, and lots of cook books and magazines. What a great Christmas!

It wouldn’t be a winter break without the annual Aniano New Years party (affectionately given the title “AnianoFest” by my friend Amanda). This year, since we had a new house, we decided we’d kick the party up a notch and buy a Wii….and the game “Michael Jackson: The Experience”. Basically, you follow along with the dancer on the screen, and try to mimic all the iconic MJ dance moves. The games comes with a collection of some of his greatest works, including “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, and “Don’t Stop Till you Get Enough”. This game is a lot of fun with the added elements of a) non-dancers who are really good sports and b) lots of alcohol. The game was a hit, and there are now many, many incriminating videos floating around facebook. Always a sign of a good party.

While I was home on winter break, my mom and I cooked a lot. Here’s a quick and easy recipe that she showed me for some delicious pork chops!

Sage Seasoned Pork Chops:
4-5 bone in pork chops
Sage (FROM MY NEW SPICE RACK)
Salt and pepper
Garlic Powder
Olive Oil

Season pork chops with sage, salt and pepper,  and garlic powder on both sides

Heat olive oil on medium heat

Place pork chops in pan, cook about 5 mins each side. Pork should have little to no pink in the middle

Serve with a salad and bread

Quick, easy and delicious- enjoy, everyone!

A Post on Thanksgiving? Am I Un-American?

No, I’m not un-American. I just have time between dinner and putting up the Christmas tree, I thought I would spend it with “Dexter” and my blog.

I’ve never particularly enjoyed Thanksgiving. Not because I don’t appreciate my family, or because I don’t like being thankful. But I don’t like any of the “traditional” food, and I feel like I’m being punished when I’m forced to sit down and eat it. However, this year was the most promising one yet. We had a few misses but also a few hits!

Turkey: NO. It was cooked beautifully, looked great and smelled great. I have never, and will never like turkey.

Mashed potatoes: YES. Mom used Idaho potatoes and steamed them. Then we added parmesan cheese, which w as the best idea ever.

String beans with oil and vinegar: YES. But I wanted garlic. I like garlic.

Yams with marshmallows: MAYBE. I didn’t get to eat them,  but they sure looked pretty. Tricia (family friend) got real marshmallow happy when she made the dish, so if you like marshmallows this would have been a great dish for you.

Spiral ham: YES. Praise the baby Jesus, yes. This is my substitute for turkey. And the best thing about ham is that you can eat it the next day with eggs! Omlettes, ham and egg scramble…I sense a “Quick and Easy Recipe” entry on the way!

Stuffing: YES. I don’t really understand stuffing…are you supposed to actually stuff it into things? We just served it in a bowl, and I ate it with my ham and other foods.

Pecan and Apple Pies: YES. I like pie. I like pie a lot.

We also had some appetizer/antipasto dishes like stuffed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, olives, sliced cheeses, etc. So all in all, I would say this was a successful Thanksgiving, with the final tallies being YES: 5, NO: 1, and MAYBE: 1. Who knows, I may become a fan after all these years. Just keep that damn turkey away from me.

UPDATE: Christmas tree is up!!

ROAD TRIP!

Does anyone else find it difficult to title your blog entry before you write it? I mean, really. The fact that the “enter title here” box is the first thing I see on the page just adds a level of stress that I don’t need before writing. Let me write my entry- then give me the “enter title here” box. Just a thought.

Took my first road trip from Boston to Jersey today! Time for Thanksgiving break! Anyone who knows me knows that I love driving more than any other way of transportation. Just fill up the gas tank (well, if you’re me: try to figure out how to pump your own gas, think about asking for help, suffer from too much pride, keep driving until you see the sign “full service”, THEN fill up the gas tank), plug in the iPod and hit the open road belting “Wicked”! Eat crappy food at pit stops! Use sketchy rest stop bathroom! What could be better?

Anyway, after only getting turned around once (I swear the Tappanzee Bridge is a figment of people’s imaginations), I managed to find my way home to good ‘ol Princeton. It feels great to be in a real home- couches, a living room, a normal sized bedroom, normal temperature rooms and a REAL bathroom are just a few of the things I miss in my rental place in Boston. My place up there certainly gets the job done, and I’m relatively comfortable. But there really is no place like home.

That’s not to say I don’t miss my Boston/Emerson buddies- I can’t believe how lucky I got with my group of friends. Seriously. I had this fear of coming to Boston and having no friends. Like…maybe people only like me in Jersey, but I don’t work in New England. Luckily, that didn’t happen! Thanks guys!

Quick and Easy Recipe time: Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers

Do you like pork? Banana peppers/pepperoncini peppers? Potatoes? Then try this recipe (another huge thanks to Peter Bocchieri for this one. Here’s the link to his blog: http://blogs.dailyrecord.com/italianfood/2010/09/14/pork-chops-with-vinegar-peppers-and-potatoes/)

What you need:
* 3-4 pork loin chops, bone in
* 1/2 cup all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 3 cloves garlic, sliced
* 2 cups of mild or hot peppers in vinegar (I use mild)
* 1/2  cup of vinegar from the jar of peppers
* 3 fresh basil leaves
* 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
*salt & pepper to taste

First, we make potatoes. Wash, peel and slice those suckers, get your olive oil really hot (on a medium heat), then throw the slices in the oil. Turn them when they’re golden brown, and put them on a plate with a paper towel. Set aside.

Put more oil in your pan, and heat it on medium heat. While that heats up, rinse your pork chops and then season each side with salt and pepper. After that, dredge your pork through the flour, shaking off any excess. Throw those babies in your oil.

Cook the chops about 3 minutes, then turn them over. Add your sliced garlic and shake the pan to make everything is nice and even.

Cook for another minute, then add your peppers (just the peppers, save the vinegar for later) and turn the pork chops with the peppers for 2 minutes.

Add the vinegar and basil leaves, and keep cooking until the pork chops are done (mine are usually done at this point)

Put the contents of the pan on a plate, and throw the potatoes on top. Don’t forget to slice up some Italian bread and mop up those juices and peppers!

This is a delicious recipe! I’ve made it twice already!

Another huge thanks to Peter for this one. He’s the king of Italian comfort food- I highly recommend his blog, again: http://blogs.dailyrecord.com/italianfood/2010/09/14/pork-chops-with-vinegar-peppers-and-potatoes/

An Eclectic Post

This may be a random post, I just find myself in a writing kind of mood tonight. Here’s what’s been happening:

“Dexter”
Holy crap, I love “Dexter”. My opinion, it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen in awhile. Michael C. Hall is a fine actor, as is Jennifer Carpenter. Feels like it’s rare to find great actors in today’s TV shows, but they certainly are brilliant. And I just finished the season with John Lithgow, and WOW- he took it to a whole new level (turned it up to 11, if you will). Do I spend way too much time watching “Dexter”? Absolutely. Do I care? Not so much. I’m still getting my work done, and having a social life.

“Chess”
YAY I’m doing musical theater again- even if it’s only a 20 minute version of the show! Thanks to the class at Emerson titled “Directing the Musical”, I have to chance to perform the role of Florence in “Chess”. Each student in the class proposes a musical to condense into a 20 minute version, then they hold auditions, cast their shows, and direct and produce them. Then, we all come together  for one happy night of mini musicals. I feel so, so lucky to be a part of this production, and I feel like giving some shout outs here:

Jess: She’s a GREAT director to work for- I owe her a huge thanks for casting me in this role. She’s such a positive influence in this show, and she really trusts us and give us freedom to play and experiment.

Jim: My Anatoly. I say it all the time, but the guy is an absolute JOY to work with. Kind, caring, and sensitive, he brings a new compassionate layer to the character, and really turns Anatoly into a conflicted lead role. On stage, I get to see what a gifted actor he is- he’s constantly thinking about his next move (as one does in a chess game- OH! SYMBOLISM!), and he’s fully invested in his character at all times. To add to that, the acting doesn’t fall away when the music starts- he sings the role beautifully, and performs it flawlessly. It’s an honor to witness such poise and presence, and I’m constantly inspired.

Rachel: As the CIA/news reporter, Rachel does an amazing job at setting the mood for the show and scenes. I think she’s a freshman, but her stage presence makes you believe she’s a senior or a grad student. She brings that “news reporter” lilt into her voice, and totally draws us into the world of the play. She rocks.

Andrew: Speaking of rocking, this guy is a total rock star! He’s got the energy of Mick Jagger, with the pop rock belt of Freddy Mercury. He was perfectly cast in the role of Freddy, and he’s just great to work with. We have this heated argument, and even though he claims to have a hard time playing the bad guy, totally embodies the character and shoves me around the stage in anger. It’s awesome.

Gabe: A sensational Molokov- spot on Russian accent, booming bass/baritone voice, and awesome stage presence. He’s an acting major, so his character work is damn good. I love when he gets all up in Jim’s face and tells him to steal the woman like he’d steal a queen chess piece. Total tension, it’s awesome!

This might be my segway back into doing a show here and there- after over a year’s hiatus, it’s nice to get my feet wet again.

“Emerson”
There’s so much to say about this amazing school- mainly my teachers and classes. Seriously, the course work is ALL interesting- the article readings, projects, classroom activities. All of it. I know I’m doing work, but it never feels like it. I’m taking that as a sign that I’m doing the right thing.

A couple of days ago, my friends and I did an observation at a private school. It was really great to spend a day in a school, watching theater educators in action. I’m also thinking about doing some extra observations at urban schools, public schools, and maybe even some middle schools, so see where I fit.

“Anything Goes”
YAY, I’m choreographing again! Last week we had auditions for “Anything Goes” at a private school right near my house. These kids are *awesome*- how often is it that you get 6 dancing boys? And not just “I have two feet, so that enables me to mimic the dance moves you are showing” kind of dancing- real dancing boys! Boys that own tap shoes! I absolutely can’t wait to get started- this will be my second time choreographing “Anything Goes”, and I’m really looking forward to making it better than the first time. Version, 2.0, begin!

Also, thanks to random chain of events, I’ve been asked to choreograph this private school’s middle school production of “Joseph”. Never choreographed it before, never worked for a middle school- really, really looking forward to starting that adventure! More info to come on that one.

Apologies for the randomness of this post- just needed to write! Hope you’re all doing well out there! I’ll post some new recipes very soon!

Quick and Easy Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore

This recipe is brought to you in FULL by a man named Peter Bocchieri. Peter is a close friend of my mother’s from high school (I believe), and he is an extremely talented writer, and not too shabby in the kitchen! He writes a blog titled “Cooking Italian Comfort Food” on TheDailyRecord.com, and shares hilarious stories along with great recipes. This is the first one of his that I’ve tried, and it’s SO delicious and ridiculously easy. You have to try it.

Before you continue, please subscribe to Peter’s blog- I guarantee you will laugh and want to try every recipe! Here’s the link: http://blogs.dailyrecord.com/italianfood/

Onwards to Chicken Cacciatore!

What you’ll need:
1 package of chicken thighs (you get about 6-8 in a family pack)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips (please remove the core and seeds)

4 potatoes, peeled or w/ skin, cut into wedges

Oregano

1 28oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (please read the can carefully, so you don’t have to run back into the aisle to exchange your incorrect “crushed peeled tomatoes”, thus creating a holdup at the checkout line. That was embarrassing). You will need to save the juice, also

1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

Olive Oil

1/4 cup of white wine
*****************************************************

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In your handy, dandy disposable roasting pan (make sure it’s a large one), lay your potato wedges evenly across the bottom, and sprinkle with the minced galic and salt and pepper

Rinse your chicken, and place it on top of the potatoes, skin side down

Add the chopped onion, red bell pepper and whole tomatoes (Here’s the best part: You get to crush the tomatoes with your hands! It’s so much fun!)

**Note: When you are crushing the tomatoes with your hands, please keep in mind that there is tomato juice inside of them. I got really excited and just started squeezing away, which resulted in tomato juice being shot across the kitchen and on the windows. I kid you not. Crush with caution**

Add the leftover juice from the tomato can, white wine, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper, and (if you want to) red pepper flakes

Sprinkle with oregano, drizzle with olive oil, and shake the pan a bit so everything settles

Bake in the oven for one hour

At the end of one hour, raise the oven temperature to 475 degrees, turn the chicken over so the skin side is up, and return to the oven for another half hour, or until the chicken is browned and kinda crispy

Serve with a salad and some Italian bread.

You can also enjoy this meal with some red wine, and hire an accordion player to serenade you with “Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp. Afterwards, make sure to row down the river or your local levy in a gondola.

Enjoy everyone!

Spicy Orange Glazed Drumsticks

Amazing new recipe, courtesy of Mom (as always). This is SO simple, and SO tasty.

Spicy Orange Glazed Drumsticks

1/4 cup of orange marmalade

1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (it’s a little jar, sold in the politically correct “Asian” section of the food store)

4-8 chicken drumsticks (my package came with 6)

Salt and pepper
************************************************

Heat the oven to 400 degrees (please make sure it’s empty before you do that), and in a small bowl, mix the marmalade and chili garlic sauce

Rinse your chicken, and place it in your handy-dandy disposable roasting pan (see previous recipe for info)

Season your chicken with salt and pepper

Cook the chicken in the oven for 30 minutes, brush your glaze over your chicken and cook for another 10 minutes

Test your chicken by piercing it with a knife- if the juice runs clear, you’re good to go. If unsure, cut the chicken. I’m paranoid, so I always cut it.
***********************************************************************
SIDE DISH TIIIIIIME

Guys, two words- frozen vegetables. They are the best thing known to man.

I bought one block of frozen spinach as a side for this chicken, because it is healthy. I could have gone with corn dogs, like I wanted, but I chose spinach. You should, too.

1 block of frozen spinach
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed

Take frozen block of spinach

Fill a sauce pan with about 2 inches of water

Place frozen block of spinach in water, and let that ad boy defrost.

You’ll occasionally need to take a fork or something and break up the frozen chunks, but THAT’S IT. After about 15 mins, you will have spinach.

Drain the water from the spinach, and place it in a bowl

Throw the crushed garlic into the spinach, drizzle with olive oil, and toss. DONE. And delicious.

Enjoy, guys!