These chicken burritos are best when you can still get heirloom or other tomatoes from your backyard or farmer’s market, because they just taste so fresh. I like to grill chicken for burritos, but will pan cook them in colder months. When I want salsa and guacamole, I just make salsa and add an avocado, because it takes less time. You can use refried beans or whole beans, whichever you prefer. I used red cabbage but you can substitute any cabbage or lettuce. I used rice, but you can also use corn or omit. Also note that I slice raw onion on thinnest cut on a mandolin and squeeze to remove excess water which takes the bitter edge out, but adds great flavor.
Grilled Chicken Burritos
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
Package of burrito or tortillas, whole wheat
Red cabbage, shredded
Rice, brown or white, 1/2 cup raw or corn
Refried red or black beans with a couple ounces cheddar cheese melted in
1 pound tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, sliced on thinnest mandolin blade, squeeze out extra water and chop
1/2- 1 juice of lime, to taste
Salt and pepper
1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks
Mix all ingredients
Grill chicken until done. Heat burrito on a gas stove or in oven. Assemble all ingredients and let people make their own burrito.
I tend to cook pretty simply during the week and make a lot of vegetarian and quick meals. But on the weekend, I kick it up a notch and indulge a bit. I am not a fan of barbecue sauce, but my nephew turned me onto this dry rub recipe and I love it! Have used it on baby back ribs, chicken, steak and now pork tenderloin. The recipe was created by Silkworm and Bottomless Pit bassist Tim Midyett, but his version is way too salty for me, so I greatly reduced it. The ingredient that gives the rub a really special favor, or umami, is sumac, which is a Middle Eastern spice. I ordered some on Amazon and made a batch using all of the sumac. Midyett grinds his ingredients, but I didn’t bother. Here is original recipe.
Midyett Dry Rub
1 part good sea salt
1 part black pepper
1/2 part sumac
1/2 part ground coffee (preferably dark roast)
1/2 part garlic powder
1/2 part cocoa powder
Mix together by hand or grind in a coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container.
Dry Rub Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin
Midyett dry rub
Extra virgin olive oil
Rub a little oil on the tenderloin then put a light coating of dry rub over oil. The more rub, the spicier. Heat grill to medium and grill about 15 minutes, until center is slightly pink.
I love Italian food, including gnocchi. However, I prepare gnocchi in what I would describe reflects my Jewish German ancestry because I like the flour-based dumpling crispy but with no sauce—more like spaetzle.
1 pound gnocchi
1-2 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Cook according to package; usually 2-3 minutes or until they float. You can make this ahead of time, because you want them to be cold. If you don’t make them ahead of time, drain and pit gnocchi in an ice bath for a few minutes, then drain.
Heat a cast iron pan to medium high and when hot, add butter. Add gnocchi and let sit a few minutes, then stir every few minutes until they get nice and light brown, about 15 minutes. Salt to taste.
I love to roast vegetables in the colder months, because the best roasting vegetables are in season and a wide variety are available, especially at farmer’s markets. The ones pictured here are golden and red beets, carrots and broccoli. I toss together whatever root vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower I have on hand. Other vegetables—like kale, asparagus and beans—can also be roasted, but their cooking times will differ. Simply cut up what you want to eat, place on a rack and add some salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Stir midway through. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. The broccoli and cauliflower should be cut a bit larger than the root vegetables for even cooking times.
The origins of this dip are unknown, but it has become a classic party dip and it is delicious. I like to serve it with crudité, like carrots, peppers and celery, and with either crostini or a plain cracker. I have included the crostini recipe. I do not add salt, because Parmesan is salty enough for me. My version is chunky, but you if you prefer a smooth texture, simply put in your food processor.
Artichoke Spinach Dip
1 can artichokes in water (I like Trader Joe’s), squeeze excess water and roughly chop
1 8-10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, let defrost in a colander and squeeze excess water (no need to cook) if you are pressed for time, run warm water over it. I like to bake the dip in a pretty earthenware pot and place the hot bowl on a plate and add the veggies and crostini or crackers.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces jack cheese, grated
Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine everything and bake for 15 minutes or until hot.
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ¼” slices of baguette on two large rimmed baking sheets; brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through (if undersides are not browning, turn crostini over once during baking). Let cool on baking sheets.
I only buy tomatoes in season, because I dislike the flavor when grown in hothouses or otherwise. So I tend to eat a lot of tomatoes this time of year and whenever possible, choose heirloom from my local farmer’s market.
I had never made Chili Con Carne from fresh tomatoes, so I thought, why not try it and I made a batch yesterday. I know many cooks remove the skin and seeds, but I didn’t bother and I doubt anyone would know the difference. Anyway, the dish turned out great! I made mine from pasture raised beef, but you can use other meats or omit and make it vegetarian. I made some brown rice and served it with tortilla chips because the crispy chips add a nice texture. I also added some raw baby tomatoes, crème fraiche and grated cheddar cheese to finish it.
Heirloom Tomato Chili Con Carne
1 pound ground pasture raised beef, buffalo, turkey, or chicken
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 head garlic, minced
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes roughly chopped or 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes plus a handful of baby tomatoes quartered for garnish
1 ½ cups dried beans or 2 cans pinto and/or white beans and liquid if no salt
1-4 tablespoons hot chili pepper (adjust according to how spicy you like it)
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cumin
1 can corn or 2 ears corn, shucked (optional)
2 or more cups water
Grated cheddar cheese, crème fraiche or sour cream, optional
Brown rice and/or tortilla chips
If you are using dried beans, soak overnight and cook until they are still pretty firm, set aside.
Sauté meat on medium high until brown and crumbly and set aside, drain excess oil.
Sauté onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil until soft on medium heat, approximately 15 minutes.
Add spices and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. (Taste and add more spices if needed.)
Add tomatoes and dried, partly beans if using and a couple of cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, adding water or canned unsalted bean juice as needed.
If using canned beans, add and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with rice and/or tortilla chips. Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream or crème fraiche.
Gazpacho soup is found all over Seville, Spain, from where it originated. Traditionally, bread is added to the recipe, but I don’t add it to mine. There are many recipes for gazpacho–an old Craig Claiborne recipe calls for the addition of eggs to make it thicker. Most recipes call for a smooth blended mixture, basically making the soup a drink. I prefer it crunchy, however. So I put about half the ingredients into a food processor (you can also use a blender) and chop the rest. It’s all about texture. If you want to drink it, by all means, blend all the ingredients.
I make gazpacho soup in the late Summer into Fall when all the ingredients are local and super fresh. I buy whatever tomatoes look good at the farmer’s market in all colors. I used green, red and yellow tomatoes in the photograph, which is why the soup isn’t that red.
I tend to keep the amount of oil used on the light side, but add more for a thicker and smoother texture.
Gazpacho soup pairs well with grilled cheese with or without bacon. It is a perfect summer meal!
1 clove garlic
1 small red onion
2-3 Kirby cucumbers or 1 large peeled
1 Bell pepper, cored
2 pounds tomatoes, preferably heirloom, cored
Parsley to taste
Hot sauce to taste
2 teaspoons sherry or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons-1/4 cup cup extra virgin olive oil
Blend garlic, onion and half the remaining vegetables and add vinegar, salt and pepper and the oil. Chop the rest of the vegetables and let chill 6 hours to overnight.
Last week, I wrote a post on why you need flowers in your home. Today is about research that shows how flowers improve our health and well being.
Both plants and flowers elevate our energy and when plants are flowering, their energy is strongest. Because their energy is so powerful, the use of flowers in your home or workspace is the one of the best ways to bring in vibrant energy to help improve your life.
In the early 1930’s, Edward Bach, an English physician, discovered that he could heal patients of emotional and psychological difficulties using thirty-eight different flower remedies. Today, these flower remedies are used worldwide. (See the Bachcentre.com for more information.)
I use Bach’s Rescue Remedy anytime I am stressed and it works great for dogs, too! Bach’s flower essences can be found in most natural food stores. Just four sprays or drops onto your tongue and you will feel instantly calmer. Rescue Remedy has helped me go from clenching the wheel and cursing my situation to relaxed, happy thoughts in a matter of seconds.
A behavioral research study conducted in 2000 at Rutgers State University of New Jersey found that flowers improve our emotional health. The presence of flowers, it was discovered, triggers happy emotions, improves feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner.
A team of researchers studied the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a ten-month study of participants’ behavioral and emotional responses to receiving flowers. There was a universal reaction of delight and gratitude when receiving flowers, indicated by “true” or “excited” smiles.
The experiment found that flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.
According to Dr. Haviland-Jones of the Rutgers study: “Flowers bring about positive emotional feelings in those who enter a room and they make the space more welcoming and create a sharing atmosphere.”
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Lift your spirits with a gift to yourself of fresh-cut flowers! The next few posts will address why flowers are important, how to arrange them yourself, caring for them and more.
20 years ago, I was getting paid a pittance to work as the event director at a holistic education center called Wainwright House in Rye, New York. I loved the job, however, and one of the perks was that employees could take classes for free. So, I studied Feng Shui and instantly fell in love with the practice. (Since then, I have refined Feng Shui to be more applicable to the 21st century and to include eco-friendly techniques, color theory and much more—I call it Harmonious Adjustments.)
Feng Shui taught me about the importance of real, fresh-cut flowers. So, even though I made little money, I purchased two vases and bought flowers once a week for my office. The flowers brightened my office and made me feel pampered and good about myself.
After I left that job, I took a position in a non-profit organization in New York City. The highlight of my week on the commute home on Fridays was that stopping at my favorite kiosk in Grand Central Station for flowers. So many gorgeous flowers—my challenge was to pick only one bunch! My husband got into it and looked forward to coming home to see the week’s pick.
At this point, my home just doesn’t feel right unless there are flowers in it. With the incredible amount of joy they provide, they are essential to my life.
Flowers enhance whatever space they occupy. They engage most of our senses; we see them, smell them, touch them and can even eat some of them. The actual vibration of flowers feeds us and feeds the Spirit! The energy that emanates from flowers literally has the power to elevate your mood! We enhance our most special occasions, like weddings, with flowers, not only because they are beautiful, but, because they are a physical manifestation of divine love.
Centuries ago, the Japanese created a special branch of Feng Shui called Feng Shui Seika. Feng Shui Seika is the practice of enhancing fortunes by using flowers in a particular fashion. The art was developed by a school of Ikebana called Enshinka International Ikebana.
Practitioners of Feng Shui Seika utilize grass, wood and flowers, as well as minerals, crystals and mirrors, to balance yin and yang. Followers believe that the energy within plants and flowers can best be channeled into one’s environment when they are arranged in a particular way. Based on Ikebana, the theory is that certain arrangements make it easier to receive the energy of the plants and flowers and that these auspicious arrangements will transform the recipients’ fortunes. Talk about flower power!
Tomorrow I’ll post about the research that proves flowers make us feel better.
Most of us know some ways to keep stress in control; eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise, meditate. But, did you know that making your home a safe haven can also be extremely beneficial? And, that clutter is the last thing we need in when we are stressed out, as it makes us feel unsafe and anxious.
As an eco-friendly interior designer and Feng Shui expert, I have had the honor of helping many clients transform their lives by changing their homes. Living in a home filled with positive energy and beauty, a home that is clean, organized and clutter-free makes the occupants feel safe. In safety comes freedom; freedom to be creative, to be motivated and energetic.
Best of all, it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to create your sanctuary. I recommend the following steps to create your safe haven:
Clean your home well and get rid of clutter! This is huge and you can even make money by selling your stuff! A clean home is a healthier home and just feels good. Clutter, as mentioned previously, causes stress, confusion, depression and lethargy. Get rid of anything you don’t love, need or have used for over a year.
Eliminate harmful products and replace them with eco-friendly ones. This step will improve your health and the health of the planet.
Clear your home of negative energy with smudging or dowsing.
Surround yourself with artwork you love. If you don’t have any, start a collection! A few pieces of art that speak to you is a great stress-reducer.
Allow energy, or chi, to flow unobstructed throughout your home. Don’t crowd furniture.
Use color to your benefit. The cool colors, like blue and purple, are great in the bedroom because they lower blood pressure and help us relax. Social rooms, like the kitchen and living room, benefit from the warm, expansive colors like yellow, red, and orange.
Place objects in the Bagua to attract whatever you want—love, money, fame.
Balance each room with all four elements—earth, air, fire, and water.
Houseplants add great energy and suck up indoor air pollution.
Treat yourself to flowers every week—simply my favorite way to make my home feel like a sanctuary.
Learn to decorate with confidence! Don’t worry about what’s in style—decorate to please your unique style.
One last suggestion–have fun while doing this! Transforming your home into a sanctuary is really enjoyable!
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For more information on these topics, read my book:
This potato salad bears no resemblance to the bland, sweetish dish from a deli. Try to purchase the potatoes at your local farmer’s market or where there is a variety of organic fingerling, baby or other small potatoes. These potatoes are categorized as waxy (low starch content) and are creamy, firm and flavorful and even come in cool colors like purple and red! (Adirondack Blue and fingerlings were used in this photograph.) I get my pickles at the farmer’s market and they are fresh tasting with only real ingredients, unlike those found on grocery store shelves. The parsley and lemon add a summery freshness.
1 pound fingerling, baby or other small, creamy potatoes, boil until done—depending on size about 25-40 minutes—a fork should easily penetrate, chop into bite sized pieces; no need to peel.
5 eggs, boil 10 minutes, peel and chop into smallish pieces
1 tablespoon or so Frank’s RedHot sauce or your favorite
3 ribs celery, chopped medium
3 new or half sour pickles, chopped medium
Handful of parsley, chopped fine
Small red onion, finely chopped or sliced fine on a mandolin and chopped
½ bunch of scallion, chopped fine
¾-1 cup Mayonnaise, as desired
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Capers, rinsed and chopped
Black or green olives, chopped (optional)
While potatoes and eggs are cooking, prepare vegetables. Cut potatoes as soon as you can handle and add lemon—this helps prevent the mayonnaise from soaking into potatoes and you’ll need less. Mix hot sauce with mayonnaise and olive oil. Mix eggs and potatoes with vegetables, add salt and pepper. Stir in mayo. Chill.
I love the subject of color and have studied it extensively. Interestingly, when I first studied and practiced interior design, I found myself calling colors “warm” or “cool” as you speak of them–depending on their undertones. I did this for years.
Then I began to study Feng Shui. I won’t get into detail, but suffice to say that traditional Feng Shui is an interior designer’s nightmare…you are supposed to use certain colors (that are significant in traditional Chinese culture) in every room. Ugh.
I understood that people react strongly to colors, but I wasn’t sure why. In preparation of writing my book, Harmonious Environment, I began to study color from the dispassionate scientific point of view. For example, in the 20th century, The Luscher Colour Test revealed that colors stimulate different parts of the autonomic nervous system, affecting metabolic rate and glandular secretions. In the 1950’s, studies showed that yellow and red light raised blood pressure while blue light lowered it. Blue light is now commonly used to treat neonatal jaundice and to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Different colors, pulse rate and respiratory rate; color affects muscular tension, brain activity and the emotions.
Each color has its own vibration; color can be used to bring harmony and balance into your life. The invisible vibrations of color can be used to either relax or stimulate. The color spectrum is made up of seven colors, with thousands of tones, shades and tints in between. The longest wavelengths, or extroverted (yang) colors—red, orange and yellow—are considered the warm, expansive and outgoing colors. The shorter wavelengths, or introverted (yin) colors—blue, indigo and violet—are cool, soothing and introverted. Green is considered neutral.
Picture the pure color spectrum–red, orange and yellow are considered warm; green neutral and blue, indigo and violets, cool. Black is warm, white cool. Add to that each color can become a shade (add black), tint (add white) or tone (black + white=gray=neutral.)
Now it’s all math. Pure green is neutral because it’s made up of equal parts blue + yellow. Add more blue and you have a cool green; add more yellow, warm.
Knowing that, pink cannot be cool–neither can red or orange. Add white to a warm color and it lessens it’s heat; black to a cool color and it warms it.
Here is another example: brown is composed of red, yellow and black and is considered warm, because the intensity of black overwhelms the red and yellow. However, add some white (tint) and the color becomes beige or tan and effectively moves to the center of the spectrum, or the neutral zone. (You have undoubtedly heard of colors like beige and tan being referred to as “neutral” colors. This is why.) But add a pinky undertone to beige and you effectively make it warm again.
When planning the predominate color theme in a room, remember that warm or yang colors—red, orange and yellow—are best used in rooms that are meant for social and physical activity, as these colors stimulate the more physical aspects of life; eating, socializing and exercise. Conversely, cool yin colors—blue, indigo and violet—are ideal in spaces meant for rest or meditation, as these colors invoke feelings of calmness, creativity and inner transformation. Green, which represents balance, health and harmony, is ideal in all rooms.
Color is one aspect of how our homes affect us—there are many things that do. (I’ll save for another time…) How things like color, energy, clutter and so on affect us is the psychology of home (an actual category used in libraries). Understanding these processes—how color works, for example—helps us to create harmony, balance and health in the home.