Monday, January 31, 2011

CalNaturale Giveaway!

I'm so excited to offer today's giveaway from CalNaturale Svelte!
CalNaturale recently contacted me to see if I would be interested in testing and reviewing their Svelte products on SMJ.  As you know, I'm always game to try a new health-food product, and these Svelte drinks were really intriguing to me.  They are individually packaged protein shakes, promising "the energy you need to navigate through your active and busy day".  They come in four flavors: Chai, Cappuccino, Vanilla and Chocolate, and CalNaturale sent me one of each to try.   I couldn't do this review and giveaway last week because I was too sick to really sample any of the flavors fairly (it was more of a tea and toast week around here), but now I'm excited to share this product with you!

You all know that I prefer whole foods to convenience foods, even those that are geared towards health foodies like myself; however, the bigger little J gets and the more hectic life becomes, the more I find myself really appreciating grab-and-go meals.  Especially at breakfast and lunchtime, cheffing something up isn't always in the cards, and the absolute worst is finding yourself out and about for longer than you had planned and having to stare down a decision between hitting the nearest Dunkin' or flying into a hunger-induced rage.  This is when convenience health foods do their best work: nourishing you on the fly with plenty of protein and healthy carbs, rather than the empty calories we often grab for in a rushed panicky state.

CalNaturale Svelte shakes are an ideal grab-and-go meal.  They each contain 16g of protein from organic soy milk, and the sustained fullness and energy comes from inulin, a complex carbohydrate and nutritious fiber.  Unlike many protein drinks, the Sveltes were all thick and creamy, with non-chalky flavors true to their promise.  The vanilla tasted like a great milkshake, the chocolate like rich chocolate milk, and the chai and cappuccino flavors give those mega-calorie Starbucks fraps a run for their money.  The best part though, was the satiety and energy these shakes provided.  The husband taste-tested the chocolate for me as a work lunch.  Skeptical, he also packed soup and a granola bar for the day, but he came home with both, as the shake totally filled him up, even after he shoveled snow for a half-hour.  Impressive!  I also found that is took me the better part of an hour to sip down my shake, and I was seriously stuffed when I took the last sip.  However, each drink only has 260 calories!  This would make these Sveltes a useful meal-replacement tool in a weight-loss plan.  

All in all I give these drinks highest marks for flavor, nutritional profile and convenience.  If I had to give points off, it would be for the not-so-environmentally-friendly Tetra-pak packaging, and the interesting choice to really brand these babies solely for women.  I am married to the kind of man who is comfortable enough with himself to tote a drink that says "Hello, Beautiful" on it to the office, but some guys would be deterred by the chick-centric packaging, I think.  It's a shame, because this was a healthy, filling, easy lunch option for him and any other guy looking for a grab-and-go meal.   They are widely available at Whole Foods Markets, and mine has them priced at about $2.50/drink, making them a pretty darn affordable lunch as well.  All in all, I'm a fan, and will be throwing a few Sveltes in my cart each week from now on.

And now for the fun!
CalNaturale is going to give THREE lucky SMJ readers a chance to try these yummy drinks.

One Grand Prize winner will win a free mixed case of CalNaturale Svelte to try... that's twelve delicious energy shakes arriving at your door!
Two additional winners will receive a two-drink prize pack with the flavors of your choice.

To enter, just leave a comment below.  
I'll choose three winners this Friday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Back in a Flash

I really do have a fun giveaway for you this week, I swear.
However, after months of dodging it, the little guy and I seem to have been struck down by The Flu.
I'm afraid the couch, tea and juice is it for us today.
So, I leave you with an image of this lovely Parisian woman I spied and adored on The Sartorialist...
Like her, I'm feeling pale and cold, but that is where the similarities end (unless under that eggplant cape she's wearing an old, torn Babson College sweatshirt with a bottle of Baby Tylenol in the pocket).
Let us all be as wintry-chic as she, and I'll be back in a flash with some fun treats...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Things I Have Learned in the Past 24 hours

It has been an *active* day or two around here.  Some lessons learned include...
1) Oil (canola or baby, specifically) will remove crayon from a painted wall (don't even ask).  Next time your favorite wee Picasso takes his genius from the drawing pad to the wall, don't panic.  Fill a bowl with oil, saturate a rag and rub it over the drawing until it disappears.  Then follow-up with a bowl of soapy water, cleaning away the oily residue.  No harm, no foul.

2) The best way to clean a grody microwave: halve a lemon, put it in a glass bowl of water, and nuke it for 5 full minutes.  Then let the microwave stand for 5 full minutes.  When you open the door, all the little grossness will have been steamed from the walls and tray to be easily wiped off with a damp rag.  Bonus: your micro well have a lovely, fresh, citrus-y smell to boot.  If you feel heroic and want to be everyone's favorite colleague, try this at the office... it literally takes almost no time and effort, and we all know how truly disgusting the work-micro can be... ick.

3) If you smell gas in your basement and call National Grid, they'll have a lovely, polite worker at your door within an hour who will be kind to your baby and dog, try hard not to track salt in on your wood floor, and have the problem solved before the morning is over.  I love nothing more in this world than top notch customer service (particularly from a utility company who knows we don't actually have a choice of providers)... thank you, National Grid.

4) That if you boil a box of orzo, throw in some broccoli florets in the last 2 minutes, toss that whole mess with a block of grated cheddar and a bit of milk in a greased Pyrex baking dish, pour a quick bechamel over the top, cover the whole thing with panko breadcrumbs, and bake it at 350 for 45 minutes, your husband will think you are a culinary genius, and your son (who heretofore has only been willing to eat yogurt, eggs and sweet potato fries for the last few weeks) will devour a whole bowl, which will make you glow with Jewish-motherly satisfaction.

5) That for the first time in way too long, I have a fun blog giveaway in the works... stay tuned!

Now that's a Monday.
What's doing with you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pizza is the Boss

My boss from my last job, Anne, is good for a lot of things: she's full of witty one-liners, shows complete and total support for the working parent, and is a fabulous running companion.  However, my new favorite thing about Anne is most definitely her pizza dough recipe.  For the full tenure of my employment with her (that's five years, people), I'd listen to her talk about weekly homemade pizza night at her house and admire her craftiness... then we'd call for sub-par pizza takeout from the local joint.  This holiday season brought on a bevvy of baking for me, though, and after making challah and milk bread rolls with great success, I've gotten the courage to delve deeper into bread baking.  It helps that the ancient and uneven heating system in our apartment has turned our bedroom into a de facto bread proofer, but after I made two delicious loaves of honey-oat-flax bread last week, I decided I was ready to move into the realm of pizza dough. Silly me!  I had it totally backwards!  Pizza dough is, in fact, BY FAR the easiest to make of all the breads I've dabbled in this winter; it practically makes itself, especially if you have a standing mixer to do the kneading.  Even if you don't have a mixer, kneading is therapeutic, and you shouldn't be scared off of this recipe!  The recipe makes enough for two pizzas, and freezes well, so in about 20 minutes of active work, you have the base for two fantastic homemade pizza dinners.  And, may I say, this is definitely ticket-to-a-man's-heart food.  I just can't believe I waited so long to try it!  So, pick up your favorite marinara and toppings, and try the recipe below.  You and the men in your life will most certainly want to send a thank you to Anne.

Boss Lady Anne's Perfect Homemade Pizza Dough
Makes enough for 2 pizzas
3 1/2 cups flour  (either use all all-purpose or up to a cup of whole wheat flour)
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water (a bit more with whole wheat flour, temp like bath water, not too hot)
2 tbsp olive oil
1) Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (go ahead and use the bowl of the standing mixer if you are using one).  
2) Pour in half the warm water and mix it in.  Add the olive oil and mix it in.  Add the rest of the water.  If the dough is super sticky, add a bit more flour.  
3) Knead the dough for 10 minutes or so by hand or in the standing mixer.  Once the dough is elastic, form it into a ball.
4) Oil a bowl, roll the dough ball around in it so it's coated in oil, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.
5) When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down and divide it in two.  You're now ready to form the dough balls into disks and cover them with your favorite toppings. If you like a crisp crust, you can pre-bake it at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes, spreading a little olive oil on top first.

Anne also says that the dough is easier to work with the second day after it has had a rest in the fridge overnight, but it's good right after it rises too.  That's when we used it, and the crust was light and fluffy, even with the addition of a full cup of wheat flour.  Homemade pizza night is definitely here to stay at Casa SMJ!  Thanks Miss Anne!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Attitude is Everything

The motto of the New Hampshire boarding school that my youngest sister attended is "attitude is everything." Can you think of a better message to send teenagers?  Brilliant, really.  I always loved that saying and never does it apply more to my life than during the heart of winter.  Today is a day of sleeting, snowy grayness in Boston, and my first thought upon waking this morning (at 5am with a rambunctious toddler demanding juice and Thomas the Tank Engine) was, "UGH.  We are so stuck inside for the whole day today. What are we going to do?"

The little guy did not want to put on pants or socks, and as I tried to explain that it was winter and nakedness wasn't an option, I weaved a tale of what we would do if it wasn't winter... "Listen buddy, if it were summer, I'd put you in the stroller barefoot, and I would put on shorts and a flip flops, and we would walk to City Feed together, and I would get a delicious iced coffee.  Then we'd go to the playground and you could climb while I drank that coffee and it would be delightful.  But, I'm sorry, it is winter."  Even as I said the words, I knew an attitude adjustment was needed.  How many steamy summer days did I sit sticking to that very park bench dreaming of wool sweaters and movie days on the couch?  It was time to embrace the now.  My next thought?  "Yay!  We are stuck inside for the whole day!  We are going to do NOTHING!"(Well, except three loads of laundry and a big pile of dishes + answer 50 e-mails and look for a job, but you catch my drift).

Now is the time to embrace the season.  For every run around the pond I'm missing, there is a steaming cup of hot cocoa to savor (and have you tried the vegan vanilla marshmallows they're hawking at Whole Foods this winter?  To die for.)  For every cup of iced coffee missed, there's a salted caramel latte to try (City Feed, I love you and your espresso creations).  For every ridiculous shoveled parking spot saved with a trash can and a lawn chair and a nasty note, there is a kind neighbor shoveling more than they have to on your part of the street.  There are Mad Men DVDs to watch, hand-knit afghans to cuddle under and cute cashmere sweaters to sport.  There are people like the little guy's music teacher who have Sunday "jam sessions" to give people a place to play indoors (God Bless You, Christy) and like my husband, who never complains about shoveling and looks pretty adorable all red-cheeked in a knit cap.  There are chilies and gumbos and stews to cook, and bourbon to sip (what is too strong and slightly nauseating in the summer is fortifying and warming in the winter, I tell you).   And as for the little guy and me, well, we are going to stay inside and draw 100 circles today. What can I say?  The kid likes making circles, and who am I to argue?  I'm going to sip mint tea and savor every moment of the winter silence.  Deep in the heart of summer, when I'm dripping sweat and quenching my thirst with iced coffee, I'll cherish the memory of this day.  I promise.  Truly, attitude is everything.
Image of Jamaica Pond in the snow from Universal Hub... gorgeous!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Slow-Cooker Chili Verde

Okay, now I'm just starting to feel guilty.  Nothing in life is this easy.  Dinner shouldn't taste like it took hours to prepare when it only took minutes.  Ten dollars at the grocery and ten minutes of my time shouldn't yield something that serves six and tastes like it was ordered from a restaurant.  Meat shouldn't be so fall-off-the-bone tender that you can literally eat it with a spoon with next to no effort put in to preparing it.  In a city where even something so simple as parking one's car can be a blood sport, how can anything be so darned easy?

I'm talking, of course, about my beloved slow cooker.  I can't seem to stop cooking things in it, and each dish is better than the last.  As a blizzard pounded Boston yesterday, I decided it was the perfect day to make Chili Verde.  I do declare, this is the easiest thing to make yet that I've prepared the SC.  For those of you who are saying, "Listen, SMJ, I don't care how cool this slow-cooker doo-dad is, there is just no way I'm chopping onions at 8am, period", this dish doesn't even demand any chopping (but for mincing some garlic, which frankly you could do the night before while you cook something else, or you could buy a jar of minced garlic if you must).  I had my butcher cube the pork when I bought it, so all I had to do yesterday morning was open a can of green chiles, dump everything in the SC, push a button and walk away.  

When night fell, I chopped some cilantro and avocado and grated some cheese for a garnish, and that was that.  We had an amazing Mexican dinner and lunches today to boot.  The pork was so tender you could cut it with the side of your fork, and the depth of flavor was incredible.   If we weren't scarfing leftovers for lunch, they'd be phenomenal shredded and re-purposed into homemade carnitas burritos.  I am actually embarrassed about how easy this is; it hardly belongs on a food blog. If only everything in life took this little effort and yielded such tremendous results...  
Chili Verde
From the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker Cookbook
1 can (8 oz.) roasted whole green chilies
3 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper, plus more, to taste
Steamed white rice for serving
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1) Cook the stew: put the chilies and their liquid in a slow cooker, tearing the chilies into coarse strips with your fingers. Stir in the pork, broth, garlic, oregano, the 1 1/2 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. white pepper. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
2) Serve and garnish the stew: taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and white pepper. Ladle the stew over steamed rice and serve immediately, passing the sour cream and cilantro at the table. Serves 6 to 8.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Favorite Winter Products

This is it.  Winter is here. The holidays are over, the first crocuses are many weeks away, and shoveling and studded snow tires are the norm for a time.  In honor of the Nor'easter about to bear down on us this evening, I thought I would review some of my favorite products to protect your skin for the season.  I hate that mid-winter feeling of your face being on too tight and your hands cracking painfully.  After many, many years of living in New England, I finally have a near-perfect roster of moisturizing products, guaranteed to make you feel like your skin is in Hawaii, even if your body is stuck in Boston for the foreseeable future.

For the face:
Our faces are on the front lines in the colder months.  The rest of our bodies are swaddled in wool and fleece, protected from the elements, but our faces are out front, relentlessly taking on the wind and bitter temperatures.  Times like these call for special treatment.  An extra rich facial cream is a worthwhile and necessary splurge for the winter months; my favorite is Origins Perfect World Antioxidant Moisturizer with White Tea. This cream is thick and rich without being greasy, loaded with age-fighting antioxidants, is paraben-free and smells dreamy (think citrus fruits on a beach vacation), plus the price point is reasonable compared to other products in this class.  Even after a run in the bracing wind yesterday, my face felt soft and smooth.  I'm totally sold on this product.

For a cleanser, I use good old Dr. Bronners' Peppermint Castille Soap ten months of the year, but for the dead of winter, it's good to switch to something slightly less astringent.  I got this Fresh Soy Face Cleanser as a gift, and I've been really loving it.  The cleanser is strong enough to remove make up, but gentle and non-drying as well, and smells deliciously like cucumbers.  I highly recommend it.
For the lips:
Like your face, the lips bear the brunt of the harsh weather.  I've found that frequent moisturizing is the only answer to the raw cold.  I've long been a fan of the Palmers' Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick; it costs a couple bucks at the drugstore, lasts forever, smells terrific, and really does the job.  This one is really a cult classic; join the club and see what I mean.

For the hands:
During cold and flu season, we have no choice but to wash our hands frequently with plenty of soap and water.  The cruel joke is that this is incredibly drying, and soon enough your cuticles and joints will start to crack, making you more susceptible to picking up the very germs you were trying to avoid with all of that scrubbing.  Brutal.  After Little J was born, I was washing my hands a zillion times a day with every diaper change and spit up episode, and eventually my hands broke out in a horrible red rash.  Certain I had some sort of post-partum leprosy, I went to the dermatologist prepared for the worst.  Turned out my rash was just due to acute dryness, and she said the best thing she could recommend would be Cerave cream.  Cerave is another cheapy drugstore find, and because of its very un-sexy pacakaging, you'd probably walk right past it on the shelves.  Don't!  A $12 tub lasts forever and alleviated my post-baby hand-suffering in less than a week.  This thick, rich cream is also perfect for the winter months; take it from my dermatologist.
For the bod:
I was a Bath and Body Works devotee in high school and college, but have since moved on.  However, this White Citrus Body Butter appeared in my Christmas stocking, and I have to admit, I'm loving it.
It's literally as thick as butter, but absorbs into the skin immediately and leaves you feeling summery smooth, plus I love the fragrance.  Organic it is not, but you can't beat the price point, and B&BW always has some sort of buy one get one free thing going on, making it an even better deal.  For a winter treat, I think this is a great choice.

How do you keep yourself from turning into a chapped, red monster during these raw cold months?
Do tell.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Simple Style

My job search is progressing along, and as I inch closer to life in an office again, I'm finding I need to reassess my personal style a bit.  Since 2003, I've worked in offices where jeans and fleece were de rigueur, and adding a nice sweater or casual skirt for an important meeting and event days was more than adequate in terms of bumping things up a notch.  More and more, it is feeling like my next opportunity will be something more formal, and so I find myself needing to come up with an urban office wardrobe for the first time since 2000, when I was 24 and living on a different coast, rocking the dot-com bubble.  Back then, I worked in an office of purple-haired programmers and San Francisco-chic sales and marketing people.  My go-to office outfit was a pair of cropped silk pants with a bright boatneck top, and sqaure-toed Chinese Laundry Mary Janes.  Now I live in blue blood New England, with a windchill factor and a 2-year-old, and it is time to take things in a new direction.

When things get fuzzy in my brain, gazing at great photography makes me feel zen, so I tend to hit up The Sartorialist, From Me To You or Simply Breakfast to take in some beauty and deep breaths and refocus my mind.  This week I came across this beautiful photo on The Sartorialist...
The photo was snapped on the streets of Madrid, and encapsulates everything I think of as beautiful when I contemplate a new, personal city style.  I love the Ralph Lauren-esque look she is sporting with the crisp, classic shirt, the neutral pants and great belt.  I admire the way she's rocking some seriously long hair without it looking sloppy or overly bohemian.  And her eclectic jewelry contrasts the prep without being too over-the-top, and nods to her own unique personality.  The best part?  Her great smile, which is a reminder that with a happy, confident look on your face, any outfit can pop.
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm in Love

It's official.  I took my slow cooker on its maiden voyage today, and I am truly, madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love and I want to shout it from the rooftops.  Some pieces of kitchen equipment get a lot of hype and then don't live up to it, but I already can tell that this one is going to be a total game changer around here, especially once I make my return to office-based work.  The prep and clean-up on the dish I made today were almost criminally easy.  There is truly no excuse to dial for take out with this puppy around.

Not knowing a whole lot about slow-cooking in general, I perused the cookbook options and then added the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast:Slow Cooker Cookbook to my collection this weekend.  The book is inexpensive, and I love how it is organized into three sections: 15 minutes of hands-on prep, 30 minutes of hands-on prep, and "Make More to Store".  These options are so working family friendly, and each recipe sounded more delicious than the last (note: this is not the right cookbook choice for vegetarians... there are some great-sounding veggie recipes included, but many, many more meat options).  I can definitely handle such a short prep time in the morning, when I tend to have the most energy, and there is something about having a clean kitchen and dinner essentially ready all before noon that makes my Type-A self want to dance a jig.  This is truly glorious.
This is how tidy my kitchen was just moments after prepping this beautiful feast.  Gleaming slow cooker sits beside the stove bubbling away.  Ahhh....

So, for my first recipe, I chose a 30-minute prep option: Cuban Chicken.  You break down a whole chicken into 8 pieces, brown it, make a simple pan sauce of garlic and fresh lime and orange juices, cover the whole thing in onions, and walk away.  And if you don't have a husband who enjoys butchering things, as I do, you can have your butcher break down the chicken for you, or just buy chicken pieces instead.  Five hours later, you have intensely flavored chicken, falling off the bone, and all you have on your hands for clean-up is the inner pot of the slow cooker and your dinner plates.  Brilliant. 
I mean, come on.  
You're going to see a lot more slow cooking action around here, so much so that I've added a new tag for my posts under "slow cooker".  Every busy person needs one of these suckers, I'm convinced.  If you have a birthday, anniversary or wedding registry in your future, I can't recommend adding this All-Clad model highly enough.  I'm loving how you can use the aluminum insert right on the stove for searing meat and have one less pot to clean.  Expect more slow cooking posts soon.  In the meantime, I'm off for seconds.

Slow Cooker Cuban Chicken
from the Willams Sonoma Food Made Fast:Slow Cooker Cookbook
Whole Chicken (about 4 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup lime juice about 5 limes
1 fresh bay leaf
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1) Brown the chicken.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken pieces in batches if necessary, skin side down and cook until golden brown on the bottom about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook second side until lightly browned about 3 minutes. Transfer all browned chicken to slow cooker.
2) Deglaze the pan.
Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon fat from the frying pan and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until just barely golden brown. Add garlic to the onions and saute for a couple more minutes until the onions are golden and the garlic is fragrant. Pour in orange and lime juices. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Pour the contents of the pan over the chicken.
3) Cook the chicken.
Add the bay leaf and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on high heat setting for 2 1/2 hours or low heat setting for 5 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Season the sauce to taste with salt and generous amount of pepper. Spoon the onions and sauce over the chicken.

It's really that easy.  And that delicious.
I've fallen and I've fallen hard.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Monday

I feel like the kid who claims to love homework saying this, but I am so happy that it is Monday.  I know that this is the Monday of Mondays; the one everyone dreads.  What could be fun about getting back into routines, putting away the lights and the tinsel and the baked goods and hunkering down into the reality of winter? I'm sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm just kind of loving it. I'm ready for a bit of clean living and eating, a little normalcy, a little focus.  I'm loving just being here at home, soaking in the relative quiet, getting life back in order and making plans for the coming year.  I'm savoring spending this time with my little dude for as long as it lasts, just the two of us here on the homefront, cooking in his play kitchen and playing with his trains.  Maybe I'm in such good spirits this Monday because there's a lot to look forward to both in the near and far future. Things I'm loving the thought of today include:

1) Really interesting job opportunities that I have found and the possibility of expanding my career in new and exciting ways (more on that when there is something to tell, in the meantime please cross fingers and toes for me that one of these cool things pans out!).
2) Really interesting daycare opportunities for the little man, including some in our neighborhood that look really creative and are bilingual as well.  I love the idea of giving him the opportunity to grow up speaking more than one language.
3) My dear friend and sister-by-choice is getting married in four short months!  Not only has she honored me by asking me to stand up with her on her wedding day, she is letting us all pick our own bridesmaid dresses, the only caveat being that they are a solid color.  How fun to have an excuse to get a new frock on top of all the other fun associated with these nuptials.  I love it!
4) We've moved to a place where there is actually a season called Spring.  I dearly love Vermont, but it often snows in May there, and the transition between Winter and Summer is marked by a lot of mud and frigid temperatures long after you're ready to pack up your sweaters.  Have you seen what Boston looks like in April?
Tulips!  Sunshine!  Glasses of white wine at outdoor cafes!  Open-toed shoes! All of this is just 12 short weeks (or so) away!!!  It may seem crazy to be excited about Spring in January, but I can't help myself.  Just thinking about it makes me feel hopeful and giddy.  Amazing what moving just three short hours to the south can do. 
5) A wonderful, blog reading elf made an All-Clad Slow Cooker appear at my door on Christmas!  THANK YOU! Years of coveting this precious piece of equipment are over, and the obsessive braising can now begin!  Tomorrow I'm making my debut dish of slow-cooked Cuban Chicken and taking you along for the ride.  Words cannot accurately describe my joy.
What are you looking forward to in 2011?