Monday, August 31, 2009

A Sin for a Chef

In an effort to be thinner and healthier I decided to try something I have never tried before... Lean Cuisine. Surely it is a sin for a chef to eat a microwavable dinner...right?? Today I went to Publix to select a few that looked appealing. I purchased a baked chicken entree with mashed potatoes and cornbread, and a beef and broccoli dish with rice. Much to my surprise they weren't as horrible as I expected (although it could have been because I was starving). I ate two meals for under $7.00; lunch and dinner. I feel like I had enough to eat and am surprised at how reasonably priced they were.

So tomorrow I shall try the Southern Beef Tips. Have any of you all tried and liked any of these dishes. What are some good ones? But more importantly .. is it a sin for a chef to eat a microwavable meal? I think I know the answer to that one.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

A toast to Champagne

"There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne."
-Bette Davis

Whats the one thing that can make you smile even when you have had a horrible day? For me its pink champagne. Their is something about it that makes me feel pretty, luxurious, and expensive. I know it sounds strange but just drinking one glass makes me feel like I'm in another time period. Their is something so Great Gatsby about champagne. You have heard me talk of it before, perhaps my love of champagne started when I saw the movie An Affair to Remember and Terry McKay ordered a pink champagne cocktail. In that instance I knew I would love it.

My favorite Sparkling Wine is Sofia Blanc de blancs made by Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Not only is it delicious but it comes wrapped in pretty pink gift wrap.
"Delicately fruity and delightfully refreshing, Sofia Blanc de Blancs is a rare blend of Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat. The crisp flavors of apples and pears are made brighter by a hint of citrus and honeysuckle. Elegant in character, this wine is lightly textured and vibrant through the finish."

It even comes in these dazzling little pink cans, complete with matching straws. Perfect for pool side champagne-ing.

Tres Jolie? Oui!

In my family before a meal (at least when I'm present) we all have a toast. Just a simple toast to the evening. I think its good luck so have someone raise their glass with a nice anecdote, while the others clink their glasses in a unison "cheers".

Each of our toasts are lines from movies.

Mine is "to making it count" - from the dinner scene in Titanic. (followed by sporadic "here here"'s. Scott's is " to my big brother George the richest man in town" from Its a Wonderful Life. Mom usually goes with " here's to swimming with bo-legged women" from Jaws ..i laugh. Even my little brother Brandon has one from School of Rock and its just so darn stinking cute. He is always so proud looking when he says "now raise your goblet of rock". So adorable.

What are your dinner toasts or some great ones you have heard?

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Take me there!

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose."
-Dr. Seuss

I feel as though it has been ages since I have been anywhere. I am in dire need of a relaxing vacation. The kind of vacation with room service, massages and sun. A place without timetables or responsibility. Does such a place exist? More importantly does such a place exist for someone on a budget?
On the travel channel they are always showing these beach resorts that only allow a dozen or so people there at a time. Can I please go to one of those places. I wish I could afford the $5,000 dollar a night price tag. Wouldn't it be nice to be the only one on a beach.

How about Fiji? I enjoy their water. Or Bora Bora.

Man what I would give to be on the beach somewhere with a pina colada in hand.
Won't somebody please... take me there!?

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Fruity Jewelery

"Who can take a sunrise
Sprinkle it in dew
Cover it in chocolate
and a miracle or two?"
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Soundtrack

For my birthday this year I received the most adorable pair of earrings. They are small blueberry and banana tart earrings. Handmade out of clay by a young woman in France,Stephanie, these earrings are sure to bring something new and unique to your outfit. If it could get any better when my friend Chris ordered these earrings for me she got a note to go with them, nothing fancy just a nice handwritten note on cat stationary thanking her for her purchase and wishing her a wonderful day. I love little touches like that.

Check out these charming earrings here.

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Dirty Dishes

Its strange the things you remember from your childhood. The other day I was doing dishes at work (yes I wash dishes) and this poem came to my head that I have probably read 100 times. In my grandmothers kitchen in Pittsburgh she had a wall thermometer plaque that she hung on the wall. To this day I still remember sitting in that small kitchen on a white stool having my morning shredded wheat and reading...

Thank God For Dirty Dishes
Author Unknown

Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We're eating very well
With home, health, and happiness,
I shouldn't want to fuss;
By the stack of evidence,
God's been very good to us.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paint & Pink Champagne

"A picture is worth a thousand words."
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Tonight Brittany, Lauren and I ventured out to Sips n Strokes . Sips n Strokes is this really cute little art studio where you bring your favorite beverage ( mine is pink champagne) and then you paint a picture along with the instructors. They show you step-by-step how to paint a beautiful masterpiece that you can hang in your home in just 3 hours time.

As an art lover this is something I found incredibly enjoyable. For $35 dollars you get all the supplies (paint, brushes, canvas and instruction). Tonight we painted an Autumn landscape. We popped the pink champagne, signed our names on the wall and then began our paintings. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone. Even if you aren't a great artist the teachers make is easy for you to follow along, and at the end of the night everyone's painting looks superb. In my opinion the real art is at the end when everyone holds up their painting. All are different, but seeing everyone proudly hoist their paintings makes for real art.

(all set up and ready to go)

(champagne break)

(The Final Masterpieces)

( I autograph the wall cheery disposition style)

Tell your friends and plan a painting soiree.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Battle of the Sexes on Top Chef

Ahh.. another Wednesday and another episode of Top Chef. I must say that I am extremely thankful that I didn't make it on Top Chef. After seeing some of the challenges I am positive I would have been booted off last week, and that just would have been sad. This week I decided to write this blog as I watch the episode. My hopes are to be right there along with the judges. Do we share the same opinions???

In the quickfire challenge the contestants rolled the dice and whatever number they rolled was the amount of ingredients they were allowed to use ( minus salt, pepper and oil). Without tasting I can't be sure of what was great, however I will say Michael V.'s Nitro Gazpacho looked simply delicious. Maybe some of that is because Todd English was the one tasting it. Sexy Alert!!! In other news, I am loving this season if just for the fact that all these guys have sexy arm tattoos.

So Michael V. beats out his brother for the $15,000 quickfire win.

Now we are on the Man vs. Woman Elimination Challenge. I will go as far to say that I think some of these women look like they should be on the men's team. I mean lets be honest ladies...make-up IS allowed in a kitchen.

So the challenge is to pair 3 shots with 3 dishes. Men on one team, Women on the other. Looking at just the table set ups for the two teams, I feel like the men have a leg up. The women keep thinking they are looking good, but honestly I don't think their food is on the same level.

Highlights from the ladies - watermelon carpaccio looked Ok (i thought it was a little too simple, and in my opinion that thai lettuce cup looked pretty good even if hot Todd English thought it was nonsensical.

And the Boys - Michael V. makes an apple sorbet (risky) with a goat cheese cookie (YUM) and Kevin made an almond soup with king crab. Both dishes are something I could eat the crap out of. Bryan makes a guacamole with corn nuts.. yes please! Mike Isabelle lends his sexy body to make an arctic char which falls flat ...but thats ok.. hes still hot.

If I have to choose whose food I'd like to eat I would choose the boys food.. and more specifically Kevin's almond soup or Bryan's guacamole.

The brothers volt are in the top 4 and (drum roll)...Bryan takes the win. I smile.

Bottom girls .. Eve, Pretti, lip pierced girl, and Ashley. I think Pretti or Eve is goin' home. Am I right??? Its Eve. Thank you judges...this girl was so ditsy I'm happy to see her go.

On a side note I would like to thank my DVR for allowing me to watch, pause and fast forward Top Chef in order to present you this blog. Until next week.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You've got junk mail

"I've been standing here waiting Mr. postman
So-o-o patiently
For just a card or just a letter" - the Beatles

Remember the days when you would see the mailman coming down the street, you wait anxiously by your mailbox for today's mail, and then quickly run inside to sift through it? Yea, me neither. The truth is, it has been so long since I have gotten anything exciting that I find myself shopping online just to look forward to getting something besides a bill. Today I got home from a long day at work, I walked to my mail box and the contents were.... a bed bath & beyond coupon ( I get about 3 a week), a credit card application, coupons for places that are no where near where I live, and BILLS. Sad. What happened to cards, and pretty stationary, stickers on the outsides of envelopes, and packages of goodies. Today I was really wishing that I had kept my US Weekly subscription.

I love stationary and everything that goes along with it. I have the most adorable return address labels, and sometimes when I mail my car payment in I seal the envelope with sealing wax. I like to think that the person who gets my car payment every month looks forward to opening it. Maybe he or she smiles. Who knows?

Click here to get delightful stationary.

I would like to encourage everyone to send more mail. Or at least send it to me. :) Or just leave a comment, let me know you are reading.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Amanda the Soundtrack

By now you probably all already know my love of music. Every memory of mine has a soundtrack. I hear a song and instantly I am reminded of different events no matter how big or small from my life. Hearing the song "Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys instantly brings me back to my Dad painting our dining room when I was little. I remember listening to the Beach Boys going on vacations to Florida. Whitesnake was playing my first day of culinary school. My mother singing me "you are my sunshine" still makes me cry when I think about it. My brother Sean getting so angry at me and my mom when we would sing "so tell me have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman", (he HATES that song). Me making my little brother learn the song "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison just because I thought it was so cute to hear a 5 year old sing it. Regulators by Warren G makes me remember driving to school with my brother Scott, he seriously played this song almost every morning. I remember fighting with my family over the lyrics to "Drink Swear Steal and Lie" during my country music phase. And "Thank God I'm a country boy" by John Denver only brings Pauly Shore to mind.

So here is my soundtrack ...

Opening credits:
theme from mary-tyler moore ( i love the lyrics..
Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? )

Waking up:
oh what a beautiful morning (from Oklahoma ... Honestly sometimes I sing this to people when I walk into work..i'm sure they think i am AWESOME )
Average day:
semi-charmed kinda life
First date:
bewitched, bothered and bewildered
Falling in love:
This years love (by David Gray great song)
Love scene:
Unchained Melody (I'm thinking of a particular scene in Ghost)
Fight scene:
Beat It
Breaking up:
this diamond ring
Getting back together:
stand by me
Secret love:
i only want to be with you (by Dusty Springfield) and Cool Rider from Grease 2 LOL
Life's okay:
our house
Mental breakdown:
gimme little sign
Fernando (gotta love Abba)
Learning a lesson:
dannys song or one fine day
Deep thought:
my sweet lord (told you I love this song)
teach your children ( I always think of my Dad when i hear CSNY)
good vibrations ( I remember my neighbor in Virgina always played this)
Happy dance:
grease lightning / dancing in the moonlight
love will lead us back
Long night alone:
lonely people (by America)
Death scene:
cathedrals (by Jump Little Children) this song also reminds me of my time spent in Paris...weird I know)
Closing credits:
wild world ( ohh baby baby its a wild world)

So.. since this is the closing credits (of this blog post).. I will leave you with some Cat Stevens.

What are your song you have your own soundtrack?

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just peachy!

"It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
An I-don't-have-to-run day
It's just another manic Monday" - The Bangles

Surprisingly today wasn't as horrible as most of my Mondays are. I got to sleep in a little bit and then I headed to work. A slow day at work means I get to try new recipes. Today I made an Almond Peach Tart filled with creme de patisserie, a pistachio nougat and peach ice cream. It seemed to go over well and I thought it was delicious (I'm my own worst critic). So now after only an 8 hour day at work I am home again and relaxing to reruns of Ally McBeal. Life is good, and Monday is coming to an end.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

A fiesta for Natalie

After much anticipation we finally celebrated Natalie aka Nat Doggs birthday. We all arrived at her really cute townhouse where we drank awesome margaritas, snacked on her delicious home made guacamole, and dined on steak and chicken fajitas. The spread was amazing. Queso, salsa, chips, corn salsa, and a lot of alcohol. Natalie has the cutest home ever, in the midst of Buckhead it has a mix of eclectic furniture and one of a kind art work. I loved everything about her home, warm colors, glittery paint and fun knickknacks. After we ate all gathered in her living room for presents and Lauren's incessant picture taking. A great night of fun! Happy Birthday Natalie:)

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Chef Impressions

Its that time again. Most people look forward to a new season of their favorite sports team. But me .. I look forward to a new season of Top Chef. You may remember last year I posted a blog about last season. A blog where I predicted who would win Top Chef after seeing only the first episode. So now its a new season and time to make my predictions for who will make it to the finale.

So here we go..
Lets start with talking about the first episode. The first quickfire challenge was a relay race to see which team of contestants could first shuck 15 clams, peal 30 prawns, clean 5 lobsters and then butcher 2 chops from a prime rib. The first team to finish all 4 legs of the race would win. So the teams all start and it is just embarrassing to watch as 2 contestants can't open a clam to save their lives. One girl cuts the crap out of her hand while another girl can't even get past 6 clams. Her team didn't get to go anything since she couldn't get the clams shucked. I must say I am highly surprised that her team wasn't screaming obscenities at her.

Next the winning team gets to take their ingredients they just cleaned and each must make a dish. The winner wins $15,000 dollars. NICE!

Jenn makes a clam ceviche with a citron vinegar. In my opinion visually is didn't look that great but... She has worked for/with Chef Eric Ripert so my instincts tell me she is better than most are thinking.
Mattin- the cute French, neckerchief wearing chef makes a poached lobster with bay leaf and star anise. It looks beautiful.. but apparently the flavor fell short.
Jesse makes a lovely looking shrimp and grits.
Last but not least Bryan produced a rib eye with caramelized celery, which seems pretty decent from where I sit.

The winner....Jenn with her ceviche. Girl Power. I like Jenn because A.) shes a woman cooking hot food and just schooled a room full of guys. B.) because on the first day of the meet and greet other chefs kept asking her if she was a pastry chef. Which if you aren't a pastry chef is a huge diss.. People often think girls can only cook pastry and not Hot Food.

Now its elimination challenge time.

All the chefs have to do is cook whatever they want and try to link it to a vice the chef Drinking too much is my vice...i'm making a drunken pork tenderloin.

So here are some things that go down... man puts steak in a deep fryer:( girl works with mysterious gluten vegan substance and makes a awkward chili relleno, and a lot of overcooked seafood.

Top 4 - Kevin from Woodfire Grill (down the street from where I work), Ron (aka the Hatian), Michael Isabelle the hottie,and Jenn ..Again.:) ..So Kevin takes the win.

Here are the predictions of whom will make it to the grand finale...

Final Three - Jennifer Carroll, Kevin Gillespie and Bryan Voltaggio
But not to dismiss his younger brother Michael and Mattin (moi amie fracais).

My prediction of cocky hottie - drum roll please- Michael Isabelle (he reminds me of Stefan). And I love it.

All in all a great start to the seasons and it looks to me like there is a lot of talent. Will my predictions hold.. we will see.

So tell me, who do you think will take the title of top chef?

Top Chef 10pm Bravo tv. tune it.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Won't you be my Cupcake?

At work today we made cupcakes. Yum Yum Yum. Its funny how you start out making 80+ cupcakes and when your finally finished decorating all of them you are left with about 60. I started out making the cupcakes like always and then people see and people want. I'm pretty sure 1/2 the servers at my restaurant and some of the chefs in the kitchen all had one, or two. Cupcakes are great I especially love the over sized, jumbo cupcakes we make at work. They remind me of something the Mad Hatter would serve to Alice in a very merry unbirthday tea party. To me their is something so beautiful about seeing them all lined up in perfect rows.
We made coconut cream cheese cupcakes. We made raspberry white chocolate cupcakes, Mocha Buttercream topped with chocolate covered coffee beans. We made Vanilla Buttercream Cakes topped with candied cherries. We made orange dreamsicle buttercream. We even made a delicious chocolate hazelnut cupcake. To be honest my favorite will always be coconut. I think they just look so classic and fluffy. YUMMMMMM! What is your favorite cupcake flavor?

So in the words of Julia Child..."bon appetit!"

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


"I must depend on a wish and a star" - Marion

For anyone who knows me they know that I make wishes all day long, on anything I can find any significance in. Constantly hoping and desiring for my wish to be granted. Before I left to work in Paris my mom told me that every time you go in a new church you get 3 wishes. Well there are many churches in Paris and believe me every time I entered one I was ready with my wishes. Weather it's blowing out candles on a birthday cake, cutting the first slice of cake, wishing on a shooting star, or throwing pennies in a fountain, I'm always ready. I even go as far as to ask the chefs in the restaurant in which I work to save all the wishbones from the turkeys during Christmas and Thanksgiving.

So that brings me to the point of this topic. The other day I was driving to my friend Chris' house. The road to her house is quite and suburban. I was stopped at a stop sign when a red bird (not sure what kind) flew next to me and then landed right beside my car. It just seemed strangely odd. I stayed at the stop sign for a full 2 minutes just to see what this bird would do, it did nothing although I swear it was looking at me. I slowly pressed the gas pedal to drive away and as I looked in my rear view mirror the bird had turned around (facing the same direction I was traveling) and kept sitting there.

When I got home, being the eternal optimist that I am, I researched what it meant to see a red bird and here is what I came up with.

If a red bird flies in front of you, make a wish.

When you see a red bird, quickly spit three times. If the bird has not disappeared from sight by the third spit, you can make a wish.

If you hear a bird singing in the rain, make a wish.

If two birds fly toward you in unison, quickly make a wish. If you finish your wish before they change direction or pass you, it will come true.

If three birds perch together on one wire, make a wish. If you finish your wish before any of them fly away, it will come true.

If you see a flock of birds, cross your legs and make a wish.

If a flock of birds you didn't know was there suddenly rises from a field and flies over your head, quickly make a wish so the birds can take it with them.

If you find an empty bird's nest, you get a wish.

If it has part of an eggshell in it, you get two wishes.

Courtesy of my friends at

So all in all maybe I'm a little cooky and take wishing a little too far at times. Maybe wishes do only come true in Fairy Stories, but until they come true I suppose I will still keep wishing.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Doodle While You Work!

I have meetings at work 4 days a week. To be honest only about 30% of the meeting actually applies to me and I am a great multitask-er. So while the others in the meetings are fighting about floor-plans and cocktail service times, I like to doodle. Behold I give you my first doodle....MONKEY ISLAND!

Doodles make great gifts for friends and all mine are available for sale. So if you would like to own an original Amanda Parker doodle. Please contact. Prices start relatively cheap.

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Grease is the word!!!!!

"Why, this car is Auto-matic. Its System-matic. Its Hyyyyydro-matic. Why, its Greased Lightning! " - Danny Zuko

Last night Lauren and I decided to take a trip to the Fox Theater for a showing of GREASE! We starting out the night by eating at Noodle, a cute little Chinese restaurant across from the Vortex. We then hand-jived our way to the Fox theater, and on the playbill for the evening, cast as the Teen Angel..none other than every one's favorite American Idol...TAYLOR HICKS!!!!!!!!!!!

The show was wonderful and Taylor Hicks was tremendous! As soon as he appeared on the stage (actually he was probably more like 15 feet above the stage) the crowd went nuts! Him singing Beauty School Dropout was the funniest most awesome thing I've seen all year. He even played a little harmonica to add in his own style. I like to think of it as if he was playing the harmonica for all the members of the "soul patrol" , which I have been since day one. Just sayin'. After the show he stayed to sing some songs from him new album and then signed autographs in the lobby.

It was a wonderful show and I smiled through every minute of it. Two thumbs up from this girl.

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