Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pistachio-Crusted Fish. Or Chicken

After a six hour drive in the pouring rain, I am finally home from New York.  I had a great time but have to admit, I'm glad to be home.

The night before we left for New York, I made a yummy fish dish from a recipe I'd ripped out of Real Simple Magazine.  I didn't have time to post before I left, so here it is.  Easy and delish!!

Pistachio-Crusted Fish
Serves 2

"Hardy" (that's what the recipe says) fish filets - I used two haddock filets that totaled about 1 1/4 pounds.  I think the crust would be great on pounded chicken breasts too.

The recipe says to use 1 cup of shelled pistachios.  I did and found that it was more than I needed, so I'd say 3/4 cup for 1 pound of fish.  You'd probably want to double it for chicken breasts as I only coated the top of the fish filets and you'd want to coat both sides of chicken.

Fresh Italian parsley
Kosher or sea salt
Crushed red pepper or cayenne
Lemon zest (recipe didn't call for this so you can leave it out if you want, but I think it added a nice flavor)
Olive oil

1.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Put pistachios in bowl of food processor and pulse the processor a few times until the nuts are just ground.

3.  Add a small handful of fresh, Italian parsley, some kosher or sea salt, some lemon zest and a pinch or crushed red pepper or cayenne.  Pulse to combine.

4.  Rub the filets or chicken breast with olive oil; then press pistachio mixture on them to form a crust.

5.  Put on a cookie sheet covered in foil, drizzle with more olive oil.

6.  Cook until golden brown and done - about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets.  With the chicken, I'd flip the breasts over halfway through cooking time.

I served it with oven-roasted brocolli and Kashi 7 whole grain Pilaf with craisins thrown in.

I didn't realize I'd served a really green meal until I looked at this picture!  Oven-roasted tomatoes or carrots or butternut squash probably would have been better...  The important thing is that it was yummy and healthy, loaded with anti-oxidents and omega-3's and healthy, mono-unsaturated fats.  Good for me!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

New York, New York

This is going to be a short post as I really want to finish the final read-through on the book this afternoon.  It's pouring here in NYC and although there are few things I hate more than sitting in my hotel room, the weather makes it the perfect time to get some work done.

I ventured out this morning and made my way up to Macy's.

See green Macy's sign on the right?  This isn't a very artistic shot - I had more of a colorful umbrella scene in mind, but discovered that if you stop in the middle of a busy NYC sidewalk on a rainy day, you might get your eye poked out by a short Asian lady carrying a large umbrella.  I grabbed a quick shot and moved on - deciding that it was worth losing an artistic photo in order to keep both eyes.

At Macy's I found exactly what I was looking for - a pair of dark blue Not Your Daughter's Jeans (these are the ONLY jeans in the world I will pay $98 a pair for. They are as comfortable as pajama bottoms, but look like snug-fitting, stylin' jeans) and then scored big-time on a pair of black velour ones for 60% off.  They look dressy, so will be great for all the high-end social events we attend in Wolfeboro. In other words, I'll wear then whenever I tag along to NY with hubby this winter...

Then back to the hotel:

From hotel room.  Note gold-topped building.  Haven't a clue what it is, other than cool.
Closer view of cool, gold-topped building through the fog.

Another view from the hotel window.
All over NY are these wonderful old buildings nestled in among the brash, young skyscrapers.  I love it.
Once I put down the camera, I engaged in a little Instant Messaging with both kids to finalize plans for dinner tonight and as soon as I'm finished here, it's work-time.

I want to leave you with one last image.  Photo below was taken at about 6 pm on Saturday night from my Home Office.  Can you believe people aren't pounding down the door to buy this place??? We don't know whether to cheer or cry.

Home Office

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Let's hope this works

I wrote a post on Thursday, published it and then waited for it to show up in my email.  It didn't.  So yesterday morning I asked a couple of the Breakfast Babes (who are all subscribers of course), if any of them had received it.  Negative.  I came home, hit the "Publish Post" key again and hoped for the best.  Nothing.  So yesterday, my writing time was taken up trying to find someone (anyone?) on the web who could help me with the blog and talking to two wonderful guys at Microsoft who were working on my formatting/printing problem with the book.  The upshot of my ENTIRE afternoon?  Couldn't find anyone to help with the feedburner link for the blog and the M'soft guys determined that the problem is in MY computer.  As in, the actual one that I am typing on now.  Not the Mac in general, not my operating system, not the Canon printer, but MY computer.  Are you kidding me???  My day ended in supreme frustration - which was eased only when Paul poured me a nice, big glass of red wine and made me dinner.

I have decided to believe that the problem was something with that particular post and that this one will be delivered to you just fine.  If you do receive this, please check out Thursday's post on One Moment Meditation.

I'm heading to New York tomorrow with Paul.  He has to be there for work and I decided to tag along.  I'll get to see all my kids (two sons, nephew and niece-in-law), a couple of good friends, and wander the energy-packed streets of a city I love.  While I'm there I plan to set aside some quiet, late afternoon time to share here, what I've seen and done that day.  I'm excited about the trip and ready for a change of scenery.  But only for a little while as what's right outside my windows is pretty special...

Harvest Moon as seen from the porch.  September 23, 2010
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One Moment Mediation

I've been working hard to be mindfully 'in the moment' lately.  I'm determined to try and appreciate every day that I've been given, but unfortunately that's not always an easy task.  In my quest to slow down and de-stress, I've thought about trying to meditate, but the whole "quiet your mind" bit has never really worked for me.  The only time my mind is even sorta quiet is when I'm asleep, and even then I'm a big dreamer.   Besides, who really has a spare 20 minutes a day to sit quietly?  Alone.  Uh, well I do, but then there's that quiet your mind thing...  I know myself well enough to know that a resolve to meditate every day will be about as successful as last winter's resolve to go to the gym every day.  I went every day for the first week.  And that was the extent of my winter gym work-out. 

Then a few days ago, I was searching for a recipe I was sure I'd seen in O Magazine.  While on the website, this tag line caught my eye: Transform Stress in 30 Days with One Moment Meditation.  I clicked on this link: and discovered 30 separate links for a 30-day program to teach you how to meditate in a moment.  The program starts with one minute and reduces the time from there until, so they claim, you can find peace and tranquility anywhere, anytime - in just a moment.  One minute max?  This program's for me!

I started yesterday.  I settled myself comfortably in my favorite chair and set the kitchen timer for one minute as instructed.  I did my best to quiet my mind, but after probably only seconds, my thoughts began to wander. There's a plane going by.  Sky's getting cloudy.  Wonder if it's going to rain.  We really need the rain.  Water the flower pots.  This seems like more than a minute. Did I remember to set the timer?  Timer's probably about to go off.  I kept trying to refocus on my breathing, but it's clear, this is going to be a challenge.  But hey, I'm up for a challenge and wouldn't it be great if this really works?

If you're up to a challenge and want to try this with me, I'd love to hear how it's working for you.  C'mon, it's only a minute!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In the beginning... ARRRGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

I spent much of the weekend thinking about the book.  On Monday morning, feeling energized and excited, I settled myself in my favorite chair, grabbed my laptop and dove in headfirst. 

The first thing I did was compose and send an email to Reily Foods, the company that bought No Pudge!, to ask permission to use the NP pig on my book cover.  An amazing 'who says the Universe doesn't get involved in my life?' aside: I have had virtually no contact with anyone at RF for three years.  I've heard through the grapevine that there's been a lot of changes and most of the people who had been there when the sale happened are gone.  Then about a month ago, I get an email from a young woman who was given my email address by a mutual acquaintance.  She's about to start a new job in the marketing dept at RF and would I be willing to chat with her about NP?  Of course I said yes and we had a great conversation.  So now that I need a contact there, I have one!  Don't you love it when stuff like that happens?

Next, I sent a quick email to the amazing graphic designer who created the NP pig and logo and who, in fact, did all the artwork for NP while I owned it.  I haven't seen Lee in a long time, but I can't imagine anyone else designing my cover and I'm really looking forward to catching up, and working, with him again.

I'm now completely fired up, checking things off my 'to-do' list at a rapid rate.  I figure I'll have a finished, real, live BOOK in my hands in no time!  Watch out book stores and book clubs - here I come!! 

Then I hit the CreateSpace website... 

CreateSpace is Amazon's self-publishing site.   After researching several sites, I chose CreateSpace because, well, it's Amazon.  Working with them puts the book on, makes it eligible for "Free Super Saver shipping on orders over $25" (who spends less than $25 on Amazon??) and I can submit it as an eBook so it's available to Kindle and iPad readers.  In addition, CreateSpace is a "Publish on Demand" site.  That means they only print books as they're ordered, so I won't have to order - or pay for - a whole bunch of books up front.  Perfect!  I signed up for an account, entered the title (leap), a sub-title and description of the book, chose a size and clicked "Continue".   Next screen: "Submission Guidelines: Format your book's interior to the exact final trim size of your book with one text-page per PDF-page. (One PDF-page per page number.)".  Okay, I should be able to do that.  Then came the warning that the book will print exactly as submitted.  Uh oh.  Now I'm getting nervous.

I have spent no less than 10 hours trying to make a standard Word doc look like a 5.25 x 8 inch book.  Did you realize that all chapters in a book start on an odd page?  How about the fact that there's a different header on the even pages than on the odd pages, and no header or page number on chapter title pages or on the blank, even pages at the end of a chapter?  Bet you never noticed that there is only one space at the end of a sentence although your typing teacher (yeah, I'm that old) taught you to always put two.  To top it all off, my husband and sons replaced my ancient PC with a MacBook Pro for Mother's Day, which was a wonderful gesture, but I am still struggling with the totally different paradigm.  Sure, there's Word for the Mac, but it ain't the same as Word on the PC.  As I grind my teeth down to nubs and pull out all my hair, I tell myself that I'm learning a ton (who cares???) and I'm saving the cost of having to pay someone to do this for me (necessary).  I'm realizing there's no way I will ever make this perfect and yes, I will have to pay someone to do that for me, but if I can get it as close to perfect as possible, the cost will be less.

So back to work I go.  I'm also trying to spend a couple of hours at the end of each day doing one final read-through of the manuscript before finding a real copy editor to flush out my grammatical missteps and missed typos.  Clearly this process is going to take longer than I thought.  But that's okay.  As one friend noted, I've taken my power back.  And it feels damn good.

Some technical housekeeping: I am hearing that folks are having trouble commenting on a post.  I did a test and it worked for me.  This is what I did - at the end of the post you want to comment on, click on the word "Comments".  If others have already commented, they'll be a number there indicating how many.  When the other comments appear, scroll down to the box at the bottom where it says "Post a Comment".  Hit the toggle beside "Comment as" and select "Name/URL".  Fill in the name you want to appear next to your comment and leave the URL space blank (unless you own a URL you'd like to share).  Click "Post Comment" and you should be done.  If you are still having problems, please feel free to email me at and I'll try to help.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Book

During the ten years I owned No Pudge!, every time I survived a disaster, or hit a huge homerun, someone would say to me "You have to write a book when this is done."  Three years after I sold the company, my friend Steve started pushing me to do just that and last May, after two years of work and a lot of help and support from people too numerous to name here, I had a polished, edited, completed manuscript that I was incredibly proud of.

Now, after four months of trying to work within the system to find an agent and publisher, I have reached the conclusion that, as a first time, unknown author, I have about as much chance of getting my book picked-up by a top agency and publishing house, as I did getting my new, unknown fat free brownie mix into a major grocery chain.  The last few months have left me feeling much like I did when waiting for the buyer from Publix or Wal-Mart to return my call.  No Pudge! wasn't on their "radar screen", so they had little or no interest in it.  I realized then, the only way to get their attention was to create consumer “buzz” and demand first.  So, I put boxes of the mix into the hands of women that I knew would spread the word.  It worked.  By the time I sold NP, the mixes were on the shelves of almost every major grocery chain in the United States and Canada.

So, I've decided to go the self-publishing route, get the book into the hands of the women that I believe are my audience and let them do the rest.  It worked with the brownies because they were a great product.  If the book is good (and I think it is, but of course I'm incredibly biased!), I believe it’ll work again.  It's going to be a real learning experience and I'm going to document the process, with all the warts and victories, on this blog.  It's bound to be an interesting journey, the first step of which begins right here, right now.  If you would please pass this post on to friends and family and ask them to come along, I would be very grateful.  Subscribing is as easy as entering your email address at the top of the page.  To comment, simply click on the link at the top of the email and it brings you back to the original blog and the comment link.

Thank you so much for your support.  I'll keep you posted!  :-)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Choosing Happiness

Don't just read this article, read it and think about what it's saying.  Well worth it, in my opinion.

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tortellini Salad Days...

We showed the house on Saturday.  The day was absolutely spectacular with a slight breeze and brilliant blue sky.  Our 25-year old son, AJ, was here with three friends for the long weekend, and we all agreed no one would be able to resist the light-filled house and ,gorgeous view.  Clearly we were more than a tad biased, as there has been no word from them or their realtor, since they drove out of the driveway.  I have to admit, I never dreamed we wouldn't sell the house this summer - even in the current economy - and I'm working hard to come to terms with the fact that there's now a good chance we'll be here another winter.

In spite of the disappointing showing, it was a great weekend.  The weather cooperated and having four 25-year old guys in the house to feed and enjoy, kept us distracted and busy.  One of the favorite dishes of the weekend was the Tortellini Salad.  Someone gave me the recipe when our oldest son Adam, now 27, was an infant.  I have modified it over the years and it is a requisite part of any Frucci Family summer get-together.   Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
       Tortellini Salad
Note:  This salad is best when made the day before and allowed to ‘marinate’ overnight in the refrigerator.

2 pounds fresh cheese tortellini – 2 20-ounce packages work fine
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (peel, cut in half lengthwise and use melon baller to scoop out seeds, then dice)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped OR 1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 large red bell pepper OR 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup tarragon OR white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons Pommery (also known as ‘whole grain Dijon) mustard
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 dashes Tabasco

1. In large jar mix all dressing ingredients.  Shake well and set aside.

2. In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook tortellini until al dente.  Drain pasta, rinse with cold water to stop cooking. 

3. In large bowl, toss tortellini with dressing and vegetables.

4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  Bring to room temp before serving.

8-10 servings
Note: We had 6 people this weekend.  There was plenty for supper, midnight snacks and lunch the next day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


You know those days when you wake up after a great night's sleep, full of energy, and you just know you're going to get a ton done that day?  And then one thing happens that throws you off and you think, After I get this done, I'll be right back on track.  But then something else happens and... well you know the drill.   That's what happened to me today.

I started my day in the usual way (now I'm writing poetry?): coffee on the porch with my hubby.  The view felt distant this morning, wrapped in humid haze.  The temperature was already in the mid-80's, a sign it was going to be a scorcher.  After finishing our requisite two cups of coffee, he headed for the car to drive to New York City for a business meeting and the night, and I settled down to check email.  Lo and behold there was an email from a literary agent I had queried a mere four days ago! (I'm getting ahead of myself and I apologize.  I've written a book and am now searching for someone to help me navigate the convoluted twists and turns of the publishing world.  Loads more about that next week, cross my heart.)  This agent asked to see my proposal, which is wonderful news, but wanted the format double-spaced.  That may not sound like any big deal, but the single-spaced proposal is 30-odd pages with lots of sub-titles, fancy spacing and such.  Converting it to double-spaced and making sure all the sub-titles and fancy spacing still work, was an hour long job.  Again, no biggie.  It was awesome to think that someone was actually interested in my work, and hey - as soon as it was done, I was back on track.  Right?

Then the phone rang.  You know how you answer the phone and as soon as you realize who it is, you know something is very, very wrong?  It was the husband of a dear friend of almost thirty years.  It wasn't her, it was her husband.  Kathy has been diagnosed with leukemia and is in the hospital, he tells me.  She is already undergoing chemo and there is talk of a future stem cell transplant.  A week ago I was having a pity party because the house isn't selling.  At about the same time, Kathy was being told she has leukemia.  Like a rubber band snap between the eyes, perspective on what is important was back in razor-sharp focus.  On my 'things to be grateful for' list tonight, the good health of my family will be at the top.  I'll do that right after my prayer for Kathy and her family.  If you're so inclined to offer up a prayer on her behalf, I would appreciate it.