Humor, Reflections

On women, kindness and humor

On women, kindness and humor

I was on an airplane for a business trip recently and a woman sat down next to me.  She said hello and we started talking about her daughter, her job, my job and then women in the business world in general.

She was clearly driven, successful and at the top of her chosen profession.  And yet… and yet…  the more we spoke, the more she started to reveal the layers of difficulty she faced in moving through the workforce.  A female boss harassed her while pregnant and whispered, among other comments (while no one was around) “You are so fat!  You better lose that weight fast if you want to survive here.”    She then describing her current boss and CEO’s ability to calmly listen to difficult situations, discuss the root cause of problems and turn around her company in a single year.  She described the drive for profitability and performance this boss expected, but more than that, she described the CEO’s kindness and generosity in developing employees and fostering their growth.

The stark contrast in “boss” styles struck me.  I love competition.  In fact, I thrive under pressure and deadlines.  I am not afraid of confrontation or conflict.  Even so, I firmly believe that in the midst of intense competition, it is vital that women managing other women do not verbally shred each other apart.  I believe that there is room and a need for kindness and a good sense of humor, especially among women in the business world!

On blogs there are oh so glamorous photos showing the most beautiful, the most wonderful and perfect photos of every moment of every life.  Life is messy.  Here are a few snapshots of the less than perfect, but really great moments of the past few weeks:

I took a business call late in the evening, only to say, “CAN I PLEASE CALL YOU RIGHT BACK?” because of this…  Fortunately, this person had a sense of humor.  His daughter was simultaneously throwing a tantrum:

Keeping it Real     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Keeping it Real

IMG_3383

Ahh, yes.. This was an attempt at a New Year’s photo.   I have shown this image to friends before, but I think it encompasses a valiant effort:

Blaney Family New Years Photo 2015     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Blaney Family New Years Photo 2015

What to do with a hyper puppy while getting ready for work in the morning?   Teach her to drink from the bathtub faucet?  Bad parenting!

Good use of time: teach puppy to drink from faucet    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Good use of time: teach puppy to drink from faucet

 

Have a great weekend!  I’ll be back next week with some good eats!

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Humor, Reflections

Taking the Good with the Bad

Channel Islands

Channel Islands

Stella ate the last roll of toilet paper

Stella ate the last roll of toilet paper

Why would I start of a blog post with a photo of a half-eaten roll of toilet paper next to paradise?  Because life is like that sometimes.  One day you are on the beautiful, peaceful Channel Islands under the sun and  the next day it is snowing in Chicago and the last roll of toilet paper was eaten by the dog (note the vacuum standing by for clean-up duty).

Life and recipes are awfully similar sometimes.  You just have to take the good with the bad!  (Or celebrate the good and learn and grow as best you can… from the bad).

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

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Cooking, Reflections, Traditions

Chicken and Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

Chicken & Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

Chicken & Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

If you listen to the stories of countless immigrants regardless of country of origin, you will hear different stories with very common threads:

  • The iron will to make a new, better life
  • The desire to assimilate and become successful in American culture
  • A careful preservation of heritage and traditions revolving around family, holidays and food

I am a 4th generation American.  America is my home and I am grateful to live here.  My ancestors hailed from Italy, Ireland and Germany.  I married a 3rd generation Italian American.  My husband and I have a passion for Italian American food.  This cuisine, above all others, comforts, nourishes, and brings back the old and welcomes new memories with our families as we cook.

One of my favorite comfort foods growing up, which was served only during holidays, is Braciole, (pronounced bra-zschOL).  If you have a thick Chicago accent, change the pronunciation to (bra-ZHALLL), accent on the “all” part of the word.  Braciole is a meat roll-up that has been browned in oil, then allowed to finish cooking in a tomato sauce.  As a little girl, my Papa would make braciole and meatballs and let them simmer in tomato sauce.  We would eat them over a heavy pasta we referred to as “sinkers.”

I took this memory, coupled with a recipe from The North End Italian Cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane to make a variation of this dish using chicken and prosciutto.  This cookbook was also the inspiration behind another one of my recipes, Chicken Soup with Escarole and Polpettini.

I hope you enjoy this updated version of braciole as much as we do!

Chicken & Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce Ingredients

Chicken & Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce Ingredients

Rolling up the Chicken &Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

Rolling up the Chicken &Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

The rolled up the Chicken &Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

The rolled up the Chicken & Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

Browning the Chicken &Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

Browning the Chicken &Prosciutto Braciole with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

Chicken and Prosciutto Braciole with Whine Wine Mushroom Sauce

Original recipe from The North End Italian Cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large garlic clove, finely minced (optional)
1/4 c. freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. fresh parsley, (1 T. set aside for garnish)
4 thin slices prosciutto
2 T unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c. white wine
8 oz.mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used white button mushrooms, but you can get creative)
1/4 c. chicken broth
2-3 T unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pound chicken breasts to 1/4″ thickness. Sprinkle each chicken breast with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Now, place the smoothest side of each chicken breast down, facing the cutting board you are working on. Spread a little garlic over the “rough side” of each piece of chicken (if using). Then, sprinkle each chicken breast evenly with both cheeses and parsley. Place a single, thin slice of prosciutto over each chicken breast. Roll up each piece of chicken, tucking the filling as you go. Secure each chicken breast with 2-3 toothpicks.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 T unsalted butter & 2 T olive oil. Swirl in pan until butter is melted and oil is hot. Add chicken roll-ups, browning slightly on each side. Work in 2 batches if necessary to give each chicken enough space in the pan to brown.

Transfer browned chicken to a medium-sized baking dish. Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While chicken is baking, drain any excess fat from the skillet. Return the unwashed pan to the stove over medium heat. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase heat to high and add mushrooms. Continue to stir the mushrooms and wine, 5-8 minutes longer, over high heat. Stir in chicken broth and reduce heat to low once sauce begins to thicken. Just before serving, stir 2-3 T unsalted butter into the sauce to finish.

Once chicken comes out of oven, remove toothpicks if you are a nice cook,  transfer to serving dish and spoon white wine mushroom sauce on top. Sprinkle with reserved fresh parsley.

Enjoy!

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Reflections

2014: My Year to Shine

Sunrise in Western Pennsylvania

Sunrise in Western Pennsylvania

A few days ago, very early in the morning, I was running on 3.5 hours of sleep after an 8 hour road trip and my puppy was wide awake, ready to play.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  She was insistent and ready to go outside for her morning walk.  In my tired stupor, I clumsily threw on some mismatched clothes, my gym shoes, coat, and then happened to look out the window.  Over the hills, I saw the most beautiful sunrise.  I grabbed my camera, the dog and we ran (literally ran) outside and down the street.  I then stopped and took the picture above.

It reminded me of a passage from Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolf that reads,

“The day was like gold and sapphires: there was a swift flash and sparkle, intangible and multifarious, like sunlight on roughened water, all over the land.”

In 2014, I am looking to live each day with intention using one small, powerful, daily reminder.  It is called “One Little Word.”  A blogger I respect and admire, Ali Edwards, started “One Little Word” in the scrapbook community several years ago.  It has gotten quite popular.  What is it?  You pick a word, any word, that will be your light and guide for the year.  It is a word that acts as a foundation for the specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive (SMART) goals you set for yourself.  It is a gentle reminder to live each day with intention.

2013 held transition and new beginnings for me, including:

1.) Wedding
2.) New Job & Travel Destinations
3.) Grad School
4.) New Puppy
5.) More Wine Less Whine

Our Wedding 2013

Our Wedding 2013

Nicaragua 2013

Nicaragua 2013

Stella Bear

Stella Bear

Looking forward to 2014, I have laid the foundation for some incredible opportunities.  I learned through this roller coaster of a year what Malcolm Gladwell articulates so well in his book David and Goliath:

The conquering of fear produces exhilaration”

“What is learned out of necessity is inevitably more powerful than the learning that comes easily.”

For 2014, I have chosen a word that builds on 2013, a reminder to get out of bed early in the morning and capture a beautiful sunrise before it is gone, to open my mind at work and in the classroom and to push through the bad knowing I will emerge better for the wear.  Not easy, but necessary.

My one little word for 2014?  Shine

The American Side of Niagara Falls

The American Side of Niagara Falls

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